Tara Homes for Children, NGO for street children in Delhi, India

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TARA Boys do speak French

By Véronique, French teacher at TARA Boys.

When you arrive in India, you start with the following questions:

Where am I going?
What to do?

There is so much to do.
It is during the summer 2016, that I made my entry as a teacher of French at the TARA Boys.
The 20 boys were on vacation; they needed a volunteer to do French classes. I therefore made an appointment after having spoken with the pedagogical team with these 20 boys.

 Our first meeting took place in the room, which serves as classroom, refectory, TV room with the TARA Boys.
They were all at once curious, reserved, smiling maliciously to know to what sauce they were going to charm me.
I presented myself, while observing them just as they did for me. I felt that the contact passed during exchanges of smiles, we could start studying.

My motivation is to make them pass the exam, first level of French. Challenge for them and for me. The potential of these TARA Boys. is extraordinary. The mood is always cheerful, applied. They want to learn even if it's always a bit difficult to handle the language of Molière.

After six months of teaching, I am enthusiastic because I feel able to converse more and more. Their curiosity is refined and some who have French at school want complementary courses. This is the best sign that they will soon be bilingual.

The world is on their doorstep and I am delighted to help them get in

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Noorjahan, future jiu-jitsu champion

Twice a week, the TARA Girls install red and blue mats in their Activity Room and sit with calm and discipline for their Jiu Jitsu Class. As their teacher explains, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a "form of Martial arts that promotes the concept of how a smaller/weaker person can successfully defend himself/herself against a much larger, bigger and stronger assailant by using proper technique, leverage and timing".

The TARA Girls patiently learn, practice and repeat the techniques he teaches them to make the best use of their energy and to exploit their potential attacker's own strength against him or her. Indeed, what makes jiu-jitsu so effective is the fact that it is based on the principles of weight distribution, balance, timing and leverage rather than speed or strength. It was designed with the purpose of allowing a smaller person to defend themselves from a larger attacker and to ensure that anyone regardless of their physical ability, could utilize the techniques for self-defense.

Moreover, jiu-jitsu keeps the children healthy by providing them with a safe way to exercise while learning a skill. It also increases their self-confidence as they learn the techniques to defend and develops humility. Submitting others can build confidence, but this comes after countless times of being on the receiving end. These experiences build humility and appreciation.

Finally, Jiu-Jitsu teaches all of its students to never give up and to keep pushing forward. The ability to focus and stay on track is something everyone needs to develop when studying jiu-jitsu. This skill can be learned from jiu-jitsu, but applied in all aspects of life.

Among the TARA Girls, Noorjahan has proved to be particularly dedicated to this art ; further to the regular sessions of all the Girls, she is therefore benefitting from private classes at TARA Girls... Maybe a future champion!
Have a look at her progress here:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sunil's sharp earing

In July, Sunil complained of hearing problem and pain with pus discharge in his left ear, due to which he could lose the use of his ear and be affected by a facial paralysis.

His doctor at Max suggested him Tympanomastoidectomy, (say it without breathing!) and the surgery was kindly performed on 10th October by Dr.S.K Kacker, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Arvind Kacker, ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) specialist & owner of the Delhi ENT Hospital at Jasola and of his father.
Sunil's eardrum was replaced naturally by taking a graft from his temporalis fascia and a cartilage was taken from his ear to support the damaged parts of his bones in ear.

Sunil confesses he was a little anxious and explains that: « the whole ENT Hospital medical team was fantastic, I did not feel any pain, even when they removed the stitches »

The young man can now hear, speak and live his life as any boy in their twenties!

This successful surgery is the result of a great teamwork and here is the list of the people Mr. Sunil particularly wants to express his gratefulness to:

- Basanti, TARA Big Birds’ Manager,
- Ridhima, TARA's Medical Officer
- Rakesh, TARA Big Bird & Sunil’s roommate, for taking care of him at home, giving to him all the support he needed.
- All Delhi ENT Hospital’s team
    Sunil and Ridhima after the surgery

Two months after the surgery, Sunil is glowing : « This surgery made my life much easier and better ».

And what a better gift for him than to be able to hear properly the TOTS’ Christmas songs...?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Diwali at TARA: a serious marathon

Diwali, the greatest festival in India, which celebrates the prince Ram’s return to his kingdom, Ayodhya, after years of exile told in the Ramayana. Candles are lit at the footstep of each home and firecrackers burn all night long. Big and smalls get ready for Diwali’s night many days in advance. At TARA as well, Diwali is a marathon which requires a long preparation…

21st October : the preparation has started : origami workshop at TARA Boys where the children make spoon rests for the D-Day. Enjoy the sophisticated ornamentation: paper Ganeshas with movable eyes and their glitter glue on the forehead!

22nd October: the TARA Girls fold and fold napkins to give them the form of a flame and adorn them with a napkin ring representing a traditional Diwali candle.

28th October: preparation of the Mela at TARA Tots the children decorate plastic plates which will be full with candies and chocolates

: 29th October : it is the boys’ turn to fold napkins and prepare Hanuman ornaments for glasses.

31st october : DIWALI !

The TARA Tots invite the staff, teachers, volunteers and a few Boys et Girls (carefully selected!) to their Mela. All visitors were given false notes which allowed them to acquire a few masterpieces (bracelets, necklaces, cards, candles…) of the Tots’ crafts.

At TARA Girls, everyone is getting ready to welcome dozens of guests for the big party. After making spoon rests (who said details were not important?), it is time to install the decoration.

At 6pm, all the guests have arrived and the show can start: the TARA Girls perform Bharatnatyam (traditional indian dance) and the TARA Boys follow with Bollywood and Tollywood dances. Meenakshi, Noorjahan, Soni, Meena, Lokesh and Mohid even chant poems! All the performances raise a thunderous applause in the audience.

Finally, everybody enjoys a delicious buffet offered by l’Opéra (French bakery in Delhi).
To burn the calories of these exquisite sweets, all the children, staff, volunteers and sponsors present meet in an improvised and swinging Bollywood dance until it is time for the children to tidy up.
At 9pm, lights are switched off at TARA Girls while the TARA Boys return home.

Outside, the candles continue to burn at the footstep of each door and the din of firecrackers will last all night long…

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top Chef Masters at TARA Tots

Eleonora, culinary journalist and volunteer at TARA is our invited writer today.

It’s a Monday afternoon at TARA Tots.
When I arrive, the atmosphere is as usual: the children are all busy. They are playing, studying; some are helping to fold the clothes from today’s laundry.

Valérie comes every Monday at 3pm. She is very much awaited, with her bags full of ingredients, unknown tools, perfumes and surprises. Her arrival spreads a wave of excitation among the children and I, simple spectator, am impressed by her calm, her smile and her patience.
« What are we making today ? »These are the words by which the children welcome Valérie, each time she comes.
She started her cooking activity last April, with the littlies of the TARA family. She wanted to conduct an activity which would both please the kids and be recreational and educational.
She says: « Some do the right thing from the beginning. Others take longer. Others are voluntary and even bold when they have to cut ingredients, while some fear to use the knife ».

The children participate in the activity five by five. They always start by washing their hands, then wear their aprons. After that, they are ready to discover the recipe of the day. They follow Valérie’s instructions, which help them develop their skills: cut, crush, spread, cut with cookie cutters, etc… They develop their sense of feel through textures (sticky, grainy…) and their taste (sour like lemons, sugary like bananas). Once the activity is over, they help cleaning the table for the next group, in accordance with the good hygiene habits taught in TARA.
Valérie also tries to teach them that even if this activity is entertaining and pleasant, we should never waste food and that the final result, the taste itself, depends on the dosage of ingredients and on the proper way to mix them.

Valérie : « During the first sessions, when I was sharing the « left-overs » (extra biscuits or fruits), I was very surprised to see that they were pouncing on it and swallowed large mouthfuls. As if it could have been taken back from them. Now they are more balanced. »

Behind my camera’s lens, I watch them work, I discover the strengthened relationship, after 7 months of work together, between her and the children. The task is serious, calm and peaceful; the laughs, the disruptions of some of them, the quiet reminders and the fingers in the dough, greedily sucked in the end…

“Since April, I have been able to note several changes. Without attributing them solely to this activity, I see that some have made huge progress in their ability to do the manipulations asked. I show them how to handle the knife to cut, how to use the fork to crush… The nannies who used to help the smallest children in the beginning do not need to intervene anymore!”, says Valérie.
She tells me that the main difficulty to conduct her activity is that she cannot use the kitchen. The children are not allowed to enter the kitchen, so she has to choose recipes which do not necessitate oven or gas and it necessitates a constant effort to be creative.

The best chefs’ recipes are always jealously guarded but Valérie agreed to disclose two amusing anecdotes:
- « When I come and don’t say what we are going to prepare, there is the usual question: what are we making today? With their singing way to ask it. Then, they look at what I brought to guess the day’s recipe. I take four groups of five children, one after the other. One session was about preparing a cream out of fudge and crushed nuts, then spreading this cream on biscuits, as for a sandwich. The first group prepared this ‘seriously’. But I had overestimated the quantity of cream for the biscuits and everyone had a little leftover in their plates. I allowed them to eat this little extra (the size of a tea spoon) immediately. The news spread fast. The following children spread less and less cream, and left more and more in their plates. The last biscuits had a very thin layer of cream! »

- « My biggest surprise. For Diwali, I had them make almond paste to fill dry fruits: mix almond powder, sugar and a little drop of water to agglomerate everything.
And it is the little Anita, one of the youngest, immediately did the right thing, as if she had been doing this all her life! She barely soiled her fingertip, whereas all the others had their full hands greasy! »

TARA is extremely grateful to its volunteers for their daily work with the children. We will never thank you enough for your help and your contribution to the children’s intellectual and emotional development, which allows them to flourish and prepares them to become aware citizens and grasp the world with confidence, dignity and discernment.
Dinesh, Valérie, Fayyum and Khushboo