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Para Lekha Utsav in Birbhum and Purulia
Annual Sports event in Purulia
Health, Hygiene and Environment Awareness Day Celebration
Children of Remote Villages are Learning through Tabs
Football match
Chhuti Chhuti
– Children’s Festival in Summer

On the 5th and 6th of May, 2023, Liver Foundation West Bengal organised ‘Paralekha Utsav’ to celebrate the successful completion of two years of Paralekha. Around 110 SHG mothers and 50 students travelled from Nagari, Khatanga, Alunda and Bhurkuna gram panchayats to Rabindra Sadan hall in Suri to be a part of the celebration on 5 th May. In Purulia 20 SHG mothers along with 50 children from Para Lekha attended the programme in Rabindra Bhaban, Purulia. In Birbhum and Purulia an art exhibition showcasing the drawings, art and craft work of SHG mothers and children of Para Lekha was organized. At the beginning of the ‘Paralekha Utsav’ the exhibition was inaugurated by eminent theatre personnel Sri Debshankar Haldar in both the districts. The program was presided over by Dr. Saibal Majumdar in Birbhum. Following the screening of a short film on Paralekha, he invited Dr. Nirmal Saha to inaugurate the evening by lighting a lamp. The first performance of the evening consisted of a poetry recital from children hailing from three gram panchayats - Nagari, Khatanga, Alunda. They put forward a moving performance by reciting beloved children’s poems penned by Rabindranath Tagore such as Birpurush, Noukajatra, Master Babu, Bichitra Shaad, etc. confidently in front of a packed auditorium. These performances were accompanied with short speeches from the volunteers from those villages where they underscored the deeper significance of these poems with respect to children’s inner life and their experience of the world. Their flawless performance was warmly received by the audience. In Purulia, the programme was presided over by Dr. Partha Sarathi Mukherjee, Secretary, Liver Foundation, the short film on Para Lekha was shown to the audience. Dr. Nayan Mukherjee and Mr. Nabyendu Mohanty, Chairman Purulia Municipality gave short speech on Para Lekha. Afterwards children of Para Lekha recited some poems. Dr. Parthasarathi Mukherjee, Liver Foundation’s Director, took to the stage to speak about Liver Foundation’s social vision, past and present initiatives in the social sector and new developments at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Sciences. Dr. Abhijeet Chowdhury took to the stage after him and spoke in depth about the motivating ideas behind Paralekha, women’s central role in society, especially with regard to selflessly caring for and educating the younger generations as opposed to the money and incentive-oriented nature of men. He repeatedly professed his admiration for the volunteers who have sustained this initiative over the past two years and confessed to feeling inspired by their commitment. Finally it was time for the central attraction of the evening – the performance of ‘Chashme Baddur’ directed by Sri Raja Bhattacharya, where Debshankar Haldar and talented troupe of child actors participated. The audience was thoroughly entertained by this unconventional medley of Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay and Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry. The visiting volunteers and students greatly enjoyed their sojourn. The ‘Paralekha Utsav’ demonstrated the development in terms of learning and confidence acquired by them over the course of the past two years in Birbhum and also provided a promising glimpse of their potential in Purulia, where the programme started since November 2022.

Sports are a crucial part of a student’s growth and development. They help in the development of mental health and physical fitness of the body. Through participation in sports and games, a student gains skills, experience and confidence that are helpful for developing their personality. The Annual Sports Day of Para Lekha centres and prize distribution ceremony was organised at Arsha, Purulia with 11 centres of Para Lekha. The event was observed with great enthusiasm and interest by altogether 340 children and 32 SHG didis. The sports was inaugurated by a warm welcome speech by Dr. Nayan Mukherjee who emphasized on importance of outdoor play and physical activities by children rather than playing games on mobile. He also suggested that this will enable a healthy level of competition and bonding amongst the children and also SHG didis. The sports day was also made memorable by the warm presence of Mrs. Laxmi Mukherjee (social worker and wife of Dr Nayan Mukherjee), Ms Kalyani Nandi (social worker), three sports teacher from Purulia town - Mr Hemanta Mondal, Mr Taraknath Dutta , Mr Ayodhapati Mahato and Headteacher Mr Somnath Kar and Mr Narayan Ch Mahato along with LFWB office team. The inauguration was followed by the Oath-taking ceremony by the students. There was altogether 9 events for the children –  30 metre run for boys and girls of pre-primary to class 2,  60 metre run for boys and girls of class 3 to 5,  potato race for boys,  marble race for girls,  skipping competition for girls An event on needle and thread race was also organized for SHG didis. All the events started with hit (2 or 3 in number) and then ended with final race. At the end of the event a prize distribution ceremony was also organised where first, second and third prizes were distributed for each event. There was arrangement of tiffin in the morning and at the end of the sports a hearty meal was served to the children and SHG didis. Basking in the joviality and rejoicing in the celebration all the children and SHG didis participated in the sports. Even the school sports teachers, organisers and LFWB team members enthusiastically participated in the organisation of event. LFWB believes in instilling the values of sportsmanship, cooperation, competitiveness and leadership among the students with the help of such energetic and exciting activities.

Healthy children equal happier kids who go to school and build a better future for themselves and for their community. Hoping to take one more steps towards a healthier future, Liver Foundation, West Bengal in collaboration with Paschim Banga Samagra Shiksha Mission (PBSSM), organized Health, Hygiene and Environment Awareness Day with the children and SHG members of Para-Lekha centres on 31st July, 2022 at Kankhuria Community Centre at Alunda Gram Panchayat. The day is dedicated to reflecting upon some of the factors that in one way or another affect our health as well as the health of our environment. The day allows us a chance to determine that the health of the human race is irrevocably intertwined with the health of the environment. The idea behind the event is to create awareness on health, hygiene and environment amongst the children as well as the community and providing a platform to the children where they can come together, showcase their creativity, their imagination, their aesthetic sense, their presentation skill and express their opinion. It’s a day to learn about the environment, participate in conservation activities, and learn about ways to help in the future. We need a healthy and supportive environment around us for good health. If today we save our present then only we can shape our future. By celebrating the day SHG members and the children of Para-Lekha centres tried to take a pledge to take a step forward to take care of our health by keeping our environment safe. Alunda GP located at Suri 1 block in Birbhum district has Para-Lekha Centres run by SHG members. The event was organized involving 31 centres on health, hygiene and environment. Altogether 75 children from 31 centres participated along with 70 SHG members of those centres. Parents of some children also came to watch the programme.  Though 75 children attended at that day of the event but actually twice the number of children was involved for preparatory tasks of the event at the centres. Based on the broad spectrum of health, hygiene and environment some secondary themes were chosen for the children’s work at the event like - Personal health and hygiene, cleanliness; Cleanliness of the environment ; Planting trees; Food habits, COVID 19 . The children were asked to make posters where they can express their thoughts through drawings and writing slogans based on any one of the theme. The children drew various colourful vibrant pictures on brushing teeth, caring for hair, trimming nail under health and hygiene awareness. A large number of children made posters with slogans and writings on planting trees and importance of trees under environment awareness. Some of the children also prepared posters on cleanliness of our surroundings, garbage disposal, cleaning of drains, healthy food habits.  A few of the children tried to make the people aware regarding the recent pandemic i.e. COVID 19, which disrupted every aspects of human life, and prepared posters  stating the symptoms, causes and preventive measure to be taken against the disease. The SHG volunteers were oriented on preparing their children on poster making, writings and slogans. It is also worth mentioning that they were oriented on online mode through their smartphones and they captured the idea very fast. Accordingly they prepared their students in Para-Lekha centres within a week with posters and how to demonstrate the posters in front of audience.  LFWB provided stationaries to all the centres for poster making. On the day of the event, the programme was inaugurated with a welcome note of doctors of LFWB, who sensitized the community about the importance of education and thanked SHG volunteers for their work. Dr. Saibal Majumder mentioned that education is the best way to inculcate good habits, awareness among the children. Dr. Kajal Chatterjee stated that better hygiene leads to better health, confidence and overall growth of the children.  Dr. Abhijit Chowdhury mainly focused on the inception of Para-Lekha programme and added that the SHG members and mothers are the helmsman of the ship and will provide new hope for children who had been deprived of access to education during the pandemic. Para-Lekha centres have been developed keeping the school at the centre and the centres as complimentary units surrounding the school. He also added that “This is not a work that can be imposed on anybody. SHG members and mothers have to come willingly and voluntarily and teach their children to combat the learning loss created during the pandemic”. During the programme the posters were demonstrated in a big community hall at Kankhuria and the children who were in the process of poster making explained their theme and posters to the audience. The children were enthusiastic, energetic, and capable of explaining their work before SHG members, doctors, parents, community members and team of LFWB. They were questioned by the audience regarding their posters and most of the children were able to answer those questions. Though it emerged from the programme that LFWB may conduct a health awareness programme for SHG volunteers to overcome some myths and prejudices that were deep rooted in their minds. Beside this the children of a centre enacted a short drama on adverse effect of cutting of trees. Few children also recited rhymes on health and hygiene awareness.  The programme also had a short quiz on health, hygiene and environment awareness and the children who were able to answer correctly received a pen as token prize. The children along with the SHG members enjoyed the session with great curiosity. Football, skipping ropes, colour set and pencil box were given as prizes to those centres from the end of Liver Foundation, West Bengal. Though most of the centres had prepared beautiful posters and written eye catchy slogans but the three best centres which captured the audience by their presentation skills as well as their creativity were Junidpur Notun Pally, Chto Alunda Majh Para and Itagoria Uttar Para. They were awarded as the best centres for poster making and grabbed the prizes. LFWB also arranged snacks for all the participants. Growing up in a clean, healthy and safe environment is every child’s right. Access to good hygiene practices not only keeps children thriving, but also gives them a healthier start in life. In this short span of three to four hours Liver Foundation, West Bengal tried to sow the seeds of good habits within the children as they can be agents of change by spreading what they have learned to their family and community members.

Children of various villages of Nagari and Khatanga GP of Birbhum are learning through tabs provided from Para-Lekha programme. SHG volunteers are helping them to learn and play educational games in the tab. Liver Foundation, West Bengal had started Para-Lekha programme as a community education programme with the mothers and SHG members from 2021 in some districts of West Bengal. The aim of the programme is to build the capacity of the mothers in learning of their wards. As the mothers lack the basic skills, it also inhibits them to teach their children basic foundation skill. In Birbhum the 282 SHG volunteers, received training and support from Liver Foundation with funding from SSA, West Bengal and being associated in the foundational skill development of 2632 children, did not get any monetary support for their work. The idea behind this is to develop a resource in the remote villages who will work as teacher for the local children. As the programme is moving to the forward direction, there is a need to support the children and volunteers from various perspective. Liver Foundation along with Pratham Education Foundation had decided to support the SHG volunteers through technology-based education. Cipla Foundation had extended their hand to Para-Lekha programme and provided Tabs for SHG volunteers. In first phase, 36 SHG volunteers (19 from Nagari and 17 from Khatanga) received tabs from Liver Foundation West Bengal. Pratham Education Foundation had extended their support by providing specialized apps to each of the tabs, containing Bengali, Mathematics and English content from Pratham’s digital learning initiative. These tabs were distributed to SHG members as a token of appreciation for their voluntary task as community teacher. This was followed by training sessions in Nagari and Khatanga where the volunteers were taught how to use their tabs and how to install and operate the applications provided in the tab. Due to their previous experience with smartphones, some of the volunteers could understand how to operate and use the tabs quite easily, but the idea of creating Profile Id for each student and to open various learning content and using those by children are quite new to them. All of the SHG volunteers and children are adapting with the new technology based methodology. After the tabs were distributed to the centres, it showed an enthusiasm among SHG members in regular working with the children with the tab. It has infused volunteers and students alike with a renewed enthusiasm for learning. The children especially have really enjoyed the colorful and fun educational games that came pre-loaded with the tab. The children are also showing gradual improvement in using the tabs and learning the content and a demand is coming from the field for more new contents. Based on the capacities of SHG volunteers LFWB will gradually provide tab to other centres in due course of time.

On July 10, 2022, Liver Foundation, West Bengal organized a football match between children enrolled in Para-lekha centres in three villages in Nagari GP – Latabuni, Jamdoi and Laturbona. All three villages are located close to each other and are populated by tribal community. Nowadays, football is a very popular sport in Nagari GP, even more so than cricket. Papiya Murmu, a resident of Nagari village was recently chosen to be a part of the national women’s U-19 football team, she is representing India in Michigan of United States of America. Tribal children irrespective of boys or girls in these villages love playing football. So much so that they would skip the classes in the evenings to play with their friends. The children of these centres would laughingly demand a football every time Liver Foundation staff would visit these centres for monitoring purposes. These requests were specially directed towards the former Panchayat pradhan of Nagari GP, who also supervises Para-Lekha programme by accompanying the field staff on centre visits. So, Liver Foundation organized a football tournament to raise the enthusiasm levels among children, volunteers and the local community. The tournament was held in a field near Laturbona. The game was organized in a 5-a-side format with eight players from each village in the squad. There were around 24 players from the three villages, 10 volunteer teachers and about 100 spectators who had assembled to watch the match. The teams consisted of both girls and boys. After two round leagues, the Latabuni team emerged victorious, beating the Jamdoi team 2-0. The volunteers in these three villages took a leading role in arranging all the logistics necessary to pull it off. Their families also got involved in various activities related to the match such as setting up the boundary of the field with chalk powder, setting up a water dispenser, arranging washroom facilities and so on. Liver Foundation provided the children with football, jerseys and tiffin. Liver Foundation also organized a prize distribution ceremony at the end where every participant received a medal and stationaries. Dr. Kajal Chatterjee from Liver Foundation concluded the event by awarding the participants medals and addressing the assembled crowds on the importance of education. The football match was organized mainly to boost up the children of these three centres and to satisfy their inner needs for playing. The tournament is not a mere play but it also strengthens the relationship between community, children and Para Lekha centres to run the community teaching learning.

One of the most joyous times of the year is when we celebrate festivals together as a family and children’s festival is one of them. Liver Foundation, West Bengal (LFWB) in collaboration with Paschim Banga Samagra Shiksha Mission (PBSSM), planned and organized a grand children’s festival called “Chhuti Chhuti” on 29th of May, 2022. Liver Foundation, West Bengal organized and orchestrated this event with their Para Lekha centres at Nagari and Khatanga GPs of Birbhum district during the summer vacation in schools at Liver Foundation office at Nagari GP, Birbhum. The idea behind the festival is to encourage the children, create a platform where children from diverse backgrounds can come together to have fun and celebrate in the true spirit of children’s festival as well as to create scope for showcasing student’s activity, their creativity, their tasks to a large group. About 183 children from Para-Lekha centres of Nagari and Khatanga GPs and 70 mothers/ SHG members associated with Para Lekha centre of those GPs joined hands to work together and make the event possible. Basking in the joviality, rejoicing in the celebration, the children of Para Lekha centres interacted with their friends, SHG Didis, parents, and community members and this initiated a transformation of their social behavior, where children learnt the true importance of togetherness and unwind from the mundane daily academic routine. The day was made memorable for both the participants and the organizers by taking the impression of palms and fingers of the participating children on a large canvas as well as on art papers and the children joyfully made the canvas and papers colorful. A series of events were organized like – Setting up of book corner by children made small booklets based on certain themes demonstrating drawings and writings of children of classes 3 to 5 of each centre. Para Lekha team members collected the drawings with writings from each centre and prepared a small a booklet for each centre containing about 8 to 10 pages of drawings and writings of the children. A cover page was designed for booklet of each centre containing the centre name. These small booklets were demonstrated at a corner of the hall on the day of the event - Chhuti Chhuti, for showcasing children’s performance and for motivating the children as well. Setting up of drawing corner showcasing children’s colourful and vibrant pictures. Children of classes 1 & 2 participated in the event. Para Lekha team collected those pictures from the centre and displayed them in the program, as a children’s drawing corner. Recitation competition where altogether 15 centres from 2 GPs participated. The children rehearsed under the guidance of the SHG Didis and performed on poems written by Rabindranath Tagore and Jogindranath Sarkar on the day of event. Storytelling session organized intending to encourage the love for stories, reading, and storytelling and listening amongst all the children. Six centres from the two GPs participated in this activity where 3-4 children from each centre formed a group and they enacted the story with intonation and voice modulation. A quiz was organized for SHG members where for each correct answer there was a pen as a small gift. SHG didis enjoyed a lot with laughter and fun. The programme ended with lunch of children, SHG members and other associated personnel. To acknowledge the children’s hard work as well as to motivate and encourage the children a prize distribution ceremony was also organized where best performing participants in each event was bestowed with small gifts like football, skipping rope, books, colour set, pens and so on. The 3-4 hours event proved that if support and scope were provided to children they can excel in every aspect. Not only that the event provided a platform to SHG members and mothers to come together and explore the various skills of the children, Chhuti Chhuti helped them to boost up their confidence and experience regular activities of Para-Lekha program from different perspective.

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