Holistic Education

We believe that real education should cultivate the true potential of a child and foster his or her physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual development. All children, despite socio-economic standards, deserve quality education and opportunities to excel in life. We keep this at heart while designing our program, emphasizing the parallel importance of sports, the arts, computer literacy, life skills and leadership opportunities. In essence, we seek to encourage their confidence, self-awareness, practice of core values, interpersonal relationships, spiritual strength, creative thinking and cultural wisdom. We create spaces where they feel loved, safe and inspired to blossom according to their inner strengths.

Our Holistic Education program includes the following: all-religion prayer, nutrition, basic healthcare and awareness, basic hygiene, academics, values-classes, mindfulness activities, service activities, the arts, sports and games, computer literacy, field trips, festival celebrations and events. We have designed the Prathma (First Step) Program to support children struggling with reading, writing and the fundamentals. Our teachers also conduct regular parent meetings and home visits.

As many of our teachers come from the communities where we work, they possess an amazing spirit with a depth of compassion and insight. We invest in developing them as strong educators and facilitators through continuous trainings, workshops and exposure visits throughout the year in addition to heartening their own personal and professional growth.


Nutrition

At the root of our children’s growth is proper nourishment, without which the rest of our programs are irrelevant. In every program, we provide a daily nourishing snack or meal to ensure our children are receiving the vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive. We also support individual cases by providing food supplies or helping the parent(s) find a reliable source of income, and in turn, food security.


Anganwadi

MS joined hands with the government-run Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS ) to operate 89 Anganwadi Centers across several slum areas. Our centers provide a stimulating and caring environment to develop the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of young children. The initiative also improves the health and nutrition of infant children as well as expectant and feeding mothers through daily meals, regular vaccinations, awareness campaigns and much more.

Through the centers, we also coordinate Asha (Hope), which provides vulnerable adolescent girls a support system and a platform to gain exposure, develop skills, foster self-confidence, and improve health and awareness, so that they may make a positive transition into adulthood.

Children Served Daily: 4311 | Mothers Served Daily: 1372


Bal Sanskar (Primary Education)

Bal Sanskar is our morning supplementary education program that serves children from the 1st through the 5th standard (5-10 years old). During this crucial developmental stage, children are in the process of discovering themselves and fortifying the foundation that will support the rest of their life. Municipal schools are often crowded and lack enough opportunities for young children to receive the focused attention, guidance and environment they require to flourish. Their home environments are also often contrary to their progress.

With this in mind, we aim to provide a warm and loving environment for the students to blossom. Through Bal Sanskar we provide our children with academic education (Gujarati, math, environment, English) combined with values, play and cultural learning. Through Prathma we foster the foundations-learning of children who are struggling to read and write from the third standard and onwards. We are also in the process of designing and implementing an English program that incorporates phonics and phonemic awareness with grammar, speaking, writing and listening skills to enable students to confidently read and speak in subsequent years. Furthemore, we integrate arts and crafts, body movement, games and play, festival celebrations, field trips and mindfulness activities. We give focused attention to developing positive habits such as washing hands, wearing shoes, and cutting nails, to improve personal hygiene in the local context. We also provide nutrition, basic health care and conduct regular field visits and parent meetings. The Bal Sanskar initiative takes place at all of our Community Centers from 9 to 11 am, Monday through Friday.

Total Children Attending: 541


Flowering Tree Learning Center

For the last three decades, we have been working with our children in increments of 2-4 hours daily. Though we have seen positive changes and ripples through our programs, we have always wanted to have more time with each child and to provide them access to free, high-quality education with a complete range of opportunities and teaching methodologies that meet their needs. We were very excited to launch a pilot project this 2018-2019 school year in partnership with Flowering Tree. We converted our Bal Sanskar supplementary education program at Manav Gulzar into a formal school, known as the Flowering Tree Learning Center. Currently, we are running it for KG-3rd standard students.

We are working with Gyan Shala, adapting their research-based academic curriculum and combining it with all aspects of our Bal Sanskar program, to offer our children quality and meaningful education relevant to their needs and community. We also have twoTeach for India Fellows in our current team. This year we will be adding the 4th standard and feel positive about the future of this project, and its potential as a model we gradually adapt across centers.

Total Students: 72


Vidhyadham (Secondary Education)

Adolescence and early teenage years are a vulnerable and challenging stage in life. It is an even more critical period for children growing up in the slums, where they have a dearth of positive roles models and are continuously exposed to negative elements such as peer pressure, tobacco and alcohol, physical and emotional abuse, high dropout rates, violence, child labor and more. Young girls are often restricted from attending school after puberty and encouraged to shift their energy to develop domestic skills, take care of household chores and tend to their younger siblings. In addition to personal challenges and struggles at home, public education is only free through the 8th standard. Therefore, parents take their children, especially girls, out of school if they are unable to afford the fees. The 10th standard culminates in a nationwide exam, during the preparation of which many children break under the pressure and often drop out for good if they do not pass. All the while, the Municipal School System is plagued with poor teaching quality, curriculums that promote rote memorization over understanding, and promotion based on attendance rather than performance.

With all this at bay, we work with students in the 6th-10th standards to help support their academic progress through supplementary education in Math, English, Science, and Social Science. We also offer Computer Classes, a sports initiative and a program to promote the creative arts. We also present leadership activities such as Scouts and Guides. An important component of our afterschool program is our values-education program, with a focus on spiritual grounding, self-awareness, character development, service activities and relationship building. We start with all all-religion prayer and assembly period, provide a nutritious snack daily and basic health care and awareness. We also run adolescent classes to learn more about the changes happening at this stage. Vidhyadham operates at each of our centers every afternoon, from 2-6 PM.

Total Children Attending: 281


Values Education

Our Values Education Program focuses on the inner development of the child to help them find the path to grow into happy, kind adults with the confidence and awareness to contribute to their families, communities, country and world in meaningful, constructive ways. We are developing and implementing a curriculum in both Bal Sanskar and Vidhyadham with the objective of developing our children’s self-awareness and confidence, while cultivating their spirit and cultural wisdom and sense of belonging. We give them the space to explore a series of values through stories, videos, discussions, reflective activities, personal experiments, and service activities, acts of kindness and meditation and mindfulness. We encourage them to develop their own understanding and application of these values while also developing a supportive environment and culture that celebrates those values consistently and collectively. We invest heavily in our teachers to help them both practice what they are teachings and grow as strong facilitators and mentors. We put love in the center of our work and believe in the power of relationship building to transform our children’s lives and futures.


Children from low income and vulnerable communities have an opportunity to supplement their family-income by making handmade paper products. This platform enables children to strengthen their education, cultivate life skills, grow holistically, and intentionally work towards a brighter future in a safe and nurturing environment. Earn N Learn children receive a nutritious snack, tutorial classes and loving mentorship on a daily basis while taking part in festivals, sports, field trips and other fun activities.


Sponsor a Child’s Education

Through this program, donors can sponsor a child’s education at a private school. We identify children in our Bal Sanskar and Vidhyadham programs that demonstrate aptitude or potential, hard work and initiative as well as a supportive family environment. Through the adoption program, donors sponsor the child’s education through 12thstandard, covering the school fees, tuition fees, school uniforms, stationery, and transport. We check their progress in school continuously and update their donors and mentor them through their journey.

Children Sponsored: 40

Sports Education

We offer sports education through games and fun in Bal Sanskar and in a more focused capacity in Vidhyadham. In addition to improving health and well-being, we believe in the power of Sports to inspire children to bring forth their best and develop in teamwork, sportsmanship, grit, focus and commitment. Through our sports program, all of our students engage in a weekly sports class, built around the games of volleyball, football (soccer) kabadi, kho-kho and badminton. We also introduce yoga and stretching. For our Bal Sanskar children, we are introducing Body Movement as a way to develop motor skills, improve cognition and enable body awareness.

Every year we organize a 2-day Sports’ Tournament where children across centers engage and compete with a spirit of sportsmanship. It allows them to engage with their peers from other communities and be part of a team. Over the years, we have focused on successfully engaging more girls through our sports programs, which has been reflected in the development of our Girs’ Volleyball team and the addition of girl players in our football program. Due to the guidance and passion of our excellent coach, many of our kids have participated in state and national level sports competitions and have found themselves through sports.


Football Program

The MS football program began in 2010 as a humble, informal practice organized by some football-loving volunteers with a handful of children. Two years later, it has become a full-fledged program. There are currently more than 30 children, ranging from 8-16 years old, from across all of our communities in the program. The children practice every Sunday morning, while many gather every evening for additional practice. The children have a deep commitment and a genuine passion for the game.

Sunday practice typically lasts for 3 hours, including a warm-up run, stretching ball skills and drills. The emphasis is on ball control and teamwork. The children are then led into small-sided games and keep-away. Finally, all of the children are split up and play one large match. A snack is provided at the end of every practice. As the children have improved their skills, they have also participated in city tournaments and other more competitive programs.


The Arts

A creative outlet allows for children to connect with their spirit, express emotion and imagination in healthy ways and find balance in life. Studies have shown that an Arts Education builds the creative thinking skills of children, expands their perspectives, nurtures tolerance and empathy and improves their performance across other disciplines. Children often express themselves more completely through the arts while they also learn the value of patience and develop aesthetic sensibilities.

Many of our children are blessed with a family lineage of artistic abilities in dance, singing, drama and the arts. There is a rich history of the folk arts amongst the children we teach. However, due to a lack of platforms, exposure and economic means, the children do not get to explore and grow in these facets. Our Arts program and larger stage performances give our children the chance to connect with their inner artist.


HeART Classes

We integrate HeArt classes into our holistic education program with the intention to help children connect with themselves, with each other and grow as human beings through the arts. Whether it is through music and dancing or performing on a stage, public speaking, visual arts, or any other creative process, we aim to provide experiences focused on the process, where children develop skills and imagination alongside confidence, character and spirit.

In our Bal Sanskar program all of our children participate in a weekly art and crafts class and participate in dance and body movement. In Vidhyadham, we ask our children to select one elective between Art, Music and Dance, based on their interest, in which they immerse for the whole year. We have international volunteers and amazing artists run workshops through the year.


Stage Performance

Over the years we have seen the transformative power of enabling children to participate in stage performances. The process of being part of something bigger, working together towards a collective goal has a definitive positive impact. The children also find self-motivation to commit to their responsibilities so that they may participate in something exciting and grand. Their confidence and spirit grow infinitely after coming on stage. Through the process of meticulous practice and refinement, they experientially understand diligence and follow through and how to work towards a goal. In the process, they also gain so much exposure, have fun, make friends, and develop skills in dance-drama-music. For these reasons, Manav Sadhna organizes stage performances every couple of years as a way for our children to get this opportunity. Often these programs evolve into a more intentional stage performance with a selected group of our children with a universal message for humanity which we then take on tour to share with the world.

Jai Jagat (2018-2019)

The Jai Jagat Show and Journey is an experiment to touch the lives and spirit of 18 underprivileged children across Manav Sadhna projects. Through the mediums of dance, music, performance and most importantly, love we hope to spread seeds of goodness and compassion in the lives of our children and throughout the world. Our children will be touring in the Summer of 2019 to the US and the UK.

The children have been on a values-based journey to develop compassion, creativity and commitment for the last 1.5 years. Whether through prayer, circles of sharing, acts of kindness and gratitude, cleaning and taking care of the environment and other forms of values-based development, we hope that through this in-depth process our kids grow to become good human beings and examples for other kids in their communities.


Ekatva (2010-2012)

Sixteen children from our communities were selected and developed over 2 and half years through the leadership of a Manav Sadhna volunteer and the creative inputs of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. The children grew creatively as well as in their virtues and values. The Ekatva Experiment was dedicated to the Journey and not the Show, thus bringing great importance to small transformative steps. On October 2nd, 2010 the children performed the first Ekatva show in Ahmedabad, with an amazing response. As the beauty unfolded many family members across the world began sending messages of support and hope to bring the Ekatva show and family to their city. Where there is pure intention and hard work, there tends to be God's blessings. Half a year later the stars aligned for a two-month Ekatva World Tour across America and the UK. The show was performed in front of thousands of audience members at some of the most prestigious venues and left everyone inspired with the feeling of love and compassion and the desire to help others.

After touring in India, The Ekatva tour went internationally through Chicago, DC, NY, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Austin, Atlanta, London, Birmingham and Leicester. It was a pilgrimage where the Ekatva kids and family interacted with hundreds of beautiful organizations and thousands of souls, connecting in the spirit of Oneness. Through service activities, exploration, prayers, fun and more, the pilgrimage was a homage to humanity and a wholesome and grounding experience for all.

Upon their return, the 16 children were placed in private schools in Ahmedabad and all have focused on their education. We are proud of their immense achievement, dedication and commitment to their future.

Prem No Parivar (2015)

This was one of our largest productions, in which we involved 230 children ranging from 4-15 years of age. Our objective was to give an opportunity to a large number of children to build their confidence and share their talent and spirit with those around them. The Prem No Parivar production wove elements of art, dance, drama and music into a seamless two hour performance that presented real stories of children who have been connected with Manav Sadhna. With only two months of preparation time, a strong volunteer team of artists, musicians, choreographers, playwrights, and other dedicated members, we staged the performance on March 11th, 2015.

For most of the children involved, it was a first experience of being part an organized and professionally presented program. The effort and dedication required for Prem No Parivar will have a long-lasting impact on the children, as they have begun to develop faith in themselves and to understand the power of commitment to longer-term goals as well as teamwork.


Ekta (2001-2002)

This was one of our largest productions, in which we involved 230 children ranging from 4-15 years of age. Our objective was to give an opportunity to a large number of children to build their confidence and share their talent and spirit with those around them. The Prem No Parivar production wove elements of art, dance, drama, and music into a seamless two-hour performance that presented real stories of children who have been connected with Manav Sadhna. With only two months of preparation time, a strong volunteer team of artists, musicians, choreographers, playwrights, and other dedicated members, we staged the performance on March 11th, 2015.

For most of the children involved, it was a first experience of being part an organized and professionally presented program. The effort and dedication required for Prem No Parivar will have a long-lasting impact on the children, as they have begun to develop faith in themselves and to understand the power of commitment to longer-term goals as well as teamwork.


CurioTech

In collaboration with Cavitak, this pilot project aims to bring relevant life skills and knowledge to our children. The state members take turns running classes thrice a week at two of our centers focusing on the areas of How Things Work (i.e. a pan car or ATM machine), Art and Technology (i.e. graphic designing and animation) and Entrepreneurship (i.e. teaching different aspects of the business through local case studies). The goal is to empower our students with the knowledge, exposure and skills that are relevant today. We are looking forward to growing this effort across all of our centers.


Scouts and Guides

Through scouts, we organize camping trips and outdoor activities, training and skill development in areas such as disaster management, community work, gymnastics, ambulatory and firefighting support. Some of the changes we have seen in our kids through this program include a change in lifestyle and perspective, leadership, and confidence. Several of our children have gone on to become Scout Masters in some of the city’s best-known schools and one of our kids is in the process of applying for the Army.

Total Current Participants: 95


Bal Bachat Mandal (Children’s Savings Program)

This program runs at Manav Gulzar with the aim to help children learn the habit of saving money and using it purposefully. Since most children receive one to two rupees daily from their parents, they use the money to eat unhealthy and unhygienic junk food. This project was inspired by this unhealthy trend and the opportunity to teach them the importance of good nutrition and personal finance.

We have more than 50 children participate annually in this program. On Monday to Friday from 4:00-4:30, they can come and deposit money into their “savings account,” which we actually keep for them. They can “withdraw” the money when they need to buy school materials, personal hygiene products or any other compelling need.


Saturday Special

This program was the original seed that has grown into what Manav Sadhna is today. Saturday Special started as a humble initiative to give children in slum communities a chance to enjoy their childhood. As many kids at the time were engaged in child labor, we wanted to bring them together, teach them about basic health and hygiene through activities such as cutting their nails and combing their hair, engage them in learning through fun activities such as plays, games, storytelling and feed them a delicious but nourishing meal. Through the program we could encourage the children’s well-being and education, while mobilizing volunteerism as locals started to help organize this weekly program. Even today, we continue to run Saturday Specials in the Ashram and still welcome volunteers and donors to participate and support this activity close to our heart.


Festival Celebrations and Events

We organize and celebrate several cultural festivals as well as events throughout the year as a way to impart cultural and social learning to our children. They experience the joy of celebrating together, which helps strengthen and build community bonds. The children also revel in local customs, such as flying kites for Uttarayan, fasting to honor the month of Ramadan or participating in a play about Christmas. Through the process, they learn more about other cultures and beliefs. We also organize annual events such as our two-day Sports Tournament, the Science and Math Fair and Women’s Day as a way to encourage learning through application and fun.