In a country where more than 21% of the population lives below the poverty line and almost 18% of the youth is unemployed the need for education is of utmost importance. The gap that exists between underprivileged children and those from privileged, affluent backgrounds is shockingly wide and can be seen in not just the skills that they possess but also in their personalities. This is something that needed to be urgently addressed as it would only serve to further widen the gap and create more strife and disparity for masses in the future.
The Udaan Welfare Foundation has been a pioneering force in the field of imparting education to the underprivileged ever since its inception in 2007, striving to tackle this issue and approach it with an attitude of empowering the few to impact the many. Udaan has attempted to make the same opportunities and benefits that are available to privileged children, available to those children who are not as lucky.
Udaan Edufest was started with the goal of educating children and helping them to realize the countless opportunities available to them and their true potential. Through numerous efforts, Udaan hopes to transform the lives of as many young girls as possible by creating an environment in which they are nurtured so that they can live fulfilling productive lives with integrity.
Each year Udaan Edufest is based on a different theme that incorporates new ideas and seeks to educate the girls through innovative and interactive learning activities, informative seminars and exciting performances. With a growing crowd of over 250 young girls from children’s homes from Maharashtra, Gujarat and even Daman and Diu, the 2 day fest has seen excitement and avid participation every year.
The children are introduced to all types of new ideas and information through hands on experience. Udaan recognized that informal training and education is an essential part of the learning of every child in order for them to have an all-round development.
Edufest 2008 saw a number of outdoor activities conducted which had a great positive impact on the morale, confidence and courage of the children.
Edufest 2009 was themed ‘Path to Excellence’. The theme was chosen in order to educate the children about the importance of internal excellence in terms of their inherent qualities, strengths, positivity as well as factors which cause fear, shyness and anger control. External excellence was also dealt with by teaching the children to dream and have a vision or objective, how to inspire and motivate themselves and finally how to set goals and achieve them.
Edufest 2010 followed the theme ‘Youngistan Ki Udaan’. The idea was to emphasize the fact that every child is special and unique in their own way. The children were helped to recognize the genius within them and identify themselves into various ‘Genius Groups’. The children identified themselves according to their strengths and then proceeded to learn more about ‘Hum Sab Genius Hai’, ‘Lakshya’ (Goal Setting) and ‘Hum Honge Kamiyab’ (We will be successful).
The theme for Edufest 2011 was titled ‘Youngistan Ki Udaan-Part 2’. To prepare them for the challenges of impending adulthood, a variety of sessions on important life topics were held. ‘Parivartan-Kali se Phool’ was a session that dealt with the transition of young girls into women, addressing issues like coping with physical changes, interaction with the opposite gender, preventing child abuse, managing relationships, cultivating the right values and setting worthwhile goals to pursue. Rupiyon Ki Samaj’ highlighted the importance of money today and addressed concepts like the value of money, budgeting, saving, banking, fixed deposits, the evils of money lending, investment areas and micro finance. ‘Udhyami aur Swatantrata’ dealt with the concept and encouraged independent thinking and entrepreneurship. ‘Nari Neta’ was designed to unlock the potential for self-development and leadership in children. Physical and mental fitness was propagated through yoga, excerise and positive visualization. ‘Learning science through fun’ was another module that taught the kids science through fun with thrash.
The Edufest 2012 theme was titled ‘Udaan Aashaon Ki’. The focus was on Career Guidance and this took the children to a world of countless new possibilities and career vistas. 85 practitioner faculty members having different professions and expertize were brought in to give the children hands-on sensitization to different vocations and guide them thereafter with interactive sessions.
Udaan Edufest 2013 had the theme ‘Udaan Hari Bhari Zindagi Ki’, an environment based theme. The idea was to build a mind-set of environmental sensitivity and environment based responsibility among young girls and to expose them to the various perspectives and possibilities for green careers. Topics like how we deal with scare resources, the kind of food we eat, how we live and how we can be more eco-friendly and what kind of changes we can make in our everyday lives are discussed with the children to make them more aware. The Key R’s that are required for our environment to sustain were also taught to the girls, reinforcing the topics Respect, Re-use, Re-cycle, Reduce, Repair and Rectify, Replace Refuse and Re-invent.
The joy and excitement experienced by the children during Edufest is something that they eagerly wait for each year and speak about with great excitement. The young girls enjoy the alternative learning techniques and activities that are conducted during Edufest as this gives them an opportunity to learn valuable life skills and talk about topics that help them in dealing with issues that arise daily, something they would otherwise not be exposed to.