Staff from all Asha Chennai projects went for excursions in Dec 2022. Sangamam Rajatalab teachers went to Rameswaram and staff from rest of the Tamilnadu projects went to Thiruvananthapuram.
Teacher Excursions – Dec 2022
by Rajaraman Krishnan (Volunteer Asha Chennai)
We started the practice of organizing excursions for teachers once a year back in May 2019. Our motivation for this was the fact that our teachers’ own exposure to the world was very limited. When we took our teachers to Kodaikanal in May 2019, this was the first time most of our teachers were seeing the Western Ghats! Later when we took our teachers to Mysore, this was the first time most of our teachers had gone outside our state. We see these excursions as a way to broaden their horizons and also build a team spirit.
The excursion was offered to all the teachers and staff. Children 5 and under who sleep in the same berth / bed as the staff can travel for free. For children above 5, the travel costs and if required the cost associated with extra bed alone are borne by the teachers. Note that as mothers leaving the children and travelling will not be an option for most of the teachers. Volunteers taking the excursion bear their own expenses.
We organized excursions for teachers from all our projects during the December holidays. Here is a report on these excursions.
Rameswaram Excursion for Rajatalab Teachers
Our team from Rajatalab, UP (one Coordinator and 6 teachers) came to Tamilnadu for our CS training. As they have not travelled outside of UP other than to come for the training in Tamilnadu, they decided to take an excursion when they were here. All of them travelled to Rameswaram and spent 3 days there. Rohit our software engineer also from Rajatalab also joined them. They got to see Dhanushkoti, the main Rameswaram temple, Abdul Kalam’s residence etc. They enjoyed a warm winter in the Southern tip of the country before heading back to UP.
Sangamam and Poorna Vidhya Teachers to Trivandrum
This was by far the biggest excursion of the three that were organised. A total of 120 staff, their children and volunteers joined this excursion. This included about 50 teachers (46 from Sangamam and 4 from Poorna Vidhya), 6 other staff and 5 volunteers. Rest were children of the teachers, staff and volunteers. Teachers took the train from Chennai, Thiruvallur and Arakkonam on the 26th of Dec. We spent 27th, 28th and 29th there and caught the Trivandrum-Chennai mail back on 29th evening to return on the 30th morning.
Accomodation was arranged in two places: the Govt youth hostel in Veli near Thiruvananthapuram was fully booked and about 90 of the people stayed here. The rest were accommodated in Monticello a big house which was being let out like a youth hostel with dormitory like arrangements. This was a couple of Kms further North and also close to the beach.
Given the financial status of our own staff, this was for most part only such travel/vacation that the staff and their children were getting. As much as the teachers, this was a great time for the children as well. It was a pleasure to watch them enjoying themselves. Even staying in the youth hostel walking in the evening to the beach, playing with the other children, dancing to the latest songs in the bus was all greatly enjoyed by them as well as by the teachers.
Travel for all the days right from the the TVM railway station to getting back there to return to Chennai, we had arranged 2 busses. They transported us all the way. Breakfast and dinner for all (including those staying in Monticello) was organized in the youth hostel. Lunch had to be arranged in the various places where we were visiting.
Here are the things we got to see during the trip.
- Veli park and the beach nearby.
- Padmanabhaswamy temple.
- Kuthira Maaliga palace.
- Bazaar around the temple.
- Koyikaal Palace.
- Ponmudi hills or Meenmutti waterfalls. Some 10 teachers went to the waterfalls. Rest to Ponmudi.
- Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre museum.
- Thiruvananthapuram Zoo.
Pearl and Thulasi Teachers to Trivandrum
About 26 staff and children from Pearl and 18 from Thulasi travelled together in this excursion. We didn’t combine this with the Sangamam excursion as we couldn’t find accommodation for that many people. Teachers from the Pearl project left by bus from Kovilpatti and Kayathar came directly by bus to Trivandrum on the 28th of Dec. Thulasi teachers also came to Thiruvananthapuram by train on the 28th morning. They stayed for one night at ??? hotel. On 29th they all stayed in the youth hostel (which had been vacated by the Sangamam teachers that morning). Thulasi teachers alone stayed on the 30th night as well before returning back on the 31st morning by train.
They also got to see the same set of places as the previous tour just one day later. They saw both the Meenmutti falls and Ponmudi hills and skipped the Koyikaal palace. They also got to see a wax museum near the temple.
Final Words …
On the whole everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and it made us feel like we are all part of a single organization. Many of teachers and staff personally told us how much it means for them to be able to get such an experience and to also give such an experience to their children. They consider this as one of the biggest perk in working for Asha and this makes them feel that it is an organization that cares for them.
This also gave the volunteers an opportunity to see a little into the lives of our staff and give us that understanding when we take the decisions which finally affects our staff. We are committed to doing this once a year.