SHIKSHAMITRA is a process for learning to live better. It is a space where one

learns to keep well and to help others keep well too. Shikshamitra has an address.

However, it goes beyond this – permeating into the lives of many, influencing

one’s choices in life and ways of life. To be associated with Shikshamitra is to assume

the responsibility of trying to live better. It is a continuous attempt to search for

activities that inspire life and build trust, or, it is an attempt to keep away from

anything to the contrary. Shikshamitra is a means toward becoming aware of

how much one can be and knowing exactly what one’s limitations are.

January 30, 2010

Communicating through Craft

This week we had two new friends come visit the school from Japan: Sakie-san and Hine-san, two artists from the city of Osaka. They brought all the supplies needed for three days of craft workshops that started on Tuesday and ended on Thursday. On the first day, we made pens from paper mache. Sakie and Hine brought a special material called "kaminendo," which we formed around the core of a pen. We also tried making our own pulp and molding this too. On the second day, we took special plastic sheets and drew designs on them with oil-based markers. These were put in the oven and the children yelled out, "magic" as they watched the sheets melt down to form hard, glass-like lockets that they promptly put strings on to wear around their necks. On the last day, which felt quite magical in its own way now that we had all become such good friends, we made small wind chimes out of recycled bottles. The children were asked to bring in their own bottles and almost everyone remembered to bring one in as they were eager to find out what Sakie and Hine were going to demonstrate next.

I put on some music and at one point, when I looked up from helping a student, I suddenly felt a deep sense of happiness – watching each and every person in the room helping each other or concentrating on their work, trying to speak a bit of Japanese, or smiling and laughing along with a friend. It sure is fun to have friends from other parts of the world!

I would like to extend a big thanks to Sakie and Hine for so carefully organizing these three days of craft and creativity! ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA!

January 25, 2010

Enjoy a Year with Shikshamitra: We have just produced our 2010 Calendar

This year, for the first time, Shikshamitra has produced its own calendar featuring original artwork by our students. We hope you will enjoy the beautiful drawings and paintings by four different children. The artwork was generated in a class where students practiced drawing with their eyes closed after hearing a specific theme. The calendar also includes thoughtful quotations by the children, which came out of various class interactions.

The 2010 calendar is now available from Shikshamitra and other locations around Kolkata. We ask for your help in both buying and selling the calendar! Please contact the school (033-2479-9271 or by email at: if you would like a copy or have ideas about where we can sell it.

Price per calendar is Rs. 80
Wholesale (bulk purchase of 10 or more calendars) price is Rs. 65

January 20, 2010


The responses below are from an exercise done with the children on 13th Jan, 2010 for the five-year review of our school progress. Sudeshna has translated their Bengali into English here.

"I have learned some good craft work. I can operate a computer. I have reduced using abusive language, it was almost like a necessary tool in my previous school."
- Dinesh

"I have learned Bengali and English (I did not learn anything in my previous school). Previously, I could hardly talk to people but now I am comfortable. I would avoid going to school on exam days, my mother used to beat me when I failed but I have no fear of exams now."
- Hasna

"My use of foul language has decreased. My English has improved a lot. I do not misbehave and create trouble like before. I have stopped putting others down and being so competitive. I kept quiet in my previous school, always scared of punishment but here I can shout as much as I want."
- Pradip

"I have found my life’s purpose in this school."
- Shajahan

"I have learned a lot of English and Bengali. I do not use foul language any more. I have learned a lot of crafts."
- Babai

"I have learned division well. I have gained a lot of courage. I have learned computer, Bengali and English."
- Ajijul

"School has helped me to know myself. I did not know that I had so many hidden talents."
- Rohit

"The school has helped me to discover my talents. I am confident about talking with English-speaking people. I have learned to peep into people’s hearts."
- Noor

"I have learned English language well. I am not scared to talk with people any more."
- Chaitali

"I have learned to work with friends and also to help them. I can speak with people much more confidently now. I can comprehend after reading something."
- Priyanka

"I would never have known what friendship is if I hadn’t come to this school. I have learned to talk well."
- Kakoli

"I now have confidence in myself and can solve my own problems. I can speak freely with outsiders. I have learned many skills – especially drawing, and the proper way to talk. School has taught me how to get along with various people."

"My wish to learn to read and write Bengali has been fulfilled. I have learned to talk decently with my friends."
- Ador

"I have learned to trust people, whereas before I mistrusted everyone, including my parents. My courage has increased enormously. I used to detest Muslims and avoided any contact. I don’t do that any more. I have stopped misbehaving with people."
- Anita

"I can argue with people. I have learned computers and English."
- Neha

"No comments now."

"No Comments now."

The students also made a list of the things they feel they have gained/learned at Shikshamitra. The list includes crafts, computers, reduction of abusive language, Bengali, English, speaking ability, an end to exam-phobia, a feeling of freedom in school, courage, confidence, self-knowledge, discovery of their own talents, reading comprehension, trusting others, tolerance, better behaviour ...