This is a positive space, one where kids explore the dynamics of their mind, where children learn to understand their personalities, irrespective of the environment they live in, and where they smile and greet their teachers with a cheery “Good morning teacher.” This is a space where children, from underserved communities of Mapusa, Goa, who do not have access to an education, come to school every day, eager and willing to learn. Mango House, which is run by The Mango Tree Trust, provides pre-primary education and afternoon tuition classes which ensure that disadvantaged children have access to, and stay in, school. Nutritious meals and medical care are also given to ensure children are fit to learn.
Mango House does not just provide pre-primary education to children, but instills lifelong behaviors to help students sustain academic excellence and a healthy living. This gives them a competitive advantage in society, academics, and their careers. Mango House is right by their side, providing them with tools and resources to succeed in college and their careers. Mango House gives them access, an important word for the sustainability of an equitable society, to education, nutrition, mental health care, and skills that will help them beyond school.
As I sat in between benches with children, observing, learning, and watching classes my first few days, I began to understand the dynamics of Mango House’s lesson planning and operational protocols. They provide individual attention to each student, analyzing their learning styles and behavior, to ensure that no child is left behind.
Although I sat in many classrooms, I was drawn to Teacher Deepti’s class of upper kindergarten students (2-5 years old). Every morning she would greet me with a smile and say good morning. I was drawn to her class for many reasons including the fact that I could converse with her in English. Since this was a Hindi, Marathi, and Konkani medium school, all students spoke these languages as a first language and most teachers came from similar language backgrounds.
Deepti put 120% of her energy into her learners, speaking to them in both English, Hindi, and Konkani. In the afternoons, she would tutor 6-8th graders, where she would put more energy into engaging a child to learn. A job as a teacher at Mango House goes beyond the job of a public school teacher in California. I know this because I have worked for the Californian public school system for three years. I have continued my work with public schools as a volunteer in Oakland, CA, which has some of the highest need schools in the state, apart from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Just like LAUSD, Mango House does not have a full staff of efficient and equipped teachers to work with 200 kids every day. Instead, they have 6 teachers who teach and tutor all grades. Resources are low, but the teachers are never disheartened—they teach, feed, nurture, and engage all learners with tenacity. I was impressed with their level of engagement and teaching. Given that, as a child, I went to some of the best schools in Goa, I never got individual attention and certainly no tender, loving care. Mango House is one of a very few schools that serve underprivileged children and low-income families in Goa. With more resources, they would be able to do a lot more. My goal is to continue my partnership with them, to give them access to a lot more to align with the needs of each child.
The learners at Mango House taught me more than what I could teach them. Their personalities and conversations made me dig deeper into my roots of understanding community and service. They helped me think about my core values and how Goa gave that to me whilst living there, where I was rooted for nine years of my childhood. For the first time in my professional career, I took a backseat, observing, learning, and watching myself grow as a person, while I looked into the eyes of each student at Mango House. Every personal and educational journey starts with one step. Volunteering at Mango House, watching each child’s educational journey, was an important and unforgettable step of my journey.
I want every individual to experience such steps in their personal journey. Mango House offered me insight and introspection to an individuality and goal that was always there, but never grounded. The adults who worked there, from the cook, to the administrative staff, to the teachers, students, social worker, and the parents who dropped their children to school—all helped me become a part of my community, grounding me to understand my bigger purpose.
If you would like to have a similar, yet different experience while giving to Mango House, please contact me. My partnership with them is ongoing. Moving forward, I am helping them secure donations and volunteers from the local community in Goa.