Our relationship with Aquatic Public School (APS) began just under two years ago when we moved into a neighborhood just outside Delhi, India, and found the school just around the corner! It was April of 2016 when Kelly Jobe and Laura Voight (then students from the Institute for G.O.D.) began volunteering at APS, teaching English, music and math lessons. The warm reception they received from the school led us to inquire about further possibilities for collaboration. In September of that year, Gregg Garner met with Principal Sunny Singh and entered into a formal partnership. We became responsible for assisting in basic campus improvements, providing professional educators to train school faculty, helping develop effective accounting and bookkeeping, and the creation of an effective brand along with all related media. Since then we have enjoyed developing relationships with staff, and been hard at work to meet the scope of our responsibilities!
Like many schools in impoverished neighborhoods in India, APS facilities are substandard. We have worked to improve them (relative to the fact that the property is leased and not permanent) by installing fans in every classroom, setting up a water purification system to provide drinking water to all students and staff, and constructing a hand-washing station to enable better sanitation. Along with the help of generous donors, we have outfitted rooms with educational posters, art supplies, English textbooks, classroom manipulatives, and a computer for administration.
One of our greatest long-term investments has been the continued education of school teachers. All of the APS staff are passionate about what they do. But the grand majority have had little to no formal training in teaching. In the last year we have provided 12 all-day seminars for administrators and teachers. From childhood development and lesson planning to classroom management and the use of drama and music in the classroom, these workshops have been quite the privilege to host! They have been received with enthusiasm and participation. Furthermore, since March of 2016 we have consistently provided two part-time teachers each semester, with over a dozen more who on a short term basis have taught or assisted with APS courses.
Supporting a K-10 school requires not just educators, but a host of various skill sets from our team members. Grant Dailey designed business cards and set up a website for the school that can be used for parent updates and communication. (Yes, even in impoverished Indian communities, internet is reliable and most everyone owns a cell phone!) Stephanie Bartlett developed a platform for the school’s accounting, helping administrators track attendance, payments and expenses. We have sent plumbers, electricians, musicians, and public health specialists to share their skills through teaching or service projects! It has truly been a team effort to create a safe and thriving learning environment for the precious students who arrive each day.
Our ongoing efforts include providing staff to teach specialized courses for the oldest students. We are teaching young ladies ‘Girls Health’, a class in which they learn about the anatomy and physiology of their own bodies. Other students attend music class twice a week, where they are learning an instrument and playing with a band! In the coming year we hope to introduce a job placement program to offer graduating students (especially girls with few job options) a chance to develop hands-on skills, and learn what it means to serve in ministry.
Jesus taught a story about a man who encountered another person directly in his path--this person was helpless and in great need. Though the man did not share a religion or ethnicity with the one in need, he demonstrates the qualities of a true neighbor through the sacrificial care that he offered the injured person. The Good Samaritan story inspires us. We are doing our best to show neighborly love to the families who send their children to APS, and are so grateful to the Lord who has provided all of these opportunities. It is through His guidance and sustaining presence that we are able to offer ourselves to a very needy community.