The Bhopal Medical Appeal schools programme is a fun, educational programme promoting the positive ideas of multiculturalism, charitable giving, and healthy living and is provided 100% free to the school.
The Bhopal tragedy began in 1984 with a vast leak of poison gas and, while we don’t expect school children to have any knowledge of this, even many adults are unaware that the ongoing legacy of the disaster still affects thousands of people to this day. Our programme aims to gently raise awareness of the issues in Bhopal, while contextualising them in a general discussion of Indian culture, building toward a big, fun event as the climax of the programme.
At the end of the course the children, along with parents and friends, are invited to join us in an optional sponsored event.
Our Schools’ Programme- In Brief
The course is comprised of four engaging and great fun workshops hosted by us at the school: an introduction to the charity and Indian culture, with a ‘soft’ introduction to the disaster and the work of our clinics in Bhopal; a yoga workshop; an Indian food tasting session; and a ‘Holi Day’ celebration.
The course begins with an introductory talk from BMA Executive Trustee Tim Edwards whose relationship with Bhopal began with him cycling from Brighton to Bhopal in 1999. Tim explains the history of the cause in an engaging manner, carefully avoiding any potentially disturbing aspects of the disaster story. He explains how the children can help and what they will be doing over the coming few weeks.
A yoga workshop follows (teachers are welcome to join in too!) which has been well-received and incredibly beneficial, with many of the teachers reporting greater attentiveness from the students after the session. Yoga not only promotes ideas of healthy living but serves as a means of conceptually connecting the pupils with children being helped at the clinics we fund in Bhopal. We use yoga to great success for treating asthma at the clinics and it is virtually guaranteed that every child at the yoga session will know another with asthma. Forging this connection enables the pupils to begin understanding how the people on which this terrible disaster is being inflicted includes children just like them.
A food tasting session follows which sees Bhopal Disaster survivor and long-time supporter of our charity, Farah Edwards, introduce the children to the traditional Bhopali version of the dish ‘Poha’. Poha is a very simple dish of spiced and flavoured Chura (flattened rice) that is the breakfast of many Indian people. The children invariably love this experience and have cleaned us out of Poha at every workshop!
The final session is the ‘Holi Day’ celebration and it’s no surprise to find it’s the most anticipated and popular of all! We explain a little about the history and meaning of the event, and the reasons to celebrate, and then get onto the fun… the powder paint celebration! Kilos of (non-harmful) powder paint are thrown by excited children in a positive riot of colour!
The programme as described is provided to the school free of charge but, wherever possible, we do like to build in an optional fundraising event. To date, when we have run the programme in Brighton, the children and parents have been offered the chance to participate in the ‘Color Run’ which is a Holi-inspired fun run along the seafront. Sadly the Color Run is not taking place in 2018 although we hope it will do so next year.
Each child taking part in the sponsored event receives a goodie bag from us that includes a hand-made thankyou card made by one of the children being treated at our Chingari Clinic in India and a recipe card so they can make Poha at home. We do ask that each person taking part fundraises for our appeal but the target is set low and the children are allowed to run regardless of how much they raise.
Our schools’ programme is designed to introduce school children to Indian culture and does not focus on any of the potentially disturbing aspects of the disaster situation in Bhopal. We like to think we’re raising awareness by ‘planting a seed’ with the pupils for another time, later in their lives, and hopefully raising some much-needed funds along the way.
At Your School
We know that every school is different, and are more than happy to adapt the course to suit the needs of your school. We can tailor the course to any age group and include a curriculum item if required. We have a pre-prepared Geography pack suitable for Key Stage 3 and the programme has already been used as an art class project featuring a mural exchange between students in England and children from our Chingari Clinic.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss the programme so please contact [email protected]