Garware Balbhavan, Pune, India.

About Balbhavan

There will be hardly anyone living in Pune city who had not heard about "Garware Balbhavan". It is a well known recreational center located in the heart of the Pune city. It is known for its interesting and meaningful work in the field of child development since 1985.

It all started in 1979. This year was announced as ‘The International Children’s Year'. Keeping this in mind Mr. P. S. Palande who was that time Commissioner of Pune, decided to create an activity center for children. Mr. Abasaheb Garware a well known industrialist took initiative and with Pune Municipal Corporation "Garware Balbhavan" started functioning on 1st September 1985.

 

Article From Shobhatai Bhagwat

Shobhatai

Our Children

Our Children

(sections from the famous Marathi book by Shobha-tai titled "Aapali Mulay")

Every book has its own story. Readers like to understand how it came into being. Speaking about this book - I have always liked children since I was young. I have grown up playing with the children - in my neighbourhood, children of family friends and acquaintances - taking them on trips, teaching them and sometimes even hitting them while I was at it, loving them, quarrelling with them. I had a particular fondness for cradling infants in my lap. I was in Class VIth-VIIth, when, during the summer holidays in the month of May, my family was making its annual trip to my ancestral village by train. In the jam-packed train compartment, I was joyously cradling an infant in my lap. The infant was burning with fever and died in my lap. The shock of the infant's death shook me so deeply that upon reaching my village I was in the sickbed with fever for two to three days after this incident. As I grew this abiding affection and love for children blossomed, unknown, within me. Supervising children and hearing their fun tales fascinated me further.

But this love for children took deep root within me only after I had children of my own. After the birth of my first born, my first outing was an experience that was at once both different and unique. A slum dwelling child from the neighbourhood was playing on the street. As vehicles zipped closely by, I could see my own baby's face in that child. I felt my love for children had awakened me to an altogether new dimension.

When my children were growing I learnt that nice as the experience was, it was just as confusing, thought-provoking and an invaluable learning experience. I began to doubt if I possessed all the compassion, patience, cleverness and fortitude that this experience required of me. I learnt this better from my own hands-on practical experience rather than reading books and understanding child psychology. Some books however did show me some new paths on the road to parenting.

I scarcely imagined that I had thought and deliberated on this topic as much as I had done, until I finished writing the articles in this book. How much my heart and mind holds was revealed to me while writing this book.

I had previously written articles on children in "Stree" and "Sakal" (both Marathi publications). These were liked by Megha Rajhans and Dileep Majgaonkar who visited my office and asked me to write more on this topic. I answered them with a "Yes" and began my article series in "Manus" (another Marathi publication). These articles were completed because I was being chased by a tiger named Megha! I feel closer than ever to this subject now. Writing numerous articles on this topic, thoroughly researching it, understanding the psyche and mind of the child and teaching the parents to understand it - I now consider this as my vocation.

I openly admit that not a whole lot of research has gone into this book - what it is, is an honest and complete exploration of the experiences that I have encountered as a parent. This is my natural desire to constantly explore unknown and unseen frontiers. Any knowledge, any education, any research is ultimately only direct experience. Many times the web spun by erudite language, complex compositions, grand and obtruse thought patterns, difficult grammatical words conspire to prevent the freshness, the joy, the flavour, the sweetness, the soul of direct experience from reaching us. This is an attempt to bring to you the experience of understanding children while preserving intact the inherent and complete sweetness of this experience.

This book is written for all who come in contact with children and who does not? Albeit not external, but all of us have a child embedded in our deepest recesses with whom we meet up. If we nurture and protect that child and establish a rapport with the child, living becomes easier. That is because the child acts in a true fashion driven by pristine, natural tendencies. This natural, pristine beauty of our mind is what we have lost. It is being stolen from us. We need to protect it with conscious effort, care and love.

I was taken back in time to the days of my childhood in the process of writing these articles. I understood better, how unknown to us brothers and sisters, our parents had taught us so much in their simple, straight-forward and loving behaviour. Bapu would have greatly liked to read these articles. He would say, 'Write in a simple manner that we can understand" In writing these articles, my husband Anil, children Shonil and Abha helped me a lot. They spoke to me at length about these articles. All of us got much closer on a very different level because of these articles.

Shribhau Majgaonkar inspired me to write. To spark the flame inherent in you is my responsibility. To let me know how and what you felt after reading all this is your responsibility.

-Shobha Bhagwat

Our Team

Balbhavan has 50 well-educated, cultured office bearers whom the children affectionately call "older sister" or "Tai" (in Marathi). Each Tai is responsible for the group of children under her care. The daily programmes for children are designed and decided by these Tai's themselves who take great care to foster and protect the independence of children. Their primary effort is to understand the children in their group. They provide children with ample opportunity to do varied tasks all by themselves. The environment in every Tai's group promotes learning amongst the children with ease, comfort, freedom and joy.

Training

Every year, Balbhavan conducts two training programmes. These are held in the last fifteen days of the month of February and the month of July. Anyone who is interested in working with children is eligible to attend these training camps. There is no age or qualification restriction to attend these camps. Parents, teachers, NGO personnel, members of self-help organisations, grandparents, graduate and post-graduate students attend these camps. The schedule of these training programmes includes talks by renowned experts, workshops and direct personal experience of the entire experiment of child development, successfully developed and pioneered by Balbhavan.

After receiving this training, numerous such Balbhavan's have been started all over Maharashtra. Within Pune city itself, such Balbhavan's operate in 100 different locations spread all across the city.

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Parent Education

Simply working with children does not solve their problems. A dialogue has been initiated with parents. With this in mind, special parent education classes are regularly conducted in Balbhavan.

Reaching out...

From a very young age, children coming to Balbhavan have an awareness of the socially marginalized children. They must come to know these children. For this reason Balbhavan has been constantly reaching out to many children. Our office bearers visit many such organisations and conduct children camps there. Children camps are conducted in numerous small schools in rural areas. Balbhavan organizes its camps and programmes in many villages to conduct parents, teacher's and volunteers training camps. Children come to Balbhavan from all strata of society. In the matter of admission to Balbhavan, priority is given to children with special needs.

In times of social catastrophe (earthquakes, floods, fires, drought, tsunami, riots) the children, parents and office bearers of Balbhavan voluntarily and promptly collect money and relief material and dispatch them to the stricken people.

Balbhavan has worked with following organizations-

  • एकलव्य बालशिक्षण व आरोग्य न्यास - रेणू गावस्कर
  • सर्वेषां सेवासंघ - उषा वाघ
  • इनव्हेस्टमेंट इन मॅन ट्रस्ट - आशाताई सेठ, वंदना सेठ
  • वंचित विकास - विलास चाफेकर
  • नीहार - सुनीता जोगळेकर
  • सहेली - तेजस्विनी सेवेकरी
  • बापू ट्रस्ट
  • ज्ञानदेवी - डॉ. अनुराधा सहस्रबुद्धे
  • अपनालय - लीना जोशी
  • सरस्वती अनाथ आश्रम - देवीदास सुरवसे
  • बालग्राम, भाजे
  • बालग्राम, फुलगाव
  • कास्प प्लॅन, तळेगाव - मुकुंद दुधाळे
  • डोअरस्टेप स्कूल - रजनी परांजपे
  • स्पॅरोज - सुदेष्णा घारे
  • जे. सी. बी. ट्रस्ट, तळेगाव
  • शाश्वत - मंचर, कुसुम कर्णिक
  • आयडेंटिटी फाऊंडेशन - नम्रता कवडे
  • आदर्श बालवाडी - सुनंदा मिरजकर
  • खेळघर (पालकनीती) - शुभदा जोशी
  • अधिक्षणग्रुह - शिवाजीनगर
  • अधिक्षणग्रुह - लक्ष्मी रोड
  • स्वाधार - मीनाक्षी आपटे, संयुक्ता रेंगे
  • आपलं घर - विजय फळणीकर
  • मासूम - डॉ. मनीषा गुप्ते
  • महिला सेवाग्राम, कर्वे रोड
  • इंडिया स्पॉन्सरशिप कमिटी - ऑड्री परेरा
  • जनविकास प्रतिष्ठान - नंदिनी दातार
  • आनंदवन - डॉ. विकास आमटे
  • नवम
  • मानव्य - उज्वला लवाटे
  • आदिवासी सहज शिक्षण परिवार, मासवण
  • फोर्ब्ज मार्शल उपक्रम - बीना जोशी, कविता भागवत
  • इंटरव्हिडा
  • कास्प - पुणे