Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Republic Day - Initiation day for Project Unnati!

Nishank experience of the day:

I tend to remember that on last Republic Day I was watching “Rang De Basanti” in PVR. The movie was great and thought provoking too. There was a scene in the movie where the actors were sitting in a bar and complaining “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!”

Well how easy it is to just watch the surroundings around us and shrugging off that nothing can be done!

But coming forward and bringing some change is a different game.

Unnati is supposed to be one such example.

I am sure we all want to see a developed India where there is an equal opportunity for all to succeed, where every child can go to a school. Where no child has to spend his childhood working day and night to earn a living instead of being able to play with his friends. Where people are not trapped in a vicious circle of poverty but have a chance to lead a decent life.

But just having a dream is not enough. The question is how much does it matters to us to achieve that dream.

We have an excellent opportunity to bring the change we envision. Being the youth of the nation we have a great responsibility on our shoulders as how we are going to shape up the future of the country.

There will always be only 24x7 = 168 hours in a week for us even if we yearn for more. In this limited time only per week we have to manage our time between our work, our family and friends, our hobbies and anything else we want to do. Things won’t change in a weekJ. But slowly and steadily if we move towards the goal, with our collective efforts we can achieve a lot. It’s not just about doing things here in Gurgaon, or being part of AID Gurgaon. It’s about asking ourselves as what role I am going to play and why. It’s about though being anywhere in India, or even outside India, but working towards bringing the change. But when we are able to do something near our immediate surroundings then changes are most perceptible.

When we come ahead for volunteering we are helping people who may be totally strangers to us, but still we share a common bond among us. They may be quite lagging in terms of education, income etc. when compared to us. But they are also citizens of the same India. Globalization and economic development shouldn’t remain a prerogative of few who are able to get decent education and get plugged-in in the system to enjoy benefits brought by Information Technology, Outsourcing, Foreign Direct Investment etc. Off-late we have seen that gap between Haves and Have-nots is increasing day by day but at some point the trend needs to be reserved. And for that we need to do something about it. It’s responsibility of each one of us.

Or else there is a simple solution. We can simply sit in our air-conditioned offices, sipping a cup of coffee and saying, “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!”

Oh I yet have to start regarding the update on activities!

When we reached Unnati the children became excited and started making noises. We tried to gather all the children at one place. But they were not listening much to us. Some of the elders there intervened and helped us in keeping the children disciplined. We had plans of distributing slates and toffees to the children. We had taken 70 slates with us, but soon we realized that it was not enough. We got a bit confused as how to proceed ahead. But anyways we decided that the elder children would be given the slates first followed by the younger children. We decided to first note down the names of the children.

It seemed to be an arduous task. Sachin and Sumit were trying to placate the children. Deepak took the lead in between and children spoke following him, “Hum sabko padh likh ke bada aadmi banna hai”! That time we didn’t have a pen and paper with us. Then Mr. Mohd Rafi (I hope you guyz have not forgot Shahrukh and now we have Mr. Rafi) immediately arranged it for us. He is the owner of a tea-stall there and he is one of the few people to whom we had a talk initially regarding our plan of teaching children there.

Manoj started jotting down the names of the children along with Ravi. They jotted down the names of the children to whom slates were to be given. Then we started calling each child by his/her name to handover the slate/chalk and other children clapped with it. Meanwhile Deepak was busy in taking the snaps. Amit, Ankit, Rachit and I were busy opening the packing of slates and handing it over for distribution. The parents where happy that something good was happening for their children.

When we had distributed few of the slates we saw that few of the children have already started writing down their names on the slates. It was really nice to see that. One by one our stock of slates were finished and still few younger children were saying that they too want the slates. We told them that we will soon arrange the slates for them too. At that time the toffees came handy as we said that we will give toffees to them and told children to stand in line. After that we handed over the toffees which appeased the younger children. Even few of the elders said that they too want the slates
J and that time we said that today slates are only for children.

We also had a chance to interact with the parents and some of them were asking regarding schooling for their children. Even some of the adults there want to learn reading and writing. It was a really nice experience and a bit unique way for celebrating Republic Day for us.

Once we go to that place, it makes us wonder that how these people are living in so abject poverty. How they must have faced this gruesome winter in their patch-like homes. What is the future going to be for these children for whom the present is in this dire condition? How much these people can think of education for their children when they are surviving on hand to mouth existence and not sure of what they will earn the next day.

And the most important question is, “Will things ever change for them? “

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Want to be different!!

Join this Group!!!

They are all the same but still they are different....

Changing the unchangeable things is difficult, but there are few people who still change them..

Are you also one of them...

Join AID Gurgaon

AID Gurgaon New Project - Unnati

AID Gurgaon NEw Project - Unnati

After successful running of AID Gurgaon Mobile Creches, now with Nishank's continuous efforts we have a new project in our group. Nishank named it as Unnati. The project has been started from scratch and volunteers will be working without the support from any other NGOs. I believe the volunteers now are experienced enough to make this project a success.

Here is how Nishank describes his views:

Hi all,

Here is a brief update on the new project to be initiated by AID Gurgaon. There is a slum area which is located 5 mins drive from Evalueserve’s office (near Rajeev Chowk, close to Delhi-Jaipur highway). The slum area is called “Ret-Mandi” by the people there. On Saturday, January 20, 2007 while returning from Mobile Creches, Sachin, Munish, Sumit and I went for the survey of the area. The basti consists of more than 50 families with around 150-200 children.

The basti is on a barren land where people have put patch-like shelters. The basti is around 6-7 years old and some of the people keep coming and going if they are not able to get any work. Most of the families there hail from Rajasthan. The people there are basically daily wage earners surviving on hand to mouth existence. Their occupations vary from working as mason, labourers, making ropes, selling things on thelas etc.

The children there have no access to education. Some of the children there have been to school earlier, but had to leave their studies in between. There we met a boy “Shambhu” who has studied till class 5. His father was asking if Shambhu can be admitted in some school. We talked to few more people there and their responses were really good. They told that hey would help in every possible way if we start some teaching activity there. Even the children there want to study. The parents said that since there is no school nearby they are not able to send them school. Moreover affordability is an issue for them as sending to school means expenses in fees, uniforms, stationeries etc., that too when they have no regular source of income. Finally we returned from there and told that we would come the next day too.

Yesterday Sachin and I went to talk with more people there. We gave Shambhu a Hindi Storybook, a notebook and a pen. He even read aloud a paragraph from the storybook. Seeing him other children also told that they want notebooks. Even some of the adults there told that they want to learn reading and writing. There are children of all age groups. They were busy playing with their customized toys. Few of the adults there told that teaching these children is next to impossible task as these children won’t listen to us. We told that we will try our best and asked them to be a bit strict when we will start classes thereJ !!! We also took few photos of the children and the place there. The children were very excited to get themselves photographed.

We are planning to start classes there on Saturdays and Sundays. (On Saturday from 3-5 p.m. and on Sundays from 2-5 p.m.) Here we should strive for overall community development here rather than only the education of children. In this slum area no NGO or Govt. body visits and there is a lot of scope and challenge to do something constructive here. We will have to start things from scratch here. One of the possible names for this project can be “Unnati” as these people really need some development.

CSR in AID Gurgaon

With efforts of the volunteers finally we were able to successfuly form a fully functional CSR team in the first company Evalueserve. Wouldn't you like to know why i mentioned it as fully functional?

Here are the few points lined up:
  • Successful completion of winter clothes drive
  • Successful execution of teaching program of the house boys within the company by CSR volunteers
  • Success of bottoms-up approach in forming a CSR team
  • Involving CSR volunteers in other AID Gurgaon projects such as Mobile Creches
  • Growing volunteers every month
  • Donation drive
  • and lots more
Now the plan is to form similar CSR teams in other companies in Gurgaon. A list of companies have been identified and bottoms-up approach will be used to form the core of the CSR team.

Keep checking this post for the updates....

Kids Ralley...

Mobile Creches celebrated 'Bal Adhikar Diwas'

This saturday was somewhat different. It was late morning and we all reached Mobile Creches with the usual plan of teaching kids. To our suprise what we all saw was something different!!! All the kids instead of being inside school, were standing outside with posters and banners in their hand. It seemed as if some army is ready to attack.

I was surprized but then someone told us that there is a awareness rally organized today. All the kids were supposed to form a group and walk in their community. Kids were carrying posters in their hands with different messages written on it.

This was their fight for education.

Whoops... then what to think, I also took a poster in my hand and became part of the rally.

I could imagine the rallies in 1940s for the fight for freedom. This was very much the same for these kids.

However, this was fun!! fun for them and fun for all the volunteers.

We all were moving in the small lanes of the community (designed like jalebi, we were moving round and round from one lane to the other) with shouting aloud the messages that were written on the posters. Everyone from the community were looking us (which we all wanted) and trying to read what was written on posters.

Though there was no teaching that day, we were not able to teach something to kids, but i learnt one thing from the ralley "We don't value things that we get with ease, the value of those things are only known to those who are deprived of them"