Friday, January 29, 2010

Respectfully Yours...

While many of us have joined hands to work against various issues facing our country, there are some real ground issues that we need to tackle. The very basic psychological need of any human is respect (in its true sense). What would respect mean?

Well, to begin with let us say it is to honour each other's presence! Now, all of us, from the very beginning are so used to of being taught everything, its very rare that we self learn things. So, who teaches us this phenomenon. I would probably appoint "the mother", for no one can be a better teacher for a child than his/her own mother.

My question is- Is that happening? The answer in all probability would be don't think so? We have come to terms with parents providing sex education to their children however, I am yet to see any mother inculcating that emotion called "respect" in her child. But many wonder what is the point that I am trying to make, should we have lessons on respect now? My answer is Yes! It is important for every girl to understand the thin line between self respect and ego; it is important for every boy to understand the thin line between power and dominance.

Things in the past were so simple, the roles were so clear. The mommies were given the portfolio of home management and the daddies had to manage everything else. I still remember my friend's mom giving the job desciptions (JDs) & KRAs of the organization called "family". Here it goes-

Daddy: the one who goes and gets the bread and the butter
Mommy: the one who toasts it and applies butter
Child: the one who gets the first bite

Life was so simple back then. But now, the mommies are in the race to outshine the daddies. In such a situation it becomes very important for every human to understand this concept called "respect". Many marriages are breaking for the want of "respect". I see many times it is not respect but ego! Both men and women fail to respect each other's existence and do not understand the thin lines between various realms of life and proceed to lead a happy and balanced life.

With the roles getting complicated and intertwinned, the concept of respect needs to be schooled to each one of us so that it is not messed up with ego! ELAINE SIHERA an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and lifestyle columnist has worked on the concept of respect and following are the excerpts from her writings:

Often a lack of respect comes from a misunderstanding of the word. We throw around the word 'respect' very glibly, as a single cure-all for our feelings. But respect is not just one term. It carries six other dimensions within it:

1. curiosity: We have an interest in that person. We want to know as much about them as possible, or at least a few key things to start with.

2. attention: If curiosity is satisfied, we move to give that person our full attention.

3. dialogue: We communicate verbally as much as possible because we respect that person enough to want to hear what they have to say. We also take the greatest pleasure in conversing for its own sake.

4. sensitivity: This is at the core of respect. Accepting the person as they are without wanting to change them to suit us; fully acknowledging their values, culture, identity and who they want to be; valuing their contributions, opinions and inputs and genuinely listening to them and sharing their concerns. These are all essential elements of showing sensitivity to the person they are, and wish to be. When we put ourself and our needs first, and can only see our values, cultures and opinions, we are lacking great sensitivity to those we care for and are actually denying them respect, no matter what we say to the contrary.

5. empowerment: Being curious about someone, giving our attention to, having a dialogue with, him or her, and being sensitive to their needs represent the greatest form of empowerment we can grant to another human being. It shows we value them greatly if we are willing to give them our attention and time, and also care about what they value. Anything else lacks respect.

6. healing: Respect has the capacity to heal, especially when we have had past experiences that have been very hurtful or traumatic, so this last dimension is important. When we have had a bad time it is very affirming to be respected and valued by the new person we are attracted to, or the people we interact with, and it is effective in speeding up the healing process.

If we are not really demonstrating those six concepts in various ways, with regards to the one we say we respect, we are not showing them much respect at all.

I find the definiton so beautiful as it fits in every relation- in-laws, lovers, friends, spouse, colleagues and fellow citizens. In a way is that not what our constituition also frames in the form of fundamental rights!

More to follow as I experience life........

Cheers! Kanika

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Republic Day Celebration at Shiksharth

The Republic Day celebration at Shiksharth was the first event hosted there since the school started about two months back. Naturally, there was much excitement coupled with nervouness in the morning air of 26th. All the volunteers gathered at the school and went about making last minute preparations for the function, while the students huddled together practicing 'Saare Jahan Se Accha'.

The students of Shiksharth were soon joined by children from 'Suparna Ka Angan', an NGO run by Suparna ji who hoisted the flag and said a few words of encouragement to the children. Others guests present were Mr.S.P. Singh and Commander Gupta who also shared their thoughts and words with the children. Mrs.Grover, who is a retired school principal and is actively involved at Shiksharth, engaged the children in a patriotic song.

The flag hoisting ceremony and national anthem were followed by a patriotic song presented by students in tandem with a couple of volunteers. A talent show was presented where the children came forward and presented poems and patriotic songs to loud clapping and cheering from their parents and us volunteers. One of the most regular students of the school, Hrithik, was awarded a prize for 100% attendance record.

The sports activities that followed were greatly enjoyed by both participants and the audience; our little event pulled quite a crowd from the adjoining Ramleela ground where the villagers were celebrating Republic Day in their own 'a little too loud' spirit. :) The race were conducted at the back lawn of the school. The children participated in running race, lemon and spoon race and balloon race. The enthusiam of the kids was so infectious that soon it spread to us too and we had a lemon and spoon race as well. :)

Once the children had settled down after the race, prizes were distributed to the winners; sweets and biscuits were distributed to all the children present. The day came to a close with all the volunteers posing together for pictures alongside children and the teacher.

All in all, the day turned out to be simply unforgettable for me and I am sure for the rest of the volunteers too.

Deepak, Nitin, Mohit, Kanika, Piyush, Kunal, Tapas, Mohit Grover, Pretik, Pooja, Mansi and Divya - Thank you so much for all the efforts you guys put into making this event a success.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shiksharth – A new AID-Gurgaon initiative

It's been now more than one month that our new educational centre 'Shiksharth' has started. During this initial one month we faced many challenges around infrastructure, water for sanitation, kid's turnaround, kids tracking, teacher monitoring, etc. However, we have managed to overcome most of the issues today. Below are the key areas of our focus:

We have already taken some measures to improve the infrastructure while some others are in the consideration.

  • Since the school is running in the open gallery so we have arranged a bamboo chit wall to block the wind from one side.
  • Purchased 2 plastic chairs, Black Board, locks, stationary, etc.
  • Resolved drinking water problem.Resolved sanitation water problem.
  • Resolved electricity problem.

Going forward for couple of months our priority will be ground leveling and tree
plantation. Ground leveling work has been started and tree plantation drive
is schedule in February.

Currently around 30 kids are coming regularly in the school and we are committed to increase the numbers of kids once the weather gets normalized. We are in process of tracking the mental level and development of the kids. We are starting the process to connect with the parents of kids who are coming to 'Shiksharth'. Since we are not enrolling more kids currently so we have postponed the community connect program till the end of February. AID-Gurgaon volunteer, Mathangi, is coming regularly to assist the teacher. Moreover, she is the prime coordinator for the new volunteers willing to join us at 'Shiksharth'. She is in continuous touch with kids and teacher and always trying to monitor their performance and the needs. Recently Mansi Saxena has joined us in our initiative.

Self-Sustainability Initiative
Recently, we have started a campaign 'Donate your Newspaper' in order to raise the funds. We are hopeful that this initiative will help us in creating awareness around our school and also sensitizing people regarding their social responsibility.