Shaping Lives regularly facilitates / conducts events which generate ‘smiles’ for the empanelled beneficiaries and our clients. We believe in creating and not just pursuing happiness through our deeds ... read more
“Acting as the ‘bridge’ between our discerning and socially interactive inbound traveler and our NGOs, the Foundation has conducted various events and interactions since its inception. These events have brought happiness to both the ‘children’ from the empanelled NGOs and our clients, and invoked a bonding between the two, which we hope shall blossom into a long term relationship. Some of the events can be seen in the month-wise compilation.”
Shaping lives celebrates year end fortnight 2012
Best Wishes for 2013
Shaping Lives thus signed off a wonderful year of spreading karmic experiences for our clients and spreading smiles across our NGOs with this particularly strong last fortnight. To all who have experienced ‘karma’ through Shaping Lives, the CSR department of the Le Passage travel group, and to others reading this, we invite you back for more and diverse experiences along your holiday itineraries. Have a contented and peaceful 2013 and God be with you and yours
Delhi : The Earth Saviours’ Foundation
Shaping Lives facilitated the 23rd Know India Programme group of young PIOs (people of Indian origin). The group comprised of Indian students from across the globe who come under a government program to familiarise themselves with India. Coming through our ICE business partner, Shaping Lives set up the last Saturday of the year with TESF. The other NGOs and facilities were closed for winter holidays.
Needless to say, the students found the experience to be enriching and spent over two hours at the NGO. Photo ops were in 100s including with the animals which are also part of this NGO campus. The students were clearly fascinated to be interacting with senior citizens, street children undergoing informal education, an array of domestic animals, environment awareness and an exposure to different kind of volunteers groups who were spending their Saturday here. Some spent time with the arts and crafts volunteers whilst others joined the music therapy group and sang along with them as they endeavoured to entertain and sooth the senior lot. Mr Kalra, Founder and GM Shaping Lives took turns to answer their queries and satisfy their curiosity. Some of them hinted at returning as volunteers, others promised affiliations and fund raising in their respective communities ranging from the Fiji Islands to New York to Malaysia. Besides sponsoring a special lunch for all 250 inmates, the youngsters also did a spot collection, which indeed was heartening to see as they were all undergoing a sponsored program.
Delhi : XMAS Lunch Sponsorship
Julia from TUI India supported by GM Shaping Lives also sponsored a personal special Xmas lunch for all the hostel inmates of the above NAB Girls’ Centre. A small gesture but one designed to culminate our Shaping Lives and colleagues effort at inculcating and spreading the ‘spirit of giving’ on this last wonderful festival in the Indian calendar.
DELHI : Project Arman
Japanese groups coming in via Go India Journeys were also facilitated in their visit to Project Arman, our key project to weaqn away children from waste picking and provide them informal and subsequent formal schooling for an alternate and more dignified means of livelihood.
Delhi : NAB Centre for the Visually Impaired Girls
This NGO had been explored and taken on board by Shaping Lives in early December. It is a residential – cum – training centre for visually impaired girls. Besides computer training, the girls are taught the innovative Japanese massage technique especially tailor made for the blind, numerous vocational skills and best of all, 25 of them including a few boys as a special project, are under final phase of training to take over one of VODAPHONE’s post-paid call centres from jan 2013. This Centre raised a request for Ipods for their blind girls. Our group Company T.I. Infotech (TII) volunteered a collection and a few other LPTI colleagues pooled in as well. We were able to gift 4 Ipods at a very touching and educative ceremony, where representatives from TII and donors from LPTI were also present. Mr Darshan Sharma, from the TII top end management personally came in and was visibly impressed with what these wonderful girls are capable of in Info technology. Our chief hostess and escort, Ms Reena, herself visually impaired and an alumni of the Centre, is awaiting her MCA course result within this fortnight and has interviews lined up with Ernest and Young for her career launch as informed to us by Mrs Asha Mirchandani, a volunteer on grooming, communication and guidance to the girls and a leading lights of this NAB Centre. You can well imagine the grooming at this Centre from Reena’s brief.
We suggest a visit to this Centre. You have the gift of sight, a visit will give you the vision.
Delhi : The Earth Saviours’ Foundation
Shaping Lives laid the foundation for the first ever ‘Xmas Muffin’ by TUI India. All it involved was a collection effort via their colleagues at Delhi by TUI India. The COO, Ms Louise Bates, fancied the idea so much, that she initiated the collection the same day. Muffins were purchased for all 250 inmates and staff of our affiliated NGO, TESF and she, with some of her colleagues, took time out from her hectic pre-Xmas schedule to personally visit the NGO and do the gifting early next morning. It was a first exposure in CSR for TUI India but as the photographic evidence shows, they were elated. Louise’s immediate reaction post the visit inputs was “Dear Anil (GM, Shaping Lives), The pleasure was all ours. It was an honour to spend the time at The Earth Saviours Foundation and to meet Ravi and some of the people he cares for. Thanks again for making it possible. I look forward to planning future events during January. Merry Christmas and happy new year, Louise”.
Besides the muffins, there was sufficient cash balance left over from the collection to present a sizable donation to the NGO for their utilisation. Receipts were immediately given as is the norm enforced by Shaping Lives, whenever we take clients/guests to our NGOs. It is our way of staying transparent. We hope to do many more interactive CSR actions with TUI India in the near future.
GOA : St John’s Orphanage
The second fortnight of Dec always sets the tone for gaiety and giving. We did our tidbits by encouraging colleagues and our Special Business Units to create the Xmas magic. Goa naturally led the way being our Xmas Centre. Reshma’s team collected a tidy sum from within themselves, and gifted a whole assortment of goodies to St John’s orphanage close to their office. The children were a little surprised at this early Santa spirit but elated that the festivities had begun. Komal with 2 other colleagues from the office did the honours.
Shaping Lives Hosts Polish Group For Diwali Tea With Our Ngo
A forty member Polish group, courtesy one of our Special Business Units (SBU), expressed a desire for some social interface on landing at Delhi in the afternoon from Nepal. It was a short notice request and falling the day before Diwali. Schools were closed and our senior citizen centre managed by “The Earth Saviours’ Foundation’ (TESF), seemed to be the only option for the late evening session. Apprehensions were expressed about it not being too joyous to meet abandoned and mentally / physically unstable aged, and possible trauma for a few group members. GM Shaping Lives put these aside, firm in his belief that the good care and compassion for these inmates by our empanelled NGO would leave even the most hardened touched and the soft hearted impressed. He also believes that no matter what the race or creed, the less privileged draw automatic sympathy and love from our visitors, because kindness transcends barriers.
On SBU request and budget sanctions, tea and gifts of fruits and snacks were organized by the NGO. Individual gifts to be presented to each of the 50 inmates were also purchased. Being Diwali, candles and a very limited amount of sparklers and light crackers were brought in to entertain the inmates and guests together. You are aware of the kind of pre-diwali traffic, and hence it was no surprise when the guests arrived an hour later than the scheduled time. Did that make a difference? No, it did not. The TESF staff and the Founder Ravi Kalra were their cheerful affectionate self as the clients disembarked from the coach.
Language is always a barrier but the tour escort seemed to convey Ravi’s vision and the NGOs work pretty well because after the initial inhibitions of arrival in darkness in an open cold new place, the guests opened up and started exploring and interacting. They seemed astounded as to how a single man and his team of girls could achieve so much without any regular source of funds. Ravi signaled to the heavens and all smiled and agreed. As they were being taken on a conducted tour of the NGO premises, one of them passed a hat around and a sizable collection was handed over to the NGO on the spot, with promises of more to come later.
Assisted by the exuberant TESF team, who had stayed back late on a pre-festival evening, just to conduct the group, the guests were thereafter encouraged to light candles as a Diwali cultural participation. Their faces beamed with joy and excitement as each one was given sparklers to celebrate the ‘festival of lights’ the Indian way. Demands for more came up until the tour escort apprised them of time limitations and they accepted to do the gifting albeit with childlike upset faces at being denied more sparklers and fun.
Shaping Lives which had organized the entire meeting added a special dimension to this visit by encouraging the Polish clients to present not just the small gifts organized under aegis of our SBU, but also the ‘fleece jackets’ which were being gifted by Shaping Lives as a Diwali warmth to each inmate. At the end of it all, 50 TESF needy got warmth and lots of goodies, 40 clients got their chance to experience and earn karma, the NGO got due publicity, gifts and quite a major donation through an on the spot collection by the group, our SBU got its business satisfaction and Shaping Lives??? ….as always it walked away content that its vision ‘to bring smiles to the less privileged’ had been once again achieved in adequate measure.
The final handshakes and smiles exchanged with GM Shaping Lives as each guest mounted the coach after the visit, were symbolic enough of their contentment and happiness at this outing, where one gives little, but takes back a peace, happiness and memories which last a lifetime.
Visit to Arman : Swiss Group
The chill is coming into the Delhi air as winters creep in. Notwithstanding that, we had a very nice Swiss group take an impromptu decision on Sunday afternoon that they would like to visit one of our NGOs on 15 Oct. Although space is a major constraint due to the building structures and availability of space at Nizammudin, we offered an insight into our Project Arman, the ‘No Child in Trash’ program for waste pickers’ children.
The group debussed a tired lot after Monday’s daylong sight-seeing around 5.00 p.m., delayed due to traffic snarls, but the children were waiting. As always, photo sessions, laughter, excitement from both the guests and the children ruled unbridled. GM Shaping Lives briefed them about the children background, the current Arman status and our vision for this unique community changing Project. The visitors were also made aware of our faith in his holiness Khwaja Nizamudin blessing our endeavor, by virtue of sharing the outer wall of his mausoleum with us. Their queries were suitably replied to and the guests took back memories and brochures with a view to establishing long term relationships with Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, our partner in this change.
MEDIPLUS AT JAIPUR : This Group series homed in to Akshar Society on Friday the 19thNov for the second time within a fortnight. Effusive and bubbly as always, the children were thrilled to meet new faces and of course, the promises of chocolates and candies does its bit to the child’s heart…our Akshar children, coming in from the local slums, for quality education and main streaming into regular schools are no different. It is difficult not to melt and shower love on children….caste, creed, race, country …all take a backseat and so also with our esteemed Mediplus guests ….they walk in apprehensive and walk out gleaming …. Satisfied in mind and soul and with a smile of contentment on their lips.
Project Arman : Selected children of our Arman project at Nizamudin have started learning English grammar and phonetics via a new software installed on their computers. Their eyes are twinkling and they take great pride in announcing that they have their own ‘password’ to access the lessons. The afternoon classes for this English language orientation were introduced to instill confidence and prepare them better for the job markets of the future.
Gifts from Abroad : Close on the heels of Julia’s gifts, Ms Alice Foxley brought in some wonderful toys and Harry Potter books for the children. We gifted them the toys to our special children at Deepalaya Special Unit, Sanjay Colony, Delhi. The books were handed over to the Principal of the main and co-located Deepalaya School. The school has recently started a library and the Harry Potter contributions were much appreciated. As regards the reaction of our special children to the toys, well!! You had to be there to feel the happiness and smiles when they were handed over such beautiful and thoughtful gifts. Thank you Alice and all who contributed. You have brought smiles through Shaping Lives.
In-House CSR : While our clients were being a taste of good karma, Shaping Lives was busy organizing a different kind of sacrifice and ‘giving’ idea for the colleagues in our Delhi region. Mohan Foundation, NGO pioneers in spreading awareness on ‘Body Organ Donation’ were invited through aegis of a premium Hospital, to educate and motivate our team on this most noble act of philanthropy. Spread over 2 days and 4 presentations, the idea was well received and the response was so overwhelming that the organization ran short of ‘donor cards’. Shaping Lives also takes great pride in inculcating and awakening the spirit of goodness internally and often gets flak from our offshore locations that we do less for them compared to the main Delhi region CSR initiatives.
Le Passage Travel Foundation (Shaping Lives) Celebrates ‘World Tourism Day’
Le Passage Travel Foundation (Shaping Lives), www.shaping-lives.org, the philanthropic arm of Le Passage to India celebrated ‘World Tourism Day’ in the lush paddy fields of Lalowal, a village in the interiors of rural Punjab in Distt Gurdaspur. It teamed up with the ‘Guruji ki Dispensary’, a highly subsidized charitable dispensary set up in that village, and the Salvation Army medical unit running MacRoberts Hospital, Dhaliwal to organize a day long free medical camp on 27 Sept 2012.
The camp covered general, eye and dental check-ups, as well as ENT ailments for residents of Lalowal and six surrounding villages. Except Lalowal, which has the efficiently managed dispensary, run under aegis of “Pandit Kansi Ram and Pandit Kripa Ram Charitable and Welfare Trust”, financed and overseen personally by Sh Inder Sharma, Chairman, Select Group of Companies, no other village in this border area isolated belt has any reliable medical support and patients have to travel 6-8kms to Dhaliwal for treatment. The foundation for this special camp was laid on first fortnight of Sept when GM, Shaping Lives met Major Jeev Ratnam, the Administrator of MacRoberts Hospital and Mr Praveen Punj, the local Dispensary Administrator at Lalowal. Mr Punj, as the local administrator, set about advertising this first ever initiative in this particular area via pamphlets, Gurudwara (sikh religious centre) announcements and the quaint Indian village system of live and recorded messages sent around the area on a hired three wheeler fitted with loud speakers.
The Camp which commenced at 1030h finally wound up around 1530h. A team of 9 specialists and 20 staff and nursing trainees were on hand doing registration, counseling, diagnosis, pharmacy work and making the villagers feel that their trip to avail this camp was worth every penny. Almost 300 villagers utilised the services at this medical camp. Free medicines sponsored by local bulk dealers were provided for most diagnosed ailments while spectacles were sold at a nominal rate of INR 100, as compared to a minimum of INR 250 with the local opticians. Although over 30 patients were identified with cataract, only sixteen patients could be shortlisted for the surgery due to their other miscellaneous medical histories. These sixteen patients were given reference chits, and counseled to report to Dhaliwal hospital on 30 Sept for free of cost surgery. A cataract operation in that region costs approx. INR 10000. All other surgery requirements would also get a 25% discount at this Hospital. For the normal villager in this slightly poorer belt of Punjab, this was a windfall. For Shaping Lives, it was our humble endeavor to undertake something different on World Tourism day with our other partners with ‘hearts’ ……. something that would bring cheer and smiles to the less privileged ….…something that would make LPTI and us feel that we had contributed care and compassion on our industry’s very special day.
The locals were profuse in their thanks and appreciation, but it was the elderly patients who showered blessings on all members of this partnership. As a coincidence the World Senior Citizens’ day also falls on 01 Oct and most beneficiaries of this camp happened to be in that age group. As this goes into print, a proud announcement that all 16 cataract surgeries have been performed successfully over 30 Sept and 01 Oct needs to be added. We, at Shaping Lives, intend to make this a more regular feature.
HELP IN SUFFERING: ANIMAL NGO AT JAIPUR
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." said Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation.
Did you know that the Constitution of India also clearly states in Article 51-A that “It shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen of India … to have compassion for all living creatures”. Yet, countless animals suffer unnecessarily every day in our country. Traffic, weather conditions, malnutrition and, most sadly, abuse from humans are the grim realities of many of the living creatures struggling to survive in our country.
Shaping Lives is not just about human beings and the environment. We care deeply for animals as well and support animal rights and wellness in Jaipur and Agra through separate NGOs. At Jaipur, we associate with Help in Suffering, a registered charitable trust, which was founded in 1980 and has done tremendous work for the benefit of animals. The organization started with the vision of one woman, Crystal Rogers, and now has more than 35 full time employees working on 5 different projects. Through its Animal Birth Control (ABC) program Help in Suffering has reduced the stray dog population, and is responsible for almost eradicating rabies in the city of Jaipur. The ABC Extension project guarantees that catchers are taught how to capture dogs humanely and vets are trained for neutering and spaying dogs. The Camel Project journeys six days a week to village sites to treat injuries in these work animals, but most importantly educates owners in proper management to sustain healthy lives in the animals that help make their living.
Help in Suffering Rescue and Re-homing project ventures out to rescue 10-20 animals daily from the streets of Jaipur as a result of phone calls from concerned citizens. These animals include cattle, equines, dogs, cats, birds, monkeys and camels and all others. Help in Suffering is dedicated to helping the creatures of the planet that does not have a voice to ask for help.
On September 15, 2012 Help in Suffering will be holding its second fundraising event. The evening will be the first charitable animal fundraising event of its kind in Jaipur. It is a unique opportunity to join with others who share the same compassion and drive to save the plight of our animals. Animal lovers across the world can send in their wishes and monetary support directly to H.I.S. and make this event more memorable to them. The details for remittances are available on www.his-india.in. You could know more by visiting their facebook page at - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-in-Suffering-Jaipur-Rajasthan-India/336779206394210
Le Passage to India 10TH FOUNDATION DAY : 06 AUG 2012
Le Passage to India celebrated its Foundation Day on 06th Aug, with major CSR activities all across India. Its CSR arm, Le Passage Travel Foundation – Shaping Lives, has been in the forefront, planning, encouraging, motivating the Le Passage colleagues across India to join in the spirit of giving and benevolence. A string of activities were organised across India on 06 Aug, and as always colleagues across the offices in India responded with zest and a large heart.
Blood Donation : The blood donation, organized only at Delhi in association with the Rotary Club was a great success. What stood out was the leadership and it was a joy to see all the senior colleagues vying with each other to donate ahead of their subordinates.
Gifts for Project Arman : Gifts were received for the 180 children of Project Arman, a pioneering effort to educate and mainstream the children of waste pickers in Nizamudin. Representative children from the Project came to receive them with Ms Bharati Chaturvedi, Director, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group which manages the Project Arman for us. Ms Bharati and her team were visibly moved and in her thanksgiving speech, she emphasized that Shaping Lives had changed the concept of relationships with Chintan. She stated that our relationship was no longer ‘institutionalised but personalised’ to much applause and appreciation by all present. The kids then came forward and confidently handed over a beautiful collage style painting made by them and their ‘thank you’ cards were also given to the nearest reachable ‘Sirs and Ma’ms’ thereafter.
Sponsorships for Deepalaya : Shaping Lives also sponsored the annual support to children of the less privileged at Deepalaya’s Sanjay Colony school. The money is collected via ‘voluntary donation’ from our colleagues across India.We have adopted 12 special (differently abled) and 4 normal children from this School located within the slum cluster. Ms Sudha Parthasarthy, Executive Director, Deepalaya, was once again all praise for Le Passage and Shaping Lives and the manner in which we took our inbound clients and showcased Deepalaya’s work while giving the tourists a memorable experience in social interactions on their Indian visit. The children then presented a beautiful huge card to the entire Le Passage family with the peacock motif. Done by the children of the Special Unit with disabilities ranging from speech and hearing impairment to CP and Downs Syndrome, the card was as good a masterpiece as any in the market and Mr. Arjun Sharma, CMD of Le Passage to India Group , assured them it would be framed as a cherished memoir.
Donation of Artificial Limbs : The contibutions from the colleagues across India was also utilized to donate artificial limbs to the destitute cripples via the Jaipur Foot Organisation. Like done in the previous year, a cheque for INR 1.0 lacs was to be handed over to the Bhagwan Mahavira Viklang Sahayata Samiti at Jaipur, being the cost of 40 artificial limbs.
Clothes to Goonj : One Tempo Trax worth of old clothes and knick-knacks pooled by numerous colleagues was dispatched to NGO named Goonj, which has been internationally recognized for its work on the ‘cloth for program’ principal in rural and calamity hit areas.
CMD’s Thanks : Mr Arjun Sharma, thanked both the NGOs for their interactive and vibrant affiliations and praising the children, assured that Shaping Lives, the CSR arm of Le Passage, was mandated to be a bridge between them and the foreign clients and we would expand the support in the years to come. He thanked the children for the beautiful painting and card and handed over the floor to other colleagues present to call up each child and hand over a goodie bag, increasing the smiles and twinkles in each tiny tots eyes.
Off Shore Locations : The Foundation Day philanthropy encompassed colleagues from all the branch Offices & SBUs across India. There was active contribution from all offices towards the cause. At Cochin, the Le Passage team hosted a lunch for 120 children at Don Bosco Sisubhavan at Palluruthy with the staff playing doting hosts themselves. The Cochin office décor on this day was perhaps the best amongst all the locations across India.
To the Le Passage family, Foundation Day symbolizes the spirit of giving wherein all colleagues irrespective of their locations, come together as one family and indulge in their philanthropic passion, with support from the Foundation. It has become a passion and an annual ritual with the colleagues to open their hearts and wallets to bring smiles to our less privileged friends at respective locations on this auspicious day.
CSR NEWS : WEEK ENDING 19 AUG 2012
Fam Visit to Project Arman : While a number of colleagues have visited the various NGOs, Shaping Lives is affiliated with while escorting their clients, Luxe India head, Mr Vijay Srinivvasan, took the lead in organizing a ‘fam trip’ for his team to Project Arman, Nizamudin. Mr Venkatesh, Asst Vice President, and his team of four Managers and Sr Execs were accompanied by GM Shaping Lives and taken to both the Arman centres on the Sunder Nagar Nursery side and the main Dargah venue. For the team, it was an eye opener to understand the background of these children, to physically visit and be sensitized to their daily surroundings and living environment and thereafter to comprehend how the Project was changing their lives for the better and bringing smiles and confidence through grooming and education to these extremely less privileged children.
The Centre at the Dargah side, shares the wall with the main mausoleum and what better than to have the divine blessings for our Project, of the most revered Sufi saint, Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia through this unique connection.
In the words of Mr B. Venkatesh, AVP…. “Dear Col Alagh, Thank you for the show around at the Chintan School\ Project Armaan in Nizamuddin. It is a humbling and inspiring project. In the following mail, on behalf of the Luxe-team, I would like to outline our experience and thoughts on the school visitation. Our Experience …. “Understanding the condition and circumstance of the children, and how the project materialized prior to our visitation helped us empathize not only with the children, but also with the teachers and others involved in every day activities. To see the children, enthusiastic and sincerely cared for by the teachers and their assistants, was a humbling experience. It made many of us introspect and gain a deeper perspective on our own upbringing. It has also helped us better understand the lives of others and, most of all, the wonders of humanity – particularly with consideration to those who are disadvantaged by socio-economic conditions and the effort dedicated to rectify the discrimination they face. From the Client’s Perspective Bearing our client in mind, a visit to the Chintan School would certainly be an eye-opening and grounding experience. Not only would it enable them to gain further perspective on their lives, but it would also provide an insight into India -- her culture and her people – and a chance to personally interact with the children.
For those clients who would like to contribute, it would be an opportunity to explore and understand the project. Thereon, they could decide how they would like to help and also, realize the significance of their contribution.
On the other hand, we must also consider the purpose of many of our client’s visits. Therefore, it could only be part of the itinerary if they express a desire to experience the deeper dimensions of Indian society…….”.
Inauguration of PPCC by Cankids : Our affiliated NGO Cankids…Kidscan, officially inaugurated their Post Operative Palliative Care Centre for terminally cancer afflicted less privileged children on 14 Aug. This 10 bedded facility would cater for children in final stages of cancer. The parent would be allowed to stay along side and the care would include emotional and psychological for the entire family, besides the palliative for the child. Ms Poonam Bagai, Founder, Cankids, and almost every guest present were emotionally charged and tears flowed freely as the inauguration and round of the Centre was executed.
To her and the major donors, most of whom had experienced the loss of dear ones to this malady, it was a dream realized. To the less privileged parents already burdened by the sorrow of their child’s suffering from various forms of cancer and the knowledge of losing their offspring any day, it was a heaven sent to be able to spend the last days with their child in a happy and caring environment, preparing to reconcile with an inevitable loss, with a wonderful motley of resident doctor, nurses and Cankids staff.
To us at Shaping Lives, it is a humbling experience to see the stoic and steady attitude of these children in their pain, even smiling through it at times. It is our endeavor to encourage guests with ‘cancer’ experiences in their lives, or those who wish to experience the value of each day in life, to spend a little time here and spread a little cheer and smiles amongst the children.
LE PASSAGE 10th FOUNDATION DAY : DONATION TO BMVSS
BMVSS, that is short for Bhagwan Mahavira Viklang Sahayata Samiti, better known worldwide as the Jaipur Foot Organisation. This organization specializes in high quality low cost prosthetic limbs given to the needy and war / mine casualties in countries across the globe purely on philanthropic no cost terms. It’s enterprise is sustained by donations where men, women, children, come in crawling and crying and walk out laughing, all in a matter of 4-5 days. That is the time it takes for this organisation’s team of dedicated management and staff to assess, measure, fabricate, fit, test trial and discharge the average patient.
The needy come from across India’s remotest rural villages with hope that is not denied to them. The Founder of this unique organization Mr D R Mehta was conferred the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Sadhbhavna Award 2012, a national level recognition for his service to humanity on Sunday, 19 Aug 2012 at a glittering ceremony in Delhi.
Le Passage is proud to associate with BMVSS and for the second year running donated the cost of 40 artificial limbs, as aprt of its Foundation Day philanthropy, at a solemn ceremony in front of the daily gathering of patients at their Jaipur Centre. The cheque was presented to Sh D R Mehta by Mr Khalid Khan, Rajasthan State head of Le Passage and Col (Retd) Anil Alagh, GM-Shaping Lives, the CSR Foundation of Le Passage, in presence of CEO BMVSS. Mr Milind from the office also joined in the distribution of small goody bags to each patient as a token gesture of our affection. Mr Mehta, today, hold le Passage as a special friend and it is our endeavor to promote their cause worldwide through our vast travel fraternity and friends.
To the traveler visting Jaipur, one can only suggest, spare an hour, visit BMVSS, maybe, it will change the way you look at life.
DAY OUT FOR ARMAN CHILDREN
Shaping Lives organized an educational and fun tour for 50 children of Project Arman, our key initiative with children of the waste picker community at Nizamudin, Delhi, duly escorted by their mentors from Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group. The tour included a visit to the interactive National Science Centre, followed by a mini-picnic and lunch at the India Gate lawns close by. As in 2011, we added the dimension of exposure and sensitization by teaming up with Salwan Montessori School (SMS), a premium local public school of Delhi which sent in 25 children in this event along with their social head, Ms Rekha Lalla.
The children were divided into groups of three, with two from Arman and one from SMS. The SMS child was made the leader with a brief to be responsible to his/her Armani counterparts and educate them on the Museum experiments and the displays, while encouraging them to be interactive on each. The essence was to form bonds and make them open up with each other. For our Armanis it was an exercise in confidence building and acceptance, for the SMS tiny tots it was sensitization to a less privileged genre of their own age group. It worked wonderfully well. The children had a ‘blast’. The visit to this Museum was a first time experience for most SMS children as well and there were many repeats and re-runs of various interactive sections to the sound of much laughter and excitement. The dinosaur section had the little girls holding on tightly to the staff and volunteers, whereas the maze of mirrors freaked every child out as they lost their way … purposely at times?? … and then excitedly shrieked and laughed for help.
The move to India Gate after the morning session of education was smooth. Hunger and tiredness took a back seat as the boys got down to the serious business of a football match between the Armanis and the SMS soccer stars. A tough contest later, both teams trudged to the lunch area, tired but happy that each had held the other to a well fought draw. The Heritage Village and Spa, Manesar, Gurgaon had very kindly offered to host the picnic lunch. The star category biryani and salads with ample juice to gulp it down were laid out and the entire Hotel and its Sales team, went overboard in playing hosts and pampering the children. The gulab jamun (a golf sized Indian sweetmeat in sugary syrup) eating record was six by one 8 year old and there were still plenty of gulab jamuns to spare. In fact the children had to beg for a ‘no more please’ instead of the other way around, which obviously had the Hotel team and all of us delighted.
The Armanis gifted chocolates to the SMS children on behalf of Shaping Lives. Each child and representatives/volunteers from SMS and the Hotel were given individual thank you cards by the Armanis. The NGO head also gifted some framed posters on waste management for the school as a token of thanksgiving. Departure time saw belly heavy children dragging themselves to their buses where SMS had planned another surprise. Each Armani was gifted a chocolate, a tennis ball and a tee shirt as a return gift from their SMS friends. The buses were full of chatter, laughter and anecdotes of the day as they moved out of the parking and on to respective homes. SMS also left a gift of books and toys for subsequent distribution via Shaping Lives.
Shaping Lives thanks its partners Salwan Montessori School, The Heritage Village and Spa, the volunteers from Le Passage and Chintan for being there and creating the magic which these children will hopefully remember for some months to come and which has created bonds beyond their backgrounds and social status. For Armanis, every outing is an exposure and experience outside their mundane daily lives which we at Shaping Lives feel will give them the confidence in themselves to transit into a different work and social stream when their time comes to step out into the world
Shaping Lives Celebrates : World Environment Day 2012
Shaping Lives once again teamed up with its environment partners, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group and Select City Walk, the premium Mall in Saket, Delhi to host a day’s special focus on environment awareness. Unlike the normal green and water pledges, this year we focused on the theme of ‘e-waste’. The aim was to create awareness of this new and unheralded health hazard and make the citizens pledge that they would ‘not throw e-waste into garbage bins’ and ‘only dispose of e-waste to authorized e-waste collectors’.
Bins for collection of e-waste were also placed at the Mall by Chintan, as they are one of the authorized e-waste collectors nominated by the Government. For most visitors to the stall, taking an e-waste pledge on a leaf and then greening our tree with it was a nouvelle experience. They were all given awareness leaflets on the Government’s e-waste policy, and a large number of them promised to revert to Chintan and have their e-waste suitably disposed. GM- Shaping Lives was the first to handover his old laptop as the e-waste collection started. Mobile phones were dropped by some as well and we hope that this awareness will ensure that e-waste which is the future most hazardous waste of this century, and already affecting the health of millions of the under and less developed nations’ poor, will find proper e-cycling through our small endeavor.
Shaping Lives also distributed the 9R stickers to educate the re-cycling process which is larger than the generally propagated 3R concept. Visitors greening the tree were encouraged to put them on their laptops and fridges etc as constant reminder to their commitment to the environment. The day’s events inside the Mall also included a short documentary on e-waste hazards and the current disorganized industry. The volunteers from Chintan and Le Passage to India were on their toes throughout the day, soliciting visitors to our ‘environment stall’, educating them on e-waste and ensuring that the morning’s barren tree had overflowing leaf pledges by the timing evening came.
The God’s were kind enough to send down a rather extra heavy summer cloudburst in the afternoon which ensured that our evening’s outdoor ‘environment’ program drew in crowds. We went for the live potter and tulsi(basil) plant-and-take-away as was done last year. Both were once again greatly appreciated by every visitor. The children’s drawing competition had an equally good response and we had to do two sessions. The coup de grace was a skit performed by our Chintan children from Tughlakabad waste pickers’ community. Here again we did two outdoor shows. Kudos to the kids, and to Alex’s team from Kid Power Media, which enabled such confidence and skills in our lovely children from this community.
The Select City Walk team were constantly behind the scenes ensuring every possible administrative support. They also sponsored the very special gifts which were distributed to our child artists and winners of the drawing competition. The recipients were obviously delighted. It would be unfair not to mention that many members of the Le Passage family and the TUI Travel Plc Saket office team and Julia from its Emerging Markets based in UK, came in support and pledged their bit. The volunteers were of course outstanding and deserved our special applause as the day ended successfully.
We had chosen to create awareness about e-waste, and Shaping Lives feels that we achieved it suitably. For any more queries on e-waste management or disposal please mail in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Events : Shaping Lives Update : May 2012
The summers have set in and the tourist visits have started to slow down. Shaping Lives took time out to consolidate and also do a lot more to build a social partnership with TUI Travel Plc, our partners in business in India and beyond. Early May saw a concentrated effort to shoot more footage for TUI Spreading Smiles campaign at Jaipur. The routine and daily life of the three selected ‘models’ from Disha, I-India and Umang was covered in the backgrounds of their homes, their friends and some more footage at their school / work environment.
Later on in the month, Ms Julia Kaminski, TUI Travel Plc’s Business Development Manager- Emerging markets was exposed to some of Shaping Lives empanelled NGOs in Jaipur and Delhi. The aim of this visit by her was to seek social avenues in India for TUI’s Sustainable Development programs. Five potential opportunities were selected and post a discussion with TUI AG (SD) and TUI A & D (SD), a detailed report on these opportunities has been sent to TUI by Shaping Lives. Should some of the recommendations fructify, it will be a windfall association for the NGO, initiated by us.
Shaping Lives is also in the process of assessing and evaluating more NGOs on our key destination routes to enable a wider choice of social interventions by our clients in the coming season.
US SECRETARY of STATE’S FIRST INNOVATION AWARD 2012
Our association with Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group is well documented in the website via our support to Project Arman at Nizamudin, Delhi, which this NGO runs for us. The NGO was awarded the US Secretary of State’s First Innovation Award along with two others from across the world on 09 Mar 2012. This award was in recognition for the yeoman service Chintan does in the field of women and child empowerment amongst the waste picker communities in National Capital Region (NCR), Delhi.
Ms Bharati Chaturvedi, Director Chintan, was invited to Washington to receive the award from non other than Ms Hillary R Clinton herself. While Ms Clinton, appreciated and applauded the work being done by Chintan and presented a plaque in recognition, Ms Chaturvedi in her thanksgiving emphasized on how Chintan was creating green jobs for these less privileged and helping them get out from the vicious cycle of waste-picking. The award also carried a cheque of $500,000 for Chintan.
In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said, ‘Chintan’s work in advocacy and research has expanded beyond local concerns and is helping change the way we understand informal labor sectors around the world. It is also a stark reminder about why we must protect and advocate for the rights of workers to organize.” She further described Chintan’s work in these words: “Chintan, an Indian nonprofit, is working on the ground to train and organize waste pickers and to eliminate child labor from their ranks. This group is advocating for those who work in the informal sector, pushing for recognition, basic protections, and fundamental dignity.”
The jury comprised eminent persons across the world, including the CEO of Facebook, Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus, Cherie Blair, the Head of the Rockefeller Foundation Judith Rodin and representatives from the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. In their recommendation, they described Chintan’s work as one “truly holding the promise of transforming the lives of women and girls.”
Shaping Lives organized a small felicitation evening on 23 Apr, to celebrate Chintan’s landmark award. Like minded individuals and well-wishers of Chintan over the years were invited, for this special felicitation of Bharati and her team. Mr Arjun Sharma, Managing Director, Le Passage to India and Managing Trustee of the Foundation played host through the evening along with the top management team of Le Passage. The guests ranged from Deputy High Commisioner, New Zealand Embassy to US embassy Environment representatives and the key echelons of the civil services in NCR, Mr SY Quraishi, India’s CEC, besides many other NGO or socially active personalities.
Mr Arjun Sharma in his congratulatory address highlighted the association of Shaping Lives and Le Passage with Chintan via Project Arman at Nizamudin. He complimented Bharati and her team for their excellent work and wished them further glory and success on behalf of all present. Bharati, in turn, emotionally narrated the Chintan story, thanking all those who supported her in its growth and made it what it is today. She also gave a brief concept on how the award money would be utilized to further empowerment of the waste picker community’s women and girls. Extracts of their addresses are available on … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmBM5mduNcs&feature=youtu.be
We at Shaping Lives feel it a singular honour to be associated with Chintan and look forward to interactive and creative progress in changing the lives of the waste pickers second generation through education and empowerment.
Visit By Mediplus Nepal India Group To Akshar Society, Jaipur
Ten members of the Mediplus Nepal India Group group visited the Akshar Society less privileged children school at SPS, Jaipur on 20 Apr. The school has recently had to downsize due to space constraints and now runs classes for students only up to Class 5. That is not a matter of concern as the younger children, belonging to the local slum clusters are as eager and enthusiastic as their more senior counterparts and in fact open up more readily with strangers.
The German guests had a lovely time interacting with the children after their initial briefing by the school in-charge Ms Rinky. The children were presented stationery and chocolates by the guests, the latter item obviously bringing on more grins and increased interactions between the two parties. A cup of tea was also laid out for the guests at the end of the visit as a special gesture. We look forward to more guests of Mediplus visiting different NGOs across their travel itineraries with Shaping Lives.
Akshar Society is supported to quite an extent from sale proceeds of the Samanvai Art gallery at Jaipur. The gallery’s website is www.samanvaiart.com run by Mrs Rita Kuhad, who is one of the leading lights behind this NGO, which has changed the lives of the children living in Jaipur slum clusters through quality education and mainstreaming.
Luxe India Visit To Project Arman : Nizamudin, Delhi
Esteemed Luxe India guests from Singapore visited the Project Arman centre on Saturday, 21 Apr. The centre remains closed on weekends but was specially opened to enable them an overview of our work with children of the waste picker community. Our team from CHINTAN, the NGO which handles this centre on our behalf, carried out a conducted round and also enabled a visit to the co-located holy shrine of Khwaja Nizamudin Chishti, the renowned sufi saint.
The guests could also meet some of the children who were enjoying their holiday in the vicinity but who came forward to greet the guests when they saw them with their teachers.
HOMAGE to (Late) Sh Ghulam Naqshband : Second Death Anniversary
The Man : Mr Ghulam Naqshband was a pioneer of the tourism industry. He believed in the concept of one world. A hard task master, he enforced excellence on himself before ensuring it on his colleagues. At the same time, he was also deeply compassionate and caring towards all. Born in 1924, he passed away on 05 Mar 2010 after a brief illness. He was solemnly but most respectfully laid to rest in the Nizamudin cemetery. His desire to be buried at this ground as a common man and without epitaphs was in line with his ‘sufiyana’ background and his humble nature. He left behind innumerable friends and well wishers. At Le Passage to India, he left behind a legacy of excellence in the colleagues he had groomed in his lifetime. In death he became their revered and honored mentor and guide.
The Homage : Shaping Lives organizes the homage of this departed doyen of the tourism industry and respected Le Passage to India giant each year on his death anniversary. The day started with prayers (fatiya) at the cemetery. His available close friends and representatives of LPTI were present for the wreath laying and morning prayers and the words spoken in his memory only highlighted the man’s professional’s excellence aptly complemented by his gentle and caring nature. The respect and reverence was visible on every face present. Some of the offices even maintained a minute’s silence as a tribute to him.
The prayers were followed by distribution of lunch packets in his memory to approximately 180 children studying at the Foundation’s Project Arman Centres at Nizamudin. The meals, procured from one of the best biryani suppliers of Old Delhi, were packed and handed over to each child as they proceeded home after their morning and afternoon shifts at the Arman Centres.
Holi 2012 : Deepalaya Special Unit
Holi: Holi, the festival of colors in India, coincides with spring and enhances the general madness that overtakes one and all in this very special time of love and life at their best. The children go crazy especially and run riot with every possible color in their hands to literally maul their friends and foes alike in ecstatic frenzy.
The children at the Deepalaya Special Unit are very special to us and once again we celebrated Holi with them. Yes, there was a painting competition with Holi as the theme, but we chose to give the ‘thumbs up’ to each child’s work even when it showed Ravana of the Dussehra festival fame, because its their expressions and happiness we wanted and just so that every child felt special and talented. They loved the attention and recognition we gave, and we loved the way they smiled when given that.
Out came the colors immediately thereafter and the Special Unit hall went crazy with yelps and squeals and laughter and a few momentary tears as color got into some child’s eyes, but it was pure fun … harmless, with the special organic colors given to the children. Snacks and soft drinks were gulped down as the excitement seemed to have taken their toll on the tiny tummies, and soon enough, multi-hued children started to exit for home, huge grins on their faces, their hearts satisfied with the morning’s revelry and their minds apparently conjecturing plans for the real Holi they would play at home the next day.
Shaping Lives at CSR live week Epicentre, gurgaon, india
CSR: The CSR Live week, held over two days at Gurgaon, India was one of the first of its kind exhibition to showcase the Indian Corporate CSR and other NGOs under one roof. The range of stalls varied from those put up by multi-million dollar enterprises to some very grass root level NGOs. Le Passage Travel Foundation – Shaping Lives also took part in this unique exhibition designed to communicate and share the good being done by various agencies across multiple fields ranging from education to empowerment to caring for the terminally ill.
Shaping Lives was the only representative from India’s vast travel fraternity, as Le Passage to India still remains not just the pioneers, but the only one in the trade to have a Foundation specifically dedicated to promoting responsible and sustainable tourism. Every visitor was intrigued, then awed and thereafter in admiration of our unique and innovative approach in creating a base of well researched NGOs across tourist destinations to enable a planned facilitation of social interface by the inbound tourist visiting India through our offices and the network of international travel partners. The essence was to allow our inbound guest a chance to select a researched charity of their choice, on their tour itinerary and visit it as per their convenience. In effect the social footprint became part of the tour itinerary with the guest fully aware of where and what the visited charity stood for.
While briefing about ourselves, we made it a point to also hand over brochures of our esteemed NGO partners to our visitors putting in the appropriate word and hoping for some indirect benefits due to this PR exercise for them. The fact that we were distributing our NGO friends’ literature and also acting as a bridge for reliable and memorable interventions, ranging from short visits to volunteer work, with entire benefits accruing from such visits to our NGOs, with us being a totally self sustaining non profit organization further enhanced our Foundation’s intent and ethics. As the word spread, a number of NGOs, some with stalls at the site and others who were visiting the Exhibition expressed keenness to know the procedures and requirements to be taken onboard the Shaping Lives ‘friends in happiness’ rolls.
The two day stall management could not have been handled without volunteers. It is to the credit of the camaraderie we enjoy that volunteers were aplenty and roster became difficult due to excess not shortage, but everybody, including the family members who volunteered, was accommodated and much to their delight, each presented a token certificate of participation and appreciation by Shaping Lives at the end of the event. Some of the volunteer comments were as under :-
Pratik Khandelwal : Thank you so much. Special thanks to Anil Sir for giving me this opportunity. It was certainly a great experience. Sooo looking ahead to further CSR activities… Kind regards,
Kate Keyani: Thank You Col. Alagh, it was a pleasure…you can count me in for any further endeavors… Warm Regards,
Kalpana Bedi: THANK YOU Sir – for the opportunity AND Great memories!!! God Bless endless – ALWAYS!!
Parvathy Anantharam : Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to be a part of the Le Passage Travel Foundation’s volunteering initiatives during CSR LIVEWEEK held in Gurgaon on 20th & 21st March, 2012. The visitors to our Stall were impressed with the very idea of our Foundation standing up for responsible and sustainable tourism.
The ‘CSR Good Book – India 2012’ was also released during this exhibition. The Book contains 2-page CSR write-ups of most major corporates working across India. The insert of Shaping Lives is on pages 64-65 and other than espousing the Foundation and its work, we have projected a few of the NGOs empanelled with us in our write-up. It is an interesting Coffee table book to have. Overall, the exposure, the first of its kind for Shaping Lives, was an eye opener and motivational outing which has given us the confidence and faith that we are on the correct path to ‘goodness’.
Salman at Umang, Jaipur : The request for funding of special sensory equipment and a table for Salman at his home was met with. Salman is a special child from a less privileged background taken in by Umang for special care. The Foundation had also enabled his first ever outdoor visit to Amber Fort last month and the testimonial from Mrs Deepak Kalra, Director Umang available on our website is self speaking.
Congratulations : The time spent in the selection of our NGOs for empanelment seem to have been well utilized and we take this opportunity to congratulate two of our NGOs heads for well earned and unique recognitions in February this year.
They are :-
Mrs Deepak Kalra : She has been nominated the first Chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Rajasthan. This newly created post has a tenure of 3 years.
Mr Ravi Kalra : The man behind NGO The Earth Saviors Foundation in Delhi, is one of the select few individuals from all over the world, to be conferred the prestigious international Sardar Rattan Award, by the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Foundation as recognition of his selfless social service for humanity.
Events Facilitated by Shaping Lives
The weeks gone bye have seen Shaping Lives leave silent but significant signatures in numerous events. A special CSR shoot for our travel partner TUI Travel Plc’s worldwide campaign was completed in first week of February. It stretched over four weeks to include various dimensions which will be visible soon on the TUI international website.
Walk back to our events in November where the JAL team had come in for the SKYWARD magazine shoot with their noted film actor and artist Mr Iseya. A special Japanese TV crew came in for an encore interview of the Indian artist Mr Chander Shekhar and the venue was once again the Samanvai Art Gallery, Jaipur. This is a lovely cascade effect of the November event and its beneficiary was the Akshar Society, our empanelled NGO educating slum children. Mrs Reeta Kuhad, Akshar driving force and owner of the gallery was kind enough to send in a testimonial (see www.shaping-lives.org) in acknowledgment.
The visit of November is also covered in the Feb 2012 issue of SKYWARD for the JAL traveler. Do have a look at pages 33 – 40 if you are a JAL flyer. We would load the contents once they have been translated.
India’s Republic day on 26th Jan saw more art. This time the event was organized by the premium Select Citywalk shopping complex with disabled artists from FOD. NGO FOD is very close to us and the entire preliminary facilitation had been done by Shaping Lives. Three artists with different kinds of disabilities also painted live on the freedom theme and the had the holiday crowd milling around the Mall’s central atrium. Shaping Lives was able to also facilitate the entry of a young 20 year old talent, Niyaz Hussain, from its affiliated NGO Deepalaya’s special centre. The artist impressed everyone including Mr Dube, who as a senior disabled artist has taken him under his tutelage. Mr Preeti, CEO FOD deserves special mention in that not only did she include Niyaz in her event, but she has also offered exclusive space in her studio for Niyaz to work and grow in.
Light in their Twilight : When ‘The Earth Saviours’ Foundation’, one of our empanelled NGOs at Delhi which looks after the abandoned senior citizens requested Shaping Lives to install one solar lighting as the frequent power cuts and lack of illumination outside their shelter, were a source of anxiety to the elderly, and also unsafe as far their caretakers were concerned. The NGO was tasked to send in the vendor and specifications of their choice and much to their joy and surprise, the solar light was installed next to the elderly shelter, within a week.
A very small gesture which will ensure peace of mind for both the inmates and the caretakers and give us the satisfaction that no senior citizen will stumble or fall or hurt himself in the dark while going to the washrooms 20m away at night, or there will no longer be cause for a soiled bed due to fear of darkness. Some may call it philanthropy, we call it giving “Light in their Twilight’.
HERITAGE TOUR AT JAIPUR : NGO Umang and Akshar Society
Close on the heels of its ‘kite flying event’, Shaping Lives organised a heritage sight seeing for wards of our NGOs UMANG and Akshar Society, with a visit to Amber Fort. The children were bundled into jeeps at the Fort base immediately on arrival in their buses, and on a lovely wintry morning, approximately 60 children and escorts were found mouths agape in wonder at the Fort’s main entrance.
There were 5 children on wheelchairs and 3 on crutches from Umang in this group as the specially briefed guide took our motley gang through the paces. Briefings were slow and oft repeated not just because of the special children, but also because of the tiny-tots of Akshar and the overall eagerness to hear the fascinating stories about the maharajas and their queens and the Fort’s special rooms and darbars, over and over again. The view from the ramparts was breathtaking and we as escorts were on edge as the children took their turn in looking at the panorama below in unbridled excitement.
The wheelchair and crutch children earned the respect and awe of every tourist as they trudged, were assisted or at times carried up stairs as per need and disability, but refused to stay confined in one area while their ‘walking’ mates explored even the more inaccessible corners of the Fort. As our group exited to the main courtyard after close to 3 hours of seeing every nook and cranny, fatigue was visible on the special children’ faces but the happiness and delight of the outing far exceeded that. We moved down to our Jal Mahal haunt for the picnic lunch and the children went wild playing and re-enacting their Amber Fort experiences, in this closed secure place.
Shaping Lives attempts to touch lives, and in that endeavor the people who cross our path also get touched despite having no affiliation or intent. The jeep coordinator and drivers at Amber Fort or the Guide, Bhanwar Singh, who refused to take his full fees after being with the children, are our heroes too. But, the icing on the cake came when a casually attired man at Jal Mahal, seeing how we were looking after our children, requested and insisted to be allowed to feed some ‘rabri’ (a pure milk Indian sweet speciality) to the entire group from his shop. The man turned out to be Shri Shambhu Jain, the owner of ‘Mahavir Rabdi Bhandar’, the finest address for rabdi and certain other delicacies in Jaipur. The group on hearing about this Mahavir treat seemed to come alive again and dispersal schedules took a backseat. Try this ‘rabri’ next time you visit Jaipur, we at Shaping Lives now call it ‘rabri with a heart’ because Shambhu-ji showed us that heart.
Also of special mention in this outing is ‘Salman’, a severely autistic 16 year old Umang child, for whom it was the first ever full day outing in his life. He went hyper. Shaping Lives feels humbled to have been able to start him on this journey to joy and is proud to quote the emotions of his mother ‘Shakila’, as received from Mrs Deepak Kalra, Director UMANG, quote ”For Salman it was his first day long outing and I am told he loved it and did not hurt anyone or make any effort to run away. His mother almost choked telling me how she could never think of giving such a wonderful time to her son” unquote.
Kite Flying With Our Children : 12 Jan 2012
The people of Rajasthan celebrate Makar Sankranti (change of the sun’s path from winter to summer solstice) with prayers, fasting, flying of kites during day and bursting crackers in the evening. Shaping Lives decided to infuse its own joy by getting children from our NGOs at DISHA and I-India for a day of winter fun as a prelude to this festival.
A sunny winter morning saw children streaming down from their buses on the banks of the lake at Jal Mahal. The caretakers of the restricted area at the Lake, questioned our intent and were so taken in by the idea of the fun morning Shaping Lives had organized, that they suggested and gave us special access onto a safe haven inside. The elevated park had backwaters on one side and the main lake on the other. Such was its beauty that even the local escorts were amazed and wondered how we had made it possible for an outing to a place where even they were not permitted as locals.
The I-India children were grouped with DISHA so that the special ones could be assisted and enjoy themselves equally. Others who could not group because of physical limitations were given a kite each to do what they wished with it, with the assurance of immediate replacement on tearing, and their expressions showed a joy beyond compare. In fact there was no dearth of kites and every torn kite or a kite that plunged into the lake due to amateur or clumsy handling was met with shouts of joy and demands for the next one to be threaded immediately.
The wind kept steady and strangely turned a full 360 degrees during the event to everyone’s delight increasing the suspense and fun levels. The children had to be coaxed to take a break when a lunch of hot pizzas and beverages was delivered at the site. The picnic lunch, the divine weather and the thrill of kite flying can knock anyone’s blues away, and both the children and their escorts were on a high as the winter sun started receding in its afternoon path. Trudging wearily, though in high spirits into their buses, most of the children carried their kites and lots and lots of thread, full of stories of the day and warmed up for the main sequel, scheduled two days later.
Have you flown a kite ever? Do so? It’s a serenade to your freedom and spirit as the kite soars into the clouds and you become one with it, waltzing, somersaulting, gamboling in the clouds, yourself transformed into a free bird ruling the skies. In your next visit, come to Shaping Lives and invite our NGO’s children to share the joy of kite flying with you and carry home the ‘karma’ of sharing happiness.
Visit By Mrs Peter Long To Project Arman On 10 Jan 2012
Project Arman, our internally financed and supported endeavor to educate children of waste pickers of Nizamudin, Delhi with its core theme as ‘No Child in Trash’ was honored to receive Mrs Linda Long, wife of Mr Peter Long, CEO, TUI Travel Plc on 10 Jan 2012. Personally escorted by Ms Bharati Chaturvedi, Director CHINTAN Environmental Research and Action Group and Col Alagh, GM - Shaping Lives, she was zestfully greeted by the children on arrival at the Centre.
Bharati briefed her about the community and project backgrounds and the difference it had made and our vision to change the social status of an entire community through assisted education, support and guidance. Mrs Long was requested to inaugurate the computer purchased for the children through money received as an award by the Foundation for the best Sustainable Customer Communication category, in a TUI Travel Plc worldwide campaign. In her address to the Armanis, she urged the children and staff to maintain the reading and writing practices and not succumb to the computer culture totally. She felt that the brain needed stimulus and there was no alternate to books, verbal and written communication in this regard.
She also expressed happiness on being informed that the balance amount from the award would be utilized in hiring the services of an English teacher, so that the children could be given computer education and English speaking coaching, both essential prerequisites of the emerging job market. Mrs Long enjoyed the children’ poetry session and vibes, distributing sweets and chocolates before her departure, much to the delight of the children. She expressed pleasure and satisfaction at the theme and conduct of this enabling initiative and wished it success and more students in the future. She was also elated to receive a ‘thank you’ card made by the children especially for her.
Prior to her departure from India, she formally gifted a lumpsum amount for Project Arman. We at Shaping Lives are indeed humbled and honored by this gesture and are already in the process of working out the best possible utilization for this amount with Chintan. A big ‘thank you and God bless you’ goes out to her from our entire team and children.
To Bharati and the CHINTAN team, the Foundation can only offer salutations for the great work they do with the children and their never failing support in making Project Arman a pioneering initiative of Shaping Lives.
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