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.”
Xmas with Shaping Lives
TUI INDIA AND SHAPING LIVES
When Ms Arantxa Garcia, Head Sustainable Development, TUI Travel Accommodation and Destinations sent in a mailer to Shaping Lives asking if we, in India, would like to join the global TUI campaign of “no child without a toy” for this Xmas, we re-aligned our Xmas charity plans to team up with TUI India and be a part of the global effort. Mr Vishal Sinha, CEO, TUI India also consented to change the plans for a charity lunch to the toy campaign and Mr Arjun Sharma, Managing Director, Le Passage to India directed Shaping Lives to pitch in with our own contributions.
An empanelled NGO, The Earth Saviours Foundation, located in Vasant Kunj was chosen. It houses over 130 destitute and abandoned senior citizens and simultaneously runs an informal day school for approx. 80 children from the local slums belonging to various less privileged backgrounds. Mutually deciding on 18 Dec as the date, the plan was to have a high tea for all inmates and follow it up with toy distribution to the children. GM Shaping Lives, Col Anil Alagh, and a representative of TUI, spent two days surveying the markets and picked up both individual and common use toys. The individual ones were in two lots, the one for the toddlers was a soft toy each and the second for slightly senior ones was a money bank with a huge TUI smile, intention being to make them understand the joy and value of saving small.
The coordination having been done with TESF by Shaping Lives, everything was ready for action as the volunteers from TUI India, NOIDA office and Le Passage descended on TESF premises on said date. The children were thrilled to know that they would be able to take the toy being presented, home as well. Their additional happiness manifested in their smiles when they saw that a cricket set, footballs, hoop-la rings, skipping ropes, multiple board and puzzle games were being presented in addition for their recreation and learning during school hours as well.
The TUI and Le Passage volunteers were initially encouraged to mingle with the children. That took a few minutes. And then, one really wondered, who was enjoying more, the children or the volunteers, as they laughed and played and munched on their muffins and samosas. Almost everyone tried their hand at the hoop-la, with Mr Sunil Hasija, TUI winning at least on camera. Mr Vishal Sinha, COO was travelling and missed. We had deliberately added the muffin to revive memories of the “TUI Muffin Xmas 2012’ at the same NGO and we hope that TUI- Delhi shall keep this tradition alive. The high tea was of course shared with the senior citizens, destitute and staff as well. TESF, as a gesture of appreciation presented a wall clock to each of our volunteers.
TUI – India, Le Passage and Shaping Lives also take this opportunity to send Xmas greetings to all our global colleagues and wish you a year of prosperity, contentment and inner peace ahead. Keep track of us on www.shaping-lives.org.
THE SECOND XMAS CELEBRATIONS
Close on the heels of the Xmas outing for TUI – India, Shaping Lives brought in children with disabilities from our affiliated Deepalaya Special School, Delhi, for a morning out to the premium Select Citywalk Mall, Saket, Delhi. This outing was facilitated by Mr Qameer Zafeer’s SBU handling the Italian market. It was a wonderfully thought up acknowledgment of the paintings done by these children which were used to make customized files for individual clients for his Italian market.
A total of 55 children and staff enjoyed going around and admiring the wonderful Xmas decorations. They were a fair mix of hearing & speech impaired and autistic and challenged children. A photo session in various areas and a surprise jujube treat by the GM, Shaping Lives at the candy shop delighted the children as they experienced the thrill of using an escalator both ways, most of them actually for the first time.
The huge Christmas tree with a wonderful depiction of the manger depicting the birth of Christ and the visit of the three wise men was the main attraction in the main Atrium area. Another surprise awaited the children as they gazed at the 40 feet high tree shimmering and shining in all its glory. The Mall management does extensive CSR and Shaping Lives often partners it. In this visit, on request by us to Saloni, our Mall contact, they agreed to surprise the children by gifting them chocolates at the tree, and sure enough, they kept to their word as the CEO and COO themselves accompanied by their team came in and did the honours.
It was the first time the sun had come out after 3 dreary days of winter fog and cloud cover and the children were then taken outdoors and just generally made to freak out. Volunteers Priyanka and Neeti from Qamar’s team pampered the children no end and while the former seemed to bond with autistic Rani, Neeti was all encompassing. As the children enjoyed the sunlight, the GM slipped out to the KFC outlet and placed the order for their special meal.
KFC was fun too and the chicken may be ‘finger lickin’ good’ but what was better was the joy and happiness on savoring it in our children’ eyes. Lunch over, the hatrick of surprises was a gift of an individual toy to each child, esp selected by Ms Sangeeta, the Special School head. The hosts also presented a music system and educational toys for the School in addition to the outing and goodies. As the children then trooped into their transport for the ride back to school, there were lots of byes and flying kisses. To the un-initiated, a flying kiss by a special child means the world. It means you have gained their confidence, their love and their trust and they liked being with you. It is an honest expression and at Shaping Lives we treasure them beyond compare.
We also take this opportunity to thank Qamar and his team for sponsoring the outing and peripherals and Mr Shashi Sharma and Mr Yogeshwar Sharma at the Mall for being a graceful part of the fun and making our children feel special and loved. Merry Xmas.
Project Arman : Pilot Initiative Of Shaping Lives
It has been a great quarter ending Dec 2013. Riding on a series of volunteer groups doing pre-coordinated renovation and painting works at our NGOs coupled with numerous short duration group visits to varied NGOs, Shaping Lives gave special focus to our signature Project, viz., Project Arman for the children of waste pickers of Nizamudin, Delhi during the month. A value addition during this quarter has been family visits to our NGOs, where clients have specially asked for such sensitization experiences for their children. Xmas celebrations were of course omnipresent.
Project Arman : Annual Party and Upgrade
The staff and children of Arman look forward to an annual ‘bash’ around Diwali in November every year. Commitments at both ends delayed this to 02 Dec this year. The children were restless and it was a tough situation for Col Anil Alagh, GM, Shaping Lives to convince them that the party ‘was just around the corner’ during his weekly visits to the Project in November. God ordained a nice sunshine filled day as the Le Passage Admin team ensured the set-up and administrative support was in place at the Sunder Nagar lawns.
Bouncies, clown, nail and hair dressers, tattoo team, candy floss man and a magician and DJ from Mr Migma’s Qshow Events, our ever willing and pro-active partner in this annual party, were all charged up as the 160 children arriving in busloads were received amidst hugs and handshakes by the GM. The next four hours were one chaotic, crazy, frenzied melee of fun and games and repeated rounds of candy floss. Lots of games and an equal number of prizes kept the children on a high. The Select Hotels sales and marketing team sent in volunteers in addition to our Le Passage ones, while The Heritage Village Hotel and Spa, Manesar F & B team laid out a complimentary lavish lunch for the ever hungry children.
Our girls are coming of age….was so apparent when they sashayed their confidence as they walked the ramp in a game, with Mrs Jyotsna Sharma, Director as the judge, and the Managing Director Le Passage, Mr Arjun Sharma, looking on in pride, sensing fructification of his signature project. Dancing and miscellaneous games followed under the loving stewardship of Anees Khan, who is a magician as well, and whose presence is always complimentary by his own choice in this party.
It took 14 volunteers to finally seat the children for lunch and Shaping Lives compliments the volunteers for the love and care with which they fed the children. The F & B team went overboard in their affection and that was nice to see. The biryani was a hit and the sweet! …. gulab jamun ….. well! Some of the tiny brats gorged on over 5 – 6 each until they had to be restrained on health grounds.
As the children and staff enjoyed, Ms Bharati Chaturvedi, Director Chintan, the NGO which runs this project for us and us, Mr Arjun Sharma and Col Alagh, took time out for a serious discussion. Mr Sharma observed the children’ lack of nourishment, and a decision was taken to undertake a medical camp, introduce filtered drinking water and one health supplement in the form of milk or fruits per day to upgrade the Project commitment. A time limit of earliest but not later than year-end was given.
As the children started tiring and the afternoon settled, it became time for the party to end. The children were seated and as their takeaway gift this year, each filed past the ‘return gift’ table getting a brand new school bag with ‘Armani and the Shaping Lives logo’ embossed on it. As they trooped out, smiling and full of thank you(s), they were also handed over a snack box with compliments of ‘ANILA Hotel’, our new partner in this annual party.
Fortunately, their bus got a little late. Why? Col Alagh, who had been trying for 3 years to get in Mr Kapil Dev, iconic Indian cricketer, saw him return home just opposite the venue, and was able to convince him to spend 10 minutes with his Armanis. To the credit of this Indian sports legend, he came, shook the over-zealous 150 hands, allowed himself to be photographed with the thrilled children and staff, and made their day. It was the icing to the cake perhaps. We can only say, ‘Thank you’ for this very compassionate and unplanned gesture.
As Dec closed, the medical camp had been held under aegis of a social organization named DCWA (Delhi Commonwealth Women association’. We were able to get over 80% children examined. The others were at school undergoing examinations and could not be pulled out. The children were all administered de-worming doses and given iron and vitamin capsules, beside routine medicines as diagonised and recommended by the three very senior and experienced doctors who checked them. A DCWA card was also made for each child for future medi-care. The Chintan team also recorded their weight and height with a view to reviewing the effects of the health supplement which was introduced on the same day. The R O plant was installed by the year end and the children given a bottle each to encourage them to not just consume safe drinking water while at the Project but also take home a bottle each for the night.
The next medical camp would be in Apr where we would also review the benefit of the health supplement over the three months. Project Arman has thus become a high value composite entity from a mere educational support unit and we are hopeful that the additions will ensure improvement in health and nutrition for our children.
Xmas parties and numerous group visits have also taken place in Dec and these are available for your reading pleasure in the Dec 2013 events column of www.shaping-lives.org. we also take this opportunity to wish all readers a very satisfying 2014.
Events Orchestrated By Shaping Lives : Nov 2013
After a hectic and extremely varied CSR interface in Oct, Shaping Lives commenced Nov 2013 with a charity lunch followed by visits by groups to I-India’s Jhag Centre and the remaining two volunteer groups finishing off the remaining painting and beautification work at the two Cankids Centres at Delhi.
Charity Lunch at TESF : Le Passage to India hosted a charity lunch on 01 Nov to all inmates of The Earth Saviours Foundation, Delhi. Senior citizens and destitute from this NGO had been displaced in September due to expiry of Lease of their premises but the landlord had a change of heart and extended it by six months in end Oct. The citizens had been sent to a Government home and Shaping Lives had committed that the day they returned to TESF, the first family meal would be sponsored by us. We kept our promise. It was a pleasure to once again see the entire staff, children and these seniors together as a family. The love and compassion that the TESF staff bestow on them could be seen in their comfort level. We enjoyed the same meal after having fed each and every member of the NGO.
Beautification at Cankids, Kotla Centre : The fourth volunteer group, Zoe’s Place, from a UK Hospice, UPS and a mental health group, landed at Cankids Home Away from Home (HAH) on 09 Nov. While the third had painted the upper residential floor, this group of 14 set about transforming the lower floor which houses the administrative office, a mini-study centre, the isolation room and the patients relaxation-cum-dining zone. While Pooja, the NIFT volunteer graduate with Cankids, had done the basic outlining, our team set about filling it with colors and adding much more detail and happiness. By the end of the work on 12 Nov, the whole floor looked liked an outdoor picnic with the sun, the clouds, a bright blue sky and numerous children prancing on the walls. The dining area came alive with a lavish birthday party layout. The study centre and corridor theme was a train. Two huge trains ordained the walls, one of which was drawn to precision by Adelle, a group volunteer. Helicopters and space ships also came up as part of a huge mobile plan. When work was completed to satisfaction of GM Shaping Lives, the Group was taken to the Gautam nagar Centre where Chris, Advisor – Candkids, a long stay volunteer himself, welcomed them and having given an overview of the NGO, presented each of them their individual appreciation certificates. A round of the facility enabled them to distribute their lovely gifts and confectionary to the children, besides meeting with the core team. Emotions ran high. They generally do and it is not a sign of being upset, to us at Shaping Lives, it is more a display of the inner goodness and compassion of an individual. It bonds and it releases too. Bonds with the children, releases the self for love for the suffering and a look into one’s own soul. This had been a wonderful group, full of mischief but very dedicated and hence the parting with Shaping Lives was a little more emotional than it normally is. Reminded one of the lovely team that had come down from UK Peace Hospice in May this year.
The Scandinavian Group : The first lot of a Scandinavian TEMA group series visited the I-India Jhag Centre on 11 Nov 2013. Comprising mostly of senior citizens, this was the first group in an 8 series CSR booking at Jaipur spread over Nov ’13 to Apr 2014. The traditional welcome, briefing and conduct by Mr Charu, one of the Founder members, were followed by a round of the multiple facilities. Senior citizens bond naturally with children. Perhaps it’s the old world charm or a gentleness and love induced by age and children/grand-children at home. That was once again visible as the children held their hands as they were guided through their hostel inducing contentment and a sense of belonging in the group. The intention in bringing such elderly groups into our empanelled NGOs is never commercial or material gain. It is mutually understood both by Shaping Lives and the NGO that we are giving ‘soul’ to our guests from abroad and the advocacy induced from such visits suffices all. This group went away happy and we hope that the message will trickle down to the others in line that a wonderful experience awaits them at Jhag Village on their Jaipur leg.
Remittances : The month also saw sizeable donations coming into I-India and Deepalaya by the Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School which visited them on 30 Sep and Mr Martin Williman, the Swiss birthday boy on 23 Oct at Deepalaya.
Cankids Gautam Nagar : The last of the five series groups from cancer related Hospices across UK arrived at the Cankids Gautam nagar, multi-storey centre on 22 Nov. They were given the introductory briefing by Mr Chris Williams, Advisor, NGO Cankids…Kidscan. GM, Shaping Lives took over thereafter and took them on a round of the sectors that this volunteer group was to address. It had the Basement training/conference and their MIS room to paint in standard colors and in a variation, they had to get creative on the terrace and make value additions to the May Group’s excellent work. The group was a wonderful mix of young 20-30 year olds and grandmothers as well. But each came with a huge heart and an energy waiting to be released in a compassionate cause. Notwithstanding age, the next two days saw them on ladders and table tops painting ceilings and walls, with scrubs and brushes cleaning up the floors and tiles in their sectors, on their knees on the terrace creating innovations to enthrall the kids. By the time they had finished on 24 Nov afternoon, the basement was sparkling, but it was the terrace where magic had happened. While the wall to entry to the kitchen had a procession of dainty multi-colored elephants, the service windows became sparkling white and the terrace floor saw a permanent hop-scotch and a snakes & ladders game painted on it so that the children could play in the winter sun. Much to the Group’s surprise and joy, Shaping Lives secretly purchased a huge dice to set the game rolling in their presence. Their store, a black structure due to neglect, was transformed into a sun and cloud motif with oriental blooms painted onto its walls. Perhaps the most inspiring of all the work was the removal of one broken overflow water pipe which was messing up the entire terrace at least 3-4 times a day and replacing it with a new one aligned to have its disposal in the main drain outlet at the far end of the terrace. The work was done by Wayne, a plumber by trade, and it was sheer joy to see him so engrossed.
Prior to lunch on the second day, the Group was taken on a tour of the Centre and met the children and parents in the wards. Though tears flowed freely, it is one of the surest signs that compassion has once again created long term bonds between both parties. Work over and floors and tables etc cleaned, the Group assembled on the terrace for a small thanksgiving by Chris again. They were also given their appreciation certificates much to their delight. These formalities over, all children, parents and Cankids staff available at the Centre on this Sunday were invited to a high tea and post a good 45 minutes session of mingling and merriment, the Group exited the gates of Cankids, Gautam Nagar, content and visibly happy that they had made a difference and their 2 day interlude had made a difference to their lives as well. Most of this group promised to affiliate and come back to Cankids in future or raise funds for them back home in UK.
Conclusion : November has once again been hectic and superb for Shaping Lives. It is to the credit of our operational teams and our agents and partners abroad that Shaping Lives is afforded the opportunity of introducing ‘good soul’ into itineraries and we hope for increased opportunities with time. High value projects of Shaping Lives are also being considered by some of our agents abroad and as GM Shaping Lives, I am sanguine that 2014 will see some of them fructify. Our first long duration volunteer Susan Graham, finished her tryst with St Catherine’s Home, Mumbai in mid-November and she writes.. From: Susan Graham [mailto:Susan.Graham……….uk], Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2013 4:46 PM, To: Anil Alagh…… “Anil, I did indeed build some beautiful relationships with many of the young girls and indeed the Sisters, it was a truly inspiring time for me, really made me evaluate my own life and count my many blessings. Maybe on my next trip to India (and there will be many, I’m sure) we will get an opportunity to meet. Warmest regards Anil and thank you again for all your input to making my stay so wonderful and memorable. Susie.
Testimonials good or bad are always a delight to receive. The good urge and motivate us to do more and the bad….. well! They are what ensure that we make corrections and improvements so that every client who seeks ‘ soul’ through Shaping Lives, goes away contented and willing to come back for more.
As GM, Shaping Lives, I take this opportunity to convey appreciation and thanks to all our Le Passage business Units, our wonderful agents abroad and TUI-India for their support in 2013 and wish you all a blessed Christmas and Season’s Greetings 2014.
The Final October Fest via Shaping Lives
Lenidree Swiss Group Visits Deepalaya, Sanjay Colony
A short 2 hour visit to Deepalaya’s Sanjay Colony School on 23 Oct morning succeeded the volunteer group work at Cankids. The children gave the 20 odd guests a traditional welcome at the school gate and Ms Shikha, the Principal, led them to the briefing room. After a quick briefing of Deepalaya, suitably translated by the Tour Guide, and light refreshments, the group split into three and the round of the school for normal children began. The group was bowled over as the tiny tots sang and entertained them in various classrooms visited. The senior classes showed them the benefit of education via the computer generated Edu-com Smart Boards. A display of vocational products made by Deepalaya vocational groups also caught the guests fancy and almost every one of them picked up some product or the other as a memento.
The Group thereafter moved to the cluster housing Deepalaya’s School for special children. Sangeeta briefed them on her brood and as usual, the hearing and speech impaired bunch of naughty children mesmerized them with their headphones, sign language demonstrations and by repeatedly asking to see any photograph clicked in their presence.
When the tour leader Gabriela announced that it was Martin, a group member’s birthday, almost every class he visited made him feel special about it and Ms Shikha added a small gift as well. Martin and his lady wife Patricia were so overwhelmed and elated that they cancelled his invite for evening drinks to the entire Group and donated the money for the children welfare instead promising to send more when they reached back home.
Martin in his first mail writes “Estimated Col Anil Alagh, I very much would like to thank for their reception in the school, the gift and the friendliness of everyone. For me, this was one of my best birthdays of my life. The rays of the children, the singing of two classes of "happy birthday", everything has touched me deeply. My wife and i were moved to tears. For your hard work in favor of disadvantaged children, we thank you very much and wish you continued strength in this work. We would like to send you a further sum of money for the NGO school, you have a bank account? Thank you for your answer. Kind regards from Switzerland - Patricia und Martin Willimann”.
The details for a direct foreign remittance to Deepalaya were sent to them immediately and the couple sent a lovely picture of Martin perhaps making his commitment for the donation to his local parish with an email that read “Dear Col Anil Alagh, Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately we did not get your photos. Thank you for a second attempt by e-mail. Martin and i still revel in the memories of our vacation trip. For the school we will be on Monday, 4 November 2013, remit an amount of CHF 500.00. Thanks for the confirmation of payment. Kind regards from Switzerland. Martin and Patricia Willimann”. This was received on the dot on 04 Nov 2013. God bless them.
Fam Visit to Project Arman
A short notice fam visit to Project Arman materialized immediately after the the Swiss group. An esteemed travel partner form Germany was taken to both the Arman centres and left visibly impressed and assuring Group interventions at this Project.
The Punjab Face
Unknown to most, Shaping Lives is also the emissary to a very noble philanthropic enterprise by the Select Group Chairman, Mr Inder Sharma, in a border belt village named Lalowal, in District Gurdaspur, Punjab. The area has a large number of low income families who till the fields and are engaged in part time work, etc., for whom this medical facility is a blessing in disguise. Mr Sharma finances the Guruji Ki Dispensary through his own charities. The dispensary operating 5 mornings a week, provides a GP check by a qualified doctor and subsequent medication for 3 days at a pittance of INR 5 per visit. It also has an eye centre and a dental chair at a nominal cost of Rs 10 per check. Spectacles are provided at very low cost and any extended dental treatment gets a 20% discount at the main MacRObert Hospital, Dhaliwal.
To add value, for a second year running, a Free Medical Camp was held on 31 Oct with support from The Salvation Army’s MacRobert Hospital located at Dhaliwal about 6 kms away. The Camp had over 350 local lower income villagers from 10 surrounding villages avail the free services of three GP doctors, a Gynecologist, two Eye Specialists, a Dentist, a Physiotherapist and a Lab Medical analyst. A team of 25 trainee nurses facilitated the patient documentation and tests.
In addition to the check-up, free medicines sponsored by local pharmaceutical well-wishers via MacRobert Hospital, and as prescribed by the various doctors were also distributed to the patients. Villagers requiring more detailed medical care or dentistry were advised to report to the Hospital about 6 kms away. Approx 20 villagers, mostly the elderly, were also shortlisted for cataract surgery at a hugely discounted all inclusive rate of INR 1500 in the coming week at the Hospital’s eye care department. For some who could not afford even this amount, this INR 1500 was also sponsored from the Dispensary account.
The success of this camp depends on close coordination between Shaping Lives, our local Dispensary Custodian, Mr Praveen Punj and the unflinching support of Major Gurnam Masih, Salvation Army and Administrator, MacRobert Hospital and obviously involves blocking a day suitable to all besides the medical staff and resources for that day, local announcements and awareness poster distribution in a 10km x 10 km belt and setting up administrative facilities at the Dispensary to take in the extra load.
Oct wound up in this flurry of activities and November promised Shaping Lives a ‘soulful’ goldmine as well.
VOLUNTEER GROUPS AT CANKIDS…KIDSCAN VIA SHAPING LIVES : OCT 2013
The season picks up towards end September and as October progresses, a slew of social interfaces takes place across India via Shaping Lives and our group offices. While Bangalore saw visits and volunteering at Don Bosco Centre at Chamrajpet, Akshar Society once again hosted the first of the regular groups that visits its Centre during their Jaipur sojourn. The focus however was more on Delhi this October.
UK Volunteer Groups : Three volunteer groups from Hospices across UK/South Wales and around were channelized into the Cankids…Kidscan Centres at Delhi to paint the Centres and beautify them. When our operational team approached us for this last year, a round of meetings with Cankids followed and the NGO, which works with cancer afflicted children from less privileged backgrounds across the country, very kindly agreed to keep two of their centres available for renovation by Groups facilitated by Shaping Lives.
The first Group, Butterwicks, descended on the HAH (Home Away From Home) Centre at Kotla, Delhi on 05 Oct 2013. The HAH is a rented two floor area, which has the administrative, kitchen and medi-care sections besides others. The upper floor has 11 cubicles, each with a double bunker bed and is used as a low cost residence by outstation families coming for treatment via Cankids. A quick fire introduction to Cankids by the Founder, Ms Poonam Bagai, was followed by delegation of tasks by the GM, Shaping Lives and over the next two days, the group members painted the entire lower level including cupboards, bunker beds, etc., and did a delightful value addition in spring cleaning as well. The area was sparkling by the time they were taken to the Gautam Nagar facility, 3 kms away and felicitated with individual certificates by the Cankids PSG (Parents Support Group) Director, Ms Sonal.
A lull of 10 days followed. Then came the downpour. Two groups, Haven’s and Noah’s Ark, came in on 18th and 19th Oct respectively and were given a similar round of introductions. Haven’s took on the Gautam nagar facility. Their task was to paint the Ground Floor of this 4 storey terminally ill centre for cancer children and also beautify the stairway. Ruth, the baby of the group at 21 years, took on an extra responsibility of livening up the two bedded special terminally ill room. This facility has a special room where the child is shifted with his parents when on his last few days to give more privacy and care. It was a drab and dull affair unlike the two other floors housing the children, but Ruth and Becky transformed this room into a paradise and the Cankids’ staff were elated at the transformation. The other Haven’s were no less and worked tirelessly to create motifs and brightness on all the walls they took on. Sandra, with a full time nursing background, even took time out to visit the Cankids ‘Chatai’ (Mat) clinic at AIIMS. The GM Shaping Lives of course escorted as volunteer well-being and safety is as deep a concern with us at Shaping Lives as is their spiritual and emotional experience with us. The visit of this volunteer group coincided with the Cankids annual Diwali function. Diwali is perhaps the biggest festival in India and at Cankids they allow each child to make a wish for it and then honour it by gifting it. The money is raised by selling ‘wish cards’ to donors. To the credit of this group that on learning about this ‘wish card’ over 80% chose to buy one over and above the gifts brought from UK by them.
Noah’s Ark team of 10, were given the task of beautifying the upper floor at HAH, Kotla. Except one, all other claimed to have no painting or at least fine painting experience. But then, as GM Shaping Lives, Col Alagh, was quite used to such statements from volunteers and gently led them over to the paints and brushes. What transpired thereafter on the walls in the next three days was sheer magic. Cankids had ensured a basic sketch of the animal kingdom motif in all the 11 rooms to be beautified. While imaginations and colors ran wild, all of us joined hands to create and fill up the remaining blank spaces ourselves. Lynn’s pond with bull-rushes and toadstools, Rebecca’s flower power or the team’s combined rainbow scene on the stairway gradually gained shape and by the end of last day, the residential block and the stairway leading to it were a joyous blend of nature …… flora and fauna come alive on the walls. A visibly happy and satisfied were then taken on a tour of the Gautam Nagar Centre to sensitise them some more of the good work done by the NGO and other volunteer groups. The surprise individual appreciation certificates were obviously the cherry on the cake and they walked out content of soul and with indelible memories of a lifetime.
What a beautiful month this was as Shaping Lives transformed most of the Cankids premises just in time for India’s major festival, Diwali, the festival of joy, lights and bonding. In the words of two of our volunteers from diverse groups and ages.
‘Fiona Alton wrote to say, “Hi Anil, Just a quick note to say it was an honour to meet you and your team and an absolute pleasure to help out in the HAFH. I have memories that will stay with me for life. I have passed on your details to my sister in law's church committee and sincerely hope that they chose your charity to help in the future. Kind regards, Fiona”
Hi Anil Uncle Ji! Just wanted to say thank you for these wonderful pictures and for the opportunity, it was definitely an unforgettable one! I hope you and all those at CanKids are well, and that the kids are loving the "animal kingdom"! :) Good luck with all your future endeavors and I hope that we will again cross paths in the future. Kindest regards, Varsha”
As we step into November, two more groups are already scheduled to come and complete other sectors of HAH, Kotla and the Gautam Nagar Centre.
SHAPING LIVES FACILITATES VISIT OF AUSSIE GIRL STUDENT GROUP
TO NGO I-INDIA’s JHAG VILLAGE COMPLEX, NEAR JAIPUR, INDIA
September went by in a flurry of activities. No major group or FIT visits except one, but a lot of inputs to and visits facilitated by Shaping Lives to its multiple NGOs, for prospective assessment by our wonderfully supportive overseas agents. Vocational products from our NGOs were also ordered in bulk by various operations teams. The prime focus however was the detailed meetings and coordination with Cankids…Kidscan at Delhi in preparation for the painting and beautification work of both their Centres at Kotla and Gautam Nagar, Delhi by 5 volunteer groups spread over the next 6 weeks.
The month-end, 30 Sept to be precise, saw a group of young Australian girl students and their three teachers from Melbourne, visit the I-India’s Jhag Village facility about 30kms from Jaipur. The visit was delayed by over 3 hours due to weather and unforeseen exigencies and as the GM, Shaping Lives, received them on the highway coming from Ajmere, the girls, all Class 10 and 11 students, seemed exhausted, desperately hungry and apprehensive. That lasted only until the coach stopped at the Jhag facility gate. Serenaded by a base drummer, they were escorted into the school building, given a traditional Indian welcome, and proceeded to mingle with the children in every class. Almost 45 minutes later, the giggling group had to be coaxed and forced out by teachers and the GM combo, to proceed for lunch. One of the girls walked up to the GM and said, “you know what Sir. We have been on two other such visits in other countries, but this was amazing, the children here are so different, they are so happy, well-behaved and polite.”
The lunch, as in traditional Indian style, was floor seating and served by the ladies and gentlemen of the two hostels for street children in the Complex. Served a pure vegetarian non-spicy meal, the teenagers and their teachers freaked out on the daal (lentil) and curds with ground roasted cummins seeds, and most went beyond the second helping. In the words of ‘Clam’, one of the senior girls, this was decidedly the best meal they had partaken in the past 8 days in India.
Mr Charu and Mrs Darshana, the husband and wife team who manage Jhag Complex as the Founders, thereafter escorted the group into their Ladli Vocational Training Centre. This Centre, newly inaugurated, has limited products on sale, since the main Ladli centre is in Jaipur. The Jhag vocational outfit focuses more on creation of new products and in its goal of empowerment of local backward community women from 9 surrounding villages, through vocational produce and financial independence. The hundreds of trinkets of all shapes and sizes, girlie stuff, scarves, aprons, bags and the ambience and love pervading all around, made the group go crazy. Shaping Lives is proud to state that this was the first ever ‘over the counter’ sale of products from this new Centre and it was worth more than a tidy amount. Mr Damien, accompanied by Mrs Ford and Georgia, the other two teachers, also donated a lumpsum as a sponsorship amount. This was in addition to Ekta handing over an appreciation cheque from Le Passage to India, the group’s tour facilitator.
Some of the girls also tried their hand at block printing and were fascinated by the low cost permanent cloth dyeing process adopted by the Centre. The 3 x 2 square feet block print trial done by 7-8 of them was gifted, much to their delight, as a memoir of their visit and tryst with Ladli. Purchases over, the group were ushered into the mini-auditorium where, for want of time, a small felicitation ceremony was held by the I-India team and children. The teachers were honored with the ethnic chunri and Rajasthani Pagri and the girls gifted all the goodies and games they had brought from Australia to the children.
The bonhomie ended with Mr Damien, promising future link-up amidst heartfelt thanks and goodbyes to each other. Jhag, though located 35 kms away from Jaipur, is Shaping Lives composite CSR intervention facility, where groups can have a multi-pronged experience over half or a full day. The NGO post visit note to GM, Shaping Lives stated, “Had an amazing time with all of you and thanks to you for the huge and generous support. Thanks for inaugurating the counter sale of handcrafted products developed by the women and children of Jhag Children’ Village.” Shaping Lives is happy that the first real group of this season, and our empanelled NGO, have derived mutual happiness and benefits from each other and we are now all geared to take on the numerous visits in October.
LE PASSAGE FOUNDATION DAY 2013 : VIA SHAPING LIVES
Come July and Le Passage Travel Foundation, aka Shaping Lives, the CSR flagship of the Le Passage family goes into overdrive, not for our esteemed inbound clients, but on an internal philanthropic journey. It commences the preparations for Le Passage Foundation Day falling on 06 Aug each year. There are no wine and cheese evenings. What happens is a series of philanthropic activities through the build-up and on the day of reckoning. This 11th Foundation day was no less. Such an august occasion, lots of august philanthropy and all done by the august colleagues of our pan-India Le Passage family.
Blood Donation : The day commenced with ‘Blood Donation’ across our Delhi (NCR) offices, as well as in Mumbai. While we at Delhi, laid open the doors to our local neighbors for the first time, Mumbai office co-opted a hospitality hotel partner, Hotel Orchid, into their donation drive, both a first by any offshore location. As always, the business heads led from the front and merry making adequate as volunteers awaited their turn at this noble cause. At the end of the day, the Indian Red Cross at NCR had collected 71 units, whilst at Mumbai, the haul was 100 flat. Cochin colleagues contributed another 4 locally.
An introductory innovation we had introduced in the form of ‘Organ Donation’ awareness, alongside the blood donation was well received and a lot of queries and approximately 40 volunteer cards were picked up. A similar drive in Dec had got 60, hence it was quite satisfying.
High Tea : Its called high tea, but it is plain pampering of tiny tots from our empanelled NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group and NGO Deepalaya. Unlike the previous two years, this time, every Special Business Unit, ensured their individual contributions by gifting a lumpsum to Shaping Lives and allowing us to purchase and pack gifts for the NGOs. The Luxe segment chose to do only play and recreational items on its own while for the rest we focused on contributing the annual stock of books, stationery and classroom accessories.
The tiny representatives from our NGOs were treated like VIPs. Besides the plateful of goodies and about 30 Uncles and Aunts tightly wedged inside the small Board room at Haus Khas vying with each other to pamper them, Le Passage had packed individual gift bags for each of them to take home. Once Mr Arjun Sharma, MD, Le Passage, had welcomed all and the NGO heads put in a word of appreciation, Chintan was gifted a carton of goodies by each SBU head. The 15 or so carton contents would suffice to cover the entire stationery and recreational requirement of 180 children of Project Arman for this schooling year. This Project, run at Nizamudin, is totally financed by us and has given a new meaning to life to children of waste pickers through education and awareness programs that we run via Chintan.
Deepalaya was next. There were a few cartons of goodies for the special children of Deepalaya’s Special Unit at Sanjay Colony, as well. Those were the fringe benefits. The real reason they were present was that, while the MD presented a cheque to support the education of 12 special and 4 normal children from less privileged backgrounds for the third successive year, an affiliated partner, TI Infotech, headed by Ms Meenu Sachdeva also handed over a separate cheque to support 4 normal children. Including Le Passage, the NGOs were gifted 22 cartons of assorted children materials along with these recurring sponsorships.
Gurukul Lunch : The ‘Gurukul’, a school which trains less privileged children in scriptures as future Hindu clergy, on the ancient Indian principle of ‘guru and chela’, has been the lunch venue every Foundation Day since Le Passage’s inception I n 2002. A total of 200 inmates including the ‘Acharyas’ or teachers, were treated to a sumptuous lunch, served by volunteer colleagues. The company’s senior echelon including Mr Arjun Sharma, MD takes special pride in volunteering here, thereafter partaking of the same lunch and then distributing individual gifts to each child. Shaping Lives had also in the previous week, had the dining hall and front façade renovated and painted. This is an add-on we do each year, by taking the ‘gurukul’ wish list and completing it as part of our philanthropic activity for the Foundation Day.
Clothes to GOONJ : The last philanthropy of the day was dispatching the clothes collected for NGO GOONJ for their relief efforts. Most of the clothes would go towards the Uttarakhand cloudburst region of ‘char-dham’ and a few to the Gazipur slum waste-pickers whose homes had been destroyed in the fire a few days back. Besides 16 cartons of old usable woolens donated by colleagues across NCR, over INR 1.0 lac worth of new woolens were added by a collection of individuals. We all hope the contents will bring warmth to our brothers in the hills, whose villages had been razed by the flash floods in Jun.
Offshore Locations : Every office pan-India celebrated in its own way. The offices performed prayers, distributed sweets and took on some CSR activity commensurate to their numbers and time availability.
Jaipur : It organized a visit to NGO I-India’s Project Ladli vocational centre, where Mr Khalid Khan, our Rajasthan head distributed gifts to each girl.
Mumbai : Did wonders by scoring a 100 units of donated blood besides contributing old clothes for Goonj Centre at Mumbai. Ms Manisha Sharma, our Mumbai head was the brain behind this success.
Goa : The unit under Ms Reshma Alves donated a base drum to complete the band ensemble of the school which also has a girls’ orphanage and which is empanelled with us.
Trivandrum : Mr Joe Julian, our Trivandrum head went into Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity with his team, to pamper and feed the tiny tots lunch.
Cochin : Mr Hari KC walked down to the local blood collection unit with his team and donated their pint of blood.
BMVSS Donation : The culmination to the ‘social’ face of Foundation Day philanthropy came at a small event held at the Jaipur Foot Organisation or BMVSS (Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayata Samiti) facility in Jaipur. Mr Khalid Khan, LPTI Rajasthan Head, and Col Alagh, GM, CSR handed over a humble cheque towards cost of 40 artificial limbs to Mr DR Mehta, the Founder of BMVSS. In his thanksgiving on behalf of the assembled beneficiaries, Mr Mehta appreciated the commitment of LPTI as a travel company to give back on its tourist destinations regularly. He indicated that what was donated today was almost 50% of the annual output of limbs of AIIMS, Delhi. The congregation was thereafter also given individual snack packets and the ceremony ended with both Mr Khan and Col Alagh thanking Mr Mehta for his kind words and a promise to continue the association in times to come.
Conclusion : Shaping Lives takes this opportunity to thank all colleagues of Le Passage and TUI India families for their contributions in making the 11th Foundation Day memorable. We also take this opportunity to convey appreciation for the support you give in so many other CSR activities through the year. We may be spread across India but we live and enjoin as a family whenever the need demands. Thank you.
INDIAN ROUTES CELEBRATES ITS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY VIA "THE SPIRIT OF GIVING"
Indian Routes, a niche Destination Management Company for India and South Asia has a clear focus on Designer Tourism, Incentive Travel and Conferences & Meetings. Its passion leads them to redefine the meaning of personalized service & to create unique travel experiences, aiming not only to exceed the expectations of a traveler, but to deliver him a dream experience. With its vision of sustainable tourism, with the aim that each tour becomes a positive experience for the local community, tourism entities and the travelers, Indian Routes and Shaping Lives have been coming together to create innovative ‘karma’ experiences for FITs and Groups repeatedly in the past three years. Each interaction with our NGOs has been an experience of a lifetime for the visitors and is chronicled in the ‘events’ and ‘testimonials’ pages of the Le Passage Travel Foundation website, www.shaping-lives.com, as well as the Indian Routes monthly newsletter.
The team chose a unique way to celebrate their fifth anniversary which fell on 12 May. They sponsored a lunch for all inmates of NGO, The Earth Saviours Foundation. The NGO has about 150 less privileged children in day school, and another 75 abandoned senior citizens and destitute residing there 24 x 7. The 25 member team, led by their Executive Director, Ms Kiran Joti, reached the NGO an hour before their scheduled time, to familiarize with the inmates. They were shown the facility, briefed about the NGO’s wide ranging work and shown the community kitchen. They set about serving lunch to the inmates themselves, thereafter.
The joy and satisfaction one gains from community service is always unparalleled and it was no different for this team. Each one of them glowed as they cajoled the children to eat a little bit extra or helped the senior citizens and destitute by holding their plates or feeding them with their own hands. The contentment was visible on the faces and Shaping Lives has photographic proof of the same. The team partook of the same meal with some of the NGO staff before bidding farewell with promises of not just returning but also endeavoring to send in some groups to this wonderful NGO.
In her note in reply to ‘thanks’ from GM, Shaping Lives, Ms Kiran Joti replied, ‘Dear Col Alagh, Each member of Indian Routes is actively aware of Shaping Lives. Whenever possible, the team endeavours to make a place for its activities in our clients’ visits to India. We have just returned from our visit & lunch at NGO TESF. We really appreciated celebrating our 5th anniversary in such a wonderful way thanks to you. Warm regards, Kiran Joti, Executive Director’. She had voiced the feelings of every member of her team in these few words. To us at Shaping Lives, Indian Routes is an example of a DMC spreading compassion and kindness via the business route, and worthy of emulation by other travel business associates. Thank you, Indian Routes.
SHAPING LIVES ORGANISES VOLUNTEERISM FOR PUREQUEST GROUP IN INDIA
When Ms Poonam Bagai, Founder, NGO Cankids …Kidscan, India, walked in for her address to the motley UK Peace Hospice volunteer group on a hot Sunday May afternoon, her heart sank a bit. They were brought in by Shaping Lives, in partnership with our premium adventure travel business unit, PUREQUEST, on a 3 day painting volunteering, and none of them was a professional or even acknowledged an artistic trait. She left it to God and GM, Shaping Lives, to achieve whatever little this group, ranging in age from 23 to 75 year old grannies could in the sweltering May heat of Delhi. Mr Chris Williams, her support and senior colleague, and himself from England, had only one advice, ‘do not strain yourself and catch a heat-stroke’. The briefing over, Poonam showed the group the terrace and stairways and gave her vision of what would appeal to the cancer afflicted less privileged children, some of them terminally ill and spending their final days in her NGOs loving care.
Col Anil Alagh, took over proceedings thereafter. As GM, Shaping Lives, he dissected the work into tasks, levels and manpower requirements. He encouraged the group members to choose their own teams to take on each task, also seeking their ideas and color preferences. By late evening, the teams had been formed, a rough execution plan made, and paint demands placed. The instructions to the group were to report to the Centre for work by 0900h next day. ….. which they did.
Paint and accessories were distributed. Teams moved into their allocated sections after the mandatory aproned photo shoot, and the Centre came alive with the swish-swash of brushes and light banter. The initial hiccups over, the teams settled into a work rhythm, but, as the heat increased, the brushes became slower. Anil pushed and motivated and cajoled each team to work, occasionally taking on some more difficult or out of reach painting tasks himself from the more elderly volunteers. Each of the 19 members, including Victoria, their wonderful tour coordinator, unanimously labeled him ‘a slave driver’, broke into a grin as big as they possibly could the moment they saw him approach their team with his pep talk, whip and beautification ideas. Yes! Shaping Lives was being pushy, but then there were targets to achieve and every member of the group understood and appreciated their role and importance in this effort. Therein lay the beauty of a team working as one.
A lunch break of just 45 mins, with a 5 mins bonus to the 7 elderly ladies was permitted. Purequest coordinators, Lokesh and Deepak organized wholesome box meals. Meals over, we were all back to work. When Poonam and her team came around 1530h for a review on the first day, perhaps expecting little or nothing, their jaws dropped at what they saw. The Centre had been transformed. The terrace, kitchen, stairways had not just come alive but had value additions as well. Bright flowers, clouds, balloons, veggies, stars, moon, butterflies, etcetera, had all come alive on the walls much to their surprise. They were dumbstruck at what this group, with an average age touching 60 years, with no experience, had achieved in just 6 hours of work. Compliments were profuse. Poonam became bolder and more confident and in her own lovable wicked way asked Shaping Lives for additional painting coverage. No problem, Anil said…after all he was a certified professional slave driver, wasn’t he? As day one ended, not one amongst the group had an inkling of what lay in store for them the next day. They seemed happy and that’s all that mattered.
Next day commenced on the dot at 0900h and the first question the GM put to them was, “did you like the entry to Cankids?’ A ‘NO’ chorus went up. That was all that the slave master wanted. We curtailed manpower on the terrace and staircase and 4 volunteers, Paul, Elaine, Amanda and Marie, were given the task of making the entrance to Cankids befitting. While more flowers, fruits and butterflies came up at various places courtesy Victoria, Mary, Carly and Racheal, two windows with a view sprung up on the terrace walls under the expert eye of Tracy, Mary no 2, Hazel and Rachel, facing a British Double Decker bus heading towards the Big Ben as visualized by Heather. Thomasina, our new artist who had created the flower garden, filled the clouds with single motivational words in Hindi and English. Dominic’s latent talents aroused him to create the ‘kekada’ (Crab), the Cankids symbol and sketches of two therapeutic Cankids dolls on the terrace. The staircase on the terrace called ‘the stairway to heaven’ became bright and careful under Pippa’s brush. The kitchen had a new chef on the wall besides fish and vegetables and fruits making it vibrant and cooking friendly, all courtesy Sue and the husband and wife team of Neil and Andrea. Deepak from Purequest did the fish and chips artwork.
Lunch on the second day had a value addition. The Purequest box meal was supplemented with fresh ‘aloo parothas’ (potato filled wheat Indian bread), straight from the freshly painted Cankids kitchen. The group loved it as it was served with curds and pickle, in a typically Indian way. Post lunch, we all joined hands to give the finishing touches. Additional manpower toiled to finish the entrance, which eventually sparkled, some glass painting work and a few colorful designs on almirahs came up. By the time we called it a day and the group assembled for a closing photo shoot on the terrace before our tea with the Cankids children, their parents and staff, the Centre was as good as new, sparkling, vibrant, like a kindergarten just opened for the happiest tiny-tots in the world. Courtesy? This wonderful volunteer group, cajoled by Victoria, and brought in by Purequest.
The valedictories commenced before the tea. Poonam and every member of Cankids, was profuse in their appreciation and thanksgiving to this lovely group, even as each one was presented a ‘Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation” for the excellent work done. High tea courtesy Purequest was a big hit. Pizzas, chips, chocolates, juices were aplenty, so were the farewell hugs and tears. The group had not just painted Cankids, they had created an emotional bond of a lifetime and Shaping Lives, once again humbly proved that love and compassion is sans barriers, it only requires windows of opportunities to burst forth and create magic anywhere in the world. The high tea was a planned surprise for this lovely group by Shaping Live, and it worked magic as it meshed the material bonds of painting to the emotional ones of meeting and experiencing the beauty and resilience of the children afflicted with cancer.
Tears flowed freely even in London in the words of Rachael Townley, who was the 6’3” tall baby of the group at 23 years, “Anil, I will never forget my experience at CanKids and you are to thank for a lot of this for driving us so hard to get the results we did to help make a difference. The hours of sweating and painting were all worth it when we had the party with the children on the Tuesday afternoon and I was reminded just how much a difference our small little paint job could make. You will not be shocked to hear that I am still crying every time I think about what we accomplished...I had my first day back at work today and lost count of the amount of times I cried whilst talking about it. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you helped us to achieve. I hope to stay in touch. Best wishes, Tall baby Rachael :)”. Ms Fowler, a senior citizen volunteer wrote’ “On the last night we asked everyone to tell us about the best part of the trip and the worst – without fail CanKids was everyone’s highlight of the trip”. In Victoria’s first few words after the departure, she wrote “Ah Anil! Thank you so much for your kind words! Everyone loved the time we spent at CanKids & delighted to have been able to help just the little bit they did. And you have 19 big fans”.
Magic never happens without preparations. Purequest and Shaping Lives where involved with our UK agent months in advance, not just planning for this volunteer program, but also taking into confidence Cankids management and ensuring that the areas selected for painting were kept free for the group arrival in May 2013. The financial and administrative costs and support mechanisms were worked out in detail. The group was merely to walk in, have fun and go away with a sense of complete satisfaction, both professionally and emotionally. That is what Le Passage Travel Foundation is all about, ‘a bridge between the inbound traveler and well researched NGOs on key tourism destinations’. So, if you have plans to leave your social footprint in India in the oncoming season and intend a CSR activity from 1-2 hours visits to volunteering for a few days/weeks, do log on to www.shaping-lives.org and allow us to make the difference via our operational partners.
Shaping Lives Events : French Students Group Visits NGO I-India’s Ladli Vocational Centre
Indian Routes was once again at the forefront of CSR activity facilitated by Shaping Lives as April drew to a close. A group of 35 French students and teachers of the Claude Bernard Group, descended on the I-India, Ladli Vocational Centre at Govindpuri, Jaipur, around midday on 28 Apr 2013. Although it was a Sunday, the NGO very kindly agreed to open the Centre and allow the interaction with their children, in view of our mutual respect and rapport with each other.
The group was given a traditional welcome with each person being blessed by an auspicious ‘tilak’ (vermilion on the forehead), a garland and tying of a beautiful and vibrant ‘moulli’ (sacred thread) around the wrist. A briefing on the NGO’s work was followed by a round of the vocational facility under the watchful and kind eyes of Ms Darshana Goswami, the Ladli Centre in-charge followed. The French youngsters, all aged between 19 – 20 years, mingled with the lovely Ladli girls and I-India boys called in from their centre as a special treat, as they explained the intricate and beautiful jewelry, gudri rugs, cards and miscellaneous other gift items they make at the Centre. The card and jewelry corners got maximum attention. In fact more than half the group opted to make cards themselves and Shaping Lives initiated an on-the-spot card making competition with prizes and gifts for all participants as a surprise happiness quotient for the group. Broken English on both sides joined many hearts that day.
All members of the group were also given tiny baskets and encouraged to take a round of the multiple vocational products on display – cum – sale at the Centre. The girls in the group freaked out and the NGO did a reasonably good sale of these products at the end of the day. The French teachers expressed happiness and satisfaction when briefed that the girls, although staying with I-India and being educated and nurtured by them, were yet given money for their work. This was put into their independent bank accounts to be utilized when they attained the age and maturity to move out into an independent world of their own.
Since time was at a premium, the group was literally coaxed out of the vocational hall and urged onto the Computer Centre. This new centre was the brainchild of Mr Charu Goswami, son of the I-India founder, Mr Prabhakar Goswami. Fitted with 10 brand new desktops, the idea had germinated when Shaping Lives gifted some financial aid in addition to the Indian Routes CSR effort, and suggested computers and some air conditioning as a long term investment for the I-India children esp the Ladli girls. They eventually installed 10 with the help of other donors and this Centre would now empower the local community youth, as well. Hence a small Shaping Lives idea is now expected to become a youth empowerment program for the local low income community where this Ladli Centre is located.
The group was requested to inaugurate the two donated desktops amidst much cheering and clapping. That done, a special vegetarian meal had been organized by I-India, sponsored and requested by Indian Routes for all present, and we, including Shaping Lives GM, who was present, sat down on the floor as a mixed group, the Indian way, for an Indian meal. Chairs were of course put for the senior faculty on request. Quite a novelty for the French students. They were apprehensive about the Indian ‘masala’ (spices) effect, but I-India which is internationally recognized for its work with street and abandoned children and often hosts them, knows how to cook superb Indian delicacies suitable for the European palate. Additional helpings were the order of the day. The Indian puri, a fried fluffed wheat bread and the assortment of vegetables were a big hit and even the most shy and apprehensive amongst the students finally succumbed to their taste.
The beautiful afternoon ended with the group leader, Ms Madeliene Arias, being honored with a ‘chunri’, a ladies intricately designed head cloth which is gifted as a mark of respect to key persons. Each member of the group was also presented a Ladli elephant key ring as a memoir. The students were profuse in their thanks. Quite a few, used their limited English to express that this was their most unforgettable experience, and two of them even took details with intent to return and volunteer with I-India. Overall it turned out a very satisfying and happy experience for all of us. It is always a joy to share love and experiences and that is exactly what happened when students from two different parts of the world and economic backgrounds met at Ladli, Jaipur.
AGRA : Indian Routes added icing to the cake, by gifting 50 bedsheets to the Shrimad Dayanand Anathallaya in Agra, the very next day. This orphanage of boys and girls is run like a gurukul and teaches children scriptures besides their normal schooling. It is a haven for the children and a visit here, esp to the girls section, brings a strange feeling of harmony and peace to the visitor. Situated in the heart of the old city, it can be navigated by smaller vehicles only. Mr Rajesh Sharma did the honors as the local head and representative of Indian Routes and Shaping Lives.
SHAPING LIVES EVENT VIA INDIAN ROUTES : TOTAL ESPANA GROUP & UMANG, JAIPUR
Total Espana group under aegis of Indian Routes, a premium travel unit in India, had a feel of the special talents of challenged children of our empanelled NGO UMANG at Jaipur on 12 Apr 2013. Facilitated by Shaping Lives, the nouvelle idea of gifting paintings made by special children was once again explored by Mr Dimple Singh, the Indian Routes organiser. Fifty of the best pieces were selected for display and the Banquet hall of Le Meridien, Kukas, Jaipur looked like a lively art gallery as the display tables got filled.
A total of 42 paintings were gifted individually, with each guest receiving his exclusively from one Umang child. The paintings are all the more exquisite and special as they are the pain staking and slow labor of children with a variety of cerebral and physical disabilities and it takes much effort and time to even synchronize and create the piece. The use of vibrant colors and motifs states the inner urge of these special children to live a meaningful mainstream life. As each child personally came up or was wheeled up to present one of their paintings, there was an abundance of smiles and pride in their eyes. The guests on their part were lavish and effusive in their praise and love and some of our tiny-tots were actually looking embarrassed when showered by hugs and kisses from the recipients.
Mrs Deepak Kalra, Founder - Director of Umang and the current Chairperson of the Rajasathan State Commission for protection of Children Rights, took time out from her busy schedule to grace the event. In her words post the event, she wrote, “Dear Col Alagh , It was indeed a great pleasure to meet you and your team including Dimple Singh who have been consistently and constantly supporting us .Thank you for always promoting the cause and the products made by our trainees . Sale of 47 paintings in one go is really amazing, and would not have been possible without your personal involvement and efforts . All the money raised will help us organise another painting workshop with our Artist from Switzerland in October this year. Hope you can visit us during the workshop this time and see the little artists creating these colorful creations. I really appreciate your involvement with all the NGOS your company has adopted . Any CSR program can only be successful when it comes from the heart and for you it does , this is the biggest reason for such successful projects you have build in such short duration . You have been a such a dependable friend of Umang, and loved by the children . Do convey our gratitude to your management . We look forward to our association in future . Deepak Kalra and all of us at Umang”.
We also acknowledge the staff of Le Meridien, Kukas, who displayed quick understanding and compassion in playing hosts to our Umang children. Some of them even took details for future volunteering and Shaping Lives hopes they will associate with Umang being located in the same city.
SHAPING LIVES ENTERS FINANCIAL YEAR 2013 WITH MORE “SMILES”
The Uppingham School, UK
For the first time since its foundation, Shaping Lives facilitated a T-20 day-night cricket match between touring students of the premier public Uppingham School, UK and our NGO Deepalaya children. Organised under aegis of the UK operations team of LPTI, Deepalaya preparations for the match started in end Feb post consent from their management.
The evening of 02 Apr saw the players congregate at the Jamia Hamdard University cricket ground, Delhi, in the afternoon. It was decided to make the match a mixed team one in view of the CSR nature of the event. The Deepalaya children, all charged up, were a bit disappointed at this mix-n-play decision but soon reconciled as both sides made concerted efforts to break the barriers of language and backgrounds. Teams, toss and a little tea later, the match commenced. The Deepalaya players proved their mettle in equal measure against their healthier, stronger UK friends and very soon the spectators were rooting for their teams in right earnest.
Unfortunately, the Gods decided to pour their hearts out and the covers had to be drawn with just 10 overs played. The deluge, totally unseasonal, lasted over an hour and totally inundated the ground. A soccer or rugby ball was sadly missed by all. But the camaraderie had been established and the spirits and mingling was high. That was what we had set out to achieve, confidence building and exposure for our Deepalaya children and an awareness and sensitization for the Uppingham students. Gifts and farewells were exchanged in the cramped changing room. The Uppingham team showered our Deepalaya children with various sports gear and kit, including cricket shoes, etc. The guests were touched when the Deepalaya children responded with a return gift for not just each of them, but also for all the School fraternity and a few accompanying parents.
As the rain slackened a bit, the Uppingham group departed amongst many high 5s, byes and come back / see you agains. The Deepalaya children were treated to some excellent Chinese box meal before they too bid goodbye to Col Anil Alagh, GM, Shaping Lives and the operational team that had made this wonderful match possible. In his thanksgiving Toby Makhzangi, Head of Politics, Uppingham School and their tour coordinator, emailed “Anil, Thank you so much for these and for arranging the match; as you say it went very well. It was certainly one of the highlights of our trip! We would love to come again as India has made a deep impression on us all. Yours, Toby”.
Wildlife SOS Visit : The Uppingham group had also been channelized to the Agra Bear Rescue Centre run by our NGO friend Wildlife SOS the previous afternoon at Agra, and everyone in the group was very happy and excited about having had a chance to visit this Centre, which is a haven for the erstwhile dancing bears of the Indian streets. Toby even mentioned that they would be putting in a proposal to sponsor bear once they briefed their management on return.
The Richter Group
This German group, facilitated by Shaping Lives, onto a short visit to our Project Arman Centre at Nizammudin, Delhi was impressed by the nature of our initiative to wean the rag pickers’ children away from trash picking and groom them for more respectful job, subsequent to their enrollment and education in formal schools via our NCIT (No Child in Trash) program supported by NGO Chintan. This elderly group, touring under aegis of Go India Journeys, took less than a few minutes to break the language barriers. So many times in Shaping Lives interventions one sees that whatever country they be, whatever language they speak, the visitors transcend all barriers through the language of love and it’s the twinkling eyes and wide smiles on the faces of our children that reflect within a short while on our guests’ faces as well.
As the time nears to bid adieu, one can feel their hearts beat in peace and harmony as the positive vibes envelop them onto their next itinerary. The Richter group was no different and when informed on their query that a donation was in order, a very tidy sum was collected within a few minutes and formally handed over by their group leader to Ms Rashmi, head of the NCIT program, who was also present.
A Word from the GM : The Indian new financial year has started well for Shaping Lives. To us, we calculate finances in terms of smiles achieved and distributed. As this note is sent for print, the week-end has something special in store for our very special children at Jaipur, but more on that in the next newsletter. Till then we bid adieu, with a request to explore karma opportunities with Shaping Lives when you are in India next. We promise you added positive energy and smiles during your sojourn in this beautiful country.
Events : Shaping Lives hosts holi 2013 for special children
Shaping Lives completed its Holi hatrick when it celebrated Holi, the wonderful Indian festival of gaiety and colors, for the special children of Deepalaya Sanjay Colony Special Unit at Delhi on 25 Mar 2013. It has become an annual feature and the joy that emanates from these special kids, whose disabilities range from hearing and speech impairment to various forms of cerebral afflictions, has to be experienced to be understood. Who doesn’t like colors? Which child doesn’t like to have himself or herself dirty and splashed in multiple hues while doing the same to friends and people he/she loves. That is what sets the mood at our Holi celebrations with these children.
They are more normal than normal and in their smiles, sometimes shy, sometimes overtly expressive, it is very easy to lose sense of time and age with these children and that’s exactly what happened. The day started with a drawing competition. Winners were given on-the-spot awards and then the fun started. Colors were distributed and the whole set-up turned topsy-turvy as the children squealed and laughed as they colored all of us to their heart’s content.
The colors and children exhausted finally and out came the snack boxes. Ms Sangeeta and her team of the Special Unit, outdid themselves in creating a fun time but under their strict and watchful eye to ensure safety of every child in this special Holi. The little rainbows finally were bundled off into their buses for home. The real Holi was the next day but the trailer had been great and they left amidst final hugs, a tiny naughty smearing of additional color and huge grins splashed across their multi-colored faces.
Shaping Lives : The Japanese Interlude
TESF Visit : 25 Feb 2013
Shaping Lives facilitated the visit of 60 Japanese students to our empanelled NGO, The Earth Saviours’ Foundation, on 25 Feb. The group and their coordinators, Ms Yasuko and Ms Megumi, were pleasantly surprised to be able to experience children, senior citizens, destitute men and women, live cattle and poultry, a media centre, and also be given a feel of the NGO’s environmental work, all under one roof.
The start was slow as the students, not being conversant with Hindi or English, were reliant on their escorts for the briefings and translations. Things however warmed up gradually and the barriers of language were overtaken by those of love and compassion and the students, most of them teenagers themselves, lost themselves in playing and interacting with the children or understanding how an NGO could be so kind and caring to the destitute.
The round included a trip to their field kitchen. This and the fact that they could touch and be near to live cattle had the students open-mouthed in awe and their cameras clicking overtime. Japanese courtesy is renowned the world over, and that came to the fore as the student leader came forward to give a small thanksgiving speech and exchanged some goodwill gifts they had brought for the NGO. Mr Ravi Kalra, the Founder – TESF, profusely thanked the guests and distributed TESF mementoes to the key members of the large group.
The closing address and official exchanges of gifts were actually overshadowed when prior to their departure the Japanese girls and boys dug into their bags and produced a variety of individual gifts which they were encouraged to give to the children themselves. That enhanced the bonhomie and camaraderie levels and obviously the smiles all around. The group left contented and educated, besides having a higher happiness quotient than on arrival.
Japan Day Festival 03 Mar 2013
A troupe of approx. 90 Japanese performers ranging from university students to elderly artistes over 70 years old gave an electrifying display of Japanese culture and grace in a 3 hour performance at the Siri Fort Auditorium on 03 Mar 2013, as an ode to Indo-Japan friendship . The show had a motley mix of the modern dance forms and traditional music, ethos and culture of this sedate and wonderful nation. Shaping Lives figured prominently in the evening proceeds as a partner to the sponsors Cotswolds Wind Academy in this unique program.
We brought in over 200 children and another 50 plus volunteer and staff of our empanelled NGOs in Delhi for this delightful experience. Shaping Lives also took this opportunity to invite Salwan Public School children and staff for the show as a token of acknowledgement for the stupendous love and compassion they show our Project Arman children. Unfortunately, the exam period is on and more children could not be brought in. The show comprised every art form of Japan, from humor to calligraphy to chamber music to creativity forms, besides the drums and dances by very energetic and well synchronized performers despite age differences.
A standing ovation shook the hall as the entire entourage finished the evening’s delight by a free for all dance to a very catchy and modern adaption of a Japanese tune. The Education Coordinator, Ms Shikha of NGO Deepalaya in her thank you note the next day stated, ‘ It was indeed our pleasure. The students had a wonderful time yesterday. I have been talking to the teachers and the students’. Mrs Mathur, Principal, Salwan Montessori School, wrote to Shaping Lives saying, ‘Hello! we have to thank you for giving this beautiful opportunity to our school children to enjoy and appreciate the culture and music of Japan! We look forward to more beautiful partnership in future too!’
Shaping Lives thanks the Japanese market operational team at LPTI, esp Mr Sameer Shukla, and our good friend and travel associate in Japan, Mr Markus in enabling this lovely exposure to the multiple empanelled NGOs and friends of Shaping Lives.
Shaping Lives facilitates tui india’s “paint a smile” volunteer initiative
Recall the Xmas promise of Ms Louise Bates, CEO TUI India to do more, soon, as she decided on a unique ‘Muffin Xmas’ for all children and inmates of one of our empanelled NGOs, The Earth Savior Foundation on the week-end preceding Christmas. Well she kept her word and involved her team in another unique effort ‘TUI : Paint a Smile’. This initiative was undertaken to paint 4 classrooms of the Deepalaya Special School, Sanjay Colony by volunteers from the TUI India team at Delhi.
Twelve volunteers descended on a bright sunny Friday afternoon at Deepalaya’s Sanjay Colony School for specially abled children. Welcomed by the GM, Le Passage Travel Foundation (Shaping Lives), which had facilitated this ‘giving’, they were given a quick briefing by Ms Sangeeta Kardam, head of the Special School and then partook a community lunch, also sponsored by themselves, with staff and available school children. The volunteers were thereafter divided into four groups and given a room each. A bout of giggles and doubts as Shaping Lives, a hard task master, made it clear that no team could leave for home that evening if the work was incomplete, were replaced with serious discussions on choice of colours to be used and the paint brushes were soon swishing and transforming the dull drab and stained yellow walls into vibrant rainbows.
The bonhomie and participation of the staff added to the smiles and zest, and by sunset not just the walls but a lot of cheeks and clothes were definitely starting to look more colorful than they were on arrival. The tea break had everyone get together for a quick review of the work by Ms Bates and this impetus added energy and speed obviously. The children, who had been invited for a high tea by us, also reviewed the proceedings from time to time, and their eyes and glee on seeing their classrooms being transformed into fairyland, reinforced the ‘TUI : Paint a Smile’ concept. Some of the more stable and physically able challenged children were allowed to dabble with paints, while the rest were encouraged to pep up their teams to work faster.
Some volunteers, who had the Picasso and MF Hussain touch, sprinkled the walls with a lovely rainbow, the alphabets, a huge butterfly and other beautifying touches, bringing the walls alive with their artistic talent. It was well past office hours as the team finally put their brushes down, eyes twinkling at the sight of brightly colored walls and doors and the ceilings painted to depict a starry sky. Three entities went home that evening in various stages of bliss, one, the TUI India volunteers, satisfied in soul and happy in heart, two, the staff and children of the Special School, elated that they would walk into a sparkling, refreshing classroom post the week-end, and last but not the least, Shaping Lives, satisfied that they had enabled painting of the entire school in two stages, as promised to these lovely special children when the main hall was painted in 2012.
Shaping lives : events update for period upto 25 jan 2013
“ Aaj ke bachche, kal ke Sitare” or “The children of today are the stars of tomorrow”, was the theme of the ‘Don Bosco Bal Mela - 2012’ (Children’ Fair), held under aegis of the Commission for the Young at Risk at Goa. Our Goa Le Passage office added to their year-end philanthropy by sponsoring a bus to carry children from one of our affiliated charities, Margaret Bosco Bal Sadan for runaway and orphaned boys to this Mela. In addition, the colleagues made a collection of INR 3000, over and above the Xmas collection for the youngsters to have fun.
Father Arvind Severes, the Sadan incharge was naturally happy and conveyed his appreciation to Ms Reshma Alves, our Goan office head. Besides the standard gratitude note, he penned ‘Dear ma’m, I acknowledge in gratitude your kind donation of Rs 3000 and for making the bus available to us from LPTI. Thanking you…..”.
Visits by our international partners in January saw probable high value CSR interactions in the offing. Besides this three more SBUs joined the bandwagon of placing orders for gifts and bags on our empanelled NGOs. One of the orders went to our new affiliate, NAB Centre for Blind Girls. Besides that, the GITB guests meeting Le Passage representatives will be presented gifts made by children with cerebral and physical disabilities at their work Training Unit in NGO Umang. We are hopeful that not just the product but also Shaping Lives and Le Passage intent at promoting sustainable tourism in India will be appreciated by the recipients of these items globally. .
A survey of the Special School at Sanjay Colony has also been carried out to paint the remaining 4 class rooms next month. More on that when we do it.
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