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.”
Events Dec 2014 : Le Passage Travel Foundation (Shaping Lives) : Celebrates ‘Smiles From Santa’
December brought in the warmth of annual events by various NGOs. Shaping Lives had teamed up with TUI‘s Noida, India office to join the TUI Travel Plc A & D’s, global Xmas giving campaign in 2013 in the form a high tea and distribution of toys to children at The Earth Saviours’ Foundation (TESF). It was an enlarged version of the ‘Muffin Xmas’ started in 2012. This year we decided to enlarge the scope and manifest smiles in offshore locations as well. And thus was born our Xmas initiative ‘Smiles from Santa’. The events commenced on 19th with the grand finale by TUI India Delhi team on 23 Dec. Read on for a sequential journey into ‘Smiles from Santa’.
Jaipur : The Foundation strayed from the normal NGOs to support a new one for Xmas giving. This NGO, run by an elderly lady named Mrs Bimla, was reviewed in one of Col Alagh’s (GM-CSR) forays on recommendation of Mr. Milind Verma from our Jaipur office. Genuine and grass root like the others, the elderly lady’s zest and perseverance was as impressive as the local less privileged children’ smiles and grit to excel in education. When asked, what she would like for her NGO, in her typically non-commercial way she blurted, that she did not have money to pay off a debt to the NGO’s book supplier for a stationery consignment purchased for her children in July. It was an honest, humble request and the sum was not too large either. Shaping Lives decided to surprise her, and a cheque was sent to our Jaipur team for the amount, for Mr Khalid Khan, our Rajasthan Head, to do the honors in the Xmas week and make smiles happen at the Seva Bharti Bal Vidyalaya. She was surprised and floored by this gesture, and called in to say thank you but was so overwhelmed emotionally that I had to tell her, that we at Shaping Lives were blessed to know her and the thanks should come from us.
Goa : Karen Monteiro was once again the organizing angel for ‘Smiles from Santa’ at Goa. Assisted by Francis, the Goan team brought smiles to the 31 little boys of ages between 06 – 10 years, at The St. Anthony’s Boys Convent Home. This home, run by 04 Nuns, is situated in the village of Agassaim in North Goa, and has children of single parents and broken families who cannot afford to provide education to their children. The Goa team volunteers configured various games and fun sessions to ensure that the children did not spend a single moment without ‘twinkling eyes’ on 19th Dec. To the credit of Sameer, our Goa Head, goes the initiative of making one of our excursion partners Passive Active Tourism (PAT), sponsor the lunch and Christmas gift hampers to every child. Truly wonderful of PAT to that, they deserve a pat for it. Shaping Lives gifted something more long term when on the Senior Sister’s request, we had a Drinking Water Purifier installed at the Home. The Sisters were profuse in their thanks for the ‘Smiles from Santa’ day, but what is more important in our Shaping Lives records is what Karen wrote “This Event has left us with warm and beautiful memories with the resolve to creating more such time – regardless of occasion – for such children and more.”
Cochin : The Cochin team chose a home for the destitute and the report sent in after their ‘Smiles from Santa’ by Mr Shajimon C.J., our AVP, read,“ Dear Col Anil Alagh, As part of CSR initiative TEAM Cochin visited Good Hope Home , an annex of relief settlement run by Corporation of Cochin for caring for the old and destitute, castaways and homeless. The institution has total 30 inmates, 14 of them are males and 16 females, most of them old, physically weak, with a few mentally unstable. The institution is managed by the nuns from the order ‘Sisters of the Destitute’. The entire premises were vibrant with the spirit of Christmas and New Year. The surroundings were cleaned up and decorated to grace the festive occasion which is around the corner. The Mother superior welcomed us and introduced to the inmates who were very enthusiastic to interact with the team. The presence of visitors seemed to light up their spirit and bring them out of the labyrinth of abandonment they were dwelling in. We shared Christmas gifts and season’s greetings with them and they were visibly moved by our presence and warmth. The Mother Superior thanked the entire team on behalf of institution and inmates. While saying goodbye, we promised to continue the association and adding our small ray of hope for them who lived in the lap of Good Hope.”
Shaping Lives, Delhi : With TUI India having changed affiliations to Deepalaya, the Foundation decided to host a special lunch with LPTI volunteers at their erstwhile Xmas destination, The Earth Saviours’ Foundation (TESF). The NGO had shifted location after an accidental fire in April destroyed their entire infrastructure. They now focused only on caring for 160 abandoned senior citizens and destitute. Having coordinated the date and an extra special menu, we were all present on 22 Dec to serve the meal cooked in the TESF kitchen. Prior to that, the volunteers took pains to assist the inmates select from a large number of clothes donated by various office colleagues and brought to TESF by us today. They may have mental and physical limitations, but the lady inmates definitely were no less in being fashion conscious and very selective about the pickings. It was fun to watch. One lady, speech and hearing challenged and in a mental trauma, even changed into the saree (traditional Indian 6yards wrap around garment), she had picked up and made sure I took a photograph of her in the new saree posing with our volunteers Shivani and Khushbu. Serving is just one small effort, the major one being feeding most of these inmates who are either physically or mentally or challenged in both fields, and thus often unable to even come up for a serving. And thus, while the ladies prepared the meal plates, GM-Shaping Lives went around serving them to the inmates, sitting un-demanding and tucked into corners, both of the location and of their unchartered, challenged world. In fairness to the inmates, most of them will not remember any one of us who fed them that day due to their state, but again, to at Shaping Lives, what is more important is that each volunteer will carry back the spot smile we got when feeding them and lifelong memories of community service done in the spirit of giving, an ethos so essential for personal peace and inner development, and so much an intrinsic part of our organization’s compassion code worldwide.
TUI India, Delhi : In July 2014, Mr Vishal Sinha, COO TUI India, chose to adopt NGO Deepalaya, www.deepalaya.org, as part of the outfit’s essential colleague volunteer program and hence the “TESF Muffin Xmas’ series was laid to rest and focus shifted. Following closely on the heels of a successful Diwali Fair held in Oct at the adopted school, which featured in the ‘Colours’ international edition of TUI as well, we decided to take 50 of the children with special needs for an outing to the Children’ Park at India Gate, a historical monument in Delhi. Working closely with the marketing team from TUI, Shaping Lives coordinated the ‘Smiles from Santa’ outing with the Special School Head, Ms Sangeeta.
The mixed team of 22 TUI volunteers, reached Children’ Park, our event site on 23 Dec, well before the Deepalaya special children. They were armed with all kinds of picnic games and rearing to give and have a fun time. The children, speech and hearing impaired, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and autism, walked into the warmth of smiles and hugs as they descended from their bus on foggy and chilly winter morning. The more assertive volunteers won the wheelchair round, i.e. they got to cozy up with the children who were on wheel chairs. The swings and slides resounded with squeals and laughter and sustained requests by the children to the newly blessed Uncles and Aunty Santa(s) to put them on one or the other ride. Why put them..... because most of these children cannot do so themselves. And that was the special part of this great volunteer team, that they unplugged their energies to be the ever-willing elves to the children.
The Children Park fun over, we moved onto the India Gate lawns. A quick candy floss was tucked in to re-energise. And then, cricket, football, Frisbees came out. It’s a changing world. The girls chose the football. The boys went for the bat, while those on wheelchairs and with other mobility limitations were taught and entertained with patience and smiles the art of throwing the Frisbee. Then the music started. Jolein, our guitarist Pied Piper, took out his magic tunes to the accompaniment of many a croaking volunteer, drawing in the tiny-tots and encouraging the bolder children to sing and dance. Pure magic was what Jolein and his handsome croakers, weaved.
A lunch of the famous Nizamudin local Biryani was devoured by the hungry congregation, served lovingly by the TUI team and then we all trooped out to the main monument, India Gate. Quite a motley, but everyone with smiles and contentment on their faces. Many photo-ops later, it was time for the children to head home, but before they boarded, each child and staff of Deepalaya, was given a snack box and a woolen cap and gloves combo, to keep them warm till the day we could return and once again give them the real thing from our hearts. As the bus moved out amongst waving hands and flying kisses, the volunteers seemed to miss the warmth and love shared by the wonderful kids of Deepalaya, even before the bus exhaust had faded.
Project Arman on a Roll : Veronique, our French Head of marketing and Sales, in Paris, visited 3 NGOs with GM-CSR, despite her hectic schedule in Delhi. She was visibly impressed and happy with the work they do. She gave some lovely suggestions as improvements and value additions. Besides the ideas, as always, she brought in a whole lot of goodies for the Arman children besides the donation she makes on each visit. Another partner sitting in France, Mr. Jacques Robert Claude, sent in stationery in the form of some notebooks and ball-pens, which was distributed amongst the senior Arman children. Mr. and Mrs. Sumit Sethi, our friends and partners from Germany, kept aside time from a busy itinerary to visit the Arman Sunder Nagar nursery with their three children. Gifts were an obvious inclusion knowing Jeordis, his wife, who had experienced Arman in 2013. The year rounded off with our clients from Singapore, a family of four, walking into Arman late evening on 29 Dec. Their teenage daughters were a big hit with our children and the couple was visibly impressed by the confidence and happiness on our children’ faces. Small drops but at Shaping Lives, we appreciate the time people spare from busy itineraries for visiting our NGOs. We look forward to these visits as a form of international goodwill and recognition of Shaping Lives as a Foundation ‘bridging smiles’ amongst our NGOs and our business and client fraternity.
Conclusion : The ‘Smiles From Santa’ ended on that Christmas and year end note. While it is wonderful to have offices spread across our vast and beautiful country, which increases our outreach to spread love and smiles, it is more wonderful to have colleagues who are always eager to create the time and resources, and are pro-active in helping spread that cheer and smiles. In short, the essence of Shaping Lives is that ‘compassion is not a one-off, it is a mountain spring, fresh, pure and perennial, and we must collectively ensure it increases in depth and extent’.
With that, Le Passage Travel Foundation, aka Shaping Lives, wishes all our colleagues, business partners and inbound travelers who have experienced us from across the world Seasons’ Greetings for a prosperous and peaceful 2015.
Shaping Lives : Events Oct 2014
October in India heralds festivities. Just as the weather takes a turn into winter, myriad festivals line up encompassing all communities. The festivals also arouse the spirit of giving and compassion. Shaping Lives too had a fabulous start.
French Teachers Group: A group of 13 retired teachers from France trooped into Project Arman, Nizamudin on 01 Oct. They were delighted to see the confidence and happiness with which our children reached out to them despite the language barrier. GM – CSR, who was present, explained in detail about the project and our vision for these waste-pickers’ children and emotions and appreciations ran high. Being teachers, the bonding with students was a foregone conclusion and French nursery rhymes flowed out naturally as the amused children happily picked up the threads of this alien content.
Diwali Fair Facilitation: Shaping Lives reached out to its NGOs and successfully offered them day long stalls to sell their vocational products and propagate their cause at the five day Diwali fair organized by Select Citywalk Mall, Saket. This mall always adds a flavor of CSR to its major events and Shaping Lives is indebted to it for the extensive goodwill shown to its affiliated NGOs via complimentary or highly subsidized tariff stalls. The NGOs were very happy with the advocacy opportunity. NGO Umang which came all the way from Jaipur with their vocational products, wanted a minimum 2 day exposure from next time. They were so happy with their sales.
Ides of October : When Mr Arjun Sharma, MD mooted the idea of a Walkathon around the office market with intent to clean up and be a part of the ‘Swachch Bharat’ drive initiated by the Prime Minister on 02 Oct, to make India a clean country, once again CSR swung into action. In close coordination with the Haus Khas administrative team, the ides of October were chosen as the date. Volunteers from both E-27 and E-29, Le Passage to India offices congregated at 8.00 a. Adorning protective gloves, taking on brooms and waste bags over 50 volunteers spread out and not just cleaned up the road but also the entire park in the adjacent parking area. Value additions were made in the form of 10 new dustbins being installed at strategic points around the market and included tree plantations in the park. With the boundary wall also painted by volunteers, the area shone and we intend to keep it sparkling from now on.
Blow your Own Trumpet: With Diwali around the corner, this was a take-off initiative from the worldwide ‘ice bucket challenge’. It was simple. Colleagues were encouraged to bring in a miniscule 2 to 10 kilograms of any food item or cooking oil as their Diwali gift for the destitute on the 16 Oct, a week before Diwali. They would hand over their contribution to Shaping Lives pre-nominated representatives in every office, pick up a trumpet and blow it to their heart’s content. The good! their good! ….being announced. Perhaps a catalyst to rouse more comrades to participate in the spirit of sharing and giving. The collection would be sent to our affiliated NGO, The Earth Saviours Foundation. Off shore locations were encouraged to do their bit into local charities. It was a success with approx. 800 kilograms of a variety of products including sugar and pulses being delivered to TESF and the office resounding with bugle calls. The Le Passage and TUI colleagues had once again lived up to their ‘goodness’. It was a simple take-off but quite successful.
TUI India celebrates Diwali: Please peruse the exclusive write-up on this website for the wonderful time 250 tiny-tots including 75 with special needs had when volunteers from TUI India’s Delhi office pulled the plug on fun and festivities at the Sanjay Colony Deepalaya school on 17 Oct 2014.
Visit to Cankids … Kidscan: The Sunday following the Mela saw a very wonderful couple with their young daughter visit Cankids, our NGO which enables cancer care for children from less privileged backgrounds. Being a pre-Diwali Sunday, most of the patients had gone home to their villages as is generally the norm in India. Mr Chris Williams, Cankids, however made it a point to come in and brief the special guests himself, and received the couple brought in by Col Alagh. Providence has its ways and one of the three was a cancer survivor and hence bonding was immediate and complete. The couple spent over two hours, interacting and distributing gifts to the children and taking a round of the entire facility and Shaping Lives is assured on a feedback by the client, that their long term association and support with Cankids is in the offing. It’s a joy for us when this sort of long term bonding takes place.
CSR 20:20 Cricket with UK Students: As Oct turned 31, the Jamia Islamia cricket pavilion once again resonated with the fun and laughter of our NGO Deepalaya’s team playing a 20:20 match with the Indian Gymkhana Cricket Colts from London. The match and the bonhomie was typical in this third similar encounter over the past one year with different student teams from the UK schools.
October has been a hectic happy month and Shaping Lives extended its outreach onto both new and standard interventions. The next month promises a return of travel groups visiting designated charities for the 2nd and the 3rd year respectively in succession. The affiliations obviously arise from the excellent experiences of both the agents and their previous groups spread over the season.
TUI India Celebrates Diwali 2014 Via A Fun Friday At Deepalaya, Delhi
When Mr Vishal Sinha, COO, TUI India, took time out from his hectic schedules in Sept 2014, to visit the Sanjay Colony School of our affiliated NGO Deepalaya, with his VP Marketing, Mr Abhirup Datta, magic was bound to happen. Col Alagh, GM-CSR, Le Passage Travel Foundation (aka Shaping Lives), had requested Mr TK Mathew, Founder and Senior Patron of Deepalaya to please come in as well, and as the four walked the talk around the premises, Vishal gave out his vision of a possible long term association via colleague volunteer programs with Deepalaya.
It was a new initiative and the emphasis was ‘low on cost but high on intent’. Over the course of the next two hours, it was mutually decided to initially break ice with the children by holding the first ever Diwali Mela (Fair) on the premises. The date chosen was Friday, 17 Oct 2014. It would be a totally sponsored TUI team show. …. a FUN FRIDAY of sorts. The essence was to give the children of this school, both special and normal, the time of their life, while simultaneously sensitizing the TUI colleagues to their presence and encouraging a long term bond. Based on the success of this ‘FUN FRIDAY’, Col Alagh would work out possibilities of TUI taking over the painting, repair and maintenance needs of the school as a subsequent colleague volunteer program via Shaping Lives.
Fun Friday dawned. The TUI teams under their senior management, trickled in well before the noon start time, to set up their games stalls. They had spent quite a bit of time and effort on the décor, as became apparent when the stalls came up. Hidden in one of the classrooms were a bunch of cute little children, all dressed up in regional costumes to perform a mini-entertainment program for their guests. It was also a matter of another kind, to keep the 250 participating children in the confines of their classes, and prevent them from raiding the games counters before the inauguration.
The welcome address by Mr Mathew and the thanksgiving by Vishal intermingled with some charming performances by the children. And before, Ms Jeannette Linfoot, TUI’s Director of Tour Operations, New Markets, who was the welcome surprise guest at the event along with Mr Marco Torrento, TUI’s Head of Commercial Finance, New Markets, was invited to declare the Diwali Mela open, she and the TUI teams were invited onto the dance floor to shake a leg with the children. Even Mr Mathew danced that day. He had no choice. Did the children have more fun or did Jeanette, Vishal and the TUI Team have more? See the photographs and assess for yourself.
The moment the Mela opened, there was mayhem. All heaven (not hell), broke loose, as the TUI teams from various departments, vied with each other to wean away the tiny-tots onto their stalls. Each one had a different game and each one had 100s of gifts on offer. The system was simple. Each of the 250 children and staff had been given 20 complimentary coupons to be used for @ one coupon for whichever game he/she played. A gift was assured. Winning or losing became immaterial as the TUI volunteers tried to outdo each other in distributing gifts at their stalls. Most of these gifts had been sponsored from their own pockets. It was not just fun to watch, it was a touching tribute to their love and compassion, which flowed in abundance throughout.
As the excitement mounted and the squeals of delight grew louder, the lines at the 5 games stalls grew longer. The tattoo artists and the magician were brought in to take a part of the rush away. The children were obviously ecstatic with the proceedings. The special needs children were given VIP treatment, picked up and given priority by breaking the queue, which of course no one minded. Lunch boxes also sponsored by TUI, were handed over to the teachers for distribution along with. The burgers, a salted snack packet, juice and a muffin to top it were common to the TUI volunteers as well.
The ‘Fun Friday’ would never have ended except for the coupons finishing off with the children or the gifts finishing off at the TUI stalls. Most teams had to go out into the local slum behind to pick up additional gifts, which they did at unbelievable speed actually. When the event finally ended, each tired but beaming, TUI volunteer, was presented an individual handmade ‘thank you’ card by a child. The children in turn got a return gift of a piggy bank each, as did the TUI volunteers. How the piggy bank changed Nitin is something you will know as you read on. I thought that was a value addition and a great success for Shaping Lives too. We chose this over the standard candle or diya at Diwali as it was a long term and an educative gift. In keeping with the New India Clean India program of the Indian government, the TUI team also got together to clean up all the litter before calling it a day.
Some thanksgiving messages which flowed in are:
Mrs Shikha Pal, the School Administrator wrote, “Dear Col Alagh, This is to thank the entire team of TUI and you for making 17th Oct a memorable day for our students. The children enjoyed the day thoroughly with games, gifts and food. Best wishes for a Happy Diwali from the Deepalaya Family. Shikha, On behalf of Deepalaya.
Jeannette wrote to say, “Dear Anil, It was a real pleasure to meet you last Friday. Spending time with the children and teaching team of Deepalaya was particularly emotional and really makes one realise how important it is for us all to do our ‘bit’ no matter how large or small. To see the love and smiles on the children’s faces was very special and something that I will remember forever. I felt particularly proud to be part of the TUI India team and the Shaping Lives Foundation. You really are doing an amazing job – thank you for embracing TUI India into the foundation and for helping us make a difference to those that really need our help. I wish you and your family a very happy Diwali and look forward to seeing you again soon.
Best Regards, Jeannette, Jeannette Linfoot,
Director of Tour Operations - New Markets.”
Marco penned, “Thanks Anil for the great pictures and the nice words. It was an honour for us to join you in this event: There is nothing better than spending some times with smiling children. I think they transmitted to us a great level of energy. Definitely, we would like to help them out more in their school development: let us find the best way to do so – we will get in contact with Vishal on this. Once again thank you and personally I will be more than happy to come back to the school to meet your gorgeous children. Regards and Happy Diwali. Marco Torrente.”
And Vishal put in once more, “Col Alagh, Thanks once again for all your help in making this possible. Wish you and family a very Happy Diwali. Best Regards. Vishal, COO- TUI India.
Kanchan wrote in to say, “Deepalaya Diwali Mela was a speechless Experience. It was such an amazing Start of a Diwali for me. It made me feel So positive and Relaxed for which I have no words to explain even. It’s Just we should get Such Opportunities and wonderful experience again and again. Thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful experience and chance to Spread Happiness, and Moreover It was a Chance for us to feel Internal Happiness. Thanks, Regards,
Kanchan Narang | Senior Executive
Neha Kumar checked in with, “Dear Sir, Can’t thank you enough for an opportunity like this! It was a memorable start to this Diwali. The performances by the children of the school, the welcome we got, the hospitality of the staff was exemplary. I had so much fun and in future please include me any such activity, I would love to be a part of it. Thank you once again! Warm Regards, Neha Kumar | Manager
Nitin was a complete surprise on the piggy bank with, “Hi Sir, Good Afternoon!! I would like to sincerely thank you for giving us chance to give smile on the children’s face. It was immense pleasure to participate as a team in Deepalaya for the Noble cause. I would always like to be a part for such social activity in future. Just want to share bit more, I have a smoking habit and now 60-70% of my smoking budget goes to the piggy bank which was given by the children and I am sure this is going to benefit me in terms of health and I would also be able to contribute something toward the society. Last but not least, you are doing a remarkable job and I admire you for this. Rgds, Nitin Sharma
And Viplav from HR team said, “Dear Sir, I’ll not use so many words to express or share my feelings for the day at Deepalaya. It was one of the most beautiful day of my life and I am so happy that I’d put smile and laugh on the faces who were in need of it. Thank You so much for giving me this wonderful opportunity, would love to be a part of such activities in future and Salute to you for the work you doing. You’re awesome!! Thank You. Best Regards, Kunwar Viplav Singh | Human Resources
Komal Bijlani writes, “Dear Sir, First of all Thank you so much for giving such a memorable day with Deepalaya kids, I enjoyed with kids. I have shared my experience with my friends and relatives and few of them are keen to do donation for this school, request you to share details with me for the same. Big Thanks is for you (huge thank you card was for me), Komal, Manager, TUI.
And Mr TK Mathew wrote, “Dear Col Anil Alag ji, Happy Diwali. Thank you for sharing the images and feedback from all those who made the event a great moment of cheer for the children of Deepalaya Sanjay colony school. But for this event they would never have such an opportunity. Your leadership, strategising the event, enabling the partnership etce made it all. Looking for more of such events and happenings in future. Pleased to know Vishalji and others are planning more tangible relationship. God Bless all and convey my regards to the team visited, acted, and made the day great.
Regards, T.K….. T.K.Mathew, Secretary & Chief Executive, Deepalaya.
As I reminiscence about the day and read their feedbacks, it is apparent that TUI volunteers not just outdid themselves but also thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I am sure that each one of them must have slept the sleep of the exhausted but blissful, that night. Vishal and Jeanette moved around encouraging, assisting, motivating children to freak out more, and rightfully deserved to get piggy bank return gift as well. They had earned it. Shaping Lives thanks Deepalaya, especially Mr Mathew and Mrs Shikha Pal, the school Administrator, for allowing us the opportunity and TUI India for starting this volunteer program with such a delightful and successful event. As I also recall the joy on our children and the staff’ face, it is enough to make Diwali a very special and memorable one for Shaping Lives.
Dedication Ceremony at St Stephan’s Hospital, Delhi
Special Mention : Late Mr Ghulam Naqshband
Late Mr Ghulam Naqshband, a doyen of the tourism industry and Managing Director of Le Passage to India during his lifetime, continues to be revered today, 4 years after his death, just as much as he was in his lifetime. On 24 Sept, the Conference Hall of St Stephen's Hospital, witnessed the dedication ceremony of the fully renovated and upgraded Ortho Operation Theatre and Artificial Limb Centre via Rotary Club of Delhi Midtown, under aegis of which the Rtn Naqshband Institute for Physically Challenged operates. The dedication was a result of a considerable donation from the doyen’s legacy bequeathed for the physically challenged through RNIPC by the executor of his Will, Mr Arjun Sharma.
While the Chief Guest and noted Rotarians commended this great philanthropist, Dr Sudhir Joseph, Director of the Hospital, and Dr Mathew Thomas, the HOD of the Ortho Wing, humbly extolled the benefits that would accrue from this dedication. In his thanksgiving, read out in absentia, by GM-CSR, Le Passage to India, Col Anil Alagh, Mr Arjun Sharma conveyed, “I am very confident that with the latest addition of the Macquet special ortho table, the fully renovated and upgraded Orthopedic Operation Theatre and Artificial Limb Centre will make an immeasurable difference in reaching out to the economically challenged disabled, by not just alleviating their suffering, but also by reducing the waiting period for providing essential surgeries and subsequent post-operative therapeutic care so badly needed for their early rehabilitation.
I thank Dr Sudhir Joseph, Director, and Dr Mathew, HOD, and his team at St Stephen’s for giving us an opportunity to realise Mr Naqshband’s dream and in the process help where it is acutely required.
I am also deeply indebted to Mrs Geeta Kumar, the legacy custodian, and each of the RNIPC Trustees, in particular, the Managing Trustees, Mr Inder Sharma and Mr Raman Bhatia, for actualising Mr Naqshband’s vision in consonance with his legacy. Their positivity has allowed us to work in a more synergised and effective manner. I am confident that as he watches this ceremony from wherever he is, Mr Naqshband’s soul would be feeling blessed and satisfied today.”
We, at Shaping Lives, continue to draw inspiration from the doyen’s compassion and selfless in life and death. The humanitarian philanthropic work that emanates from the Ortho ward of St Stephan’s Hospital is also worth emulating. Totally free of cost, it involves single or multiple corrective surgeries on a polio patient, recuperation care and therapy, and eventual assistance at rehabilitation into a meaningful self-sustaining life.
Events – Shaping Lives : Aug 2014
August is indeed an august time for the entire Le Passage family. We celebrate our Foundation Day in this month and once again Shaping Lives went into overdrive to set up a series of philanthropic activities combined with some CSR for 06 Aug, the twelfth Foundation Day. The major part of the previous 4 weeks had been spent collating and coordinating possibilities of reaching out to various empanelled NGOs across India and understanding their priority needs. While Delhi and Jaipur was handled by GM – Shaping Lives, the regional heads were co-opted in recommending various CSR options in their territories.
What we did
Delhi / NCR : The major strength of colleagues being located in this area, the focus is higher locally. The following activities were organized :-
Blood Donation Camps at Haus Khas and Noida Offices : As in the previous year, the Indian Red Cross teams set up their collection units. We started at 1000h and by evening, a little under 100 units had been achieved from our colleagues in all three locations. The senior lot and lady colleagues led the assault. The score would have been higher but for medical ailments and low Hb count which is an unfortunate perpetual bane in our female volunteers. Volunteers from the smaller offices, walked in too, to do their bit of this noble philanthropy.
High Tea : While the blood donation continued in zest, the heads of our various business units congregated excited and eager, at the small board-room in Haus Khas. The reason? Our children! Le Passage, in keeping with traditions had invited a small delegation of children from Project Arman and Deepalaya with their escorts for a bit of exclusive pampering and handing over the annual stationery requirement to Arman and the sponsorship cheque for 15 special children. A cheque for counselling and career counselling of girls from marginalized backgrounds was also handed over to Mr Ian Macbride from NGO Etasha Society as a value addition this year. Each child, besides the pampering, got an individual goodie pack and of course a regular flow of snacks.
Gurukul Lunch : The community lunch for the Gurukul, a religious education centre for Hindu scriptures, followed at 1300h. This has been a tradition and is very close to Mr Arjun Sharma, the MD’s heart. Again the entire business heads team and colleague volunteers, assembled there and did community service in feeding lunch to about 200 students and staff of the Gurukul. Shaping Lives added a heavy duty PA system, as part of our CSR based on their wish list for this year. Lunch service over, all Le Passage team members than partook of the same meal and we bade farewell to the students after presenting each with individual stationery.
Goonj Donation : Items to include a donated TV set and stereo system were sent to NGO Goonj in the afternoon as the last leg of our Foundation Day ‘soul’ outreach.
Mumbai : Team members from Mumbai spread out over four government schools and actively participated and supervised over a medical check-up of 400 and an eye check-up of 700 children from low income families. Undertaken via NGO Akansha, an NGO working in the field of health, the camps were a huge success and the children were especially thrilled to receive their tiny snack-packs after the check up as well.
Chennai : New acoustics teaching equipment was installed in one classroom for ten hearing and speech impaired children. The entire team from the Chennai office was delighted at the reaction of the school and children on this effort by us and also when two children were also gifted high quality hearing aids for both ears as well. The effort will go a long way in enhancing confidence and communication in the children.
Bengaluru : The 20 sets of uniforms gifted to children of Bosco Vikas would enable these orphaned children to feel at par with their peers in the school they attended. They would not just gain confidence and happiness, but would also look forward to going to school being as well dressed as their classmates with parental backgrounds.
Goa : The Goa team let loose at St John’s Children’ Orphanage, a shelter for abandoned / children of single mothers. They gifted stores and groceries, besides spending the day entertaining the children with games, a sponsored lunch and a huge Foundation Day cake. The photographs speak voluminously about the joy they brought into the children for the day and it is hoped that long term bonds have formed therein.
Jaipur : A cheque to cover the cost of approximately 80 Jaipur Limbs for the needy was handed over to Sh D R Mehta, Founder, Jaipur Foot Organisation, by Mr Khalid Khan and Jaipur team, along with GM – CSR, at a solemn ceremony at their facility in Jaipur. The available congregation awaiting fitments or looking for approval to get new ones and the BMVSS staff were also distributed small snack pouches.
With the afternoon of 13 Aug and our humble CSR effort in support of BMVSS (Jaipur Foot Organisation), the CSR activity to synchronize with the Foundation Day came to an end. We still have a long path to traverse and many more interventions planned with our empanelled NGOs to bring smiles and solace to their wards.
Events Jun 2014 : Shaping Lives
World Environment Day
June this year has been perhaps the hottest month in many years. Coupled with humidity, it really tested nerves and outdoor work was restricted by as many as could avoid it. For Shaping Lives, Jun heralds ‘World Environment Day (WED)’. As over the past few years, we again teamed up on 05 June, with Select CityWalk Mall, Saket, New Delhi in celebrating the day through awareness. Two of our empanelled NGOs, Chintan Environment and Research Action Group and Deepalaya were invited to set up stalls and undertake the WED theme base to create awareness to visitors at this Mall.
The former chose to display creative designs and knick-knacks made from waste, as it works with the trash pickers in the Capital region. It also emphasized on awareness on reducing food wastage besides pledge signing for personal contribution of saving water and electricity et cetera by numerous visitors and especially the children.
Deepalaya chose to bring in their children who performed skits and dances on the environment theme and enthralled the crowd. The Mall management and Shaping Lives jointly presented certificates of participation to each of the NGO representatives besides a snack-pack. Some of the visitors to our stalls who chose to sign the pledges were gifted a book on environment. This gift was obviously a welcome surprise which brought on effusive smiles.
Medical Volunteers : Health Check-up Camps
The next fortnight was hectic in laying the groundwork for holding a health check-up camp, by a group of medical volunteers from California, at Delhi and Jaipur. Just as the summer solstice weaved its way into a new alignment, this group of 25 volunteers including their Professors, arrived at the Deepalaya Gram, Gusbethi, Mewat, Haryana at sharp 0930h on 21st Saturday. The group came in courtesy Luxe India, a unique inbound luxury travel business unit, and was facilitated by Shaping Lives into this mandatory CSR desired by them. A truncated briefing and guided tour of the mini-hospital by Mr TK Mathew, CEO and Founder Deepalaya, who kindly graced, was the prelude to start of the Camp. Ms Janelle Gardner, the tour head, thereafter quickly split her team into five stations, and the children started coming in via the registration desk.
Each of the five medical desks had student volunteers with one of their Professors in both supervisory and counsellor role. Medical cards, customized by Luxe, were handed over to each child and subsequently adults at the registration desk. Height and weight measurements were followed by the Hemoglobin check, with a machine presented by Luxe, and the patient proceeded to the medical desks thereafter. The volunteers set about their patients with great enthusiasm. A head to toe examination, brief notes on their card, were followed up with detailed discussion with their Counsellor in case something was felt amiss. Iron supplements were administered to all, as the target group belonged to a marginalized segment of population from this extremely backward region, and most are undernourished and anemic.
How was the communication problem between the patient and the volunteers resolved? Mr Vijay Srinivasn, the Executive Director, along with 7 members of his Delhi Luxe team, Mr. Venkatesh, Kunal, Ahana, Urvashi, Kriti, Raman and Nema were there to assist in making the Camp a huge success. Each medical desk had an exuberant Luxe India male / female or both team members, who doubled as translators and coordinators, and outdid themselves in ensuring that channels of communication flourished and smiles and bonhomie flowed freely. The ladies were essential because over 50% of the target group was women and Shaping Lives understands and respects sensibilities and local customs and traditions to ensure comfort levels of not just our clients but also of our NGO friends. Any additional spot problems, differences, requirements by the volunteers, etcetera were resolved by Col Anil Alagh, GM Shaping Lives, who kept circulating amongst the desks with words of encouragement.
Almost 200 young and old underwent the medical check-up, before we wound up and moved to the Deepalaya Gram Girls’ Hostel for lunch. The spread was vegetarian but lavish. The volunteers had a taste of a typical Indian meal and most of them expressed delight at the quality and taste of the food served. They were thrilled at being taught how to eat a mango without cutting it, the Indian ‘sucking’ way. Some of them weaved intricate designs with the peels, as all of us had a good laugh. Dish washing after finishing one’s meals as per hostel norms was appreciated and as GM Shaping Lives showed the way, the volunteers readily followed.
Lunch over, it was time for the thanksgiving. Mr Mathew and Mr Srinivvasan expressed their thanks to Janelle and her team. She conveyed the group’s appreciation for a wonderful experience. The Luxe team additionally gifted the girls’ hostel a double door Fridge and a few pedestal fans to help them bear the heat a little better. Ms Janelle Gardner thereafter presented a whole lot of soft toys, clothes and medical equipment brought by her team to Deepalaya. Then came the surprise. While Luxe presented each volunteer a ‘certificate of participation’, Deepalaya gifted them a crested mug to take home as a memento. As each volunteer came up to receive their parting gift, the smiles and happiness in their eyes said it all. The Camp, lasting over 5 hours, had been a success, and as we all trudged out from Deepalaya, our sights were already far away in Jaipur where the next Camp was scheduled on 25 Jun.
The Jaipur Camp
The targeted community was the Banjara (gypsies) community, staying in shanties at a rural village Lakhesra, about 25 kms from Jaipur. Our host NGO at Jaipur was I-India, which runs a street corner teaching and meal program for this community here, besides its other philanthropic activities. The CSUC group were taken directly to the school site on arrival as the children had been waiting for them. The school, merely a piece of land, approx. 18 feet by 15 feet under a tarpaulin to keep the sun out, was a bustling beehive of gypsy children, learning the letters, something which they had no access or inclination for until the arrival of I-India and their school and meal on wheel system of educating them. The meal every afternoon was the proverbial carrot after 2-3 hours of compulsory study.
A traditional Indian welcome amidst hyper excitement, photo sessions initiated by both our gypsy students and the CSUC group and interaction in the classroom followed much to everyone’s delight. Somewhere in this bonhomie, the Group almost forgot that we were there for the Health Check-up camp and GM Shaping Lives literally had to shoo them out and take them to the Camp site. It goes to the credit of I-India, Mr Charu Goswami, to have selected an under construction school building and spruced it up to our clients requirements.
The camp was once again a runaway success. Even the most hardcore and rustic old gypsy women and men, straggled in for a very detailed check up by CSUC members. The group of students and Nursing faculty once again proved their dedication and commitment as they did a thorough check and medication advice for each individual. Their range of patients varied in age group of 18 months to over 80 years and the I-India interpreters and GM Shaping Lives had their hands full in translating ailments and medical advice to either parties across 4 different stations each with 3 – 4 patients at any given point of time.
Besides the many I-India volunteers, a value addition was the presence of the I-India resident Doctor and two nursing staff. The entire I-India team including Mr Prabhakar and Charu, were full of astonishment and praise in the manner the group addressed each patient, covering every detail of medical history and writing down advice as deemed on their medical cards. Word also spread about the fabulous work being done and by the end of the evening almost everyone available in the community and a few others had undergone the check-up. They had also been advised and administered free medicines which was part of the sponsored camp. The more serious cases were advised follow up and I-India promised to do the needful earliest.
The round of thanksgiving was similar to that at Deepalaya. Mr Prabhakar Goswami, Founder I-India, thanked CSUC - CHICO, Luxe and Shaping Lives profusely for the event, highlighting the benefits of such a Camp by such a dedicated team. GM Shaping Lives, Col Alagh conveyed his deep appreciation to each member of the CSUC and to I-India team for enabling this much-needed camp and hoped some members of the CSUC team would return one day for longer periods of volunteering. Ms Janelle Gardner, Tour Head, in her closing remarks was all praise for everything that happened prior to and during the Health camp. She conveyed the appreciation and happiness of her team in being able to undertake so much in such a community, expressing admiration for Luxe india , I-India and Shaping Lives which had enabled this part of their journey so smoothly. Amidst much cheering and clapping, Mr Prabhakar then handed over the participation certificates for the day, with a gift pouch, to each of the CSUC members. The gift pouch and contents are the product of the Ladli Vocational Training and production program of I-India.
Ms Janelle Gardner, in her thank you note on return to California wrote, “Dear Anil, Thank you so very much for sharing all of these precious pictures with me! I will send them to the whole group so everyone can enjoy them. Thank you for making our experience in India at both NGOs so incredibly special! Participating at both clinics was the highlight of our trip to India. You and the whole team made all of us feel valued and appreciated. Most of the students had never traveled outside of the United States and their experience at both NGOs helped them to value the differences as well as the similarities between people in the US and India. The students said over and over again that their trip to India was a once in a life time trip. My hope is that the students will continue to travel the world to offer assistance where ever they can. Your team was so wonderful! Thank you for organizing everything! I am forever grateful for your kindness and generosity of spirit. Hopefully Tim (her husband) and I will be able to visit you again in India. Thank you once again! Sincerely, Janelle, Janelle Gardner RN, MSN, PhD, Professor of Nursing, California State University, Chico, USA”
Family of Disabled
A small insert on this wonderful NGO for Jun 2014. People at FOD work to give livelihood and hope to the disabled and they held their quarterly event of distribution of mobility aids and appliances on 29 Jun. Shaping Lives associates with them occasionally and has facilitated a major live painting medley at Select CityWalk Mall for disabled artists under their aegis. As an invitee, Shaping Lives gifted 10 cartons of clothes for one of their programs. The function was a touching reality of the grit and determination of courageous men and women converting their disability into ability and financial independence through self- empowerment.
With these two health check-up camps, Shaping Lives broke another milestone in its outreach to bring smiles by being a bridge between the clients and our empowered and efficient empanelled NGOs.
Events : Shaping Lives – May 2014
Volunteer Group UK : May is a lean month due to the extreme heat conditions. However, Shaping Lives had a volunteer group from a UK Hospice, the seventh in less than a year doing their charity work leg courtesy us in the first week. This year, the group, from Dovehouse Hospice, was facilitated by Shaping Lives to paint the Global Cancer Concern India (GCCI) centre located in the NCR region of Gurgaon, about 25 kms from Delhi. The tie up and booking of the premises had been done as early as Oct 2013.
The Centre was in dire need of repair and renovation and the Shaping Lives professional team moved in on 30 Apr afternoon to start the denting and repair work and have the complex ready for the volunteers working on 03 – 04th May. On 02 May, 22 Dovehouse Hospice volunteers descended on the premises to take a look, meet the GM CSR, Col Anil Alagh, and form a plan of action to take on the task at hand. They all seemed excited as they conjectured designs and colors to achieve the motif, ‘HOPE’, as the vision desired for the Centre by GCCI.
Saturday morning saw them de-bus and head for the brushes, rollers and paint in jovial zest. They had pre-allocated areas and tasks amongst themselves, and set about them in earnest. The ladies, young and old, seemed more energetic initially, but the boys caught on soon enough. The walls began to take color and demands on our professional painters to create new colors or replenish the empty trays became more frequent. Marti, the approx. 65 year old volunteer grandmother was a workhorse and perhaps the main designer as well, as the group kept approaching her for advice and color combinations to take in the designs next day. By evening, the Centre, which had been in a dilapidated state, started to come alive. The team had worked hard and done well.
The next day was unfortunate. The Indian summer heat, their previous 4 days trek and the painting fatigue combined with a wee bit of Delhi-belly perhaps, laid most of them low. They were unable to come in. they were perhaps the first of over 15 groups who had done volunteer work with us, to fall prey to the Indian summer conditions. But, a promise had been made to GCCI, and GM CSR, took over the pencil and livened up the walls with trees and butterflies and lots of sunflowers, something the GCCI team had desired. He briefed his Indian professional team on the color codes and finesse desired, working with them, and by evening of Sunday, the designs started to stand out. This effort by his team and him, continued over two more days in absence of the group members until the Centre was fully done and shining.
He also took time out on Sunday afternoon to visit the group at the Hotel. The few who could, came down to the lobby, and as GM, CSR, he handed over ‘Appreciation Certificates’ for each of them to the Dovehouse representative, Katy Woods. Their spirit was still willing as they apologized profusely for their absence but were assured that the job would be done well and their work on the previous day had been commendable. The volunteers handed over lots of goodies brought for children by each one of them, which Shaping Lives later distributed under intimation to them. Becky Baynes, Dovehouse Fundraising Coordinator, on returning to London in her thanksgiving to Col Alagh wrote, ‘Thank you so much for your email. It was lovely to hear from you and I am so glad that the project has been completed. I am extremely sorry that I was not able to meet with you on Sunday, as I very much wanted to apologise in person. However, the illness stopped me even coming down to reception even though I wanted to. Everyone in the team was desperate to finish the project, but unfortunately it seems circumstances got in the way – as life can! In the end, the whole group caught the illness and some are still feeling ill today. However, everyone had a wonderful time on Saturday and we were so pleased to have helped where we could. Plus, it was an absolute pleasure to meet yourself, Ganesh and Dr. Behura. The pictures are fantastic and I look forward to sharing them with the whole team! I will especially pass on your regards to Marti and Dave. Thank you for letting us be part of the centre’s history and inviting us to help where we could. All of us wish you and everyone involved the very best of luck for the future and hope that a lot of people are helped and supported by the service. We also hope to visit India again, as we had such a wonderful experience (despite a little bit of illness!). Very best wishes, Becky.
One more volunteer target had been achieved, albeit with a few hiccups, and Shaping Lives now eagerly awaits its next lot of volunteers from a medical university for two medical camps, one each in Delhi and Jaipur in the rural belts in Jun.
Project Arman Medical : Our 160 children of Project Arman underwent their first bi-annual medical check-up under aegis of an outsourced medical company SEVAMOB. The company has been hired to conduct not just the detailed medical check-up, basic medication and deworming but also undertake awareness classes on personal hygiene, substance abuse and sex education and awareness for our children, as part of Shaping Lives enhancement of holistic all round care for these children of local waste-pickers of Nizamudin, Delhi.
The Chintan team at Nizamudin joined the SEVAMOB doctors and staff and over 90% children underwent the camp over two days. The remaining few were addressed the next week. We now have a soft database of all our children and this would form the base of ensuring timely treatment and regular check-ups henceforth. The next check-up is scheduled for Nov 2014, however should any child need urgent medical attention in interim, Shaping Lives will intervene and have it facilitated.
Events: Apr 2014 And Shaping Lives
The swallows were showing their dove-tails as the new Indian Financial Year started this month and summer was sending in feelers of foreboding hot winds and parched lands and yet……. Shaping Lives had happy days with a good strong month of initiatives and interventions with our NGOs from clients across the globe. There was a tragedy too that marred the joy and let us take that on first.
The Earth Saviours Foundation : The wonderful NGO looking after old and destitute besides an informal school and day care for local poor children was razed to the ground in a devastating fire on the night intervening 03 – 04 Apr. Except one shelter everything was destroyed. The only saving grace was just 2 dead out of over 140 destitute and disabled who were given happiness here. Help flowed in abundance. We too did our bit. Le Passage colleagues from pan-India pitched with cash. Ms Arantxa sitting as TUI Sustainable Development Head did a fund collection and remitted from abroad. As a Company, Le Passage to India donated two sets of computers and peripherals to get their office re-started. From the ashes they will rise to a better future is all that one can hope, pray and assist in. As this goes into print, the remnants of the NGO are under makeshift shelters in another location, far from comfort, but assured of love, compassion and enough to eat.
Peter Symonds College Group from UK : An impromptu request for an NGO visit at Delhi saw this group of students troop into Deepalaya on 04 Apr. They would later visit the Elephant Rescue Centre at Agra under aegis of Wildlife SOS on 11 Apr as well. The impact and happiness was obvious as they went around understanding the background of the children and the level of confidence, change and upliftment education would bring into their lives.
TEMA Series at I-India Jaipur : On the same day, the last of the TEMA series clients spent an enlightening 3 hours at the JHAG village Centre of I-India, interacting with children, seeing the hostels and the mini-hospital and understanding the outreach this NGO has provided to the rural backward belt barely 30 kms from Jaipur.
Giggleswick School UK – T-20 Cricket Match : This was the coup-de-grace of the month. The boys’ cricket team accompanied by their Director Sports, Mr Daniel Cook and coaches, arrived at the Deepalaya Sanjay Colony School by 0930h on 07 Apr. The essence of the visit was to familiarize the visitors with the nurturing ground of the children they were later to play the cricket match with. The round of the school and mingling with both normal and special children was followed by the community round, suggested by GM Shaping Lives. This round always sensitizes the visitor of the living conditions and adds more value in terms of understanding and appreciation of their not so well off peers. So it was once again with them too. All of them in their teens, this was a new experience in how the Indian less privileged live in shanties, yet in harmony and with a dream for their children to grow beyond their homes. A dream that is often realized due to efforts of NGOs like Deepalaya, facilitated by Foundations like Shaping Lives. The queries by these young boys were many and it was a pleasure to answer each in detail.
The round of the school over, a huge stock of books and stationery brought by each boy from monies saved, was collected and handed over to the Deepalaya team as their gift to the children. Fond farewells later, the team moved to the Jamia University Cricket Stadium not far away and were greeted by the NGOs cricket team and coaches already warming up there. The match was more of building bridges through interaction and sensitization, and hence a decision was taken to have 2 matches with 4 mixed teams to allow every member present to avail the field. Restrictions on each batting pair getting only two overs and every player mandated to bowl at least one over, added to the excitement as the mixed teams were selected. Initial shyness soon gave way to bonhomie as pairs of one from each school were formed by respective Captains and the field came alive in typical T-20 Cricket match fashion.
As the day passed, guards were lowered, and inhibitions gradually took a back seat and not just friendship but more was visible. Many of the Giggleswick boys, handed over their cricket kits at the end of their innings to their Deepalaya pairs. It was indeed a visible indicator of their natural compassion and of course the school and basic upbringing. The two matches were spaced out with a lunch break with the visitors trying some Indian food alongside their Deepalaya counterparts.
Matches over, it was time for the thanksgiving and appreciation formalities. Sachin, the spinner from Deepalaya, was chosen the man-of-the-match and given a special gift by Mr Cook. The Deepalaya coaches each got an appreciation memento and the entire Giggleswick team, gifted whatever equipment and cricket gear they could, to the Deepalay counterparts, via their captains Callum and Saurabh. It was also a pleasure to have Ms Heather, one of the chairs of the School Board, also present and spending time to watch the match. Deepalaya, represented by a senior team of teachers, presented every Giggleswick member a return gift in form of a Deepalaya engraved mug as a memento. Handshakes and hugs later, all of us exited the stadium, carrying memories will which remain for a long time to come.
Asia Education Foundation, Australia : This group of 11 teachers from across Australia, made a very short notice request to Shaping Lives for a CSR interlude. What better than Deepalaya once again, with education as the backdrop. Ms Maureen, their Group escort, had earlier been on a familiarization round of Deepalaya during 2013 with the GM, and it was obviously a pleasure to have her back with visitors here. A very detailed briefing by Ms Shikha, the school head, was followed by a long question and answer session on various education modes and volunteer opportunities. The teachers, most of them kindergarten and upto level 5 back in Australia, found it easy to bond with the tiny- tots as they displayed their skills and tricks to the accompaniment of Educomp classes (education via computer lesson plans) being displayed on the smart boards.
They were also impressed by Ms Sangeeta as she conducted them around her section of children with disabilities and explained the IES teaching methodology on a ratio of 6 – 8 children per special educator. A birdseye view of the cluster from where the children come also sensitized the teachers of their backgrounds and added words of appreciation to Deepalaya’s efforts at bringing good education to the less privileged’ s doorstep.
Humanite Group – France : A group of senior Journalists visited Deepalaya on 16 Apr afternoon and were personally briefed and conducted around the Sanjay Colony facility by Mr TK Mathew, the Founder. The rapport established was so good that the group spent over 90 mins of their 2 hour visit interacting with just him and getting his vision of Deepalaya, 5 – 10 years from now.
SOS Children’ Village, Jaipur : While we have done visits to the NCR ones, this was the first visit to the Jaipur SOS Village by an Indian Routes group. They were impressed with the disciplined lay out and mode of making the children feel the family effect via mini-homes with designated mothers running them independently as they would a family.
Special volunteer : towards the end of the month, we had a impromptu request for a 2 - 3 day volunteer opportunity by a Spanish lady. Shaping Lives does not deny goodness a chance, and she was placed at the Gusbethi Deepalaya Gram after a flurry of calls and liaison within 3 hours. She was so happy there that she extended her stay by another 3 days and Deepalaya hospital gained from a machine she used to conduct tests on multiple patients every day.
Deepalaya has been in the forefront of activity this month and all groups have promised advocacy and an attempt to assist via funds and resources once they return home. Shaping Lives hopes that the bond survives the distances, and the NGO gains from our initiative of sending inbound clients to them. Signing off, as GM Shaping Lives, I am very satisfied with the outreach we have been able to create for our clients with our NGOs. As I pen this, plans and preparations are already in line for the volunteer group coming in during first week of May to paint the Global Cancer Concern of India primary health care centre in Gurgaon, approximately 25 km from Delhi.
Indian Routes, Operational Unit Of “Le Passage” Brings Smiles To Jaipur Ngos By Facilitating “Flights of fantasy- Sequel II” On 26 Mar 2014
Rahul Bhati, NGO I-India, 17 year old guest child on Flight of Fantasy – Sequel – II states “The best experience of my life… Thanks to LPTI for fulfilling our dreams to fly like a bird…”
Every child born into wealth or poverty nurtures a dream of flying, of touching the skies, being caressed by the clouds, looking down on midget houses and people from the window of an airplane, feeling the freedom which comes with cavorting fantasy. We, at Le Passage, understand this and had made a promise to our empanelled NGOs on inception that we would make the dream of flying a reality for our challenged and marginalized children whenever opportunity afforded.
Le Passage to India, the award winning No 1 Destination Management Company, repeated its promise to bring this dream of air travel for special and marginalized children true once again for 54 children and staff from various NGOs in Jaipur and two peons from our local offices as well. Its special business unit, Indian Routes, headed by Ms Kiran Joti, Executive Director, offered to fly the children from NGOs empanelled with Le Passage Travel Foundation (Shaping Lives) on a charter leg between Agra – Jaipur, as part of her unit’s extended CSR activity. Their intent was to get in children from Jaipur via road, enable sight-seeing of Taj Mahal and send them back to Jaipur on the Charter Aircraft.
It was short notice facilitation, but not one to be whittled away. Shaping Lives set to work and galvanized three of its key Jaipur NGO partners, UMANG and DISHA Foundation caring for children with cerebral limitations like Cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism and others, and I-India caring for abandoned and marginalized street children. An early morning move was to be avoided as the special children would be unable to cope with the travel strain and hence the only option was to bring them into Agra on 25 Mar 2014. The overnighter would however entail extra costs and over-strain the CSR budget and intent of Indian Routes. A way out had to found. GM, Shaping Lives, Col (Retd) Anil Alagh, through his army contacts, requested the Indian Army’s Wives Welfare Association for the overnight stay support as part of their ASHA or special school activity. It was readily sanctioned and requisitioned with one of the elite Red Beret units located in Agra.
The children and their escorts, were mustered into AC coaches and bid farewell by Mr Khalid Khan, Le Passage’s Rajasthan Head, and his team, on the 25th afternoon at Jaipur, arriving late evening due to a major traffic snarl, into the welcome embrace of their friend GM, Shaping Lives and waiting ladies, officers and men of the Army Unit to a high tea laid out on the lawns of their Mess. The joy and excitement of personalized pampering by uniformed men was apparent in the children eyes. The hosts, esp Mrs Bajwa, the first lady of the outfit, too went overboard in their love and care as they went around feeding them goodies and handing over chocolates to each child.
As they chose to walk to the Army barrack prepared for them, they were waylaid by a special detachment of soldiers who gave them a ‘salute’ worthy of Generals and the excited children yelped ‘Jai Hind’ in return. The children were escorted and assisted by two army buddies per NGO, into their respective barracks. Immaculately done, the beds laid out, everything shining in typical military precision and lay-out, the barracks floored them. The dining hall or langar was next door and a quick wash and change later, they trooped in to a typical army meal, served personally by their hosts. As they trudged back into barracks and beds, the exhausted GM, Shaping Lives also called it a day. Tomorrow was to be the cherry on the cake.
Such was the excitement of the anticipated airplane ride that the children were ready an hour before time in the morning. A soldierly standard breakfast later, the Indian Routes coaches arrived to take them to romance the Taj. Many hugs and goodbyes to their Army hosts and new found Uncles preceded boarding. The Army uncles also didn’t seem too happy as the buses took the children away. A bond of love and compassion had taken form in the short stay, especially with the special children. On the way to the Taj Mahal, Mr Rajesh Sharma, Agra region head stopped them at Kalakriti, for a group photograph, a copy of which was given to each of our travelers eventually.
This motley bunch finally walked or wheel-chaired into Taj Mahal for a glimpse of this seventh wonder of the world thereafter. Jaw-drops, awe, delight, happiness, multiple expressions and 100s of photographs later, having romanced the Taj, the children were whisked away to the Airport, where Ms Kiran Joti, Executive Director, Indian Routes, and the initiator of this wonderful ‘Flights of Fantasy – Sequel II’ not only received them with Mr Nitin Sangary, her key aide on this CSR initiative, but also gifted the famous ‘Panchi Petha’ pack (local sweetmeat) for each child to be given onboard as a surprise farewell gift.
As the children were handed over their individual boarding passes and walked through the security checks, their angelic faces showed a mix of excitement and apprehension on what was to be their first air travel. However, all that became history, as they stepped onto the tarmac and were ushered onto the aircraft by equally animated and happy Jet Airways ground and inflight crew. The glee, the rapid fire questions, the visible anticipatory excitement of taking off, were enough for us all to realize how happy our children were, as besides the inflight crew, we pitched in to ensure seatbelts fastened and each special child cajoled into not moving during take-off and eventually landing. As the aircraft doors closed, a wee bit of apprehension was again visible on every tiny face. But that was to be. It was a mixture of shock and awe, of a realization that their dream of actually travelling by air was coming true. The take-off was amidst a few squeals, a few closed eyes, a few tight hugs to their escorts by the younger special children, but then, as the plane entered cruise mode, necks strained long and sideways to catch the clouds flying by and see the tiny earth far below. Most chose to tuck the inflight snack into their bags, along with the petha pack gifted by Indian Routes, to avoid missing out the flight experience.
As we landed and trudged out of the Jaipur airport, the contentment and happiness was visible on the face of every escort and child. No longer was air travel, a “Flight of Fantasy”. It was a reality, an experience brought to their doorstep by Le Passage family, by Ms Kiran Joti and her team of lovely compassionate people. For us at Shaping Lives, the Charter was a godsend, and helped in fulfilling the promise that we would use Le Passage’s travel background to enable experiences the children had only dream about.
The children were profuse in their hugs and expressions of thanks as they trudged out of the Jaipur terminal, wishing the flight had never ended and they could have spent more time with Shaping Lives. It was a grudging goodbye but one that must happen for a new experience to commence. It is impossible to put their feelings into print, however, some extracts of what our NGOs wrote back to tell us are ….
DISHA Foundation : Dear Col Alagh, Greetings from Disha! The cheer and the smiles on the face of our staff and the students express that they have been taken care of very well by you and your team. It has been a very well organized and wonderful trip. The arrangements and your planning and managing of the event were very good as always and the entire Disha family expresses its gratitude for the trip. We thank you deeply from our heart for all the cooperation that we received from you and your team during the entire trip. Thank you once again and warm regards, Kavita Apoorva Verma, Director.
UMANG, Jaipur: Dear Col Alagh Once again you brought smiles and laughter to so many faces through your magical flight of fantasy. The group that joined the two day trip to Agra on 25th, 26th and return by flight hav`nt stopped talking of the trip and all the fun they had , it is difficult to make out whether it was the Taj mahal or the flight back home that was more exciting. I am mailing a few drawings and write up of their experiences by post. I was told by the staff who accompanied them that all arrangements were made with military precision, even the smallest of needs was taken care of, so much like you to go in every detail .Your personal presence made all the difference. The children were delighted to see you. They loved having you around with them all the time. It was very reassuring for the staff also. Your warmth and love for the children reaches them, no wonder you are their favorite uncle. Like all their trips with you this one will be a trip they will always remember. Please convey our heartfelt gratitude to your MD, Mr Arjun Sharma, Ms Kiran Joti, and all the staff of Le Passage for this memorable experience who made it possible and everyone who was present to ensure all went smoothly. You sure are a Company that cares. With many thanks from all of us at Umang. Deepak Kalra , Director, Umang, 3/4 Kabir Avenue, Mansarovar, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Ph-+91-141-2395099. www.umangindia.org <http://www.umangjaipur.org>
NGO I-India: Respected Sir, Greetings from Jaipur! We are sending some very catchy feedbacks duly translated into English, received from our I-India children on the most valuable and momentous trip of their life:
Rahul Bhati- “The best experience of my life… Thanks to LPTI for fulfilling our dreams to fly like a bird…”
Pooja- “I never thought of being a part of such a great excursion, especially to be a guest of Indian Army camp at Agra and then actually to travel home in an aeroplane. The soldiers are truly strong guards of our country and work for others selflessly… the flight was my dream come true…. Our salute to all”
Deepak- “Many years back it took me so long to reach Jaipur Railway station by train, bus and walk all alone. Hard to believe the speed of an aircraft and express my exciting experience inside it, and also our visit to TAJ MAHAL. Great experience…..Thank you Anil Ji Sir! ”
Shabnam Bano- “Most of the time we see Taj Mahal, Aircraft and Indian Soldiers in our books, TV or newspapers…. It was truly a great experience to travel by an aircraft, being a guest of Indian Soldiers and visiting Taj Mahal all in one trip. Unbelievable….. that’s what I and all my friends say for this memorable trip with LPTI! ”
Once again thanks for this great and valuable opportunity.... our salute to you!!! Best regards, Charu, NGO I-India, 23, Mahatma Gandhi Nagar, DCM, Ajmer Road, Jaipur-302021 (India), t: +91 141 2353317/ 2352576 e: email@example.com w: www.i-indiaonline.com
Another chapter to bring smiles to our children closes with this outing and we await the new season, to reach out to them again, through our wonderful and compassionate travel partners, clients and our own exceptional colleagues of the Le Passage family.
Shaping Lives And The Colors Of Holi
Enough would have been written and read on the joy of Holi. How does Shaping Lives celebrate it? …. It does so in various ways each year. This Holi, Shaping Lives took the initiative to facilitate a sale desk for a Delhi NGO, SAMVEDNA, which encourages marginalized families to collect old flowers from temple offerings and marriage functions, dry and crush them to make organic eco-friendly colors for various celebrations. The desk met with a wonderful response in that besides the office colleagues, many locals and visitors to the Haus Khas market also picked up their ware. Two Hotels of Select Group, The Heritage Village and Spa, Manesar, a sprawling 12 acre lush green property, and Hotel ANILA, a Delhi heartland one, picked up their bulk stocks for the celebrations as well.
Shaping Lives also sent out a facilitator mail for Holi celebrations at one of our NGOs The Earth Saviours Foundation in Delhi. The Le Passage operational teams sent in 22 willing clients for the experience. The guests were received at TESF by their coordinator, Ms Mahi, who ensured a safe yet enjoyable Holi for them. They spent a good 2-3 hours playing Holi with children, destitute and staff and we are sure they will retain colorful memories of this outing. At least their photographs and the color filled smiles are our testimony to their happiness.
“An Indian Escape” Commences 2014 With CSR Interventions
New Year 2014 started beautifully for Shaping Lives. AN INDIAN ESCAPE, one of the many diverse special business units that we have, came in with a request mid-Dec to facilitate a Canadian group of fourteen into two charities in Delhi at the start of 2014. They specifically wished to donate sewing machines for women empowerment and then visit an institution with about 200 children, preferably orphans. Hectic liaison and exchange of mails followed to ensure these specific requests were honored via good NGOs.
The first interaction was organized with our empanelled NGO Manzil. New machines were purchased from the pre-gifted amount and as the Group made its way into the small room doubling up as an informal school in morning and a tailoring training unit in the afternoon in the winding alleys of Kotla, Delhi, there were a few raised eyebrows on what the evening possibly held. Those doubts were soon laid to rest as Mrs Gulati, the Founder mother of Manzil, or 75 plus something Auntie-jee, as she is popularly known, received the guests with Mrs Sangeeta Bhatia and the 15 ladies of the self-help group undergoing tailoring classes under Manzil tutelage. Briefings were followed by casual chat with the women trainees, some on-the-spot music by a Manzil member livened up the evening further and Cristina, from the Group, took up the guitar to serenade Manzil as well.
As Prabhat, business head of AN INDIAN ESCAPE looked on with a smile, Aunty-jee flaunted her knitting skills and enthralled the ladies with her experience. The coup d’état was an impromptu song and dance where each and every one possibly lost themselves in the beat and the bonhomie. The ribbon cutting and presentation of machines to Manzil was done by group members. A tea/coffee and cake interlude and one-on-one interactions were followed by thanksgiving and the elated Group weaved through the narrow alleys of Kotla onto their Coach amidst smiles and satisfaction. As the GM – CSR bid goodnight, he promised them a different but equally soulful experience the next day.
The Next Day : A good sight-seeing morning later, the group wove through Delhi traffic to reach the SOS Children Village (SOS CV) at Faridabad around 4.00 p.m. SOSCV is an international organization and the one at Faridabad is the oldest and in its 50th year of existence. It has 20 homes with 08 to 10 children in each. Each home has a mother and operates as an independent household within the community parameters. As the Coach parked, Col Alagh, GM Shaping Lives, re-apprised the Group of the new photography and others rules. 10 huge suitcases full of new clothes, good toys and re-usable books came out from the Coach, gifts brought in by this wonderful group headed by Jane. A round of briefing by the Village Administrator with a cup of tea and interaction followed.
Thereafter, we started the round. They were escorted first to the grocery shop from where the ‘mothers’ purchased the rations etc., and then taken to different homes. Neatly kept and managed, the group was overwhelmed with all that they saw and the care and concern shown by each ‘mother’ for her wards. Tears of compassion and joy at being associated with such a fine organisation mingled freely. The children were at play and soon some of the more enterprising and younger ladies, took to the basketball court with them, while the others continued their round of this beautifully laid out facility. Guests are not permitted in premises beyond 5.30 p.m. and it was with great difficulty that the tour guide and the GM, pulled away the guests from the children as they played and made merry on the lawns next to the office around 6.00 p.m.
As we bade them final goodbye when they were seated inside the Coach, there were ample assurances of some of them returning to do community service, whilst others promised fund-raising and more for the SOS CV. Some had tears, others had contentment, but it was unanimous that this experience had moved them and perhaps raised their compassion level a notch higher than what already existed. To Prabhat at AN INDIAN ESSCAPE, one can only say thanks, and to Jane, the Canadian group promoter, she was love and compassion epitomised. A wonderful woman, who had brought in 200 toilet kits @ one per child, diligently packed on the Group’s behalf by her and her daughter. Shaping Lives sends special thanks to Jane for this.
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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