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Editorial Page1 Article on 15 yrs of AID by Ravi Page 2 Parichay stall Page 5 Signing Petitions Page 3 Time is unreal Page 3 Volunteer Profile Page 7
Diwali at Samarth Page 4
Projects Update Page 6
Projects Update Page7
EDITORIAL By Riputapan Singh October – the month of Ramazan (Ramadan) and World Food Day (Oct 16). Is there a link? Not really but in a way, yes! Ramazan unites the Muslims the world over to fast for one month during the day to “feel” what someone feels when (s)he is hungry. World Food Day reminds us of the hungry billions around the world too. But do we really feel for them? Do we really think about them? We work our entire lives for money – do we ever bother to work for them, even if for a short while? We can start right NOW! By contributing in whatever way possible. A small volunteering opportunity or a meal-a-month donation is all it takes to begin. And the possibilities are limitless. AID was built 15 years ago to tackle the issues India has to face in its path of development. A take on 15 years of AID is featured inside. We welcome the feedback of our readers to make this newsletter better each month. So, keep your mails flowing!
Time is unreal
by Anuj Grover
• • • • • • • Time is a contrivance designed by man to help him in his activities The true power of man is not limited by this contrivance Man has infinite power. We just need to realize it For realizing this infinite source of power within oneself, one needs to first free oneself of the slavery to all contrivances The very fact that "Truth is Independent of Time", proves that time is but a delusion - a concept to which all of us have subscribed. We DESERVE, we NEED and we HAVE TO rise above this delusion All pain in this world has its roots in this delusion of time. Consider any pain -death, anger... all is caused because we don't realize that the truth will always remain. That what existed before will continue to exist in its true essence. It is the worldly delusion of physical presence and attachment/ love for the illusory physical form that causes pain.
Article on 15 years of AID by Ravi Kuchimanchi, founder
It is 15 years since Association for India's Development created channels by which people in the USA and in the cities of India could connect with the rural masses of India. Windows of opportunity to do something meaningful opened when it became possible to identify villages without schools, wells and electricity, collect donations from well-meaning individuals and find collaborators in India with whose partnership projects in education, rural development, health etc could be taken up. By building bridges with progressive community, women's groups and motivated citizens we have opened doors to activists and social workers who in the midst of their phenomenal work found time to visit and inspire us. Despite hectic work and school schedules the commitment of our volunteers grew and we went to the cause as much as the cause came to us. Through AID-India, enriched by several volunteers quitting their jobs and working full-time for the cause, and by joining several grassroots movements, we have gotten the first-hand experience of ourselves working with the underprivileged or overexploited of India. While we have opened windows and doors to the masses of India, we have also been conscious that there are walls around us - walls of security from within which exploiters exploit, walls of comfort that separate the elite from embracing the masses. Sometimes even as we open the windows we are frustrated knowing that we are doing this from the comfort of our living rooms and lifestyles that are unsustainable. And yet in the past few years we have seen some of the walls collapse. Indeed along with the others, AID volunteers have pounded at some of the walls as they collapsed. The wall of silence between the bureaucracy and the common citizen of India collapsed with efforts initiated by activists like Aruna Roy and the villagers of Rajasthan who demanded to see their muster rolls or payment registers, resulting in the dawn of the Right to Information Act. This has given common citizens access to files that only the bureaucracy had, thereby removing the wall between them, in whose shadow the officials take bribes, making corruption rampant. If today we are at this happening stage it is because of the path of Sangharsh, Nirman and Seva that we learnt from movements such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan. It showed us that just doing something has little meaning if injustice is left unchallenged. We have seen courage in non-violent activists of India and we need to gather our courage, for it is easy to tell people that we are helping the poor but it is much harder to point to oppressive forces that are causing poverty. We do not want to be raising money or volunteers by arousing pity, by showing a poor villager living in darkness with no lights in her house. We want to show that a hard-working laborer of India who earns Rs 20-40/day cannot pay the Rs.1500 bribe that is taken by electricity official who gives the connection, but can pay the Rs 40 per month electricity bill for maintaining a light and a fan. If the bribes in the electricity department and corruption in our heart are fought, India will move from darkness to light. In the space of organizations AID has an important role as it is one of the few that realizes the importance of addressing the causes rather than the symptoms of poverty. AID that started out among highly educated people has a natural base that attracts the elite of India that are genuinely concerned. A meaningful partnership between the elite and the masses has to be established and AID has made and will continue to make a big contribution in this direction by linking with grass-roots movements, NGOs and through direct involvement via AID-India. Now more than ever we need to dedicate ourselves, for the successful collaborations and work of the past, have only put greater responsibility and expectation on AID, its volunteers, donors and well-wishers, and with each day that passes a greater load of burden is falling on the shoulders of the poor of India. Some volunteers and leaders of AID have focused on local activities of the chapters and it is not an easy task to keep attending meetings, raising funds, visiting and approving projects, hosting speakers, and keeping the optimism alive year after year while the chapter goes through the ups and downs as people move in and out of the area. Some volunteers and leaders have coordinated between chapters, between project partners, moving from one issue to the next, so that AID solidarity and support is there for each and every just cause that comes to our notice. Always putting a nice word and an appreciative nod, several well-wishers and donors have seen AID evolve in the past 15 years, and have trusted and stood by us as they see us going deeper even as our work spreads wider. Several young people have quit their regular jobs and joined us as Saathis, Jeevansaathis, and project and program workers in full service. All your energy and commitment is needed for years to come, looking ahead after 15 years of AID, together we hope more and more people join AID, do more and more things, for more and more causes, with more and more courage and more and more focus.
(Based on AID volunteer Mudit’s question to Anuj and its subsequent response)
Mudit: Do signing petitions have any practical significance? Are they taken seriously by any of the persons concerned? Are we wasting our time? But more importantly will it unnecessarily waste the fire in many individuals - who want to do something for a cause - but by just signing a petition, the individual may somewhat feel something is done & perhaps he/she has contributed a little to the cause - and may not take any further action. But in reality nothing happens at all!! So in such a case, we should not have a petition at all! Atleast 1 out of 1000 signing individuals may try and take an alternate action which may have more practical significance! Anuj’s Response: 1. When I send emails to say 100s of volunteers on AID Delhi yahoogroup, telling them about the plight of Narmada valley people, most of them will have no idea of how to get their voice heard or how to show solidarity with the people. Petition is one way of helping them add the crowd of voices seeking justice. 2. The petitions are usually sent to people like the PM, Sonia Gandhi or CM of some state etc. I am not sure even if they get to see that there are 1000 names on it or not... But what I am fairly confident about is that their secretaries would at least tell them that there are quite a few pages of faxes in the fax box with thousands of names from all over the world... The fact that online petitions get people from all over the world involved puts some pressure. 3. It definitely gives a good moral boost to the people who are fighting for the cause in the field... I mean, I have seen motivation levels raise when I told NBA people that number of signatures have reached 3000 mark or something like that... The people sitting there get a feeling that there are at least 3000 people around the world who understand our pain and are voicing their concern... The PM is not listening to us - when we are sitting here - he may not even listen to them... They are at least showing support and creating awareness about our pain... This in itself is a 'huge' gain of the online petitions... It keeps the fighters on the ground motivated and fuelled for the fight. 4. Also, in a different way, online petitions also help in creating more awareness. When I ask a person to sign a petition, he/she would usually read it first... The person may otherwise even ignore the email... 5. Signing a petition is a least one can do to show solidarity... So, at least this opportunity should be given to all.
Significance of Signing Petitions
The world united against terrorism. It’s high time we united against
Diwali and Eid Celebration at Samarth
By Yashpriya Pathak
Year after year, festivals come and depart but what is left is the spirit of unity and brotherhood that it induces in us. As autumn time is the season of festivals, we thought of lighting up the lives of the Samarth kids in a way that they would not forget. Having worked with the members of NBYA (National Blind Youth Association) for the Candle Project, the kids have formed an indissoluble bond with them. This gave us the inspiration to bring the two faces of deprivation together to celebrate fraternity amid the lights of Diwali and the sweetness of Eid-ul-Fitr. October 20th was chosen as the day of celebration. The kids were formally invited by NBYA President Mr. Shobhit Yadav and the Project Coordinator Ms. Meena Kaushik for the function. A lot of preparations were made in order to make the children feel that they were special on that day. The day started for us at 9.00 at the NBYA office, where we got in place everything required for a Rangoli competition among the kids. The children were as usual over enthusiastic to arrive an hour before the time slated for them. They were made acquainted with the concept of Rangoli and its significance. A mock Rangoli was drawn for them to grasp it. Then four teams were formed with odd matches, something which induced team spirit in them. We gave them colours and chalks to draw out their imagination and fill it with different colours, which they did remarkably. After an hour of teamwork we asked them to present their Rangolis to us. Though novices they made the most colourful and lovely Rangolis that we’d ever seen. Judging them on the basis of creativity and teamwork we declared the winning team. Afterwards a humble lunch was organized by NBYA in their premises, which included Dal, Sabzi, Roti, Chawal, Dahi and delicious Sewai made to celebrate Eid in advance. The children relished the feast. Then Ghanshyam Bhai from NBYA, who holds a masters’ in Indian Classical Music sang a few songs for the children, which they enjoyed. This month Samarth found a new volunteer in Amit. Amit’s been visiting NBYA quite frequently and teaches there. This time round he chose to switch loyalties to Samarth for some time and has been coming for classes regularly. He brought 50 new warm T-shirts for the kids and distributed them to all.
The winning team with their Rangoli Photo Courtesy: Amit
NBYA president Mr. Shobhit Yadav and Ms. Meena Kaushik also gifted pencil boxes and pencils among the children. And yes, how could we forget our winning team. All the winners were gifted nice decorative candles made at NBYA. Mr. Shobhit Yadav giving away prizes to the winners Photo Courtesy: Amit It was 4.00 pm now and was time to say bye to the kids.
As for all of us, it had been a tiring but rewarding day!!! A reason to celebrate: The Samarth team Photo Courtesy: Amit
By Riputapan Singh and Sahil Sethi
Parichay Stall and Sale
Fuelled by enthusiastic participation from volunteers, Parichay had good sale of its products over the past month or so at different locations in NCR. Parichay Stall location ST Microelectronics (Greater Noida) IndusLogic (Noida) Panasonic (Noida) Bechtel India (Gurgaon) Jesus and Mary College IIT Delhi Sale amount (Rs.) 13,100 2,600 1,200 600 1,900 4,000
Below is the report from Sahil about the stall at IIT. The AID/Parichay stall at IIT Delhi was a huge success this year. The stall was put up with the help of NSS IITD, and we sold the products of Parichay, the Jute products which are being promoted by Khoj to be used by the Khoj students and some AID Tshirts. The 3 days of the stall saw a mixed response. While the first day was mostly hampered by unbearable heat and rains, there was a huge turnout in the evening. The following volunteers were present at the stall on the first day (Vijay bhaiya, Ginni, Swati, Sahil, Somendra). On the second day, there were more volunteers and more sales too. The weather was pleasant too and more people were queuing up at our stall. The second day saw huge sales and the stall was supported by Sahil, Jyoti, Nishant, Somendra, and Meera aunty). The third day had a mixed turnout again. While the day sales were high, the evening sales too dipped probably because the fest was nearing its end. But the volunteer turnout was huge. There was Vijay bhaiya, Meeri ji, Anuj, Jyoti, Sahil, Nishant, Pheroza and Shammi, to name a few.
Meera Aunti convincing the visitors Photo Courtesy: Arvinder Singh Rooprai
Just to give an estimate of the sales, we filled in more than 2 receipt books and the 3rd one is more than half full! We have got more than 30 volunteers who have dropped their names. An estimate of Rs. 2200 was generated for Khoj activities, more than Rs. 4000 for Parichay and Rs. 2850 for AID (by selling T-shirts).
By: Pheroza Activity Highlights ! ! ! Number of volunteers count has increased. A surprise test was conducted for students of class Vth. A trip to Railway Museum for students of Vth class is planned on the first Sunday of November.
- Rinku is in process of preparing help notes for the students of class V. The photocopy of the notes will be distributed among the students. Volunteers: Aditi, Shammi, Pheroza, Rajat, Arun, Rinku, Priyanka , Hemant, Preeti
by Sahil Sethi Khoj has been witnessing a few changes in its structure over the past few weeks. A few of them are:1) Center coordinators: There is a center coordinator at each of the 4 centers now (Dilli Haat, Jor Bagh, Hyatt flyover and Ber Sarai). He is responsible for organizing the volunteers for that center and deciding the curriculum to be taught in that center. 2) Presentations: Khoj has made a cover letter, a presentation and a street play which can be performed in colleges. A similar drive at LSR helped in getting 4 committed volunteers. I request all AID volunteers to help organize such events in their colleges. Efforts are on to directly obtain funds after these presentations. 3) Newsletter: Khoj plans to bring out a newsletter outlining its activities. This newsletter will be distributed in the localities where the kids are taught to invite a greater participation from the local residents. 4) Mela at Dilli Haat : Khoj plans more street plays by the children, a volunteer recruitment drive and/or screening a short movie/presentation etc. in Dilli Haat in an upcoming 15 day mela there. 5) Profiling: While targets are being set for each center, there is an equal stress on profiling the kids. Khoj already has one full time volunteer for the profiling. Khoj had set a target of 16 committed volunteers (4 for each center) and that has been achieved. However, these volunteers merely cover the teaching part. We need more volunteers for the profiling and at least one to follow up on the children who have been sent to school.
Profiling of kids took high priority in last two months. The volunteers prepared individual profile of each and every student. It is very important step towards structured and organized classes. Individual profile of 40 students has been prepared. These profiles were structured so that we can separate students accurately according to their back-ground, interests, skills and understanding. This will also help in monitoring the progress of each student. For profiling of kids volunteers prepared a questionnaire which included class in which they are studying, Basic Hindi, Basic English, and Arithmetic know how and their interests like singing, dancing etc. Basic Hindi/English questionnaire includes reading/writing alphabets, words, sentences and comprehension. We have divided students who go to school as students of “Formal class” and students those who don’t go to school as students of “Non-formal” class. Formal class includes students who regularly go to school and need help with understanding what is taught there. Non Formal class includes kids whose interest in education and schooling needs to be evoked. Formal class includes regular Hindi, English and Arithmetic sessions. Non-formal session includes story telling, regular singing, acting, playing games including mind games. We also celebrated diwali by distributing sweets among the kids. Community is taking lot of interest in working with us and many people are coming forward. Many new admissions have taken place. And few students of age 13-15 have also shown interest in studying from us. People are urging us to conduct classes on more days. Plans: • We are planning to extend classes on both Saturdays and Sundays as more volunteers come and join us. • Plan to conduct clay modeling workshop. Discussion with Priyanka going on for the same. • Plans to conduct health camp with Dr. Gunjan. Volunteers: Abha Kaushike, Aditya Jain, Amit Gupta, Ankush Gupta, Anuj Grover, Aparna Bhatia, Dibyanshu Aggarwal, Mukta Goel, Nishant Bhaskar, Nishant Jain, Nitin Gupta, Pawan kumar, Sherrebano, Shikha Pandey, Somya Gupta, Sudipta Ghosh, Suvrat, Vijender Chauhan
Volunteer Profile: Sahil Sethi By Selva
Sahil is a final year dual degree student of Department of Bio Chemical Engg., IIT-Delhi. He got introduced to me when he came for his lab course under me. I have seen his commitment and enthusiasm right from that time. I never thought that I’d get an opportunity to work with him at AID. He has taken many responsibilities since he joined AID and has kept his promise. The way he handled the stall and street play of kids during IIT Rendezvous was commendable. He has immense talent and focuses on his vision. I would like to add that he can become a good leader. I hope he will be enjoying his good company with AID in the long run and he will remain an asset for us. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org DONATE TO AID
Online: E-transfer to ICICI Bank a/c 602201200299 By Cheque: Mail cheques in favour of AID-India to:Aid Delhi, c/o R. Selva Ganapathy, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi - 16
Newsletter Publication Team
Editors: Riputapan, Ritika, Yashpriya Designer: Yashpriya Coordinator: Ritika
-DisclaimerIndividual views expressed in the newsletter, including those of the editor, may not necessarily coincide with those of AID Delhi
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