Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

Donate a Book Initiative

Donate-A-Book initiative was started by Natasha Sodi to see that the books we pile at home or throw away or maybe sell them by weight can be instead sent to the poor children who cant afford to buy books.

Amit Sharma and I joined this lovely itention of making best of something that could be just wasted.

From past 1 year though there hasnt been any activity as Natasha is in the US studying her MBA at Wharton. So Amit and I have decided to revive this...

Watch the next post for more news on this and lets know if you would like to join and participate....

Monday, 24 August, 2009

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2007 Fun & Music Time at the Old Age Home!

Last Thursday I dropped at the Old Age Home to meet the manager Poonachaiah. I had printed invitations which had details of the party we planned for the members of the old age home on the coming Saturday. When I shared this with my friend Mudit, he had a big laugh, oh so you are inviting them for a party in their own premises..he he :) Yeah, funny I too laughed at the thought...:) Anyways the intention was to give information of the Agenda, Time and Place.

Mr Poonachaiah was pleased with the plan, he assured he will distribute the pamphlets which I had printed out to everyone. He suggested I invite the chairman of the Trust and I thought that was an excellent idea. A year back I had printed a request asking permission from the Chairman to do activities at the old age home. A kind and nice gentleman he had readily agreed. So I was really looking forward to see him there.

We had a party last year too, but this party was different and I was looking forward to it. The Agenda had music as part of the plans. Prax who is a guitarist had planned to get his friends Manu, Shruthi and Steve who would perform. It was all his idea and I must say it was a great plan.

Saturday morning did some shopping for the party, kept the camcorder ready and by 2pm headed for the Ashram to meet all of the rest except Prax and group. We planned to meet at 2:30pm so that we can all buy some more eatables for the party. All of us then went around in the vicinity and were ready by 3:30pm.

Indira Aunty who is the President of the Old Age Home and also resides in there was very pleased to see us. She made special squash for us in the Kitchen. I told her we were here to serve her and not the other way round. She was so persistent so happy to do it for us that we let her do it.

We then started the party with the intention of our group by Suresh. We then had rounds of introductions. Prax and team were supposed to reach a little late :) All the people at the old age home introduced themselves. There were lot of claps for the members who have crossed the 80 age bar :) The volunteers also introduced themselves and we were almost done when the Manager along with the Chairman joined us.

The Chairman gave a nice speech appreciating our efforts and also looking forward to the good evening. Till then the musicians arrived with their instruments. They needed time to set the instruments so they chose the kitchen to do that as that was the only place available :)
We realized we need to change the agenda, the food was after the music program but looks like the food needs to be served soon. So Siddhartha, Sujeet, Suresh, Deepak got busy in arranging the food items and serving it to the members of the old age home, manager and chairman. I was busy cutting the fruit salad in the kitchen amidst the musicians practicing.

After the food, the musicians team were ready. Prax was on the Guitar, Steve on the Tabla and Manu started with a bhajan. He had a beautiful voice and everybody there were enthralled. He is a Karnatic Classical Singer. Shruthi then sang the next bhajan, she is hindustani classical singer. What a great mix we had there :) So they alternated and sang some 5 bhajans. In the end they ended the show with a lively 'Dooba Dooba' which had Prax, Manu and Shruthi stand and sing....!!

We captured the event in our cameras, Prax on his digital camera and Sidhartha on his SLR. I had some worried with my camcorder initially but later fixed it and could capture some sections.

The Chairman was very happy and told us that he looked forward to more activities and welcomes our presence at the old age home. The session ended after we took feedback from all the members

We did the cleaning up and then we left promising to return soon. Before leaving some of us spend time with Mr Rajgopalan and his wife who are bed ridden and couldnt make it to the event.

While leaving the Ashram, I was so filled with positive energy and had great plans for the future...:)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2007 Reviving Old Age Home Activities!

Finally got a handful of volunteers and we all headed to the Old Age Home. Some were new volunteers, Prax and Sujeet. Deepak couldnt make it this time, looking forward to his presence next week, we need lot of help.

When we met the people in there, it was so much fun. It was like a celebration. We were chatting with 2 ladies who came in recently. One of them was thrilled to see us and she said "Great you guys came we were talking to the management for an outing or picnic". And another lady suggested: "We can plan moonlight dinner". We were like WOW and we laughed. Then she explained though. She told that when she was younger they used to plan moonlight dinners for all the old including her Mother in law. So they used to go an open space and spread out food in the night. Enjoying the food under the moon :)

Sidharth, who has been with the group for long had got fotos of the party we had last year. All of them enjoyed watching themselves in the pics. Mr. Doraiswamy was surprised to see his foto. He remarked "Is my hair all white?"..we joked and suggested him to color it if he would like it :)

So we promised them a party on coming Saturday. We have 3 days to go and lots to plan..hey guys lets rush!!! :)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2006 Remembering Mr. Prabhu

Refer my earlier post "First Visit to the Old Age Home"

Post this visit we had formed a team of 5: Deepak, Sridhar (husband), Siddharth, Saumar & I. We had a first party at the old age home and all of us enjoyed. Siddharth took some pics too (I havent seen it as yet). Later we took some of the people at the old age home to the ISCKON temple. So there seemed to be some progress in our activities.

I got busy in a new job, travels (personal/official), moving to new office. Others in the group also got busy. Deepak and Siddharth also got a new job. Saumar was busy with his GMAT studies and well Sridhar also was traveling to US, Delhi and London for different work assignments. Our visits the old Age home stopped all together.

When I got back from Sydney I wanted to drop by at the Old Age Home. Last Sunday I took Nidhi along and dropped by their office. From a distance I kept looking at the window near which Mr Prabhu (Manager) sat and saw the empty chair. Thought it was a Sunday so he wouldnt be around as he is on leave on Sundays. I spoke to a person who is the Trustee. I told him about my reasons why I couldnt come. He told it was fine. I asked him about Mr Prabhu. I told maybe he hasnt come as its a Sunday. He told he wont be coming any more. I thought probably he left his job and then he told me that Mr Prabhu died 3 months back due to an heart attack. It was a real shock to me. Well I dont remember the Trustee's name as he didnt interact with me much earlier and wasnt too welcoming during our earlier visits. But he suddenly was softer and nice to me. He told that its all fate. I agreed saying its going to happen to all of us. Then I told him if it was ok if I could meet the people at the old age home. He told that they would be sleeping now post lunch and it wouldnt be wise to disturb then. I told what about the future he told me there is a new manager who has come and I can meet him and work out the details.

I will truly miss Mr. Prabhu and remember him for all the interactions we had. Now I need to get back to action and serve the people in the Ashram. Its better late than never!

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2006 First visit to Old age home

Deepak (a good friend & part of the senior citizens club project) and I decided to go to an old age home to provide our services as volunteers. When we entered the office, there were 3 elderly people who looked at us questioningly. I just blurted out "We have come to volunteer in the old age home". One of them responded to us and the others looked totally dazed and lost. He told us to pull 2 stools in front of his desk. We introduced ourselves. He asked what we do and I told him where I am working. It was tough for Deepak as he had to tell I was working but currently looking for another job. Deepak made a brave decision of leaving his job so that he can search the job of his choice. When we had settled down then he asked us what we had in mind and how we can offer our services. We asked if he had any need for volunteers. He wasn’t sure if he can really list out what we could do but felt we can certainly start meeting the members. He felt maybe the old age home occupants could give ideas what they would need to make things better for them. I asked his name, he told he was Prabhu and the in charge of the place. We would need to get permission for volunteering from the chairman who was not available right now and he wasn’t sure when he would be available. He suggested we could write a letter which he could get approved from the Chairman.

So Mr. Prabhu led us from his office to old age home which was a 2 min walk. We chatted with him about his family, what he has been doing and about the old age home. Mr. Prabhu had retired from his job and settled down in Bangalore for his children’s education. He mentioned that the occupants had to pay for the rent and services at the old age home. Mr. Prabhu seemed a very nice relaxed person. He showed us the facilities they had, a kitchen and entertainment area. The place was neat and well kept. Then there were series of rooms with 11 occupants in all in the Old Age home. He took us directly to a couple's room. There was a maid attending to them. Both of them were lying on beds but were wide awake. The room was brightly lit as it had a big window. Prabhu told hello to the man lying down. The man replied that he wasn’t keeping well and wouldn’t get up. When we took chairs and settled down. He suddenly got up to chat with us. His speech was slurred and initially it was really difficult to catch what he would say. I asked his name and he told he was R Radhagopalan. I asked him another question as how long he was here. He told it’s been 3 years. Then he asked me if I have come here to ask questions and I laughed & told him if he wants he can ask us questions. He asked me “Why are you here? What will you do?” I told I really don’t know how I can help but want to begin my awareness and then can get some ideas of helping or bringing in help. He asked if I can answer a simple question. I told yes. He asked me if I knew "how many months are there in the year?” I answered "12". He then asked how many months have 30 days. I loudly ran my favorite poem "30 days hath September, April, June and November...” I answered 5...he told “are you sure?”...I realized I counted wrong and I answered 4. He told again "Are you sure?” I told yes. Then he asked how many days have Jan. I told him 31 days...so he told don’t that have 30 days. I said yes indeed it has. I got the trick and I told “oh all months have 30”...”that’s cool” He then corrected “except Feb”. I said yeah. I laughed and requested him not to ask any puzzles any more for sometime :-)

He then told us that he was around 63 and just waiting to die. He has Parkinson disease and has been paralyzed in the back, legs and fingers because of being knocked down by a Bus. He was in the Indian Air Force and few months of his retirement this accident occurred and it has changed his life. Some months later his wife got hit by an auto as she was in coma for 2 days as she didn’t get immediate medical attention. She has lost her memory and cannot move at all. He felt bad that he can’t do his duties towards his wife because of his state. Even though he was suffering physically, he was fine mentally unlike his wife who had lost sense of memory. He then narrated more details about his family. He has 3 daughters and had lost a son in a truck accident who died after 3 days after the accident. He felt that it was good his son didn’t survive else he would have to suffer all life. His daughter also had met with a road accident but she survived and is perfectly fine. When he narrated this Deepak almost let out a laugh. It didn’t feel real, it felt he was senile and kept telling that everyone in his family met with an accident though later we realized it was all true. He then added with black humor, we got hit by all kind of vehicles, if there was any vehicle left to hit someone else in his family, its the matador.

He told me to talk to his wife who understands Hindi and Kannada other than Tamil her mother tongue. I went next to her and sat on the bed and started talking to her. She spoke a mix of some languages and I got totally confused. I called Deepak for help. She asked Deepak if he understood Kannada to which replied in the positive. She spoke in Hindi and Tamil and again asked what language he spoke. He confirmed 3-4 times that he spoke Kannada and then she spoke to him. She narrated how the accident happened. Then Mr Radhagopalan called us and told me to get a match box from the Pooja place. I got it and he told me to get 6 match sticks. He asked me to arrange the sticks in such a way that it forms 4 triangles. I tried and gave up in a few tries. He then solved the puzzle and showed us.

He played another game where one can test their concentration. It goes like he would say "hello" then I should reply "hello". He says "Where are you from?" then I should say the name of a place, e.g. "Bangalore". Then the next question "Did you take bath?" and we should say "yes". Did you have food? And the reply should be "yes". The last question "what did you eat?" and the reply should be some food item e.g. "Idli Sambar". The rule was that the name and food item changes every time this set was repeated. All other answers were the same. If we could do 5 sets successfully without hesitating (no aah, hmm etc) it was a PASS else a FAIL. I failed miserably. I suggested him to shoot this to Deepak too. Deepak was not getting any puzzles till now I was handling all of them ;-). Deepak too failed miserably :-)

Prabhu then ordered some coffee for us from the kitchen. The maid got coffee for Prabhu, Deepak and I. She got hot milk for Mr Radhagopalan. His wife told she would have it later. The coffee was good we really enjoyed it. Mr Prabhu asked Mr. Radhagopalan to let us know what areas he would need help from us. He told the main area is medication, he is not getting the kind of treatment he should get and also that the medicines are very expensive. He felt the main problem was money. He told that he is spending Rupees 13,500 per month out of which 3500 goes to the maid, 4000 for medicines and the rest for occupying the old age home. After that we asked permission to leave. Mr Radhagopalan had lots to say though and he started narrating a story of his life and Mr Prabhu realized that this conversation will go long, so he interrupted him and we told our good byes and came out from the room. Outside we met 2 more occupants. They looked healthy unlike the couple we met. We told them we would come again and talk to them in detail.
We asked Mr Prabhu as we walked back to his office if the doctor who comes is a specialist. He told that he is a GP and cannot help much. We then told our byes to Mr Prabhu and thanked him for his support and efforts.

We came out of the Ashram and were discussing what all we need to do to help out. After this we had planned to go to another Old age place in Banashankari. I checked with Deepak if he wanted to go there. He told he cannot deal with too much in a day. I too agreed, the whole experience left us very heavy to deal with anything more. Also that gave us a good reality check on what we are heading to. It has made our determination stronger, there is lot of learning to be done in order to deal with situations and help the senior citizens.

This experience doesn’t end here. We will be going back to the Ashram every 2-3 days to volunteer and coordinate activities. We are planning to conduct some cultural activities, create bonding among occupants (which Mr Prabhu felt was one key issue) and arrange medical camps.

Sunday, 12 August, 2007

First Contributions Donated at Asha Jeevan

Yesterday (Aug 11th, Sat), Gazal, Sridhar, Nidhi and I went to Asha Jeevan with the contributions of old bedhsheets, old cotton sarees etc made by the volunteers of the group.

It is our first contribution and lets keep this activity on!!

Friday, 10 August, 2007

APD Activities List - Volunteer opportunities

Hi All

Kindly check mail below from Mr Abhijit of APD (Association for Physical Disability)

Please confirm if you are interested in volunteering. Volunteers need to be dedicated and need to vist APD regularly. We can work on a rotation plan so that a volunteer can do activities at the APD once a month.

Also please spread the message to friends/colleagues as we can get more volunteers to support these activities.

Lets plan to visit APD to start volunteer activities on Aug 24th(this is based on the confirmations I receive)


From: ext C&F [mailto:ablehand@vsnl.com]
Sent: Friday, August 10, 2007 1:04 PM
To: venkata1.satyanarayana@ge.com; Sharma Satyadarshini (Nokia-ES-IdentitySystems/Bangalore)
Cc: surya_narayan48@yahoo.co.in; ushakbala@gmail.com; apdblr@dataone.in

Dear Satya/Venkat,

I have given below the requirements for our Shrdhanjali Integrated School (SIS) and Community School (Gowripalya,BLR)

1) Objective,Theme and Target Group

We have students here upto Class VII following SSLC curriculum

We need support in coaching both our teachers and students in flgs :

a) Written & Spoken English communication skills
b) Soft Skills & Personality Development
c) Pictorial,Experimental and Experiential method of teaching (for teachers)
d) Any other inputs that will enhance their comprehensive ability,conceptual clarity and ability to think

2) No.of Volunteers Required = Five

3) Date & Time : Five Days a week ----- Two to three hours (time can be as per mutual convenience)

4) Activities involved

a) Simple science experiments
b) Chart making
c) Teaching through playing cards
d) Reading out inspiritational stories & expounding on that
e) Teaching through CDs and audio-visual methods.

5) To be held in APD campus and Community School

6) To get in touch with Ms.Usha or Mr.Kantharaj

7) Last date of enrolment ----- ASAP

8) Date of completion of task ------ Ongoing in nature but connected to monthly or quarterly cycle of school

9) About NGO Partner

SIS or our children education programme consists of around 80% disabled and balance normal.They come from very poor background.Some of them also dont get prope nutrition at home.Hence we serve them mid-day meal which costs Rs.1000/- per day for 125 children.And the comprehensive education cost per child is Rs.5000/- per year.Anybody can choose to sponsor a child or sponsor the mid-day meal for a day in the year.

The other thing which may be an enriching and revealing exposure for any volunteer is to visit our Urban Outreach Programme areas in BLR with our field staff for a half a day or full day.Our field staff visits regularly the slums in certain areas of BLR identifies families having a disabled member,does the need analysis and begins with comprehensive intervention.Its someting one has to see and feel directly how the process goes ----- the complexity,issues involved and the multidimension facets.We want volunteers to somewhat soak in this aspect of Reality which exists abundantly around us.And that impression and imprint may give u lot of ideas on which u may work if u choose to.

Kindly circulate this to anybody interested in volunteering or render any other support and encouragement to us.