Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer camp at Indore (MP) Chatralaya - Report

Please read the wonderful efforts from Indore. Mr. Bhandari is Pujya Swamiji's devotee and helps with organising his talks and so on in Indore.

Swami Aishwaryananda and his gurubhai Muditavadananadaji both conducted the ''shivir'' /camp for the 80+ children of the Indore and Dhar chatralayas - and here is the report they sent.

Sheela Balaji
14th April 2009 to 20th April 2009

A Summer Camp was organised by Swami Aishwaryananda Saraswati and by Shri Jamboo Bhandari an ardent devotee of Pujya Swamiji.
The camp began on the 14th & concluded on the 20th.About 80 students (Indore & Dhar Chatralaya) participated with great enthuiasm.
Swami Muditvadanandaji Saraswati also spent very valuable time on all the days.
The overall conclusion was that not only were the activities well received & enjoyed but the exposure & excitement levels were extremely positive.

A brief report of the daily activities is given below:

Day 1---14th Morning session:
Swami Aishwaryanandji briefed all the participants about the various activities that were planned.It was observed that as a result of this orientation the childrens confidence & grasping of various activities was enhanced.

Day 1---Afternoon Session:
Shri Vikas Dube,Chief Editor Devputra Magazine spoke on very interesting subjects of truth,Love & compassion.The talks were very well received.

Day 2---15th Morning Session:AEROMODELLING SHOW
Shri Aniruddha Kasliwal of the Aeromodelling Club,Indore & his colleagues came to the chatralaya & did a live demonstration of the model aircrafts.It was a first time experience to all the children & the excitement was unbelievable.The acrobatics & loops & the aircrafts flying over their heads made them curious.Later an interactive session was held where many questions & queiries were answered to their satsfaction.

Day 2---Afternoon Session:VISIT TO THE CRICKET ACADEMY
Shri Amay Khurasia an international cricket player invited all the children to the Usha Raje Cricket Stadium,Indore.He first made them observe the State level matches going on.It was the first time for all of them to see a stadium.Later Amay interacted with the children on an individual basis.He explained in great details about the technicalities of playing.All the children felt greatly inspired to learn this sport.Shri Amay also agreed to come & teach the children on a regular basis.

Shri Pravin Rawat,Award winner of Society of Royal Photographic Society,UK & a Gold Medal by Japan came & demonstrated the technaclities of a camera & the value of photography as a hobby as well as a career.He got with him many of his photos as his subject of specilisation is on villages & rural society.The children were amazed to see their own village life depicted through the camera.It was once again made interesting by a question answer session.

Swamiji spent a lot of time with the children sharing with them his experiences & how they should conduct themselves in life.Stress was given by him on many moral & value based living.

A very prominent industrialist of MP Shri Goel addressed all the children in the chatralaya.He chose to speak on a subject of current importance-Water conservation.A power point presentation was shown & was very well received.He requested the children to do a vacation project during the holidays in their villages & importantly share this awareness with their parents also.Shri & Smt Goel are frequent visitors/contributors to our cause.

Shri Asthanaji addressed the children on various moral subjects & interspersed them with many inspirational stories.An animation movie on Chatrapati Shivaji was also screened.
Miss Shivani Dhighe a very well known vocal/Classical singer taught the children may patriotic songs & bhajans for two evenings.The children enjoyed these sessions too.

A young industrialist Shri Mehta addressed the children on various inspirational topics-aims in life,dreaming big,discipline,moral values etc.He interacted very intimately with them all satisfying each one.

As reported above she got well involved with teaching the children.

Shri Bharat Tongia & his son Yashraj were extremely kind in offering all the 80 children a flying experience at his world famous academy in Ujjain.The excitement of the children to fly was a great joy to see.Each of them thoroughly enjoyed the take offs,landings & the view from above.We had requested joy rides for the first four outstanding children but their large heartedness was really appreciated.Few children got inspired to become pilots.His hospitality was unique as he offered cold drinks & snacks sevsral times.Mr Tongia has explained that under a Govt of India scheme,Social Welfare Ministry there exists a scheme wherin children under this category can avail of a complete loan for training & after qualifying,under the same category get a job as a pilot instantly.We have requested him for details.
In the afteroon all the children were taken for the darshans of the famous Jyotirlinga the Mahakaleshwar temple.

Shri Jainarianj Karnani & his son Ashok Karnani invited all the children to visit the press & see forthemselves the printing of newspapers.The visit & interaction in the press was very interesting to all the children.

DAILY ACTIVITIES: Besides taking & exposing the children to various activities an equally quality time was spent in the early morning & evenings on Yoga,Exercises,Guided Meditation,Campfire etc.

SWAMI MUDITVADNANDJIs contribution to this camp was highly commendable.He was with us for all the days.His interesting & participative methods made all the children feel at home in their interactions with the guests we invited.We are thankful to him & also will care of some suggestions,observations & improvements.

Finally,the camp was made successful only because of the tireless efforts of our very own Shri Anil Bohare,Br Krishnandji & Rajkumarji.Without their backup support this would not have been possible.

1)The Children's confidence levels increased significantly in general as well in interacting with guests increased
2)We may experiment with this model elsewhere.
3)Encouraged children to look beyond just studies
4)Exposure to different activities broadened outlook.
5)Many guests were amazed at the upbringing of the children & agreed to repeat their interaction.
6)The children were observed to be very free in asking questions.
7)Exposure to various activities inspired them
8)A great learning experience not only to the children but we the organisers.
9)The guests were appreciative of AIM FOR SEWA effort

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From KarNa PrayAg to KanyAkumArI

Interviewed by: Deccan Herald, India

Sheela Balaji struck me as dynamic and forceful, committed to the cause she has chosen to espouse, that of whole-hearted seva, caring, substantial and generous seva.

The Sanskrit word seva is the generic term for aid, help and succour. That is precisely what Sheela, in her capacity as Managing Trustee and Secretary for AIM for SEVA, has undertaken, in her ten years’ association with Seva. Her life was transformed after she heard Swami Dayananda Saraswati speak in 1999. A textile designer by profession working with only natural vegetable dyes, Sheila has moved on to working with Seva with equal fervour. She spoke about AIM For Seva’s mission and the dedication of all its volunteers in the true spirit of seva.

When was AIM For Seva formed?
All India Movement for SEVA (AIM for SEVA) is a public charitable trust founded in November 2000 in
Delhi. It has obtained Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration with the home ministry. Growing from strength to strength, it now has an all-India presence with seventy-seven homes in fourteen states.

What is the mission statement of AIM For Seva?
To make education accessible to every child through the concept of a student home or chhatralaya and impart vocational training. To increase the employment opportunities of its students by imparting vocational training. In addition, providing basic healthcare to people living in the remote regions of the country is also a focus.

What is a chhAtrAlaya?
AIM For Seva identifies a secondary school and sets up a student home / chhAtrAlaya nearby. This enables the child to attend school regularly in an atmosphere of care and encouragement. This is one of the most effective ways to address the high drop-out rates particularly in the rural and tribal areas.

Who are the children eligible to live in a chhAtrAlaya?
The process is carried out in consultation with the teachers of the local school and the parents of deserving children in the area. Concerns such as care and students’ safety, medical needs, academic problems, extra coaching, emotional problems of the children like missing their families, parents’ visits and holidays are all discussed and fears allayed. In the tribal regions, AIM For Seva volunteers go to the interior aeas to convince the elders of the benefits education will bring to their children.

How do the children react to a hostel, in a confined space? And the discipline?
(Laughs). Most of the children until then have never been restricted nor have followed any kind of schedule. So it does take a lot of patience and care for them to understand why these restrictions are imposed, but their desire to learn is so strong that they very soon settle in happily.

Administrators and co-ordinators, wardens and helpers all work (for free) with unstinting dedication to make the children be the best they can be in a happy, caring environment. A typical day at a chhAtrAlaya includes prayer, exercise, study and recreation with the aim of helping each child to become a mature, responsible adult. Emphasis is placed on ethical, value-based and cultural education.

They are given specific duties such as maintaining the cleanliness of their home and care of their personal belongings.

Special mention of any students?
In Solan, Himachal Pradesh, five boys are now pursuing a degree in engineering.
In Manjakkudi, a small village on the banks of the Cauvery in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, the son of a dhobhi, the first of the family to have ever entered a school, has completed BSc in computer science. He works for a firm in Pune and is able to buy an air ticket to visit his proud father.

Sudha studies in the AIM for Seva girls’ chhAtrAlaya in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu.

Her father, a former alcoholic, was counselled by the school counsellor, enabling him to give up alcohol and stop beating his wife and daughter. This has brought about a transformation in Sudha’s life. Her father is now an enthusiastic volunteer!

A young lad who studies in a school in Salem aspires to become a policeman to protect his mother and all mothers from wife-beating husbands.

Vikram comes from a very remote village with neither electricity nor safe drinking water.

He now lives at a student home in
Indore, Madhya Pradesh. From a shy boy, he has grown into a confident young man who has set his sights on joining the IAS to serve his village and community.

AIM For Seva also runs healthcare projects whose focus is mainly on providing primary healthcare. It also has a mobile outreach health services programme.
AIM for Seva has given a fresh lease of life to at least ten lakh rural and tribal people across India.

Currently, it manages over 112 projects in education and healthcare across 15 states in
India, with a focus on education through its Student Home Programme. Its vision: to transform society through a network of Seva to extend succour to the powerless and weakest sections of our society, to help each child ultimately contribute to the progress of the nation.

In Karnataka, AIM for Seva has projects in Dharwad, Sagar, Hubli, Chunchanakatte,
Mysore, Karki, Udupi, Anavatti, Kusanur, Karki, Kalabhavi, Malgunda, etc

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poojya Swamiji's talks in Bangalore

AIM For Seva is organizing a program of talks for 5 days as follows:

Dates: From 20th Dec. '09 to 24th Dec. '09
Venue: Jnana Jyoti Auditorium (Central college campus, K R Circle, Bangalore)
Mornings: 7.00 am to 8.00 am - Guided Meditation
Evenings: 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm - Finding One's Identity.

If you are in and around Bangalore, you can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.