Friday, July 8, 2016

My First Workshop

As I walked into Mahavir Senior Model School for the first ever workshop since my internship at Udayan Care, I could hear the bustling of impatient girls, enthusiastic and thrilled to meet their friends after a very long time. As I entered into the classroom along with Ms. Shalu Saharan, the program coordinator of Udayan Shalini Fellowship Programme, there were murmurs of excitement and greetings to meet their favourite ‘Didi.’ After an exchange of pleasantries, we proceeded to outline a plan for the workshop.

Such small group workshops are just one part of the bigger Udayan Shalini Fellowship (USF), a fellowship which supports the higher education of disadvantaged girls which combines financial aid with capacity-building.  In the North Delhi USF chapter (USF is in 10 cities across India!), the workshops are conducted on the first Sunday of every month with smaller groups of about 30-50 Fellows for more intimate interaction. While also teaching key skills, these workshops also are aimed at providing an opportunity to the Fellows, often highly introverted girls, to express their opinions. This results in making them more confident and forthcoming.

This time the subject matter at hand was Stress Management. In today’s pragmatic and competitive world, ‘stress’ is ingrained in our lives, especially in teenagers who constantly deal with peer pressure and stress related to family problems, academic performance, getting into a good college, etc. Therefore, the aim of this workshop was to make the fellows understand how stress affects our physical and mental well being as well as making them aware of the techniques for managing stress in their day to day lives.

Firstly, to encourage active participation, the fellows were asked to name any activity or hobby which acted as a stress buster for them. The answers ranged from dancing, listening to music and reading to methods like writing poetry, watching cricket matches and even sleeping! All in all it was a fun activity which ended with all of us singing ‘ALL IS WELL’ from 3 Idiots! (That is another stress buster!)

After this, the Fellows split into two groups, with myself taking one group and Shalu Ma’am taking the others. There were around 30-40 girls in my group, girls who had recently passed out school.

Unanimously it was decided that since they are just entering into their college life, I would give them some tips and suggestions of how to introduce themselves in college or even while applying to internships or jobs. I was surprised to see how perceptive the girls were. At first shy, they soon let go their inhibitions, opening up to me and actively participating, sharing their background, hobbies, interests, skills and ambitions. When they came to know that I was pursuing my graduation from Delhi University, they became inquisitive and asked me all about cut-offs, the admission process, good colleges, my experience at first day in college and how difficult it was for me to move into a new city away from home.

It was an exhilarating experience for me to interact with such ambitious and wonderful girls. In spite of all the difficulties and problems that came in their way, they never gave up hope and worked diligently towards their goals, never looking back.

I would not be lying if I said that I was a little nervous at first about interacting with them personally, wondering whether I could win their affection and trust. But the warmth with which they accepted me in their family made me feel as if I had known them for ages. By the end, I realised that how important this workshop turned out for me, how it has helped me to not only improve my communication and social skills but also grow as a person.

Udayan Shalini Fellowships derives its name from conjoining two Sanskrit words “Udayan” and “Shalini” meaning eternal sunrise and a dignified woman respectively. It thus symbolises an eternal sunrise to a dignified life for a girl, who otherwise would have fallen out on the way. I am proud to say that these girls have truly turned out to be ‘Shalinis’ in a true sense and I look forward to more such interactions and workshops.

About the Author:  Anukansha is an intern working with our Udayan Shalini Fellowship Program.  She is a college student, currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Economics at Delhi University.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reflections on a Year Gone Past -- Udayan Care’s Year in Review 2015

"When I woke up today in the morning, I started replacing old calendars on the walls and my desk. I noticed that the calendar in my mobile had also changed. Standing at this milestone in time, I think it is time to recall our past and our thoughts, words, and deeds, and see where we stand. Let's scan our fears, dreams, doubts, achievements, experiences, activities, behaviour, trials which left an impact, may be bigger or smaller, on our lives. Leave behind the demons of the past and look forward to a brand new start in 2016. The New Year can mean a fresh start, some much needed change, or a continuation of success and happiness. 
New Year is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude. May each and every day of yours be renewed with lots of happiness and love. Let us also light a few candles at the altar of suffering humanity. Let each one do his or her very best for a noble cause filled with love that flows freely, uncontaminated by petty considerations of the ego." 
--Arun Talwar, Udayan Care COO 
This year has been a beautiful year, full of smiles and joy and hope.

This year has been a year of new beginnings, with the start of a new Udayan Shalini Fellowship chapter in Hyderabad (the first batch funded by Genpact and Microsoft),  the grand opening of a new IT training center in Sahibibad (sponsored by United Decoratives Private Limited), the creation of a new Paper Craft Studio and Enamel Painting workroom in our Greater Noida Skill Development Center, and, through the generosity of the ASOS Foundation, the construction of a Girls' home in Noida and a commitment for a home in Kurukshetra.  Also, finally emerging from the stone age, our website now supports online donations!

This year has been a year for change as we left behind our cherished logo of 21 years, designed by volunteer artist Ajay Zharotia, to embrace a new logo brimming with the diverse colors of life and life’s endless experiences, the colors of hope and opportunity.

This year has been a year of academic achievement as an astounding 99% of our Ghar children, many who came to us nearly illiterate, passed their board exams (with over 30% of the children scoring above 70%), and 100% of our Shalinis cleared their 12th board exams (with nearly 60% of the Shalinis scoring above 70%).

This year has been a year of activism and social responsibility, as our Shalinis participated in campaigns on topics ranging from child trafficking to environmentalism; our Ghar children collected and gave away their favorite things to other, more needy, children; our IT Centre students became agents of societal change through the American India Foundation - Adobe Youth Voices programme, and our Big Friends and Little Friends partnered up to protest against using crackers during Diwali.

This has been a year for the celebration of talent, as our Ghar children garnered numerous accolades in various areas (even winning medals at the Special Olympics in USA!), were invited to speak and perform at events in USA and Indonesia, and started their own e-newsletter, The Udayans, written by the children themselves.

This year has been a year in which we ran for education, in which Udayan Care staff, volunteers, and Shalinis ran in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon alongside partners Make My Trip, Vatika, Arrows Group and ICG Medical, raising over 30 lakh for India’s future.

This year has been a year for fun and learning too, with workshops and summer camps and sports meets and holiday cheer all around, thanks to the support of partners such as Adidas, CPM India, Genpact, and Microsoft and the help of countless volunteers.  We have even taken our learnings to others, organizing a day of discussions and training workshops under the topic “To Deliver Better Outcomes For Institutions:  Towards A Socially Adjusted Young Person”.  Additionally our staff members Mr. Rahul Raja Sharma and Mr. Anirudh Raghuvanshi partnered with Save the Children to instruct Punjab’s Child Protection Officers on the new foster care guidelines, and our Managing Trustee, Dr. Kiran Modi, delivered a paper on “Addressing Challenges of Transition from Children’s Home to Independence” at the 10th ISPCAN conference in Malaysia.

This has been the year Udayan Care’s 21 years of commitment to the wellbeing of children and youth has been recognized by the Government of India with the awarding of the National Award for Child Welfare 2014 – India’s highest award for a non-profit.

This year has been a year full of too many things to list – however, most importantly, this has been another year in which we have been blessed to see a smile light up a child’s face when he achieves what he never thought was possible; in which we have been inspired by the tenacity of a girl who grasps the chance at education with all her might, knowing its value in the face of deprivation; and have been graced with the glimpse of the glimmer of hope and eagerness in the eyes of youth imagining brighter futures with new skills.

This year has been a beautiful year, full of smiles and joy and hope.

To see more of what Udayan Care has done this year, you can read our new Annual Report 2014-15 here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Training Workshops on  Mental Health, Care & Management of Children in Institutional Care

Two- day workshops in December on 19th and 20th

The two-day trainings on Mental Health Interventions and Better Care for Children in Institutional Care on December 19 & 20, 2014, IIC, New Delhi brought forth a lot of issues that staff and volunteers, managing Children’s Homes, in NGOs or even GOs face, and brought structures to many such questions. Workshops were very structured and well thought out on issues like “Discovering and Caring for the Child in Every ‘CASE’”, Ego-resiliency, Working with Caregivers and Group Process and appreciated hugely by nearly 100 participants from Government: DCPOs, CWCs, probation officers, etc. and the NGO staff, even students of psychology. Resource persons consisted of internationally renowned Psychologists, Psychiatrics and Psychoanalysts like Dr. Achal Bhagat, Dr. Monisha Nayar-Akhtar, Dr. Deepak Gupta, Dr. Vikram Dutt, Dr. Shilpa Gupata and Gloria Burret. The highlight of the two days workshops was a skit on the journey of traumatized children, by Udayan Ghar Mehrauli children, assisted by pandies’ theater group. Mr. Aseem Shrivastava, Member Secretary, NCPCR, addressed the valedictory session and emphasized on the need of such workshops and insisted on giving children a fair field and that instead of so much stress upon Child Rights, there should be a lot of stress on Parental, and vicariously Institutional Responsibility. Dr Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee of Udayan Care, said that a lot of training, especially on mental health issues of children, need to be done to develop a cadre of informed workers, who deal with children in institutional care.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Reliving "The Moments of Motherhood"

In my family girls and boys were given equal opportunity in education, sports and arts. For higher education, however the boys took the professional courses while we did our masters degrees. The reason given was that we girls would get married and not do jobs. While one of my sisters protested I declared that it was fine with me to be a mom! I was 13 years old when I said that. Little did I know that that’s just what I’d end up doing. I had 3 children and 6 grandchildren of my own and then joined Udayan Care to become a mom to so many kids! God was really listening! I cannot thank him enough for granting me that wish because the joy and love the children have brought into my life is beyond words.

Today I can’t imagine my life without them. Their traumas, their sorrows, their joys and achievements are all an integral part of my life. I remember the first time one of the girls told me about what she had gone through. She had her head hung low. It broke my heart to see her cringe like that and words failed me. I simply put my hand under her chin, lifted her face up and told her that she had nothing to be ashamed of since the act had been committed by someone else. Till date I can never forget the expression on her face when I said that. Mixed feelings of surprise and disbelief were written large on it for she had lived with that guilt all those years. That night I carried her pain in my heart as I drove back home, fighting the tears that were clouding my vision. That was the turning point in my life, it made me realise that it is not about discipline and consequences but about bonding and support with unconditional and wholehearted love that can enable these kids to free themselves from their past to get on with life.

When 12 cheerful faces greet you with smiles,
When 12 pairs of hands reach out to hold you,
When 12 pairs of eyes are sparkling with love,
What can a mother's heart do, but melt?
When a little head quickly claims your lap,
When loving little arms entwine your neck,
When tiny little hands enfold your hands,
What can a mother's heart do but melt?
When the teenage heart fills with new emotions,
When her mind is full of fears and commotions,
When all she needs is a hug and patience,
What can a mother's heart do but melt?
When a mischievous twinkle lights the eye,
When a longing gaze seeks a gentle touch,
When a craving heart yearns to call you 'ma'
What can a mother's heart do but melt!

Ms. Dolly Anand,

Mentor Mother of 12 Beautiful girls
in Udayan Ghar Mehrauli.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Justice, Tea and Me

The connection between these three would seem far-fetched to anyone. It did to me too as I strolled down a by lane in one of South Delhi’s posh areas, looking for a chai walla (tea seller) who I was told sat there.

The cool evening, the soft March spring breeze and the wonderful smell of green in the air increased my urge for tea. As I approached the chai walla I smelt hot boiled eggs on the way and stopped to have some. I then walked a few quick steps for my chai. “Ek phiki chai, please”(one tea without sugar) I told the chai wala. “Didi thoda time legega.” (It will take a little time) I was happy to stroll around and absorb my surroundings. There was a host of pavement stalls- a guy selling belts, hankies and other odds and ends, 2 chai wallas, busily pouring hot tea into glasses for a handful of  youngsters, a guy selling boiled eggs and a middle aged lady sitting in her khoka (stall) selling namkeens (savouries). Working with an NGO, I wondered if they were able to earn enough for their families, whether their children went to school, where they lived............. 

My thoughts were broken with “Didi chai.” I finally got my tea – the fragrance of freshly pounded adrakh (ginger) and elaichi (cardamom) was intoxicating and everything else escaped me. But not for long. As I sipped my tea I saw three policemen, one really burly, walk menacingly towards the chai wallas. Arms akimbo, they seemed to be questioning them about something. Feeling a little annoyed, I was itching to ask what was wrong.  Mustering courage, I finally went up to the burly official and found out that “Kisi ke teen lakh rupai chori hogaye hain. Isi galli se.” ( someone has been robbed of Rs. 3 lakhs) My next obvious question – “Apko kaise pata in logo ne leye hai?” (How do you know they have stolen it?)

I was told by Mr. Burly that an investigation was necessary. By this time he was threatening the lady in the khoka (Padma – name changed) that if she did not have her MCD licence by the next day he would remove it completely.  

My courage suddenly soared – I think the kadak (strong) chai had something to do with it! I told him     he could do all the investigation he wanted but he could not strip them of their dignity and he could not take away their rozi roti.(livelihood) “Unka bhi to parivar hai, bacche hai. Ye mehnat karke paise kamate hain. Aap inka nuksan nahi kar sakte.” (they also have families and children. They work hard and earn a little money. You cannot harm them).

By this time, Mr. Burly had had enough of  me and said, “Mere pas apki baton ke liye itne energy nahi hai. Yeh mere purview mein nahin hai.  Aap ACP se baat karo.” (I don’t have enery for your discussion. It is not in my purview. Please sepak to the ACP-Assistant Commissioner of Police). Off I trotted to the ACP’s office and I was pleasantly surprised to be treated well!

I shared my annoyance and the grave injustice that was happening with the ACP. He heard me out and at the very end said, “maine he order diya hai.Yeh encroachment ka mamla bhi hai.”(I gave the orders. It is also a matter of encroachment). I wanted to laugh out loud but managed to restrain my urge. Instead, with a subtle degree of sarcasm I asked him to visit my colony – a posh locality but in name only- jaha sabne apne ghar ke bahar ped, paudhe, phool, gamle rakhe hai. Kya ye encroachment nahin hai? (where everyone has encroached land by growing trees, flowers outside their homes). Unfazed ACP said, “Madam yeh hamare purview mein nahin hain.Aap LG se baat kariye.” (this is not in my purview. You   speak to the LG).What’s LG?” I wondered. Lieutenant Governor he clarified seeing my confusion on my face. “Ab to wohi Delhi chalte hai,.” (now he runs Delhi) he hastily offered in case I didn’t know.

Well it was already past 8 and I was sure LG wouldn’t be available then, so I could only seek an appointment the next day. I hailed an auto and went home wondering if would really to help my new found friends and stop them from losing their jobs and their children an education and the very basics of food and shelter.

I couldn’t muster the drive to go to LG the next day . I kept thinking  about Padma and the others but went about my daily routine. About a week later I went to the by lane again and was greeted with smiles and hugs by my friends. “Didi abke wajhe se police ne kuch nahi kiya.” My chai walla said, Padma aur   mujhe licence bhi mil gaya”. (Because of you the police did not harm us. Padma and I also got our licence). Padma wasn’t there but her young son, probably just about entering his teens was at sitting at the stall with a smile on his face.  

They believed I had helped them but I am still doubtful that it all due to me. Yes I did raise a small spark but they took on and lit the fire. The fire of hope and not bending down to injustice.

Meenakshi Kohli,
Child Rights Activist.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Make a Difference in between the "Too Much" happening around!

I wish I could only write about the happy stories I encounter on my trips, but I feel the need to share about these things is much higher than my fun-filled experiences that I share with my friends & family. On my way to Chandigarh, I saw lot of poor children at every traffic light, who were selling small items like balloons, sweets, newspapers, magazines, etc, there were few who were cleaning the car that stops at the traffic signal, some were begging for penny so that they can have food & what not. I mean THAT was the time when I felt bad about my country because of what I have seen in my trip.

It certainly made me feel that India is a land of “Too Much”; too many people, too much poverty, too many orphaned children, too much starvation, too much sickness, too any uneducated children and adults — it can seem overwhelming. On this trip, we saw the aspect of “too much”, but we also realized the potential that is here, waiting to be discovered.

UNICEF estimates that there are 25 million orphaned children in India in 2007. Another study estimates there are about 44 million destitute children and over 12 million orphan and abandoned children in India, yet there are only 5000 (0.04%) adoptions every year. The institutions for children in conflict with the law host about 40,000 children. The wide gap that exists in the knowledge of and attitude towards child adoption and intention to adopt a child between people from different socio-economic backgrounds exposes the need of the state to initiate promotion of child adoption and creating a system of non-institutional care for children above the adoption age.

It seems very easy for people like us to like or comment on social platforms like Facebook, twitter on issues related to Women Empowerment, Right for Education, Orphans in India & so on. We also share stories of these poor children who became victims at a very early age or some right from the time when they were born. The fact that I am trying to lay emphasis on is that is it going to benefit any one? Or does it satisfy us or our inner soul that we as humans who are fortunate, energetic & are lucky that we are not a part of all this by the Grace of God.

While knowing & seeing all this, we yet choose to silently ignore it but it somewhere bothers few people like & I am also one of them. If this is something which touches your heart & bothers you as an individual then we should try & contribute at the best of our potential in every aspect.

Let’s set an example of inspiration to one & all by contributing our bit for the needy & be a Proud citizen.

No other time can be as joyous as the Valentine’s Week, when you make those extra efforts to make your loved ones feel special. So this Valentine’s week double the power of love and share it with someone who needs it the most.

Let’s Make a Difference by experiencing a joy of giving a smile to one child at least, click here.

By Sonal Dua,
Student at FIIB.
(Volunteer at Udayan Care)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Voting is Must

All the parties are making rust

Tries to bad tricks to get the vote
They give you clothes...
They give you alcohol...
They give you money too...
And they also give you their hand on your head
Promising you to develop the state
Until you give them vote
But once the election is finished
And they have won
They get lost...
In corruption, politics and many more
But then also I say...
Voting is must
And if they are playing tricks on you
Then why don’t you do the same on them
If they are doing corruption
Then not you...
If they are politically strong
Then you are the one making them do so
If they are misusing your vote then
Why you are not taking steps
Again do the voting and change the party
Whom are sending to control your state
Is he/she is able to control themselves
By decreasing the rates of what you need daily
No, then its time to change them
Go for voting again
Again vote for other
And think yourself as the most powerful man/woman
That’s why I say
that voting is must...
Mohd. Ifteekhar
(Udayan Ghar child)