The Bhumi Universe
Answers to Voluntear the Mask – December 2013 edition:
Chennai – Thamil Mani, Trichy – Clifford, Bangalore – Garv
Media Wiki is a free and open source wiki software, used to power wiki websites such as Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Commons, developed by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Nithin, a lakshyan from Banagalore, has been part of the team which is involved in launching mediawiki for all the projects in Bhumi.
Here’s a what Nithin has to say about it:
“I’m associated with Lakshya Bangalore since August 2013. I’m currently responsible to maintain Media Wiki site for Lakshya. I feel this is a good initiative to put together, all information related to Lakshya into a wiki page and provide access to that information to all existing and new volunteers. This will help them know required information faster.
I feel it is also a good platform for having discussions on issues / topics related to Lakshya.
Currently, it has some information about WOW of Lakshya events and sessions. It needs to be updated with existing list of volunteers, their roles and responsibilities.”
Our journey began with a group of 30 members, starting at 5.00 am from Chennai by 2 Mini Vans. Pick up points were scheduled for everyone. This time Volunteers of Bhumi Lakshya had organised a trek to Nagala West , (150 km from Chennai )on the 15th of December 2013, Sunday. Before reaching the trek start point, we had our breakfast at amma’s shop. Dosas, idlys, vada curry, pooris, vada and pongal – name it and they have it. The lady in that shop fed us all like we were her house members.
One among us was an experienced trekker, Major Yogesh, who guided us throughout our journey. Surprisingly we had another guide “A watch dog” that accompanied us throughout the journey showing the right path. We shared eatables and started to trek around 8. We first climbed up a mount and found a beautiful blue lake with hillocks behind. Seemed just like scenic painting with no mistakes amazed the eyes of photographers Santhosh , Gnanambigai , Krithiga Parvathy and Prestha while this made others wonder what’s in store for us further. Our first hurdle was to discover POOL1. The walk to the first pool was quite a experience as it had walk ways starting from sandy slippery areas to slushy soils, thorny branches that covered the paths like caves to plain low lands. Few were struggling to move forward and a few were faster than the guide. Fari kept me company. The first pool discovery delighted everyone with a pure source of water far away from a polluted city. A natural mineral that quenched our thirst, regained the energy to discover more pools.
A real trekking experience started after the POOL1. We had to jump and climb huge rocks, criss-cross walk from one side of the bank to another side. A few slipped and were hurt, some hurt their legs, some with scratches on their legs and hands by thorny bushes and some as tired as dead but through out a tough journey everyone kept their spirits high to reach the destination. Pool2 was another truly mesmerizing pool. A gentle fall of water down the rocks with sun rays scattered around the greens, a shallow pond of chilled water below the fall just ready for all of them to relax and play but that wasn’t the end. There were more pools ahead. We were all hungry and tired but the thirst to discover the next pool continued our journey.
Steep up the hill, trek with narrow slippery rocks ahead to climb with sloppy areas where we can hardly step. If we one slip, we are down to the stream dead. With great fear, all of us successfully crossed these hurdles. Now comes the last pool- POOL3. Water rapidly rushing through the deep waters. As soon as we reached this pool few of them jumped into the pool without thinking twice and then I dive, Oh my! That experience really felt like there is no world beyond. Some swam around relaxed with air tubes while others swam like sharks in the ocean. Most of them spent their time playing in the cool water were temperature was atleast 11C. Few others like Ramkumar , Raghu and few others responsibly got out of the pool, started collecting dry sticks to light the stove and cooked. Noodles, hot and sour soup, kakra, biscuits and fruits were a lot more to fill our stomach in hunger. Yog Anand, Sukash and Arwindh were of great help for everyone to pass through the tough journey.
Around 4 in the evening all tired and strained thinking of the long way to return, we started climbing down the hill. Fearing darkness would make us lose the path, we had hurried to the start point just before sunset. Surprisingly we did not find any wild animals, I was hoping to at least see a snake but there was no clue of animals except a few rare birds and insects. All returned safe and van was right outside. On the way all of us had a good treat in a dhaba. Van dropped us all back and we all returned to the polluted city back to our monotonous daily routine work when everyone faced turned pale.
~ Brinda, Chennai
I started designing probably when i was in 5th standard. Being teacher’s pet, i would always be the last person to leave school after the decorations on the board, filling up the board with all my doodles before “The Open house day”. ‘Arts and crafts’ and drawing classes were my favourite. I would be the one to help everyone complete their crafts and drawings; in fact even the guys’ books will be filled by me and submitted. Like all other girls I too fancied for Mehandi. I started drawing Mehandi with black pen. I made a book out of my designs when I was in class 9 or 10.
Soon my interest for designing increased that made me design my own clothes. I started scribbling mannequins and fashion designing was my first ever dream. I went to classes. Sketching, painting, water colouring all soon made a good portfolio into all my stuff. I was least interested in Studies and more interested in drawing and designing. I wanted to be someone like Manish Malhotra or Sabyasachi. I tried to get into NIFT and unfortunately I couldn’t get into it in the final round. Still, I didn’t want to give up on my dreams.
So, I diverted my dreams towards Graphic designing and Arts; and joined Electronic Media which taught me so much about designing right from costume designing, set designing, Logos, brochures, banners and what not. Everything revolved around a single suite, Adobe.
Bhumi gave me a perfect platform to exhibit my talents. It all started off with designing calendars in Ripples team, moving to “Caught ’ya “card and then Bhumi invitations and now Reflections…
EchoVME, the place where I work gave me a chance to execute whatever I’ve learnt and made me learn more. In fact I’m still learning; I’m yet a beginner and need much more experience as a designer. I’m looking forward to learn more types of art and designs. 🙂
~ Lakshmi, Chennai
Featuring some of Lakshmi’s creations:
Check out more creations by Lakshmi at http://www.behance.net/LakshmiPadmanabhan and facebook page for Reflections Lakshya – http://goo.gl/SejL59
As we enter 2014, Lakshya looks back to see & cheer for the significant progress during 2013. Here, we take you through some of the key hits and misses during 2013.
Annual plan: The aftermath of Beacon, a training program organized by Bhumi for the coordinators of various projects / cities, resulted in sleepless nights and endless discussions to sculpt and shape the future plans of Lakshya for the next two years. Probably it was the first time Lakshya did such an attempt to establish stretched targets that was taken head on by its functions with complete ownership and responsibility. With great vigor and support from fellow Lakshyans, it marched greedily towards as many objectives it has set forth. It might not have succeeded in achieving every objective but atleast it has been conscious of the desired outcome, planned the efforts required and has learnt from its failures. It is just a matter of time for Lakshya to realize its objectives.
Chennai Operations: It has been a very bad year for us in terms of our Chennai operations. We started off with 5 centres out of which 4 were new and 2 were based on workshop model. However, within a month we had to discontinue 2 centres and one more centre after 4 months due to lack of support from the centre management. Luckily we happened to add one more centre. Currently we have 2 centres in weekly model and 1 centre in workshop model. The positive side of the story is that we tested and tasted new waters (Police Boys Clubs & Govt. schools) beyond our comfort zone (Residential institutions) and in the process learnt new things. The flip side was that we lost a lot of good volunteers due to instability. We hope to recover from the scenario and bounce back in the coming months. We have to focus on our centre identification process for next year and ensure that we get stable centres with good management support.
Bangalore Operations: Bangalore too, similar to Chennai, faced a lot of issues in operations right from identification of centre. Having discontinued the last year centre on the reasons of lack of students, they started off this year with a new centre (Govt. school). The efforts of the volunteer team to build a rapport with the children and establish the project has been significant. However, due to school administrative constraints the program had to be discontinued in December despite a good support from the school Principal. Efforts are on to discuss with the educational officers from the govt. to ensure a smooth program next year in the same school. We are also in the process of identifying new centres. The only solace for us has been the retention of volunteers who are willing to continue with the project.
Trichy Operations: Trichy, on the other hand, had a relatively good year continuing with the last year centre (Maanavar Illam) and adding one new centre (King Jesus home). Plans are on to expand to 2 more centres within this academic year. The biggest strength has been the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers and the bonding among them. An interesting initiative was conducting a full day workshop at Maanavar Illam foreseeing the non-availability of volunteers during exam period. With the start of mentoring this month, Trichy would have established the key facets of the project successfully.
After care program: Ever since Lakshya was formulated, one of our major objectives was to extend the program beyond the 10th standard. We did not have a concrete plan then. But today, with the support of centre management of Bala Mandir, we have successfully initiated an after care program for the children passed out of the centre. Even though it is a modest start, we are confident that this program will grow leaps and bounds.
Training & Development: Last year, mentoring training was restricted to only Chennai as the other chapters were still in initial phase. This year the training was facilitated in Trichy and Bangalore also. Almost 75 volunteers got benefited from mentoring training this year. In addition to mentoring training, by the end of this year we plan to facilitate a separate training for “Group Activities through Value Education” which will be facilitated by Vayam Foundation. We believe this training will be yet another milestone and lay a strong foundation in developing a curriculum and class plans for group activities. The only thing that didn’t go well was learning cycles which had been a source of knowledge sharing and value addition to our volunteers.
Group Activities: Group activities have always been our forte. We made an attempt to record and track the performance of children over several sessions. We also attempted to impart values such as anti-bullying, character realisation, self-esteem, appreciating others through group activities. Another interesting attempt is to involve children in the planning and execution of group activities which proved quite successful.
Children Engagement: Like every year, we continued our successful run in Design for Change and Doodle for Google that saw enthusiastic and spirited participation from children of all 3 cities. We also organized events on occasions of festivals such as Diwali and Children’s day. This year also saw the successful introduction of a few new key initiatives. Mobile library provided a platform for the children to improve their reading skills in which 15 books have been subscribed so far and 2 book reviews were conducted by the children. Introduction of suggestion box served as a medium for the children to express their likes, dislikes, requirements, interests etc. Some of the notable suggestions received include spoken English class, general knowledge exposure, tough & interesting GA, additional tutoring support etc. Further plans are on to organize industrial visits, field trips and career guidance workshops for the children in the remaining months.
Volunteer Engagement: Despite instable operations, volunteer engagement activities ensured that the key volunteers are retained in the program with full energy and motivation. The significant of all has been the success of Ripples that has evolved elegantly to embrace not just volunteers but also the children we deal with. Today, Lakshya can proudly claim to be the only project that has sustained a monthly newsletter over two academic years. Children’s day event for volunteers and Secret Santa event has garnered the attention of lot of volunteers not just from Lakshya but also from other projects. While the Chennai team has already completed the volunteer outing, Trichy and Bangalore teams have planned it for the last phase. However, we could have used the ‘Caught Ya!’ cards much more effectively to appreciate volunteers’ contribution in a small way.
~ Ganapathy, Chennai