An experience to remember

Ishita Roy

Suravi, organised by School and Mass Education Department GoO at Unit 9 Boy’s High School in Bhubaneswar is an annual event where children from across the state are empowered with different sets of skill sets.

Bakul Foundation had a workshop ‘Best Of Waste’ and it was an instant hit with children joining in to make it a platform for plenty of excitements and fun. The energy of the youngsters with their open and artistic minds, was very inspiring to us volunteers and the onlooking peers of visitors. ‘Best of waste’ workshop was aimed at opening the eyes of youngsters to the plethora of ideas which could be made by utilising waste products or materials which cannot be used again.

The preparation for this event was met with a lot of enthusiasm by the Bakul volunteers, with them giving much of their time on preparing and readying things beforehand for the event. With the help of them, we could get all the necessary preparations done to ensure the success of the event.

On the morning of 14th November, our volunteers met at the ‘Best of Waste’ workshop to set the materials up for children to use. Even before the event had started, we had children coming inside our tent, impatient to start on the crafts. For the first activity we wanted the children to make a sunflower out of plastic spoons. We let the older children make two big sunflowers as installations for people to see and get inspired by them. Our main objective was for people to not throw away things and instead make new things out of them. The activity was met with a fervour and energetic interest by the children.

For the next activity, we had the children make hats out of newspapers. They had a lot of fun making different types of hats, putting them on and getting their pictures clicked by our photographers. They kept us volunteers on our toes by asking for more newspapers to make more hats. Needless to say, we happily obliged.

On the next day, as per the weather prediction, we had heavy rainfall over our city. Though it did dampen our surroundings, it failed to dampen our enthusiasm. The children were equally interested that day as they were on the first day. We had them make wind chimes, pencil stands and mobile stands out of ice cream sticks. This was met with much fun and energy with the children, having received the freedom to paint their aforementioned crafts painted them in according to their imagination. By this time, our stall had a dazzling amount of colour and beauty to it from the objects crafted so meticulously by the children.

On 15th, our last day of Suravi, we had planned to make bags out of T-shirts, paper plate animals and weaving on CDs. The children were very enthusiastic to learn and had a lot of patience as they weaved intricate designs on the CDs, a feat many would’ve given up on. As an arts enthusiast myself, I enjoyed working with the children and helping them at every stage. We had Press come in to interview us on our objectives and aim and I had a great time telling them all about ‘Best of Waste’ and what it is all about. We had a lot of parents and adults come in and look at the many admirable crafts made by the students. Many showed interest in the crafts and asked us to tell them how the children made them.

At the end of the event, the children promised us that they would spread whatever they learned from us, to their school, their friends and their families. The mere image of watching the children take their crafts and walk out with large smiles on their faces, was enough to feel pretty proud of myself for doing something good and useful to the society.
The whole experience was very exhilarating for me and this was an experience I would never forget in my life.

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SURAVI ‘17

By Harsha M

Set an alarm at 7 am. It’s definitely going to take me more than an hour to get ready, eat, and start off to the venue. As I woke up, I ran the checklist through my mind.
Have I made arrangements for transport? Yes.
Have I kept everything I need in the bag? Yes.
Have I informed the family of my plans? Yes.
After filling my mind’s early morning, anxiety-ridden questionnaire, I got ready and set out to meet the other volunteers at Suravi where we would spend the next three days with kids from all over the state and do our best to keep up with the standards of Bakul’s yearly performance at the children’s festival.

As the reader might’ve already pieced from the above paragraph, SURAVI is a children’s festival. It is organised by the Government of Odisha and Bakul lays claim on one of the many activity stalls that have been set up for the participating children. Our stall is based on the theme of ‘Best of Waste’ and we volunteers march in with our bright yellow T-shirts with the aim of teaching kids how to use substances which are deemed as waste products and create something useful or beautiful out of them. The substances in question may involve old t-shirts, milk/omfed packets, plastic spoons, tissue papers, newspapers, old CD’s, etc….and of course, the good ol’ ice cream sticks.
As our volunteers assumed the role of art teachers, the children of different ages and schools assumed the role of diligent students. With focused eyes and sharp ears deciphering our hindi, oriya and even broken oriya (where necessary), they turned waste into practicable items of everyday life. Some were so in awe of their own creations that they didn’t want to part with them while some others enjoyed the process so much that they created more and more of those objects until the clock made them leave.
We dealt with six groups of children over the course of three days and they too, respectfully dealt with us. The event ended with lots of newspaper hats, photo stands, sunflowers, wind chimes, key chains, woven discs, utility bags and beautiful installations which by now must be adorning Bakul’s library.

The three days went by faster than any of us thought. I guess constant activity does make time fly by fast. Atleast faster than the mind can think of the said phenomenon. And by the time, the mind has realised it, the event is over. Regardless of it all, this constant state of activity is what defined Suravi for me. It is a very different experience than most experiences but a fun one at that.

Yuva Minicon

The first Yuva MiniCon was held on 25 th February in Bhubaneshwar and the event was an instant hit with more than 100 change-makers joining in to make it a dazzling blend of motivation, fun and enthusiasm. The energetic energy of the youngsters with their open minds was very inspiring.Yumi Bae, UNICEF, Odisha talked about how UNICEF considered itself fortunate to have this chance to interact with young change-makers. She also expressed her desire to work for children’s education and health issues. Vishal Dev, Commissioner cum secretary, W&CD Department, Odisha motivated the young gathering and expressed his desire to interact with them to make Bhubaneswar a more smart city and identify the main issues related with the youth.

16938963_10155199619614994_2431333639508633660_nTanaya Patnaik a fun filled youth icon with her exuberant talk on volunteering spread radiance and fun in the evening. Mitu swain another change maker of Kandigaon shared his experiences on how he with the help of his friends worked to stop open defecation in there village.Chitra Arumugam conducted a very interesting activity which brought out an individual perspective towards volunteering. The evening was ushered in with stories of school going change-makers by Yashveer Singh, Director, Youth Venture, Ashoka that were instant hits with the gathering and sources of inspiration. Last but not the least Dr Shruti Mohapatra shared her success story with all, which was a very interesting experience.

Sabita patnaik thanked her on behalf of Bakul by rendering a poem written for her. The evening ended on a happy note with soulful music by young volunteers and refreshments.

I am a poet and this is my story

By Anshuman Dash

I am a poet and this is my story

An essence of existence;
a silent observer of the night
A shadow that flickers in the dark,
fleetingly imitating life
Ephemeral in presence,
I write my story tonight,
before fading away, silently,
Into a world filled with light

I am a poet and this is my story

I am you, I am them,
and still, I am I
A memory, a thought;
Subconscious of form,
As dreamt by  your mind
I am right,I am wrong;
a dreamer, a lover;
melancholy and forlorn;
damaged and torn
I am hope;  a believer
I am this, I am that;
An ideal, an idol
a reflection of perception,
a by-product of creation
I am invisible.

I am a poet and this is my story

Words are my enemy,
they are my friend,
my strength, my weakness
they help me comprehend
They are my feelings,
they are my thoughts
insignificant, inconsequential
They are all I’ve got
They break me , they make me,
bring it together, bring it all down
They are my voice, my silence,
my strength, when no one’s around

I am a poet and this is my story

I write for sorrow, I write for pain
I write to express, I write to paint,
I write to listen, I write to explain
I write to live with no refrain
I write for you ,I write for me,
I write for the rocks, I write for the trees
I write for the sky, I write for the breeze
I write for this world,
because I want to be free.

I am a poet and this is my story

The Toilet Seat

O Dear, Toilet Seat!

-Anshuman Dash

_
O dear, toilet seat!

The horrors you must have seen

Day in and day out

You’ve braved the foulest things

Yet your value no one understands

For they don’t see what you have

The big, the bad and the ugly

You’ve taken them all

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In sickness and in health

Desert dry or soaking sweat

With open arms, no complaints

You’ve embraced them all

You’ve been used, and abused

For days and days

You’ve been screwed

Yet you’re there, pretending to care

O dear, toilet seat!

You’re the hero this world needs

But doesn’t really deserve you see?

I mean, who the hell is Christian Bale?

When you’re the Dark Knight for me

You’ve carried our asses like Atlas

Yet never put up a fight

And what do you get in return, my friend?

Loud farts and semi-digested shit from last night?

I fear,

O Dear!

I really really do

That some day, we’ll al wake up

And you’ll just be through

We’ve all been given choices

Choices we’re too short-sighted to see

Unlike the poor old toilet seat

Who’s never had a chance to be happy

So you see my dear friends

If You think you’ve got problems

Try taking shit every day

And then we’ll see what you say

So the next time you’re feeling low

Or you have had too much to eat

Remember my friend the Toilet seat

Sitting there silently

Who never had his say..

We create Change makers

This is about one of our Volunteer Vishan and things written about him by the prestigious Gandhi Fellowship Facebook Page.

We are proud of our Volunteers. No matter where they go and where they work, they leave footprints for many to follow.

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Fellow: Vishan Pattnaik
Department: Engineering Physics
COLLEGE: IIT, Delhi
Current Fellowship Location: Churu

Why Vishan joined Fellowship: I was working in a company called ‘Capital One’ in Bangalore before the Fellowship. While the money was good, and the team I worked with was very good, I always felt a little cut off from society. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything for the good of the country. Also, I was never sure of what to do. The Gandhi Fellowship website said “Calling all those who are confused”. This caught my eye, and thus I applied and joined the Fellowship program.
Vishan explains why s/he joined Fellowship :The past one and a half years in the Fellowship have been incredible. From the first day of our induction, till today, each day has had new experiences. I have found so many new and amazing things here. Frisbee – which started out as just a simple sport, has become something I am really passionate about. My team is not just my work group; it is my support group, my peer group, and my friends group. My Program Leader has become someone I look up to and whose judgment I trust. Almost unexpectedly, the kids of my school have had a huge impact on me. Playing with these kids has helped me rediscover my innocence. Their unconditional love, patience and playfulness show me how simple life can be. Each day here feels different; each day is full of new challenges. These challenges don’t tire me, rather they motivate and energize me.

Vishan’s message to his JUNIORs : I joined the Fellowship even though I had a very safe life. It felt like a risk then, and I have not regretted it at all. If you are not happy with a ‘normal’ life, if you want to contribute to society but now sure where to start, or if you’re just looking for a fresh challenge; the Gandhi Fellowship is for you. Learn how to look at yourself, and understand the science of change. I can promise you it will be a life-changing experience.

Keep watching this space for more Fellow Stories. #changeonemillionlives

Courtesy:Gandhi Fellowship 

Santa Turns Green

IMG_4052 (Copy)  This Christmas, the Red and White Santa turned green as he joined hands with Dedi Loku (Tree Man in the Kui language), the green superhero to give tree gifts to people. Instead of the sledge pulled by reindeer, the Santa had a bullock cart which carried the saplings as well.

IMG_4155 (Copy)The Bullock Cart with Santa Claus and Dedi Loku moved from the Bakul Library in Satyanagar behind the Catholic Church to Janpath to shouts of “Gacha Neba Gacha, Santa Deuchi Gacha” by about 30 young college students, all volunteers of Bakul Foundation. The volunteers mobilized and motivated the curious onlookers to plant trees and take the saplings from them. About 300 medicinal plants and trees such as Bakul, Kanchan, Jamun and Amla.

IMG_4212 (Copy)This Tree for Free is an initiative under the My Tree Campaign of Bakul, which aims to create an emotional connect between individuals and trees by promoting individual ownership of trees. The main objective of the My Tree Campaign is to promote gifting and plantation of trees as a cultural practice where it becomes a part of the everyday lives of people.

The campaign, which started in 2009, has many components through which the idea of gifting trees is promoted. There is a campaign on social media in which hundreds of people have profile pictures with trees. Environmental Film Festivals and workshops have been organized in schools, colleges and apartments  to create awareness, and most importantly, to suggest how individually, each one of us can contribute to address the problem of climate change.IMG_4151 (Copy)

Tree for Free is an attempt to break the inertia that people have in planting trees. It comes from a realization that many want to plant trees but they keep procrastinating. Hence, this makes it easier by taking the saplings to the people. Many people in the city have not known the joy of planting a tree and seeing it grow. This initiative facilitates that and over 8500 saplings have been distributed so far to individuals, who have planted them. Many people have come back asking for more saplings after the excitement of seeing their tree grow.

IMG_4144 (Copy)The My Tree Campaign has received international recognition now, as it is being featured in an Exhibition from November 2014 to June 2015 in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, widely considered the Mecca for contemporary art and architecture. The curators of the exhibition interestingly identified the campaign as one of the very creative and impactful endeavours to address environmental challenges in urban areas in the world.

Photographs: Debi & Soumyajeet