Sunday, April 19, 2009

Minutes of Meeting - DI Mumbai, 16th April, 2009

Hi All,
The following is a detailed report on the meeting that we had in Bombay on the 16th of April, at Mr Gawarikar's home between 8 am and 11 am. The meeting was attended by the following members:

Mr Gawarikar

We started by talking about retaining volunteers and the various way of doing this. This has been a topic for discussion for many many years now in various centers of DI and will continue to be so, as we are an organisation that do not employ people, but rather induct people who come forward to volunteer on their own accord. We figured out that talking to the vols and making them feel part of the DI family and more importantly, involving them in the community building process right from the beginning, will give them more sense of responsibility and that might keep them going for a long time. Rupesh also stressed the importance of creating leaders out of volunteers, and though this is not an easy task to achieve, we should strive towards this in order to build a better DI family. We would also be making the new vols attend one or two of our classes so that they get a feel of how we go about our tasks.

All volunteers will soon be receiving copies of official DI posters that are now available and it will be great to have them put up on various places in the city like Shopping malls, coffee shops and similar youth hang outs, our own office complexes etc. This might get us some more volunteers.

Padmaja has agreed to call up prospective karmayog vols regularly and try to induct them into the team. From time to time vols from other centers would also help her in this activity.

Since the email communication from the Mumbai has been falling short of desired standards over the last one year, this topic was discussed extensively. Jamuna has taken this up on herself and she will ensure at least bi-weekly communication of events happening in all DI-Mumbai centers. Either she will coax the center vols to themselves mail to the team about the various activities happening, or she will collect the info and herself mail about it. Request the entire team to co-operate and please follow this communication on priority. The Chennai team also discussed the same yesterday (Nata will send MoM for that in a day or two), so the importance of this can never be ignored.

Regarding the individual center news...

The team has been performing admirably over the years and that can be seen in the progress of the students out here. Now that summer is here, we have decided to do the following activities in the next two months...

  • Enroll 5 children for a MS-CIT (3-month) computer course - Sharvari will be keeping regular track of the kids and will liaison between them and the computer center to make sure things are moving smoothly. The other vols will of course assist her when needed.
  • Conduct aptitude tests for children - This will help us know what the children's interests are and also what career streams they are likely to succeed in. Sharvari is in contact with one such counseller and was supposed to conduct the tests this weekend, but I heard a couple of hours back from her that the counseller had some urgent work and hence had to postpone the tests for the following week.
  • Subscribe English newspaper to the basti for a month - This is aimed at encouraging the kids to read the newspaper daily. They will also have to read and explain articles of their choice every weekend and also get the meanings of new words that they see in the paper. I was supposed to subscribe the paper but could not do it before I left Bombay. Request one of theBorivali vols to please take this up.
  • Conduct competitions to kids of the three centers, at the pada - This is for encouraging competitive spirit among the children and also to help them mingle with kids of other centers. The competitions will be conducted sometime next month andPadmaja will soon find out from the pada if the people are willing to host the children for the competition. Logistics and arranging the competitions will be a nightmare but am sure the Bombay team can pull this off. Someone please start a new thread on this.
  • Outing for children - The Borivali kids will be taken out somewhere next month, center vols will decide on this soon.
Andheri Pada
The common notion is that there are a lot of kids that are interested in Khambacha pada and not so much in Gaundevi pada (Our main center). So out of the 5 vols present currently, two (Padmaja and someone else with her) will go to the former and try to start something in that pada itself. Since we have another NGO working there on Sundays, Padmaja will also contact them and DI will try to work along with that NGO.

Also since Child marriage is a common problem in that place, Rupesh suggested we work with NGOs that work for women welfare and get them to educate the people in the pada about the evils of getting their children married at an early age. Pooja and Padmaja will follow up on this. Once we are able to do this and try it out at Andheri, this can also be tried out at our Thane center.

We were also wondering how to make forays into villages in Maharashtra when we remembered a request for help from one of the schools in the Wada taluka of Mumbai. Vijay, our contact for this project, is coordinating with our vols and the school to help secure a water filter for the school. Once this goes thru, we will hopefully  have access to the school children thru the headmaster and we can try and start a center at Wada. Since this taluka comprises of a lot of villages that are not very well off, we can try and form a team to work in some of these places. Padmaja and I are already in touch with Vijay for this and the guy (he seems like a very dedicated person) has put forward some ideas too. More updates on this in a separate thread.

Jamuna and Rupesh had also given some very interesting information on other NGOs and GoI schemes for education. All these will come in handy in our quest to make our nation a better place to live in.

Since we had conducted the meeting on a weekday morning, vols from other centers could not make it, understandably so. There were two very fruitful meetings back to back this week (The above one in Bombay and one in Madras, on Saturday) where we all shared very useful info within the team. Natarajan will send the MoM for the latter meeting.

Thanks all.

PS My luggage, along with the paper that had the notes from this meeting, was lost during my trip to Madras. So in case I missed some points, please add them to this thread.

Thanks and Regards,
Varun Rangarajan

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Borivali updates

The last couple of weeks have been very hectic for the volunteers of the Borivali center. We selected four students to take enroll in a MS-CIT computer course (Project documents attached) and finally paid the money for them today. The course is for three months and will begin on 20th of April. The project documents have more details on the same.
On the 14th, we ushered in the new set of vols from St Andrews College who chose DI to do their summer Social work course. Borivali might see another new chapter for DI, as we spoke to another group of settlers outside tour main Borivali center and started classes for the kids there today morning. Also Attached is a brief course material that we had given to the students for engaging this new batch of kids for the next five days. Considering that the community has also offered us its temple space to conduct our classes, let us hope that this new chapter does well in the days and months to come.
Sharvari and Mr. Gawarikar are actively keeping watch on the students and the new volunteers and will be doing so for the rest of the summer. They will also be trying to arrange career counselling sessions for the kids in one of the upcoming weekends.
Jamuna is pursuing trying to secure summer part-time jobs for some of the students here as well as exploring options of putting Geeta's cousin (who had dropped off school long time back), back in Open School.
Overall, the team has done a very good job and team work was at its very best.
More encouraging factors were how the children were very open to the volunteers about what they wanted to do (Geeta had only suggested the idea of joining the computer course) and that the parents have a lot of faith in us (Deepak's father: "I leave my son to you guys. I do not know how to guide his career, just let me know what I should do to support and you all take care of his career please").
This leaves us with even greater responsibility but we are sure we will succeed in making good citizens out of these students.

Jai Bharath!

Thanks and Regards,
Varun R

Report and Snaps of KK Children Home Visit - 12th April, 2009

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, Dream India friends from Adyar Chapter visited KK Children home, provided dinner to kids and had wonderful time with them. Shyam, Parthy, Veena and Karthik reached much earlier and started playing games with the children. JP, Hari, Venkatesh, Abitha and myself reached KK around 7.30 after collecting the dinner from hotel. The Children had asked for Paratha, sweets and juice - We got everything they asked for and they really relished the dinner.

Many of them were asking for the missing "White"[ Fair] Uncle - Mr.Varun was the one they were looking for. We had a few new friends join us last weekend for the trip - our web admin Mani's friend Veena from TCS, my brother Venkatesh and my niece Abitha. As we went a bit late, we could not carry on the games or songs post dinner.


TCS associates from my previous account MorganStanley, thanks to JP, would be taking care of the monthly requirements of the home in the attached request form. Also, they would be providing Lunch monthly once to the children.

Next Visit:

DI - TCS - MS: Sunday May 3rd, Lunch 12.30 - 2.00 PM

Dream India: Sunday May 10th, Dinner 7 - 8.30 PM


Immediate Requirements:

Medicine and other items - Taken care by TCS MS

Doctor visit - In the process of finding one.

Please do join us for any of the above visits as possible. There are lot of girls in the home and would be great if female volunteers can come in to chat with them. The time you spend with them would definitely help them a lot for that is what they miss in their life.

Dream India

"Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress." - Mahatma

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Educational support for Ms.Bhuvaneswari - B.E CSC

Dear Friends,

I am happy to let you all know that for the second consecutive year we are supporting Ms.Bhuvaneswari, B.E Computer science student at Jerusalem College of Engineering, Chennai. We got to know the student through Ms.Lalitha madam of New life Charity Trust. Last year DI decided to provide 20k as partial support towards her college fee.

Parthy and I met the student and her mom today morning and gave her a DD of Rs.20,000. Our team can be really proud of the student. She has scored an unbelievable 91% in the first semester. I am sure this student would definitely bring glory to our team by her excellent performance.

On behalf of our team we conveyed our best wishes to her. Attached the project report for your reference.

Dream India

"Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress." - Mahatma

Monday, April 13, 2009

DI Chennai Adyar Chapter updates

Dear Friends,

After the wonderful Pollachi program last weekend, this weekend was spent at Chennai by conducting weekend classes at Adyar school and visiting kaakum Karangal old age home.

We have started teaching Grammar for the children, especially for the 10 students who are really ready to move on the next level. Our friends like Sreeja, Kavitha and Poornima continue to provide special attention to the children who find it tough to move to next level. We also have letter writing exercises as a part of the classes.

Every other weekend, we conduct tests either written or some other participation way and award the kids with small prizes. Also, each class, we make the kids read 3 questions from "Dr.Kalaamai Kelungal" [ Ask questions to Dr.APJ Kalam ] book and a selected paragraph from "My experiments with truth".


It has become next home for many of our volunteers. The way the residents interact with us and affection and blessing they shower on us is amazing. With us, they come out of all the inhibition and speak freely. We have planned to visit KK next month on May 3rd and this time one hour earlier so that we can perform some program to entertain them as well.

We had Mr.Mani from Build Future India join us this weekend for KK visit. He had come along with his wife and Kid Master Sriram. Elavarasi, Ravin and our friend Anand also joined us.


Dream India

"Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress." - Mahatma