Tag: Experience

Sound of Silence

As on June 30th we had finished our project cycle of three years. The past three years was an amazing but strenuous experience, especially the last 6 months as we frenzied through activities leaving all of us in our team exhausted. Hence a retreat was planned for the team away from all the noise and work in a place about 200 kms away. We stayed in an abandoned but beautiful retreat centre.

The 2 days away from all the chaos was a blessing and the 1st session was one of the most interesting times. It was part of the devotion and we had found a beautiful spot, which most probably was a popular spot as there were stone benches, greenery all around and peaceful. Our facilitator asked, all of us to grab a bench each and spend some time silently. He encouraged us to close our eyes and just listen to the sounds around us.

I chose the farthest bench in a hurry to get away from everything and as I closed my eyes, breathed the cool fresh air and listened unintentionally to all the sounds of around me. It was blissful…. Those 15 minutes in silence actually helped and as I sat there, I put all I heard into words and out came this silly poem, hope you enjoy it.

P.S. It doesn’t rhyme but bear with me, I was in a trance, ha ha ….

The sweet sound of silence

Can be heard only in the quiet

The rhythmic beating of your heart

The distant crow of the roosterPhoto6080

The occasional sound of a vehicle passing by

The song of the Koel

The constant chirping of the Crickets

All this and more

Can be only heard

In the sweet sound of silence

Clam your heart

Close your eyes

Open your ears

And enjoy the sweet sound of silence

I strongly encourage everyone reading this, if you’r rushing through life, stop, take a break, go somewhere far away from work, breathe some fresh air, close your eyes, open your ears and enjoy the sweet sound of silence.

Note: More pictures of this amazing place coming up in the next post.

Happy Reading, God Bless…

A Beautiful Transformation…..

Two days back I had a discussion with our Community Animators about development. They all are from the target villages and have been working with us since 1 . 5 years. I asked them to write what do they mean by development and when can they call a particular community developed? And I told them to discuss in the group and make a final presentation.

What came out from the discussion was unbelievable for me at that time…. They said a community can be called developed when it has following aspects:

Education for all, enjoy good health, organised, have capacity to solve own problems.

Stewards of natural and physical resources, Have a monitoring system, participatory decision making.

Have trust, Leadership, Respectful, Have a vision, hard working, Honesty, Take responsibility and

Selfless (concern for others)

Food is secure for all, Proud of their own community and themselves

Maintain cultural values and give importance to community gatherings.

Active Participation, Equal opportunity for marginalised people, continuously growing and Learning

Aware about own problems and weaknesses, Able to take action and accepts changes

Lives with Dignity

I was amazed to hear this from them as I had never expected this response from our field staffs.

When I asked what they think about physical development of the community? They said if a community has all these characteristics, automatically the physical/infrastructure development will occur. But if it has all natural and physical resources available but don’t have above characteristics then it will fail to manage the resources it has..and it will never prosper…

A Change from within can bring a huge change outside….That’s what it is…

This is a huge change in their perspective from the time they have joined…I am glad as the project is able to bring some beautiful changes in the lives of our field staffs whom we see as future leaders in their own communities ….

They have not been taught all this but they have learnt it from their experience….A beautiful transformation has happened within them and I hope this will bring transformation in their sphere of influence too….

Thank You… God bless…

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Photo Courtesy : Rachel

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Adaptation vs. Migration….Let’s hope for the best…

There has been constant decrease in rainfall since three years in our project area. Previous year the rainfall was significantly less, which affected the agriculture up to a great degree. Lots of water sources dried up by the month of October and there was very less water available for winter crop. This caused high number of migrations and if this continues many more will commit the same in near future.

Now the area looks dry and most of the water sources have dried up. There are few wells and tube wells which are active but most of them are drying up. In few days the situation might get worse. There is no water available for agriculture and in few months there would be drinking water crisis for both human beings and animals.

The community is not prepared for this. If they face a severe drought, they will have nothing to do but to depend on government and some NGOs or finally migrate for food and water. That will be horrible…

At this juncture, we are trying to help the community to prepare drought mitigation plans at the village level. In communities we have started the Participatory Assessment of Disaster Risk exercises and presently, we are facilitating vulnerability and capacity assessment. This would help the villagers to have a plan for the anticipated drought by next month.

People are participating actively in this activity, which has been a great experience for me. We don’t know how much impact we would be able to bring in this matter. But we hope the community would be able to make an action plan and execute it. We could have done it a year before but could not do for some reasons. Now our prayer is that the community may adapt best to this situation and improve their resilience.

We would be continuing this activity intensively and I will share my experience in a regular basis…..

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There used to be a small water stream through this channel before two months and now it has completely dried up.
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This view is from the other side of the same stream
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This is the first time in my three years, I saw this pond being dried up…
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This is the view of a village community…you can see the dryness….

To be continued….

Thank you

A beautiful Easter morning….

Yesterday, was a beautiful experience of Easter morning at our hospital campus….

The Local Mennonite Church had organised the Easter morning service at  the graveyard like every year. But for me it was a first time experience…

There was a candle march from the church to the graveyard at 4 O’clock in the morning. And we had our worship at the graveyard followed by some programs by children. Families decorated the graves with flowers and candles…looked beautiful…

Whenever I visit Graveyards, it makes me humble and reminds me of the truth that I have come from dust and my body will melt away to dust. Why pride, ego, hatred and competition??? What am I going to achieve that I can carry with me… ? it encourages me to live fully, being joyful, love wholeheartedly and make peace….What a great preacher is the graveyard!!! But visiting graveyard on an Easter morning was a complete different experience.

The beautiful early morning turned into a wonderful experience as we worshiped the Almighty God. Families remembering their loved ones, who have passed away and an assurance that we all will meet in heaven one day. In John 11:25-26 Jesus said  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”.

It was indeed a serene morning….hearty worship….above all the joy of Easter….“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9).

Yes!!! Through his resurrection He gives hope and assurance in life everyday…..but on Easter we just celebrate it differently…and that’s beautiful too….

Some of the photographs of the event:

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…1 Peter 1:3

Thank You

God Bless….

Water- the Elixir of Life or May be Not…

This was my first visit to Chukru, a small village in the Palamu district. Although I had heard quite a bit about the village, it did not prepare me for what I saw and heard. Here is an account of my experience of my field visit, a very familiar but tragic tale.

Chukru is notoriously well known as the village, with record number of people affected with Skeletal Fluorosis, a condition caused by extensive exposure to Fluorine content in the water. A limited exposure would lead to the dental condition, Fluorosis but a chronic exposure could scar you for life. But Chukru is not only famous for this issue but also the extensive amount of work done on paper and feeble attempts in reality both by government and non- government agencies.

It is said that almost every NGO who initiated work in the Palamu district (one of the most backward districts in the state) had visited the village, made promises only to never come back. The people of the village, frustrated have lost hope and are afraid to trust any more.

I had visited the village because our staff shared that they were finding it difficult to reach out to people (we work with people with disabilities and their rights) as they didn’t want to even access their rights which were available.

Here are lives of two families I met, which is a representation of almost every family in the village.

Upendar is 9 years old, a happy go lucky kid just catching few minutes of play before school started. As I stopped to chat with him, I found that both he and his brother Ajay have been victims to this dreadful condition. Although other discussions held in the village showed that most people who were affected, manifested symptoms only after their twenties.

As we talked, his mother walked in nonchalantly (not a usual sight in the village, especially when there are strangers in your house). She didn’t seem expectant at all, giving me the feeling that she was used to people interviewing their family. Still determined, I sat to talk to her as well. She shared of her three children, both the boys were the ones affected.

The family had also spent a lot of money in treatment and finally gave up as they did not get any medical help.I told her that I had met her son and that he was a bright kid. She beamed as she proudly declared that she was determined to give both her sons good education, as it was the only source of hope.

The other family I met were a couple both very old and had lived with this condition for almost 30 years. In addition to this, they also do not have any children and are dependent on each other. Both of them shared they had adjusted to this life and have no expectations of any change.

A crowd had gathered around us and people were enquiring was this the meeting that was supposed to happen. I was surprised as we did not plan any meeting, when we found out that another “NGO” had come to hold a meeting to discuss the issue. People shared that this was a non-stop happening as the village has been a constant attraction. They asked me what would I do, I didn’t have an answer.

We explained that we are not here to solve their water crisis rather to work with people who are already affected. We enquired if the people had taken any steps, they shared that they had protests, marches but each time same promises were made to shut them up. I have no clue what we will be able to do in this village as everyday people are still drinking the same infected water and just waiting for the worst to happen, a destiny they feel that cannot be changed.

We, in the project don’t want to be just another NGO with promises, the magnitude of the problem scares me but am reassured by this very familiar verse “My Grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in your weakness”. I am not sure of the way forward but one thing I know is that for any sustainable change to happen, it is absolutely necessary for people to be part of that process. I believe that there is light at the end of this tunnel in Chukru; it’s just a matter of time till we reach there.

If you are reading this, I would appreciate any thoughts, feedbacks and experiences you might have on similar issues.

Thank you

God Bless.Photo5972

Be ‘Full of Life, Now’ and forever….

Happy New Year

I hope the year 2014 had been a great year for all of us. I think we all had lots to learn and had so many rich experiences. The year has become history and it will be written in the history forever. I hope the experiences we all had in the year may be remembered all through our lives. It gave us loads of great feelings, experiences and learning and courage to walk through the future. So with these little appreciation and good feelings I give farewell to 2014. I thank God for the blessed year…

Now when we enter to the New Year, it is a grand feeling. I hope the year will be the best than all the past years. Let’s grow continuously through this year till the final breath of life. Let’s live it full through good and difficult circumstances.

At this juncture of moving to a new year, let’s evaluate the past year and plan the next…. Let’s take some resolution for our new year and try to follow those towards our life goal… I have my New Year Resolution and I am sharing this with you so that I may be accountable to all the readers and my friends….Here is mine:

  1. I would strengthen my relationship with God by spending quality time in prayer, meditation and by experiencing God’s presence in day to day life.
  2. Practice Kindness and Gentleness: I would focus on practicing these two personal qualities/characters in this year.
  3. Read every day: I will read a book everyday may it be at least one hour.
  4. Write More: I will spend more time in writing.
  5. Will do lots of research: may it be personal or professional, May it be small and informal ones.
  6. Better management of personal Finance: This has been never successful but I will try my best.
  7. Will try not to waste time on things which matters less: Which does not benefit me and others.

These are the seven New Year resolutions that I have taken. I will try my best in disciplining myself to follow these. I have taken many resolutions in past and failed in following many times…and I have taken this time and know that I may fail to follow number of time….But still I take because It does not matter to me, how many times I would fail to follow but every time I fail, I would like to see myself getting up and practicing again towards the dream and purpose of my life….

I hope you have taken yours so I wish you all the best for practicing those….

May it be a great year for you and may you grow continuously towards the great purpose of your life…. God Bless you…Be crazy and….Be ‘Full of Life, Now’ and forever….

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Betla National Park, Jharkhand, India

 

Thank You

Feedback : Food for thought

Recently at work, we as a team had a training on Listening Skills and feedback. Although I’ve attended various other sessions on listening and practiced it in  Counseling, I hardly had given it thought beyond work. But this session particularly stirred up my thoughts otherwise.

Here are a few things that I’ve stirred in my head, hope you can also get a taste of it as well.

Feedback as we all know, plays a major part in communication.  It completes the communication process.  Good Communication not only is the solution to most problems but also is necessary, as interactions form a crucial part of who we are and defines our relationships.  Unfortunately in real life, feedback is ignored both given or taken and hence our communications remain incomplete and our relationships shallow.

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I struggle with both giving and receiving feedback and also have experienced others who have similar issues. Although we wish our relations were better, we are often content in our comfort zones. I feel I miss out on enjoying my friendships just because I don’t have the guts to take the risk of telling whats on my mind which ultimately is for the better.

In a situation where I might have to give feedback, I am constantly worried about what the person would think of me or of their reactions. And when given feedback, I make excuses and the worst long explanations. I back off from either giving or receiving feedback and in turn compromise my relationships with friends, colleagues.

The training we had helped me look at feedback from a new perspective since had (sort of forced lol !!!) to practice giving feedback. I freaked out and became nervous but I felt so good later. It was a surprise to me the way I felt free and confident and also the relationship seemed more open.

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So if you are in  a similar position, (I bet am not the only coward in the world) where you want your relationships to be stronger and communications better, you should give feedback a chance. It is scary and difficult but not impossible. I definitely want my relationships with people around to be be stronger and I am going to try hard at it.

Just a closing thought, what also helped me (also learnt at the training ) were a set of rules, which might come in handy

Rules for Feedback – By Scott Smith, Manual for Community Transformation, EHA.

When giving Feedback

  • Always write down what you are going to say
  • Ask permission to give feedback
  • First give positive and THEN only negative feedback
  • Give feedback on actions or behaviors that can be changed.

Receiving Feedback

  • Remember it is the giver’s opinion and not the ultimate truth
  • Do not deny or make excuses
  • Ask for clarifications if you cannot understand
  • You can always stop the person any time
  • Say Thank you
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Happy Reading.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: A Humbling Experience

It was one of our usual field visits, only a new village. But the reason for the post is quite different as it’s not the usual experience. It’s one of those instances which give you mixed feelings, heart warming yet cruelly disturbing.

Hope you feel mixed emotions too as you read on.

I was on a field visit to Nawagarh, one of villages with our physiotherapist. We were looking to meet children with disabilities, especially those with whom we could work toward some physical rehabilitation. These visits are especially painful as we get to see children with impairments that could have been prevented, disabilities that have been caused by lack of basic services or means and families undergoing lifelong suffering due to ignorance and proper guidance.

Today was no different, meeting hopeful families just to tell them that there is no cure or just encourage them to keep looking after their children. One of our visits was to Tamana Khatun, a 10 year old girl with severe Cerebral palsy affecting both her cognition and her movement.

Like every other visit, a group of women, children had gathered to watch us speak to the family and meet Tamana. When asked for her family an elderly man explained the situation of the child, emotionless as though he had read the facts of a medical chart.   I formed my own opinion of him as the father in law, the head of the household who hardly cared about a girl with Cerebral Palsy. His following comments confirmed my opinions about him (So I thought!!!). He blatantly announced that the family hadn’t paid attention to the child since she was a girl and it would be pointless spending money on something which would provide no return.

I was a little shocked that he spoke so openly, as people try to pretend to care in front of outsiders. We then asked to speak to her mother and the mother was not to be found among all the women spectators. She came through after a while of searching, a small frail lady in her early twenties. Although she answered our queries about her child’s condition, she didn’t seem to grasp the reality of the situation and the therapy plans for her daughter. It was only the old man who kept responding.

I was annoyed at the irony of the situation, a mother who cared but couldn’t fully comprehend the therapy plan and an old man who was able to understand but didn’t care. As we turned to leave, I stopped to privately ask the mother, how many other children she had and if they could help out in therapy. She said Tamana was her only daughter, that came as a surprise- ONLY DAUGHTER, Something didn’t seem right, so I enquired about her husband, only to find out that he had deserted her after their daughter was born. I just had to ask the next question, whose house was this? And who was that old man? Her answer humbled me, this was her father’s house and that old man was her father.

The man who said he didn’t care and didn’t want to spend on a girl was in reality taking care of two girls, his daughter deserted by her husband and his granddaughter who has cerebral palsy. His actions spoke way louder than his words. His words were from a deep rooted culture but his actions from a deep rooted love.

As we were driving back, various thoughts flooded my head ranging from embarrassment and guilt at assuming the worst of someone to knowing that humanity still had a chance as long as there was love and that no matter who we are, it’s our actions that speak louder than our words.

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Thank You