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David wake lake story passion fire

David’s coconut trees

The Government Primary School in SolagoduVillage of Hassan District, Karnataka boasts of two coconut trees planted over 30 years ago. The coconuts from the tree are used regularly to make delicious mid-day meals at the school. The young boy, David, who planted the trees has now devoted his entire life to conservation.

“I am happiest when I am communing with nature, and feeling soil between my fingers,” says David Kumar Anthonappa who is serving as General Manager, Community Initiatives at United Way Bengaluru. When he is not juggling figures, meeting deadlines or writing reports, David escapes to a lake and pen poetry or photograph sunsets.

David’s tryst with lakes began when he was just 30. Eechalakatte Kere, the lake in K Byadarahalli Kaval, his native village was languishing for lack of care. It was silted up and lost its water bearing capacity and the bund had weakened.  David’s heart went out to the cattle that were deprived of water for drinking and bathing. He knew he had to do something. He and a few friends got together and resolved to bring Eechalakatte Kere back to life. He recalls, “We had the resolve but no funds to do anything. So my friends and I filed an RTI to find out what funds were available with the panchayat for lake rejuvenation. This helped us and we repaired the bund and desilted the lake. My happiest memoriess are of the days when we were bringing the lake back to life.”

Eechalakatte Kere

After restoring the lake, David felt a new spark come into him. It became clear that a healthy water body meant life for its surroundings. Humans, animals and plant life were equally benefitted by it. His new direction was clearly ahead of him.

David joined United Way Bengaluru and simultaneously took up lake rejuvenation activities at Uttarahalli Lake in Bengaluru. The challenges were huge. The lake had become a dumpyard and a place for anti-social activities. There was apathy from the community towards the lake. “I felt so hopeless sometimes. But my experience with Eechalakatte Kere gave me hope and Manish Michael, our CEO, and I did not give up. Soon, we were proud to see a healthy water body where there was once a stinking mess.”

Uttarahalli Kere was to be the first of a series of lakes revived by United Way Bengaluru under Wake the Lake. The number today adds up to 20, and the future for lakes in Bengaluru is bright. The lake team at United Way Bengaluru is committed to achieving scale and has garnered corporate support, volunteer engagement and is still hungry for more. They are the busy bees of United Way Bengaluru. Wake the Lake has created ripples in the lakes space and the citizens of Bengaluru are passionate about protecting their lakes.

Truly, all it takes is a spark to ignite a fire, albeit one that cools! The lakes of Bengaluru are in safe hands.

BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education

Introduction

Born Learning Campaign of United Way Bengaluru, and Centre for Learning Resources (CLR) is rolling out the BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education (ECE). Born Learning Campaign is a program dedicated to the holistic development of children under the age of six attending anganwadi centres, with special focus on ECE and school-readiness.

The need

It has been scientifically proven that 90% brain development in a child happens under the age of five. There is data to prove that neglect of quality in early education, results in poor reading, mathematical and reasoning skills as children progress to formal schooling. The need for a dedicated fellowship to inculcate specialised knowledge and skills among educators who address ECE is important while enabling quality of teaching and learning.

About the fellowship

The BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education will be dedicated to building the ECE skills of educators who work with children and anganwadi workers. The fellowship, which will span a period of two years, will be an intensive exercise consisting of theoretical knowledge, combined with practical, on-ground experience. The fellowship has the clear objectives to:

  • Build technical competence among the fellows to improve learning outcomes in children
  • Strengthen community engagement at anganwadi and household levels

Curriculum

The fellowship is designed for knowledge and skill-based cascade-model of capacity building over the duration of the fellowship. The fellows will attend five residential trainings at the Centre of Excellence of Born Learning Campaign at United Way Bengaluru.

Save Nandi Hills – love for the hills!

Save Nandi Hills – love for the hills!

The iconic Nandi Valley, about 60 Km from Bengaluru and 10 km from Chickballapura town is rich in biodiversity and heritage structures. It includes various hills from the Chikkaballapura range, including Nandi, Bramhagiri, Channagiril, Skandagiri and Avulabetta Hills.  There are several inlets and streams that feed into the ponds and kalyani on the top of the hill.

The Nandi Hill range is also the origin for Arkavati, Palaar, Chittavati, Dakshina Pinakini and Uttara Pinakini rivers, and for the water with medicinal properties that flows through them. Deforestation combined with sand and quarry mining and reduced rainfall has altered the picturesque Nandi Hills and threatens to change its landscape forever.

Save Nandi Hills Campaign

Recognizing the urgent need to protect the heritage, biodiversity and natural resources of Nandi Hills, United Way Bengaluru initiated a holistic Save Nandi Campaign. This campaign, initiated in 2016 is being implemented as a partnership between the Govt. of Karnataka, District Administration of Chikkaballapur, the Forest, Tourism and Horticulture Departments, and Nandi Panchayat.

The Save Nandi Hills Campaign has built awareness on conservation of ecology and heritage through public events such as Nandi Hillathon and Nandi Habba. The events were organised with the aim of inspiring the people of Bengaluru to participate and create a sustainable, zero-carbon footprint platform for tourism. Athletes from across the world and locally, attended the events.

The campaign, which is ongoing, will enable the following as a long-term commitment towards conserving Nandi Hills:

  • Enhance bio-diversity through volunteerism for tree plantation drives and seed ball throwing initiatives: The seeds were native and forest-based and suited for planting on Nandi Hills. Fertile red soil, manure, cow dung was used to make the seed balls engaging volunteers from various companies. 2000 saplings of native fruit and flower bearing species have been planted since the campaign began. This has also discouraged the proliferation of Eucalyptus, which is known to be harmful to soil and water. General public was also invited for the events.
  • Gundutopu and kalyani restoration: Sultanpet village which was once a battlefield is in the valley. It holds a unique social forest with tall and old trees and the space served for the community to gather. It is now in bad shape and dumped with garbage and overgrown with weeds. Work is one to revive it. There is also an ancient kalyani in the area which is being revived.
  • Restore water bodies in and Nandi Hills through low-cost, traditional methods: Nandi Hills has unique water body systems in the form of kalyanis. Being the origin for five rivers, there are nine kalyanis that support these. One such kalyani is named Paataala Ganga which receives the rain water and filters the same underground through a sand bed and feeds the next kalyani downstream named Amrut Sarovara. This was obstructed with silt and choking Paataala Ganga. The feeder canals have been cleaned and water is now flowing into the Paataala Ganga, which is now bringing the water level up in the Amrut Sarovara.
  • Restoration of Nandi LakeNandi Lake, which is in the valley of the chain of Nandi Hills, was in a decrepit shape. Uncontrolled removal of soil and dumping of waste and debris had destroyed the lake. UWBe, with the approval and endorsement of the District Administration and Zilla Panchayat took up a scientific study of the lake and devised a contour map and the lake is now getting new shape. The feeder canals blocked for several years are now cleared and will allow rainwater to flow into the lake.
  • Improve community education, health and livelihood for local communities: In order to help local communities gain health, education and livelihood and to help them to avoid migrating, UWBe has initiated several initiatives. Rooftop rainwater harvesting is probably the most important. With the objective to collect rain water for drinking and household purposes, UWBe has supported 350 families with rooftop rainwater harvesting structures. Each unit has the capacity to collect 4000 litres of water which in a given rain year will collect about 12000 ltrs. The families are now water secure. They were otherwise struggling to fetch water from common sources which were getting depleted.

In the future:

  • Watershed for farmlands: Under this project 150 farmers will be supported for farm bunding, bund plantation and organic farming.
  • Waste management: This is aimed to keeping the hill clean and tide by collecting, segregating and recycling the waste
  • Restoration of armory: There is a armoury on the hill top will is being surveyed for renovation to keep it as a heritage spot.
  • Construction of public toilet at Nandi Village: To ensure public health and hygiene, we will be constructing toilets at Nandi Village.

In partnership with:

Healing the healers – We went there to heal, and returned healed instead!

Hearing and watching updates on the floods in Kerala and Kodagu had alarmed us at United Way Bengaluru and awakened a deep desire to help the lakhs of hapless people who had lost their homes and were facing utter devastation.

Pics: United Way Bengaluru on the field

Galvanized into action, we began doing the more obvious things – we launched an online campaign to involve more people, called for donations and touched base with well-wishers and partners in both the affected areas to ascertain needs and assess how best we could help. When the extent of damage became evident, we were somewhat overwhelmed. The devastation was complete and the affected people had to begin rebuilding their lives from ground zero.

Pics courtesy: Google

It also seemed a calling not to merely send relief supplies but accompany the supplies and reach out in person. Our teams worked feverishly to put relief in place. The first problem we encountered was lack of stocks with leading distributors. It seems the entire world was reaching out to help and yet, it was not enough. We had to order for basic needs from other cities and when they arrived, our teams camped at the distributors to ensure they were sorted, packed and secured.

We were ready to roll finally and we left for the affected areas, determination and a resolve to rebuild lives and restore hopes strong in our hearts. Despite the resolve and the will, what we encountered on the field was something we could not have imagined ever. The wrath of nature, the destruction, the disruption and the utter chaos stunned us. What stunned us even more was the stoic acceptance, the steely resolve in the people to bounce back and the dignity in them as they accepted our help.

We had gone to heal but we came back healed. The act of giving heals, reaching out is therapeutic and we have come back inspired by the indomitable spirit in humanity. Above all, we want to now reach out and thank all our supporters without whom we would not have been able to reach out. Thank you!

 

 

We’re speechless! Because it’s Day of Action @ United Way

The month of June was a momentous one! Rolled into one green package were World Environment Day and United Way Day of Action. It rained saplings and seedballs as corporate volunteers, students, little pre-schoolers, home-makers, senior citizens and young adults alike, lent their hand to plant saplings and make seedballs for dispersal around lakes and open spaces in Bengaluru. 21-23 June 2018, were special days devoted to#UWDayofAction, and these saw lakes and anganwadis across Bengaluru buzzing with activity. As we said, we’re speechless! View the action here! But before that, a look at the numbers:

World Environment Day (over the month)

Day of Action (21 to 23 June 2018)

Volunteers

Saplings

Seed balls

Volunteers

Saplings

Seed balls

1250

1950

9100

2758

1100

102034

Embrace the Environment

5 June 2018: World Environment Day – 2018 – Leaving out no one!

Themed Embrace the Environment, WED at United Way Bengaluru was a day of festivities and joy. Across the city, we collaborated with a range of stakeholders to celebrate the environment and reiterate our commitment towards nurturing and preserving the earth and its resources to ensure environmental security for the coming generations. We left out no one – school-children, parents, teachers, senior citizens, youths, young professionals – everybody had a role because everybody is a stakeholder. Catch all the action in pictures:

LEAVING OUT NO ONE

THE MEDIA RECOGNIZES OUR EFFORTS

Volunteer on World Environment Day

World Environment Day is coming up and it’s raining numbers at United Way Bengaluru! 5th June is observed as World Environment Day across the world. This day is important in order to remember that we will get this world with all its wondrous gifts only once.

The choice is ours!

We can choose to ignore, neglect and desecrate all of these. Or we can preserve and love each tree, each sapling, each creature that walks on it however small, love each drop of water that falls to the earth and revere each grain of soil that yields food for us to eat.

At United Way Bengaluru we have made our choice!

All year round, we treat the earth with reverence and care. We nurture and protect, we respect and preserve, in the knowledge that this is all we have, to give to the future that comes after us.

While we do consider that every day of the year is World Environment Day, June is special, because we can achieve scale without too much effort. This June, we want to plant as many saplings as possible and make and disperse 100000 seed balls from across the 17 lakes that we have helped to rejuvenate.

If you join us, you can be part of a movement that has seeded close to 200000 trees during a single month! The earth has the capacity to absorb and multiply our good efforts – what we seed on this day can grow 10-fold over the years!

Come make a difference! We will begin this movement on 5th June, and will be continuing it through the month – at locations close to you! 

For more details, write to us info@uwbengaluru.org
UWBe Community Connect – 2018

Cargill’s Global Vision is about nourishing potential. Everything we saw today, the Anganawadis, the women empowerment initiatives, scholarships and mobile health clinic actively demonstrate our belief through what we are doing in villages and among the communities where we live. We are thankful to the local community leaders for their support for the program.” – Robert Schubert, Managing Director- CPN India

I am inspired by the work done in this community and would like to thank Cargill for reposing their trust in United Way and for their support towards uplifting local communities. On a personal front, I want take part this initiative and sponsor the education of 10 students.José Pedro Ferrão, International President- United Way Worldwide.

A Community Connect event was held on 18th April 2018 at Bisuvanahalli Govt. Primary School, to coincide with the visit of José Pedro Ferrão, International President- United Way Worldwide and Robert Schubert,  Managing Director- CPN India.  The objective of the event was to celebrate community development and showcase the Integrated Rural Development Initiatives that Cargill has supported over the past two years in the Bashettihalli Grama Panchayat, Doddaballapura Taluk, covering 5 villages, Bisuvanahalli, Kasavanahalli, Medihalli, Yellapura and Bashettihalli.

Integrated development, integrated exposure 

 

COMMUNITY CONNECT 2018 – THE DAY OF ACTION

The guests got a glimpse into every initiative of the project through a well-planned event which took on the look and feel of a village mela or fair. Beginning with a traditional welcome that consisted of aarti, and a joyous procession accompanied by music and dance, the mood for the rest of the day was one of celebration. The guests and UWBe team were welcomed by the local community leaders, students, children and women.

The group first interacted with the Mobile health clinic staff including an MBBS doctor, a pharmacist and a nurse to understand the reach and impact of the medical outreach into the selected villages. They were then given insights into the women empowerment initiative and the women who had been helped for income generation showcased their progress through specially designed stalls.  Cargill has supported 75 women by funding them for petty shops, fancy stores and also built their skills for tailoring and other trades. Some women have also been given livestock support. Another highlight of the day was the visit to the anganwadi centre (Born Learning Centre), where the guests interacted in the workers and witnessed the learning activities. Cargill supports five centres in the area.

Robert, Jose, some community members and volunteers from Cargill then took part in a seed ball making competition which is a greening initiative of UWBe.  It was a one-minute fun game where groups of four made an average of 15 seed balls per group.  After planting saplings, the guests took part in a unique community connect conversation, where 200 community members had gathered to interact with the guests.

Sr. Bindu, one of the NGO partners, explained the importance of early childhood learning and the transformation of BLC centers to the community and extended gratitude to Cargill for the support.

Dr. Nagaraj, MBBS, from the mobile health clinic shared the health condition of the villagers prior to the intervention, cases identified, villages covered, camps held, patients examined, patients treated and the improvement not only in their health condition, but also in the behavioral change.

Asha, a student of 1st year degree, who is part of the Student Support Program, shared how the program helped her to continue her education after completing class 10.

Manjula, a women entrepreneur who has received support from the Cargill – Women Livelihood program shared that she had generated additional income and this has helped make her more confident.  She expressed her whole hearted thanks to Cargill for their Support.

Amali, an NGO partner shared her experience through the journey of transforming lives and thanked Cargill for the support.

Students from the Student Support Program received certificates from Robert and the team took part in graduation day celebration of BLC children who have completed three years in the anganwadi and will be attending regular school. The children are now school-ready and will join schools from the forthcoming academic year.

Cargill team then acknowledged the local community leaders for their support and distributed livestock to the next set of women beneficiaries.  The day ended with a vote of thanks from UWBe and smiles all around!

 About:

  • Mobile health Clinic: Mobile Health Clinic is a mini hospital on wheels equipped with an oxygen cylinder, lifelines, stretcher, emergency equipment and drugs cabinet. It is an innovative way to provide healthcare facilities to people living in interior villages with no access to Primary Health Centers.
  • Women Livelihood: 50% of the Indian population is made up of WOMEN; they have only 25% access to employment in rural areas. Low education levels and vicious cycle of risks in the reproductive health and nutrition make their productivity more challenging. The program aims to build a social and economic environment to increase the women workforce through small enterprise, cow rearing, and goat and sheep rearing in rural India.
  • Student support Program: Due to economic backwardness, it is very hard for most of the families to support the education of their children beyond 10thstd. All these students are first generation learners within their poverty- stricken families; hence they need assistance to progress further. The Student support program aims to provide holistic education support through scholarships for economically backward but meritorious students pursuing their education in PUC 1 and 2 /diploma/Skill-Development course etc.
  • Born Learning Campaign: BLC aims to ensure the school readiness through holistic development among    children under six. The main objectives of the program are to ensure access to an optimal learning environment for the children and provide access to appropriate health, hygiene and nutrition awareness. This is done through the active involvement of the community stake holders, specifically parent groups.

 

Adding strength to Student United Way

Shining examples of youth power

Simran and Sonali are but buds themselves, and yet, they are spreading cheer and love with the maturity of adults. Twins who pack double power into their lives have been volunteering from childhood. These teenagers spend their vacations sharing knowledge and joy. They recently volunteered at a Born Learning Centre and say that they learnt as much and got as much joy as the children they spent time with. United Way Bengaluru values the volunteering efforts of Simran and Sonali and wishes them all the best in life! We will be proud of all their achievements in life. We also salute their parents, particularly Reema their mother who is nurturing and encouraging their talents and standing by them all the way! Hear from them in their own voices…

 Simran Ajwani

Simran Ajwani

My name is Simran Ajwani and I am currently studying in 11th grade. I have a great passion for Math and Chemistry and want to study engineering in the future. Also, I am an athlete and I have participated in many competitions.

I have volunteered since my middle school. I am very motivated to volunteer as I get the opportunity to view the larger world beyond our homes. Whatever effort we put into giving back to our society goes a long way.

I am involved with a project called BLC (Born Learning Centres) with United Way Bengaluru. We work with children aged 3 to 6 years old. I teach the children English alphabets and basic drawing skills.

Every time I visit them, I get a sense of joy and accomplishment. They are full of energy and working with them really touches my heart. This experience has added to my collaborative and time management skills.

I am very thankful to United Way of Bengaluru for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to working more with these wonderful children.

Sonali Ajwani

Sonali Ajwani

My name is Sonali Ajwani and I am a student studying at TISB in the 11th Grade.  I love Biology and hope to someday pursue a career in medicine. In my free time, I enjoy playing sports like basketball and tennis.

I believe we should try and make a difference in society – no matter how big or small. Volunteering is one way we can give back to our community. I have volunteered since my middle school years and I cherish the memories I have built along the way. Community service has taught me the importance of investing in our community and helping the people who live in it.

I am involved with a project called (BLC) Born Learning Centres with United Way Bengaluru. Working with these children and seeing them learn so well has brought me tremendous joy and it also keeps me mentally stimulated. We have been working on pre-reading English skills and basic colors. I love the children’s enthusiasm and look forward to visiting them and teaching them something new that they enjoy. These experiences have added to my self-confidence, given me a sense of achievement and strengthened my teaching skills.

I am very thankful to United Way of Bengaluru for this wonderful opportunity. Along with my twin sister, I look forward to working on more fun and educational activities with the children at the BLCs.

 

Tryst with Mahadevapura Lake, Bengaluru

Mihir the Birdman

Friends of United Way Bengaluru – Mihir the Birdman!

Mihir is an IT professional, who lives close to Mahadevapura Lake with his small family – wife, parents and a child. It is obvious that he has his heart in the right place because aside of looking into a computer screen, he is also a keen bird-watcher and actively engages in greening and conservation activities.

He explains his interest in bird-watching, “As I was living close to Mahadevapura Lake, I was witness to the rejuvenation efforts which began in early 2016. As I saw the lake desilted, cleaned up and greenery increasing around it, my family and I started visiting the lake. This is when I also noticed that there were a lot of birds visiting the lake.”

About Mahadevapura Lake

  • Nearest Landmark: Bagmane World Technology Centre, Outer Ring Road
  • Acres: 26.58
  • Easily accessible by bus, private vehicles or Metro.

He had bought a DSLR camera around the same time, and it seems the birds literally beckoned to be ‘shot’! It’s almost two years since Mihir’s tryst with the birds of Mahadevapura began and he modestly says he is not a bird expert but rather someone who has been documenting the birds at the lake and enjoying it too.

He says Mahadevapura and Doddanekundi Lake which he visits are great places for bird watching and photography. Lalbagh, Kaikondrahalli, Kalkere and Agara Lakes are on his wish list too. He has covered over 70 species of birds at Mahadevapura Lake over two years. Though most varieties were seen during the winter season of 2017, which is a migratory season, he has spotted birds when there are low levels of water in lakes as well. The reason for this is that some birds prefer shallow water e.g. the Painted Stork, which just walks in shallow water with its beak in the water, looking for food.

The Mahadevapura Lake Gallery of bird life

While equipment is important, he reiterates that best results are achieved through passion and persistence, rather than the equipment. He uses a DSLR Nikon D3200 + 70-300mm lens, and is currently using Nikon D3200 + 150-500mm lens and/or 2x converter.

He lists some tips for aspiring bird watchers:

  • Get as close as possible to the bird for good close-ups. This can mean you just have to be happy just watching them sometimes as they might fly away just as you are about to click, leaving you without a picture.
  • Keep a steady hand as movement can scare/disturb birds and an unsteady hand can result in shaky images
  • Patience is a prerequisite. Sometimes you have to sit hours just waiting for the right moment to click
  • Choose a less-populated and quiet place to observe birdlife
  • Learn to understand bird behaviour. They need to be left alone at times, especially during their breeding season and while they’re feeding and raising their kids
  • Try not to scare them.

UWBe salutes Mihir and his dedication!

Note: All photos are copyrighted to Mihir. They can be used with due credit given to Mihir K V. They may not be used for commercial purposes.

Source for all information: Mihir K V

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