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United Way Bengaluru

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

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

Kowdenahalli lake – Creating Life

The fifty-five-acre Kowdenahalli lake is an oasis of serenity for the onlookers and for the walkers alike. The refreshing awe of the lake water gives a fresh start for the day ahead. People come here to enjoy walking by the lake, running and doing yoga to keep the body and soul full of spirit. Nearly 1000 people visit the lake in the morning and around 500 in the evening. The lake has an aura to wipe away all the dullness of the long day spent doing daily jobs.

Lakes in BangaloreThe lake is not only enjoyed by the elderly but also by kids and the youths alike. The beauty of life flowing in the water of the lake can be established by the writings of people on the board present on the entrance of lake. There is a new thought inscribed on the board on every new day. The day we visited, on 7th Feb 2018, the board said “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” This gesture is the establishment of the fact that the community is engaged with the lake.Lakes in Bangalore

 

The lake is hosting an ecosystem of flora and fauna. Various kinds of plants and trees can be seen around the lake. This Vibrant water-body is home to medicinal plants and fruit-bearing trees dotting its periphery. While walking through this plethora of freshness, people grasp the pure air and appreciate nature. People can also involve themselves in bird watching as different types of migratory birds flying and shoal of fish swimming can be seen in the lake. Due to abundance of fish, lake also allows people to catch fish on a contractual basis.Lakes in Bangalore

This excellence is not here to stop. The lake has plans for its citizens. In the upcoming time, there would a children’s park, open gym facility and dedicated area for yoga. Currently yoga asanas are done in Gazebo which has adequate number of benches for people to sit and just gaze at the tranquility.

The safety of the people is ensured by our home guards who are present at all the time. Cleanliness of the pathway is ensured by Eshwar and Gauramma who are the caretakers of this prodigy of nature. These people under the care of United Way Bengaluru have ensured that people keep coming to the lake and take some time out of their busy lives.Lakes in Bangalore The Residents recalled how they would be scared to visit the lake 10 years ago as the water couldn’t be differentiated from muck. Sirisha, who had been living in Ramamurthy Nagar for twenty-five years mentioned that despite having fifteen lakes in neighboring areas, people come to Kowdenahalli for their daily walk. They also feel proud to have come together to celebrate Kere Sankranti (Lake Sankranti). There were 10,000 diyas and lanterns which were lit on this auspicious occasion around the lake. The citizens feel that the lake has been satiating them religiously, spiritually and the organically.

“Let the lake help you discover yourself. Spend some time with yourself.”
 by Arushi sharma and Mithun, NMIMS, Mumbai.