Fun with Education - Concern India Foundation
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Monday, December, 30th, 2013

Fun with Education

The excitement inside is palpable as we enter the premises of the Sanofi headquarters in Andheri. An excited bunch of children cheer for their nervous-looking counterparts who are walking up and down the corridor with notes that they have been studying for the last ten weeks. Today is the grand finale of the Inter NGO Quiz – Gyan Express.

For over ten weeks, the employees of Sanofi India Ltd, an international pharmaceutical company in Mumbai, had been working with the children from four grassroots NGOs across the city to prepare their students for an Inter NGO Quiz initiated by Concern India Foundation. Titled ‘Gyan Express’, the competition was a huge learning experience for these underprivileged children, most of whom were never exposed to quizzing before.

“This Inter NGO quiz is a very innovative concept where both the corporate and the NGOs were able to engage in a meaningful activity. Our kids have never participated in a General Knowledge quiz before and it was a unique experience for them. The volunteers from Sanofi proved to be great mentors to our children,” explained Swati Mukherjee, Executive Director and Trustee of Vatsalya Foundation – one of the participating NGOs.

At the outset, the employees were divided into four groups and each group was put in charge of an NGO in its vicinity. The quiz included 68 general knowledge questions that were prepared by Concern India Foundation that the Sanofi volunteers had to teach their respective groups of students every Saturday. Together, with the help of projectors, Audio Video support and teaching aids created by the Sanofi volunteers, they went through every question one by one, teaching, revising and explaining in Hindi, Marathi and English.

“The quiz was a great motivational tool for the children. From the moment it was announced, they were very enthusiastic about it. They even stayed after school hours to prepare for it. We loved the way the volunteers taught and explained every question to the students with the help of the audio-video aids,” said Rehana M, teacher at the Gazdharbandha Municipal School who volunteered to stay back every Saturday after school to help her students prepare for the contest.

For the volunteering employees, the involvement only got deeper with every passing week. Their close interaction made them understand that the underprivileged do not need charity but an opportunity.  As the quiz drew closer the volunteers also lengthened their hours of giving-time to ensure that “their children” were completely prepared.

“This has been an unbelievable experience for us. It’s been very different from what we expected and we have learnt a lot on this journey. I would love to take this further with the children and work out a plan to make this a long term programme in the future,” Nikhil Raval, Director, HSE, Asia Pacific Region, Sanofi said about the experience. Nikhil was the volunteer team leader for NGO Jaag and co-ordinated and motivated the volunteers for the 10-week programme.

The grand finale was just as exciting as preparing for the event. It truly lived up to all the hype. The hall was decorated with colourful balloons, streamers and posters. All four participating groups came with other students from their schools to cheer them up. The Sanofi employees poured into the hall, happy to be a part of the participating crowd as they applauded and cheered for all the contestants and the teams.

The quiz in itself was gripping. The children were at the top of their game and had prepared well for the finale. The competition was close – the team from Each One Teach One won the quiz by a mere two points.

Deepa Sandeep Ubhaykar, the teacher of the winning team summed it well when she said, “The entire 10-week training where the Sanofi volunteers came each weekend to help prepare the kids for the quiz was very enlightening. Over the course of the 10 weeks, the kids have opened up to them. This experience has given them much-needed exposure to the outside world and will team them to mix with other kids and interact with adults in a better way.”

Thursday, December, 26th, 2013

Let the Games Begin

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play” – Mike Singletary

A day of opportunities for children from myriad backgrounds and situations is the Inter NGO Sports meet organised by Concern India Foundation that I look forward to. It captures the twinkle in the eyes of the children, challenges them to participate and represent their NGOs and homes and helps them put their best foot forward. Cheers and hope is what they bring in their kitty, to take up the challenges head on and captivate us with their enthusiasm.

The games are meticulously organised by the coaches of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh. Every child is given a chance to compete with the right spirit of sportsmanship and participate in the games they prefer. We had volunteers from the sponsoring companies who equally enjoyed the games and became the cheers leaders and mentors for the day. The march-past was the highlight of the day as children marched along with their NGO banners and were excited during the prize distribution and received accolades.

At regular intervals came some yummy snacks and a sumptuous lunch. At the end of the day it was in good cheer that the children went back with medals, trophies and a goodie-bag. Indeed, a fun-filled experience for all of us at Concern.

Sharon Lillian, Resource Mobiliser, Concern India Foundation (Hyderabad)

Friday, December, 20th, 2013

Developing Vocational Skills

It’s not the disability that defines you, it is how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with.” – Jim Abbott

As a child my first experience with the physically and mentally challenged individuals was during a fundraising event in my school. Little did I know that after two decades I would be a part of an organisation which supports a programme exclusively designed for them.

What makes Concern India Foundation’s programme in Hyderabad unique is the approach they use to empower the mentally challenged young adults. Started in 1991 to support mentally challenged girls and young women from underprivileged backgrounds, today it also caters to young men.

The organisation trains these adults in basic activities like functional academics, therapeutic services, which include physiotherapy, music and speech therapy, yoga and occupational therapy. The highlight of the programme is to develop their skills in different vocations like screen printing, garlic and onion peeling and packing, making paper bags, tailoring unit and photo copying unit.  The aim is to integrate them within the community and work force.

It is the only institution of its kind in India to start group homes within the community for the mentally challenged. They cater to six group homes for young girls and one for young men.

Every year they are invited to the Republic Day parade and two girls who were part of Special Olympics, Athens in 2011 won 2 bronze medals for India.

Every visit to this organisation excites me and I salute their undying spirit and confidence.

– Archana Nune, Programmes Co-ordinator, Concern India Foundation (Hyderabad)

Monday, December, 16th, 2013

Spreading Health Awareness

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

In rural West Bengal, health services are very poorly equipped, especially for women and children. With lack of proper infrastructure and facilities of medications, unprivileged families in the villages suffer from various health diseases. Due to extreme poverty, these villagers can barely manage a meal in a day, which also leads to poor health.

Keeping the above mentioned sections in view, Concern India Foundation organised a specialised health camp for women and children in a remote village. The objective of the health camp was to provide free medical examination. It was sponsored by ACCLARIS, and was organised in partnership with Action for Community Confidants Organising Realistic Developments (ACCORD). Two doctors, two nurses, two technicians and one pathologist from Fortis Hospital also volunteered for the programme.

154 people attended the camp. Apart from health check-ups, the women were provided with various routine tests like blood pressure, diabetes, ECG and blood group tests. Colourful informative leaflets with illustrations on how to lead a healthy life were distributed among the patients. Overall it was an interesting activity that helped us make a small difference in the lives of these underprivileged people.

Sudakshina Aich, Project Co-ordinator, Concern India Foundation (Kolkata)

Wednesday, December, 11th, 2013

Let’s play together

Koodivilaiyadu – a sports day for the underprivileged children, an initiative of Concern India Foundation, is organised by Secure Giving in Chennai. Here about 425 underprivileged children from different NGOs participate every year. The Tamil Nadu Athletics Federation ties up with us to conduct the sporty event.

From 50 metres race to high jump to long jump and shot put, the children get to participate in all the events. It is a day of having fun and winning or losing becomes inconsequential.

The last Koodivilaiyadu was extra special. Sharath Kumar, a 14-year-old from one of our NGOs, who has been an active participant for the last two years, was noticed for his sporting acumen by the officials of Athletic Federation of Tamil Nadu. During the sports day, the athletic coach spotted his potential as a promising athlete and spoke of their desire to train him professionally free of cost for regional competitions. Sharath is now being trained by the officials on a regular basis and for him it’s like a dream come true.

It is very inspiring to see a child who had a dubious future suddenly catapulted to a promising career, which through his own sheer capability, focus and hard work will bring him unimaginable results.

– Minna Joseph, Resource Mobilisation, Concern India Foundation (Chennai)

Friday, December, 6th, 2013

Enlightening Young Minds

As we enter the school premises we hear someone shout out, “Only two more Saturdays to go! Will the children be prepared?”

Does it sound like flapping mothers over their children’s upcoming board exams? Actually it’s a group of pharma company employees flapping over children of a shelter home.

For over eight weeks, a group of employees from Sanofi India Ltd, an international pharmaceutical company in Mumbai, have been visiting  children from four grassroots NGOs  across the city to prepare their students for an Inter NGO Quiz initiated by Concern India Foundation.

A huge learning experience for the children, (most of whom have never had exposure to quizzing before), the initiative has also been a pleasurable learning experience for the group of employees, who want to continue the volunteering as a regular part of their lives.

Concern India Foundation prepared the basic framework of the quiz that included 68 general knowledge questions. Titled ‘Gyan Express’, the initiative has given Sanofi employees an opportunity to volunteer their services  over weekends with 4 NGOs in Mumbai. At the outset, the employees were divided into 4 groups according to their residential areas and each group was put in charge of an NGO in its vicinity. The group then set about teaching a select group of students from their respective NGOs every Saturday.

Together with the help of projectors and Audio Video aids they went through every question one by one, teaching, revising and explaining  in Hindi, Marathi and English.

For the teams of employees the involvement has got deeper by the week. Their close interaction made them understand that the underprivileged do not need charity but an opportunity. As the quiz draws closer the volunteers have eagerly lengthened their hours of giving-time to get their children completely prepared.

The grand finale will be held on 9th December, 2013.

– Ameeta Munshi, Fundraising, Concern India Foundation (Mumbai)