Wednesday 14 August 2013


- Story of IAYP India by Ranjana Rai

"If you think you want to do social work and change the society, pause and think again.
Your objective is then to be re-aligned because if you simply change yourself, 
the society will change as a consequence" 
- Padmashree Hari Dang

And this time the Award India team absorbed Mr. Dang's words literally! The journey in the Northeast began with the Congress of Leaders and Trainers on 28th July, 2013 at The Assam Valley School exchanging the purpose and objective of the Award programme in the region through the positive strategy of Engage/ Equip/ Empower/ Reward. The Congress worked sincerely to empower knowledge and skills during the training towards being an ideal mentor that the youth can be proud of. Thus, here was a second chance for teachers and mentors to bring service and workmanship to overcome challenges related to conflict and resolutions. The sessions were focused, using training tools and activities that broke the monotony of the training. There was homework for Award leaders after every session to help them tackle the increasing irregularity in filling in of Diaries and Record Books, emphasizing the delivery of the Award and Voluntary service in specific units. The team experienced the essence of effective communication and follow up to increase the completion rate of the Award participants registered in each Award unit; the rigour of motivating each Award participant in the journey of self-realization and self-development.

The National Training Workshop had a mixed bag of young as well as experienced leaders who were deliberating the foundation of the Award programme in the East; setting a milestone and target of sustainable projects impacting livelihood and society. The Award Units and Leaders have now begun their march to explore the possibilities and chances through the Youth. The National Training Workshop at AVS was successful in creating an awareness and need of the Award Programme to expand amongst the youth. D. N. A. Mountford, Headmaster AVS, who had been an Award Leader as a young Master, presented the certificates to the successful Award Leaders.

Kapil Bhalla, Bivujit Mukhoty and I set off on the roads of Northeast on 31st July '13. From AVS we drove crossing Numaligarh, Karbi Anglong region to reach the Livingstone Foundation School in Dimapur. Planning the next phase of the tour, Andrew Ahoto, Chairman of the School vowed to provide a forum and guide the Leaders and Youth of Nagaland through the benefits of the Award. Ani Ahoto shared her experience in voluntary service and work toward women empowerment and family health in Nagaland creating a forum through her friends with similar beliefs to make a better community in Dimapur. 
Mr. Bhalla visited Kohima and met with Merentoshi Jamir, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of Nagaland, to discuss the implementation of the IAYP programme in the state. The spark in Mr. Ahoto's eyes at dusk before we left Dimapur was assuring. This move will mark history for the Award as this would be the first time when the Award is reaching further East since it's inception in 1962. 

From Dimapur we travelled to The Bethany Society, Shillong by rail and road that added much needed flavour to our work. Mr. Carmo Noronha has been spearheading the Special Project at Bethany that helps thousands in the region, rehabilitating and restabilising lives of the differently-abled. He introduced us to young people engaged in skill work, sewing, stitching, baking, making bamboo baskets and the list was exciting because the three of us seemed challenged to do even one of them. I was called by this boy weaving a beautiful basket near the door. I squatted to speak to him, but in gestures, as he could not see, hear or speak like us. My friend Soni held my hand and began signing with him as he shared his updates. We felt good meeting each other. It was an enriching experience to conduct a very different orientation programme for the faculty of the Bethany Society who were differently abled. Mr. Mukhoty and I tried to communicate the sessions in the best possible way using tools and gestures. There was discussion on the flexibility of the Award as far as entry in the Diary and Record Books are concerned. The availability of the Award to participants of every capacity was now a dream realizing experience. And as we sailed in this revitalizing journey of the Award we pondered that at the end of the day, one strong element in the Award that binds everyone together is Trust. And it is this trust that brought the relationship between the organizations closer towards not to move a mountain, but bring people closer in their objectives, inclusively.

One such story of bonding is that of a Senior School Master who recently accepted the leadership as Rector at Fr. LeBlond School, Siliguri. Mr. Niranjan. P. Datta had invited us in a hope to facilitate international opportunities to the Youth in the area. Mr. Datta believed that Fr. Leblond was an inspiration to many students at the St. Pauls School, Darjeeling. This School dedicated in his name would now join hands with IAYP to inspire many young lives. Principal - Mrs. Chandha Das introduced us with a welcome note to the audience in readiness to know all about the Award. We conducted an intensive Orientation session for staff and pupils who showed great exuberance and asked questions on the journey of the Award. Having a fruitful meeting with the Community we were glad to travel all the way on the Calcutta highway from Siliguri. As everyone bid goodbye to us, it was more evident that we had found a genuine Award Unit that was just waiting for such opportunity; one just had to make an extra effort.

Winding up the tour, we drove off to our next meeting. Mr. Mukhoty whispered, "Our journey has just begun." I saw a strange enlightened content in his eyes as he took a deep breath. Indeed Mr. Mukhoty was now meeting a long lost friend and colleague, Mrs. Shweta Tiwari now the Principal of Birla Divya Jyoti on our journey onward from Siliguri. It was a coincidence that I witnessed how the Award has bound so many individuals for many years through their belief in the programme. The brief meeting brought greater transparency to our objective. And we bid goodbye to meet again.

There is no success, no failure; the most treasured reward of the programme is the satisfactory feeling that can only be felt when you connect people with similar beliefs in a genuine effort to improve the possibilities for the Youth in quest for self development. Volunteers indeed hold the Award programme as pillars of hope and action. The trio bid goodbye to each other amidst bandhs in Siliguri and only hoped that the Youth there will engage in positive community building activities and not that of conflicts in future through the Award; realizing greater need of adult volunteers in order to help them sail through significant years of their lives Forming, Storming and Norming. Looking forward to hearing from more leaders in the East, indeed the journey has just begun.

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