Saturday, 16 February 2019

Greening the Desert – Build a Greenhouse

Adventurous Journey and Gold Residential Project
1st - 15th June 2019, Spiti, Northern Himalayas, India

Gold Award participants from around the globe are welcome to apply for the two-weeks Solar Conservation Project at Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, organised by Ecosphere in collaboration with IAYP India. The project is one of its kind, combining an Adventurous Journey and Gold Residential Project exclusively for Gold Award participants.

During this journey, the Award participants will be travelling through Spiti and will spend 5 days assisting the local community in the construction of a Greenhouse enabling a local farmer or a Monastery/Nunnery to have access to green vegetables throughout the year. You will participate in the actual construction of a greenhouse and will be assisted by a dedicated team comprising a qualified mason and trained person from Ecosphere. The activity will entail physical work and you will get hands-on learning of traditional mud building techniques – both mud blocks and rammed earth. One will also learn the basics of solar passive architecture and how best to insulate using readily available local material and the sun to heat up the structure.

The trip is a mix of work and pleasure. During this trip participants will be visiting some of the highest villages in the world, going on a high-altitude trek, visiting some ancient monasteries dating back to over a 1000 years, and taking a yak/horse safari and mountain bike -- if interested. Traditional homestays further enrich the experience by giving one an authentic understanding of the life and culture in a Spitian home.

Detailed information and application form can be obtained from here. The last date for registration is 30th April 2019.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Service before Self

Serving others is a spiritual experience that instils calm in every human being. Rajyasri Rao, a Gold Award participant of The Lawrence School, Ooty visited Bokapuram village and Masinagudi as part of her Gold Residential Project. Defining her visit as a ‘life-changing experience’, she shares insights on what it means to serve others.

“Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.” says, Buddha. We seemed to have seen this insightful quote come to life when, as part of IAYP’s Gold Residential Project, we visited Bokapuram village and Masinagudi. During our five-day visit that began on 27th September and concluded on 2nd October 2018, we became the embodiment of ‘work hard, play hard’. At the school we were residing in, we engaged in levelling the ground and painting a primary classroom with colours most appealing to children. In Bokapuram, we engaged in renovation work on the houses of two elderly women. Another facet of our project was spreading awareness about the consequences of alcohol addiction in a village adjacent to the school, as part of which we painted signs on walls and conducting awareness campaigns in the village.

Putting up at a school with basic amenities, cleaning our own dishes and living spaces and contributing selflessly – all these instilled a sense of responsibility and consciousness in us. The contentment we derived after having finished our visit was supreme. The teachers who accompanied us guided us towards looking beyond the comforts of premiere boarding schools. They taught us to be humble and considerate by exposing us to an alien lifestyle departing several life lessons discussion sessions after dinner each night. Our teacher incharge, Mr Kuldeep Singh and other teacher escorts Ms Kamaljeet, Mr Kartikeyan, Ms Anjali and Ms Samina were as much a part of this labour intensive project as we were. Their dedication towards the cause together with their guidance enlightened us on what true service meant. Our support staff’s contribution made our stay comfortable and we would never be thankful enough for it.

I had never fathomed that the Gold Residential Project would be a life-changing experience for me, bringing age-old quotes to life. Despite bruises, cuts, sunburns, insect bites and challenging physical activities, we learnt to get up and vanquish the forces that caused us to trip. The most striking aspect of our journey, however, was how gracefully we transcended our comfort zones, motivated by the idea to extend our hands in service. Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Spreading Love and Warmth

Sneha Singhal, an Award participant from Uttam School for Girls, narrates her experience of visiting Sewa Samarpan, a school for underprivileged children. Recounting this visit, she highlights how ‘happiness’ has been redefined for her and her fellow participants.

'You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay'.

Donation is an act of charity; it symbolises kindness and generosity on the part of the donor. Every year on Christmas and New Year’s, Uttam School for Girls hands out clothes and toys to students of Sewa Samarpan, a school for underprivileged children. Besides that, it organises workshops and programmes for these children while also supporting them financially.

This year as well, IAYP participants collected old toys and woollens from the students of all classes and then packed them neatly. Some participants, accompanied by a teacher, visited Sewa Samarpan and were elated on receiving positive responses from the students there. It was an immense pleasure seeing them feeling jubilant on receiving gifts. Contrasting our privilege with theirs, we felt our urge to do something for the underprivileged growing stronger. We concluded our visit by singing Christmas carols and getting photographs clicked with our new friends. Keeping up with the spirit of sharing, we also donated huge amounts of warm clothes to Eazy Hug, an initiative by Godrej to spread love and warmth this winter.

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving”, says Albert Einstein. Real happiness is attained through sharing. We take this opportunity to thank IAYP for inculcating in us the true value of community service through the Service section of its programme. We’re proud that Uttam School for Girls has taken this initiative and we really hope that others, too, make efforts to better the lives of marginalised individuals and communities.