Wednesday 28 January 2015

Visit to Mother Teresa Old Age Home

Himshekhar Konwar, Silver level participant from Miles Bronson Residential School (MBRS), Guwahati, shares his teams' experience when they visited the Mother Teresa Old Age Home.

In this era where many leave their old parents homeless, there are a few angels of God who give these old people another chance at life in the comfort of a home. On 6th July 2014  we, the members of IAYP from MBRS, Guwahati visited the Mother Teresa Old Age Home. One of the members we met there was 105 years old and and lived there happily under the care of the 'angels of God'.  At present there are around 19 old people who are cared for by Ms Manika Sharma and her team.

We spent four hours with the old people, hearing their stories and their life experiences which brought tears to our eyes and made us realize deeply the importance of our parents in our life.

As part of of our entertainment effort, we sang several songs and one of the old grandmas sang to us the song of youth which describes the happy youth phase of life and advises us never to grow up! Then, we had a cake cutting ceremony by our grandma of 105 years, while we feasted on cake and soft drinks.

We left the home, our hearts filled with the simple purity of the old hearts who showered their blessing on us and through this we earned a great respect for them as well as for our parents. The time that we spent there is unforgettable and we will remember it in every phase of our life.  Click for more pictures


On the 28th of September 2014, 55 students of the Modern High School IAYP unit started a ten-day journey around Himachal Pradesh. The group, comprising two gold awardees (Residential Project and Adventurous Journey) , 15 silver awardees, 38 bronze awardees and three Award Leaders, was in for an experience of a lifetime.

An overnight bus ride from Delhi to Manali made up the very first leg of our trip.  We reached Manali, greatly enthused by the idea of what lay waiting for us. A 7 km acclimatization walk to the Manali market area that very evening introduced us to the beauty of Himachal Pradesh. On our second day in Manali, we trekked up to the Maharshi Jagdamba Mandir, where we played an enjoyable round of Ibex, an IAYP favourite.

The fourth day of the trip was devoted to travelling to our base camp, a village called Shego in the Spiti Valley. It was a 10 hour drive from Manali. For most of us, this was to be the first time we would stay in tents. These tents would be our home for the next four nights. Our first night in Shego was spent in the exchanging of horror stories which ironically caused peals of laughter.

Early the next morning, we embarked upon a particularly strenuous trek to the Kaumik village, which, at 14,500 ft above sea level, is the world's highest village. We visited the Kaumik monastery, one of the country's oldest monasteries. Here, some fascinating facts about the Buddhist way of life were shared with us. We completed another trek, this one on extremely treacherous terrain, to the Dhankar Lake the next day. As we trekked up to the lake, we couldn't stop marveling at the mighty Himalayan mountains and the sparkling blue rivers gushing through between them. We had a tent pitching session with the teachers and IAYP Field Officers on returning to our base camp. We continued our rendezvous with the Buddhist heritage of Himachal Pradesh when we visited the enchanting Tabo monastery on our fourth day in Spiti valley.  We were given the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange with a llama at the monastery. This proved to be one of the highlights of the expedition for most of us. On the same day, we visited the Pinn valley and Pinn River.

We began the ten-hour bus journey back to Manali in the wee hours of the next morning, each of us desperately trying to taking in as much of the beauty of the Himalayan ranges as we possibly could. We reached Manali that afternoon. The remainder of the day was spent in excited preparations for camp night.  With the added charm of a bonfire, camp night proved to be a memorable affair.

Through this camp, we got the opportunity to explore what IAYP is all about. We spent ten days on a trail of self-discovery; exploring our limits, pushing them and consequently formulating new opinions of our own strength. The camp was a crash course in the virtues and benefits of efficient team work. We returned with a deep appreciation for the values of disciplines and punctuality, grateful for having adopted the IAYP  motto "Away from home, close to nature".

We headed back to Delhi the next afternoon, longing for more. We landed back in Kolkata on the 7th of October. Of all the things we had done in ten days, returning home was the undoubtedly the most difficult.  Click for pictures

Ayushi Saraogi   (XI-B)

Thursday 22 January 2015

IAYP Silver Trek to Kedarkantha, Uttarkashi

Sixty Award aspirants from Welham Boys School, Dehra Dun accompanied by five mentors went to Kedarkantha (12500ft) in Uttarkashi District from 27th Sept to 2nd Oct 2014.  Here is a report about this trek from Laxman Bhandari (Award Leader).

On 28th morning at 6:30 am we started our Adventurous Journey from Welham Boys' School and reached Sankri at 5:00pm.

Our trek to Kedarkantha started on 29th morning at 8:30 am.  We reached the base camp which was at Juda Lake, 5 km away, after an arduous and steep climb. We were briefed about the do's and don'ts of staying in camps and were also given details on acclimatization as the altitude progressed.  We were constantly monitored and records of our health were kept. We stayed in a camp in the midst of forests. Staying in the jungle overnight was an exciting and memorable experience for all the members of the expedition. We collected firewood for the evening bonfire, which we enjoyed immensely.

The next morning on 30th September after breakfast at 8:30am we were briefed on the trek to the final climb of Kedarkantha.  All the members of the expedition were delighted to see the 65-member expedition scaling the peak of Kedarkantha successfully.  Exhilarated, we set off for the base camp which we reached at 5 pm and stayed there overnight.
On 1st October after breakfast at 9:00am we trekked down to Sankri which we reached at 1:00 pm. On 2nd Oct 2014 we proceeded back to Welham Boys' school after breakfast at 8:00am. We had our lunch on the way at Damta and reached the school at 5:40 pm. All the team members were filled with a sense of deep satisfaction after having accomplished a great feat.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Dr. S Y Quraishi joins as Trustee - Award Programme Foundation

Dr. S Y Quraishi is an Indian Administrative Services officer, a former Indian Chief Election Commissioner, and a former Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. A graduate of St Stephen's College in Delhi, and a Ph.D. holder in Communications and Social marketing, he currently teaches as Honorary Professor at Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi.

Dr. Quraishi is known for his special contributions in social sector reforms covering health, education, population, drug abuse, and civil society action. He has done extensive work in the fields of Gender, Women & Child Development, HIV/AIDS, Youth and Adolescent issues. The UN and other international organizations have availed his expertise in these areas as consultant and resource person on several occasions. He also pioneered India's biggest AIDS awareness programme and IEC campaign called 'Universities Talk AIDS' (UTA) in 159 Universities, considered as one of the best global practices.

Dr. Quraishi has a number of books, articles and talks to his credit on issues related to democracy, elections, HIV AIDS and family planning, social marketing, women and child development and youth. His book 'Social Marketing for Social Change' has broken new ground in the field of development communication. His recent book 'An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election' is the story of how the world's largest democracy holds its elections.

We welcome him on board the Award Programme Foundation (APF) Trust and are certain that his extensive experiences and outstanding leadership will help in building the Award Programme further.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Ice-walk 89 by Shailendra Sinha (Gold Awad Holder) - From Archive

In March this year, Robert Swan – the world famous polar explorer led a team of 8 men from seven countries in on expedition called ICEWALK-89 the International North Pole expedition.  They walked from Cape Columbia, Canada’s northern most tip, over 450 cold miles on the frozen Arctic Ocean to conquer the North Pole on May 14. 
At the same time a team of 22 student members from 15 countries went all the way to the Canadian High Arctic to participate in the programme of adventure, scientific studies and environmental awareness, all under the same project ICEWALK.

It all began in 1989 when Robert Swan went unsupported to the South Pole along with this two team members and became one of the first men to go under the newly formed Ozone Hole in our atmosphere.  He got heavily sun burnt.  In order to promote greater global awareness about the damaged ozone layer and the environment as a whole he decided on another expedition, this time to the North Pole, and dedicated it to the environment.

For any expedition, finance is required, so he went around the world 26 times getting world-wide sponsors and finally came up with 5 million US Dollars.

A student expedition was organised simultaneously to create greater awareness worldwide.  Students went up to Eureka (800 North) to study the Arctic pollution and global environment as a whole.  They also did a bit of Arctic Survival training and were thoroughly exposed to Arctic hardships.

The reason why students aged 17-22 were chosen what that students can relate with this environmental damage more easily and also because they are the ones who would be worst affected by this environmental damages in the near future.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Indian student for this expedition.  My escort-instructor Mandeep Singh Soin also went along with me all the way to the High Arctic.

We left India on the 12th of April and arrived in London.  There we were received by DEAS headquarters’ and went to the Portuguese Embassy for dinner with the Ambassador.   A brief press conference was also held.  Next day we gave a live interview on BBC followed by the many others.   We also met the Minister of Environment of Britain, Mrs. Virginia Bottomly, in front of the House of Lords.  She had shown a keen interest in ICEWALK and its movies.  From England we moved on to New York, and then on to Ottawa.

Al the members gathered at Ottawa and there we all met for the first time.  They came all the way from America, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Kenya, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India.  There were 8 girls’ students and two lady escort instructors amongst 22 students and their9 escorts who participated in this international student expedition.  The highlight of the stay in Ottawa was the meeting with Mr. Lucien Bouchard, the Canadian Environment Minister , who announced a clean-up programme in the Canadian Arctic, in order to remove all the oil drums lying around which went there as aeroplane refuelling drums.

From Ottawa we went on to Iqaluit (660 North) located on Baffin Island, which is essentially on Eskimo community.  There we received a warm welcome.  The locals taught us how to build Igloos (Ice-houses) and acquainted us with a few techniques necessary for Arctic survival.

From Iqaluit we went to Eureka (Ellesmere Island) via Resoulute (Cornwallis Island).  Eureka is situated at 800 North and is an environmental weather service station, which is manned all the year around.  Whilst we were there, we had 24 hrs day light and the daily temperatures ranges all the way from 120 C to 350 C.  The lowest if went down to was 450 C with the wind chill factor.  We placed ourselves comfortably and had the help and support of five leading Canadian American scientists who were there especially to teach us about the on-going environmental destruction.  We took a trip to Lake Hazen (82.50 North) which is an 800 Sq. mile lake, the largest lake above the Arctic.  We went all the way to observe wild life but unfortunately no wild life signs could be seen anywhere except a trail of lemming foot prints.

Arctic by far has been regarded as one of the cleanest places on earth.  Yet now there are traces of pollution in the form of gases causing the Greenhouse effect, and soot-causing acid rains, as well as pesticides carried by complex wind patterns coming right down from Texas in America.  The thinning ozone layer is another fatal threat to the High Arctic.  If all this carries on even at the present rate, the polar ice-caps will melt causing ocean levels to up by 70 metres or so.  I need not explain its obvious effects.

By now all the students had mixed very well and had overcome the barriers of language, country, community etc. acting like mini-ambassadors of the countries they represented.
We also learnt about the Arctic as a whole i.e. its people, wildlife geography, solar navigation etc.  Later we went out on a 4-day ski trip which exposed us fully to the rough Arctic weather.  The weather there was quite unpredictable.  We were heavily geared and pulled our own stuff ourselves, on the sledges; quite like the polar team which by now crossed 88.50 N.

We came across lots of spectacular sights of icebergs and even climbed a few.  Icebergs were rising upto 50 m, high and looking extremely beautiful.

We skied on the frozen ocean, cooked out own food which at -300 C certainly wasn’t very easy to do, slept in tents and Igloos and climbed right to the top of the highest mountains, on the Ellesmere Island (2150 ft. above sea level), which was quite nearby.

The return was very nostalgic and sentimental, with a few girls breaking down in tears.  So fare we had lived in perfect harmony and bonds of friendship had been permanently established amongst us all.  We returned home both happy and sad’ happy because we had achieved our goal and sad because it was over now.

Thank you Ice-walk.

(Source: The Doon School Adventure Stores shared by Dr. S C Biala)

Award Leader Training Workshop at the Award Training Centre, New Delhi

The National Award Authority organized a National Award Leader Training Workshop at the Award Training Centre, New Delhi on January 08-09, 2014.  The sessions covered the four pillars of the Award i.e. Physical Recreation, Skills, Service and Adventurous Journey, as well as the Residential Project, Volunteering and Risk Management. The training was led by Kapil Bhalla (National Director), Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager) and Meeta Sharma (Member National Training Panel). A session on the Online Record Book was conducted by Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head IT & ORB), while Pallavi Gill (Gold Award Holder) explained the benefits of the Award to the participants.

The workshop was attended by five participants mainly from the The Asian School, Dehra Dun; The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad; Calcutta International School, Kolkata and K.P.B. Hinduja College of Commerce, Mumbai. Click for the pictures

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Explore Spiti, be a part of Solar Conservation Project 2015 - Registrations Open till 15th April 2015

Residential Project and Adventurous Journey for Gold Participants
5th - 21st June 2015: Spiti, Northern Himalayas, India

Gold Award Participants from around the globe are welcome to apply for the two-weeks Solar Conservation Project at Monastery, Spiti. 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 participate in the actual construction of the Solar Bath and the setup of a Solar Water Geyser (Evacuated Tube Condenser) or a Greenhouse and will be assisted by a dedicated team with a qualified mason and representative from Ecosphere. The construction period will be 7 to 8 days. The trip combines work and pleasure. During this trip the Award Participants will also be visiting some of the highest villages in the world, going on a high-altitude trek, visiting some ancient monasteries dating back over 1000 years and taking a yak/horse safari and mountain bike. Traditional homestays further enrich the experience by giving an authentic understanding of the life and culture in a Spitian home. More information can be download from here or you can write to

Gender Diversity Empowerment Project Camp

The awardees of Sri Sarada Math-Rasik Bhita and All Bengal Women's Union Children's Welfare Home went to Bishinda Hills in Bankura District on 27th December, 2014 to take part in their Adventurous Journey as part of the Gender Diversity Empowerment Project. There were 64 awardees from remote villages like Baladbandh (in Hooghly District), Kumrogori (Near Singur in Hooghly District), Howrah etc with three Award Leaders. Among them were 43 Bronze awardees and 21 Gold awardees. It was the first time away from home for the Bronze awardees, especially for those who belong to the remote villages, as they participated in the Adventurous Journey. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Gold awardees as they were exposed to various leadership-building activities. Besides that it was another golden opportunity for the Bronze awardees to take part in different activities like tent and tent life, Jumering, trekking, Burma bridge crossing, river crossing, rope obstacle practice, as well as cooking.

The girls of Baladbandh, Singur had never thought that they could stay four nights away from home. One of them expressed her feelings at the camp fire on last day of our adventurous journey, saying that she had learnt a number of things from the training. The journey ended on 31st December, 2014. While returning home all the young faces looked so confident and all the awardees were brimming with happiness. It was the last day of 2014, and the participants expressed their hopes of making a new beginning, a new journey for those girls who started to feel 'Yes! We can!' after the wonderful training of Bishinda Camp. The NAA wishes to thank Adrija Chatterjee (Indian Youth Representative), Institute of Climbers & Nature Lovers, Kolkata, Md. Imran and Satrupa (both Gold Award Holders) for their guidance and help in the successful completion of the camp.  More pictures of this journey can be seen here.