Wednesday 30 March 2016

Adventurous Journey Camp to Susunia Hills

Twenty-one Silver and Bronze level Award participants of Emmanuel Ministries, Kolkata completed their Adventurous Journey at Susunia Hills from 14th to 17th March 2016. A report by Timothy Barretto (Award Leader) follows.

Thirteen Silver level and Eight Bronze level Award participants (10 girls and 11 boys) of Emmanuel Ministries, Kolkata started their Adventurous Journey on 14th March 2016 to Susunia Hills, West Bengal. The group was escorted by Timothy Barretto (Award Leader) and Munna Barik (Community Teacher) along with four experienced instructors of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers (ICNL), Kolkata. To begin with, the mentors briefed the participants about the basic requirements and information pertaining to travelling and discipline. After the overnight journey from Howrah station to Chaatna station the group trekked to the campsite in Susunia (11 kms) for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The group reassembled at 11 am and were introduced to the first practical class “Rope Knots”. The key to this class was “Easy to tie knot and easy to open”. Every type of knot was demonstrated and the purpose of each knot was described. The next activities to follow were the single rope bridge, monkey crawling and Jummering, which were novel experiences, especially for the Bronze participants. These exercises were centrally focused on team building and capacity building, giving the participants an impetus to achieve and a feeling of exhilaration and stimulation. The day drew to an end with an inspiring session on mountain manners and self-motivation by instructors.

The next day the participants trekked to an altitude of 1600 feet up Susunia hills. The instructors briefed the students about the basic techniques of Rock Climbing. The participants formed groups according to their levels and each one had to do climbing, rappelling, traversing and chimney climbing. This turned out to be one of the best experiences for the participants, many of whom said that they were able to conquer their fears after their first climb. In the second half of the day they were taught about Tent Pitching and Tyrolean Traverse. A camp night was organized to add to the fun and amusement.

On the final day of the training the participants trekked through the dense forest and visited the Shiela Lippi monument. A memory down Indian history was recalled when instructors explained some of the historical facts about the dynasties of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa (Anga, Banga & Kallinga). The camp ended with a round of applause and group photographs. After enjoying a wonderful outbound experience the team returned to Kolkata. Click here for pictures

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Culture and Diversity Study Camp

Mustafa Mokashi, an Award participant from Sanganabasava International Residential School, Vijaypur, attended a Culture and Diversity Study Camp at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala. The purpose of this study camp was to interact with the tribal people of the area and to know about their culture and their lifestyle. Here is what Mustafa learnt and explored.

I can never forget my IAYP Adventurous Journey at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala which was conducted from 1st to 6th of November 2015. This journey was one of its kind and taught me how to learn, explore and connect with nature and how to understand people, their culture, and their ways of living. My understanding of the world has changed now, thanks to the IAYP adventure section of the Award and thanks to my school for giving me this opportunity to experience learning outside my class.

This Culture and Diversity Camp was of six days and on the first two days, we got the opportunity to stay on a farm in the middle of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and then interact with the nearby villagers of the Adiyalar tribe. This experience was new to all of us, something we had never witnessed before. After the forest walk of the first day, on the second day we proceeded to the Bamboo village in South Wayanad. We stayed there in the homes of our new friends -- the tribal villagers. We interacted with them and leant about their food, culture and habits. Post lunch, we were all guided by the villagers to the bamboo groves and bamboo based village industries run by communities. Here we saw how different sorts of handicrafts, building materials and utensils could be made from bamboo; these villagers were our new teachers. When we saw all these, our textbooks seemed to come alive in front of us. We were further guided through different sorts of spice groves, paddy fields etc., and exploring traditional irrigation system called ‘Keni’ practiced by local tribes. In the evening we visited the Adiyar tribal colony and shared our experience of agricultural labours.

Next morning our group visited Edackal cave arts – the biggest petroglyphs in India, which belonged to the Neolithic culture, followed by visit to a tribal medium and a trek to Chembra mountain peak. We also visited Soochipara waterfalls. It was a good experience for the city dwellers to experience silence in nature. That night was campfire night, which we all greatly enjoyed. So much had happened and there was so much to look forward in the next three days.

On the fourth day, we started our visit to Thirunelli in West Wayanad inside Tholpetty forest through Banasura Dam. From here, we all visited the nearby tribal village and their farms. After the post lunch session, we visited Pazhasiraja tomb. The night was to be spent at the camp Thirunelli. The day was full of activities including exploring Thirunelli forest, Kurichiya tribal village, their traditional farms, Thirunelli temple and Bhramagiri Mountain. 

Next day we headed towards Thirunelli with Kurichiya, Adiyar and Kurumba tribal communities to explore their culture, cuisine and did some volunteer cleaning work. Last day after a small jungle safari the participants returned back to Mysore.

This exploration journey helped all of us to learn a lot about the tribes, which included study about their cooking, medicines and real-life experience. We also got the rare experience to watch and explore the tree houses too. We were shown how the villager’s kept their environment clean and they did it by collecting plastics from the forest floor in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. There were demonstration workshops on traditional arts which helped us understand the same. The most amazing part of the study tour was to the insight we gained into the lives of tribal groups and family, interactions with the tribals about their experience and life stories, learning traditional cooking, painting etc.

In a nutshell, this IAYP journey turned out to be the most memorable and rewarding experience for me so far. Click for the pictures

Wednesday 16 March 2016

My Passion for Music

Utsav Sharma, a Bronze level participant from Amity International School, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad shares how the Award Programme helped him to explore his hidden passion for music and talent for playing the keyboard.
I have always had a passion for playing musical instruments and was encouraged to play an instrument even when I was a child. But somehow or the other, I never developed my talent, nor did I grab any opportunity that came my way. With IAYP coming in my life, everything else changed for the better. For the Skills section of the Award, I decided to take up keyboard playing, since it was my favourite musical instrument. And even before I started taking my first keyboard lesson, I felt the magnetic pull of eighty-eight black and white keys on my fingers.
During the IAYP programme, I received a lot of support and encouragement from my mentors and teachers and learnt how to set my goals and achieve them through consistent and continuous efforts. While earlier I had plenty of free time (which I just wasted), but now, for me, every second counts and I have come to value my time and its usage. I not only enjoy the time spend in learning the keyboard, but I also look forward to attaining my Award and learning a lot of things which will help me in my future. I am very thankful to this Award programme and my school for providing me an opportunity to grow and refine my talent. With the help of this programme, I am confident that I will achieve many milestones which I couldn't have managed on my own. Thank you IAYP for helping me to value myself!

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Adventurous Journey for Specially-Abled Participants

The National Award Authority organised an Adventurous Journey camp for differently-abled participants of Raphael Ryder Cheshire, Dehradun from 2nd to 5th March 2016, under Special Projects. The group comprised 25 differently-abled participants (21 boys and 4 girls); among them were 4 Gold, 4 Silver, and 17 Bronze participants. The group was escorted by two Award Leaders: Madhu Rawat and Kishan Rana who work as Special Educators; five volunteers: Ambika Thapliyal, Ameeta Upreti, Purnima Singh, Vasundhara, Shilpi and two members from support staff. Four specially trained instructors of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers (ICNL) Kolkata led them on their Adventurous Journey. The camp was supervised by Bivujit Mukhoty, Programme Manager, IAYP. Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head IT) also represented the NAA for this adventurous journey during the course.

The first day started with a briefing session about the journey. The instructors explained the importance of safety and helped the participants understand the different equipment. They taught them how to pack their backpacks and other equipment while on their Adventurous Journey. Next, the instructors explained the process for pitching tents and helped the participants perform this activity. The students enjoyed the learning activity. The Instructors demonstrated rappelling and other activities and showed the use of different types of rope knots used during the Adventurous Journey. Participants also performed the single rope bridge. The participants enjoyed their evening full of dance and music.
The next morning, the group started their journey to Inside Passage Camp Site, Maldevta Village, Dehradun by bus. Amit Minocha welcomed the group and arranged the stay for the participants. In the pre-lunch session,the participants performed on the Commando Net; in the post-lunch session the instructors organised adventurous activities like Burma Bridge.The evening was spent playing different games and sports as per their ability.
On the third day, the participants went for Tyrolean Traverse on the river Song. The second half of the day was for a track where they visited a natural cave and explored calcite and stalactite depositions. These participants enjoyed the campfire at night. 
The last day of the camp started with different physical exercises and team building games. After the physical fitness training and a late breakfast the group departed for Raphael Ryder Cheshire, Dehradun.
This Adventurous Journey was full of fun for these participants, helping build their confidence and exposing them to a different environment. The NAA expresses thanks to Inside Passage and ICNL team for providing support and organising this camp. click for pictures

Annual Sports Meet at The Sagar School, Alwar

The Sagar School, Alwar organised a two-day Annual Sports meet from 10th - 11th of October 2015. The meet was inaugurated by Mr. Shiva Keshavan, Asian Cup Gold medalist, five time Olympian and the first Indian representative to compete in Luge at the Winter Olympic Games. Also presiding was Ms Jayshree Balasaria, Principal, The Sagar School, Alwar. All Award participants from the school participated in the event to exhibit their strength in Physical Recreation. The main attraction of the event was the Military band, which exhibited a perfect ceremonial start. 

Besides The Sagar School (Alwar), Suncity World School (Gurgaon), Delhi Public School (Sushant Lok), Bal Bharti Public School (Manesar), Salwan Public School (Gurgaon), Colonel Central Academy School (Gurgaon), Aravali Public School (Ferozpur Jhirka), St. Xavier School (Bhiwadi), St. Anselms School ( Alwar), V. L. Memorial Public School ( Alwar), Alwar Public School ( Alwar) and Sunhill Academy Senior Secondary School (Kishangarh) participated in the Inter School Basketball matches and Triathlon Championship.

In both U-16 Boys and Girls - Basketball matches, St. Anslems from Alwar clinched the Gold while The Sagar School claimed the second position. Bhupendra from St. Anslems was declared as the player of the tournament in the U-16 Boys category while Miji Jung from The Sagar School bagged the player of the tournament title in the U-16 Girls category. In the U-16 Boys, Triathlon Championship, P. Ashutosh from Salwan Public School, Gurgaon bagged the first position while the second and third positions were claimed by Raghav Dhiman and Emmanual D’souza from The Sagar School. In the U -16 Girls category Sia Prathambir and Manya Gupta from Suncity World School, Gurgaon claimed the first and second positions while the third position was claimed by P. Shivani from Salwan Public School.  Click for pictures

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Adventurous Journey Camp under Gender Diversity & Empowerment Project

Arpita Chakrabarty, a Silver Award aspirant from Sri Sarada Math completed her Adventurous Journey from 17th to 21st of February 2016 at Matha Hill under the Gender Diversity & Empowerment Project. She shares her learning experiences with us in this report.

With a rucksack on our back, we started our journey on 17th of February 2016 at 8:00 PM from Howrah Station. Filled with curiosity and excitement, we all boarded the Howrah-Adra-Bokaro passenger train at 11:35 PM, and deboarded the train the next morning at Barbhum station and reached Matha Forest Area for our camping destination.
We were 54 in our group including 39 members from Sri Sarada Math and 15 from All Bengal Women's Home. We were shown to our beautiful tents immediately, and soon after enjoying our much awaited breakfast, the instructor divided us into 8 groups for our first climbing session.
In this new learning zone we all were inquisitive and thrilled to absorb the new knowledge on the unknown subject -- the Art of climbing. The session began with dissemination of information on different types of boulders like slab, wall, over-hanging and roof; details about normal, pinch, side and jug hold; aim of rock climbing, which is to overcome obstruction; how to judge the easiest way of climbing; where and how to take a proper foot grip, right body posture for climbing down, that too without any equipment. All of this was new to us and we were asked to practice what we had learnt by climbing boulders of approximately 7-8 feet high within the allocated time limit. 
In the post lunch session we had a class on ropes, knots and hitches. In this class we learnt about Karnamental Rope (made of lead and poly fibre with breaking strength of 9 mm diameter - 1452 kg), history of Karnamental rope, aim of knot making, the standing and running end of a rope, the basic and most important knots, which  thumb or safety knot and guide man-middle man-end-man knot. We also learnt that in order to join two ropes with even diameter we should use fisherman knot or reef knot, sheet-bend knot to tie up two ropes of uneven diameter; key knot, bow-line or rescue knot, clove hitch (to anchor), timber hitch (to pull up something) were also few more knots and hitches which we were taught during our session. After this, we were introduced to various instruments used in climbing like: rope, scaling tape, harness (sheet, chest and combined), P A (Peary Alen) Shoe (used for rock climbing), plane and screw carabiner made of high carbon steel, figure of eight (descender) which is used to move down quickly, Ascender (used to ascending up faster), tape, artificial stair, pulley, horizontal, vertical and universal piton, friend, skyhook, stitch plate, chest ascender and runner to name a few. We all felt completely drenched in the rain of knowledge, at the end of the session, extremely exhausted, yet eager to learn more in the days to come.
A refreshing tea break was given then, and we all enjoyed the beautiful view of the sunset through the trees, which was just an unforgettable moment. In the evening we learnt some basic rules of camping like: how to have a fresh and encouraging start up, mental preparation, skills to adjust with people around, walking manners, camping manners, communication with local customs, passing information and technical planning etc. After enjoying dinner with our friends, we shared our experiences of the whole day, in which we also got answers to some of our queries. With a wish to have a wonderful and exciting next day, we all went to our tents to sleep and rest.
Friday morning, 19th of February 2016, we went for a morning exercise session. Jogging, free hand exercise, and a small laughing class filled us with energy and “gur-chola” boosted our confidence. Next, we went for our rock climbing class with the instructors of ICNL, in which they taught us about belay method (security method to protect a co-climber with the help of a rope from a sudden fall), static belay (man to man), dynamic belay (with the help of instrument). The instructors explained that there should be two platforms, Karnamental rope, anchor (A), belayer (B) and climber(C) should be in the same line to avoid accident, climbing sequence i.e. climbing command between B and C at the time of climbing should be as follows:

C: Take the slag 
C: Its me 
B: OK/ climb on 
C: I am climbing 
B: Climb up
After reaching to B, C should say "Thanks” to Belayer. In case of a sudden fall, C should inform B by saying "Falling/ Belay tight" etc., we were instructed that we should bend our body at an angle of 30 degree, being a Belay man, we should remember that our right hand (left for lefties) is the feeling or guiding hand and left hand (right for lefties) is the breaking hand and most importantly we should follow the right positioning of rope to avoid any accident. After listening to these instructions, it was our turn to experience these exercises. We climbed up various types of boulders and played the role of a Belay man also. Exhausted though we were at the end of the session, just one glass of lemonade acted as true energizer.
After lunch and a little refreshing chat, at 3:00 PM we went for a visit to the Pakhi Pahar. Going up and down almost 12 km with the view of Matha hill, Asim sir, one of our instructors, showed us a narrow space between two mountains where wind is really speedy and from where water flows down in the rainy season, mountain ridge, basin (a hollow space containing water), spar, arite (vertical ridge), pass (a space between two mountains through which we can pass, which is also used as trade route) and most importantly the Pakhi Pahar. He informed us how old these hills were, even older than the Himalayas and why they were named Pakhi Pahar. With a lot of memories and new information, we went back to our camping site again. In the evening, we shared our experience and lessons of the day with Chandan sir. After that, we were briefed about camping first aid, snake bite, and burns and we were informed about the next day climbing schedule of Matha Buru (Hill). With a heart full of questions and eagerness to know the unknown, we switched off our torches in the tents to wake up in time the next morning.
Saturday morning, 20th February -- we kick started our day with a really funny morning exercise. At 6:00 AM we started our journey to climb the 1200 ft Matha hill. Whenever we were feeling exhausted, we looked at the trail and the bird’s eye view of the scene left behind. After reaching the halt, we were given instructions and showed practically how to climb up and climb down, then it was our turn to perform this feat. We climbed up 150 feet and rappelled down and then we did Terrelian Traversing also. We stored some of the most unforgettable moments in our hearts which we would cherish throughout our lives.
After lunch we were given a demonstration on how to pitch a tent, taught techniques for self-cooking and explained three basic needs of camping (water, shelter and fire). We learnt that there are two kinds of shelters -- permanent and temporary, and temporary tents also have two types -- self standing and assembled. We learnt about various parts of tents (outer, inner, ground sheet, central and guard pole), and how and why a tent should be placed at a minimum distance of 100 feet from water source and how pegs should be grounded at an angle of 35 degree. Not only did we get to know about the different shapes of the tents (dome shape, A shape and canopy), different shapes of fire (star, pyramid and tower) but also how to store fire, how to cook food without any utensil or even artificial help for that matter. Somnath sir gave us some interesting information about mountain people and their food habits. We enjoyed tandoori chicken prepared by Avrajit da, Somnath sir, Souvik sir and then we went back to our camping site. At the camp we prepared for the campfire and enjoyed ourselves the whole night. It was one of the most cordial sessions where all the participants and instructors were sharing their experiences and stories in the friendliest of manner. We danced, sang, recited and performed a skit, but the highlight of the campfire was when all of our instructors sang beautiful songs together and Dutta sir joined them and Chandan sir sang the famous countryside song of Harry Belafonte "Down the way" which was truly mesmerizing. Humming the lyric of "Down the way" we slept in our tents.
Sunday morning, 21st of February, we started walking towards the top of Matha hill to visit the temple named Aranyapitha Tirthadhyam. That morning we had the sun as our co-climber. We became a witness to the sunrise over the hill, a scene always to remember. After reaching the top, we did chimney climbing and after coming back to our camping area, we folded our tents and cleaned the area. At lunch, we had a lot of fun. With all our friends, along with girls from All Bengal Women’s home, we learnt some self-defense. At 2:45 PM we bade adieu to the place with our hearts full of memories. At 6:00 PM we boarded a local train from Barabhum station waving hands to Matha, with a wish to come back here once again! We reached Adra at about 7:30 PM and from there we finally boarded the Bokaro-Adra-Howrah Passenger at 10:15 PM. Monday morning, 22nd February, we reached Howrah at 4:30 AM and came back to our homes when our heart was still saying:

Down the way where the nights are grey, and the sun shines daily on the mountain top, 
I took a trip on a sailing ship, and when I reached Matha I made a stop.
But I'm sad to say I'm on my way, we won’t be back for many a day  
My heart is down my head is turning around, I had to leave a little wish at Matha hill....

Welcoming Pratibha - Editor Award India

Pratibha K SIngh2
National Award Authority is happy to welcome Mrs Pratibha Kumari Singh as Editor Award India and wish her all the very best in her future endeavours.
To follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought,” has been her guiding mantra since her college days.
A gold medalist in MA English from Banasthali Vidyapith, Pratibha has more than 10 years of experience in the field of teaching. She has been associated with the Award Programme since July 2011 as a Volunteer, Award Leader and Member of the National Training Panel, IAYP. In 2014 she received a Certificate of Recognition for her special services to the Award Programme and she firmly believes that the Award philosophy has significantly influenced her in leading a happy life of her dreams.
Besides being a passionate teacher, blogger and researcher, Pratibha loves connecting with people and reading books on wisdom literature. A life enthusiast who is always ready to help, move out of her comfort zone, and confront challenges, she enjoys exploring perspectives and experiences through her work.
In her new role as an editor, she invites you all to share your stories of your Award journey and achievements with her, and see her sharpen your stories with her editorial pencil. Don’t delay, just connect with her at
We thank our outgoing editor Anwesha for her invaluable contribution as an editor of Award India. She brought a fresh view to the communication which was appreciated by all the readers. We wish her all the very best in all her future endeavours.