Wednesday 29 June 2016

IAYP infuses the power to overcome any obstacle that comes in the way

Rupanjan Goswami, an Award Leader from The Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys' School, shares his eye opening experiences of working with the visually challenged Awardees.
"If Eric Weinheinmer could do it, so could I," said the completely visually challenged boy Shibnath, standing under a Casuarina tree in his school campus. When Shibnath said this, his face sparkled like the rising sun. "Sightless mountaineer Weinheinmer of U.S.A proved this, reaching the highest peak of the world, that a sightless person has the potentiality and physical and mental strength to achieve such a stupendous feat."
I was spellbound while listening to Shibnath. I had been observing the growth and development of Shibnath for more than a decade. He gained mental strength gradually like the thundercloud. I asked him how he had gained such confidence. Shibnath said, "Ramakrishna Mission (the organization under which our institution R K.M.Blind Boys' Academy comes, alma mater of Shibnath) infused two powers in him - the power of education and spiritualism, and the power of the International Award for Young People (IAYP), which injected the confidence to overcome any obstacle that I came across on my way."
Such Shibnaths can be seen in our Academy who are always performing with high spirits and strong will power. These Shibnaths are present in every nook and corner of society and are performing tremendously in every field with flying colours. Amongst them, some are teachers, professors, and research scholars, while others are bank employees, government employees, railway employees and some of them are businessmen. Some of them have professional audio recording studios and some of them run popular musical bands.
I am Rupanjan Goswami, Award leader of R.K.M.Blind Boys' Academy. I have been working with the Blind Boys' Academy for more than two decades now. I realised the potentiality of my students while teaching them Biology, the potentiality which had been ignored by the majority of the people in society. This infinite strength of the visually challenged was discovered first by Louis Braille, the French boy inventor of the braille script. It was he who gave the keys to these people who can reach the zenith of success by their power of education and expression.
It is important to say something about the The Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys' Academy here. It is a fully residential, educational cum vocational training institute. The Academy was adjudged the best institution for persons with visual disabilities twice and was conferred the President's medal. The guiding principle of this institute is man-making and character building and with this view, this institute started its journey in 1957. Thousands of visually challenged youths have been educated and trained here and they are contributing to the growth and development of our country. It has also helped to eradicate negative concepts regarding the potentiality of visually challenged peoples in our country. By joining hands with the Award Programme, it can be said that the process of growth has been accelerated regarding empowering visually challenged people.
Another Gold Awardee, Kundan Yadav says, "Each modern aircraft is made fully secure with the help of two engines, so that it can fly safely at the right height with the right efficiency. According to me R.K.M Blind Boys' Academy and IAYP are two such engines which help us to fly safely and securely, so that we can reach the appropriate height, removing all impediments and reach our destination safely."
Life at the Blind Boys' Academy is full of diversities. Besides studies, the participants are engaged in vocal and instrumental music, drama, recitation, elocution, quiz, debate, extempore speaking, and various kinds of indoor and outdoor games and sports like swimming, cricket, football, chess, carom, yoga and judo. Our students regularly take part in national level championship in swimming, cricket and judo and snatch prizes frequently.
Along with these activities, engagement in IAYP has become a part and parcel of academic life in our institution. Out of four sections which IAYP emphasizes, three of them (Skills, Service and Physical Recreation) are already in practice through our everyday routine. It is compulsory for every visually challenged student in our Academy to be engaged in these activities which are followed by the able guidance of our teachers, instructors and Award Leaders.
The Philosophy of IAYP is so popular among the very young students that they eagerly wait to reach the eligibility age group so that they may enroll themselves in the Award. Souvik, a student of class IV is waiting to join IAYP the moment he reaches the age of enrollment. He says, "Awardees of our institute are energetic and helpful after receiving this award. Each of them has become a storehouse of power. They are engaged in every activity of the life of Blind Boys' Academy. Helping the newcomers to find their ways, helping weak boys in their studies, serving food, making the campus neat and clean and showing all kind of leadership qualities which has changed the total scenario of our alma mater. When these boys go out for Adventurous Journeys taking their rucksacks on their shoulders, I feel that soon I too will be going with them. Returning back when they narrate their experiences, I too imagine as if I had travelled along with them mentally. Whatever they touch becomes successful. They are good at studies, so are they good at rest of the activities. So, I am eagerly waiting to join IAYP and I am sure that I will be successful like them."
Being an Award Leader, I see my visually challenged awardees take part in the Adventurous Journey. I see them trek through strenuous mountain routes, or on a coastal trek. I see how spontaneous they are while climbing up or rappelling on treacherous rocks using all modern rock climbing equipment like carabiners, jumars, quickdraws, rope, crash helmets, harnesses, belay devices, rappel devices, slings and so on. They are equally adept in doing river crossing, monkey crawling, obstacle trekking and pitching tents in dense forests after searching for suitable place. I see them cooking without regular utensils, using natural resources in the hill and the forest. I become spellbound when I see them well oriented with the whims of nature. They sniff out beehives by hearing the buzzing sound of the honey bees and with the help of escorts they make fires and are able to drive the bees away before tasting the sweet honey. And in the evening, when the day's activity is over, they are engaged in singing, playing the flute and participating in dances with the local tribes people.
These boys are visually challenged, so how are they familiarised with nature? This is a question which echoes in the mind of most people. The answer is so simple: they touch, they smell and they feel with their hands and their hearts and in this way they learn about nature. The concept and philosophy of the IAYP has opened their inner-eyes, helping them to overcome all odds  and at the end of the day they become victorious in their day to day struggle. This spirit helps them to get to the top with indomitable courage and grit like the visually challenged summiteer of Mount Everest, Eric Weinheinmer.
Being a sighted person, sometimes I think, if I had been visually challenged like them, would I have been able to do what my visually challenged students have done? The answer is positive yes. I could do, If I would get two wings to fly: one Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys' Academy and the other, the International Award for Young People.  Click here forpictures...

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Adventurous Journey Report

Gaurav Jalan, a Bronze Award participant from Sarala Birla Academy, Bangalore, shares his Adventurous Journey report with us.
Fifty-eight Award participants of the Bronze Level, escorted by four mentors set out to Kabby Coorg on 11th June 2016 at 8 A.M. The journey was of about 7 to 8 hours including some stops for lunch and snacks. We reached the camp site “The Coorg Institute of Adventure" by 5 P.M. It was a beautiful place with a facility to play volleyball and do other trekking activities. Soon after arriving, we had evening snacks, after which we settled ourselves in our dormitory while some were engaged in playing volleyball and some others in admiring the beauties and bounties of nature. After dinner we had a bonfire around which we sat and had a gala time.
Our next day was scheduled for trekking. We got ready with our backpacks and set out to the trekking point “Chomkund” which was 25 Km from the campsite. Before we started trekking, we were given some safety instructions and necessary trekking advice which would help us in carrying out the task smoothly and safely. After all the preparation we started trekking. It was quite steep and we experienced cold windy weather and torrential rainfall while retreating.
Some of us were privileged to help others in their difficulties. Everyone reached back safely, though many of us had leech bites. But the overall experience was worth remembering and full of learning for us. We faced our fears, pushed ourselves out of our limiting zones and helped each other by experiencing the true spirit of teammanship. Evening was the resting time given to all of us, a time when we relaxed and deeply introspected on our outside the class memorable lessons.
Next day, after the breakfast, we had zip-line activity planned at the campsite. After doing that we packed our luggage and started our journey back to school. Overall we had a good time. All of us enjoyed and had a great experience. The purpose with which we had taken up the activity was served well. Click here for Pictures

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Silver Level Camp to Dhana Kunna and Man

Silver Level Award aspirants of The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai completed their Adventurous Journey at Dhana Kunna and Manali (Himachal Pradesh) from 21st May to 30th May 2016. N. Engineer (Award Leader) is sharing a report from a participant’s diary.

19 Silver aspirants left for Delhi on the 21st of May 2016, accompanied by two mentors and two volunteers from The Explorers. From Delhi we travelled to Mandi and continued on to Naggar in the Kullu Valley via bus. The bus journey was long and taxing but the scenic beauty along with singing and team building games made it quite enjoyable. In Naggar, we stayed in tents at the Trek India Base Camp. Initially for the first two days, we acclimatised ourselves by walks and small visits to the local area and Mela.

On the first day, we participated in activities such as Rock Climbing, Plank Walk, Commando Bridge and other Rope and Net activities. We even visited the Roerich Memorial, Art Gallery and their family house, where we learnt about this powerful and influential Russian family. On the second day, we engaged in River Crossing. It was a thrilling experience, done over a crystal clear river in the midst of the wilderness. After that, we watched an exciting adventure movie on Mt. Everest, after which we also had a very inspirational question and answer session with Mr. Sharma, who had trekked to the summit of Mt. Everest himself. In the evenings we'd play with the campsite dogs and played football. The nights were chilly, sometimes accompanied by rain. Very often we'd be freezing in our tents, but it certainly made us much tougher and the stay memorable.

On the third day, we left early and trekked to Stelling, the second campsite. It was a very challenging uphill journey. On the way, we'd stop and filled our bottles from the streams. At Stelling, we collected logs for the bonfire and played with the dogs, cows and sheep. The next day, we left early in the morning for Dhanna Kunnha, located at an altitude of 11,900 feet. The trek was exhausting, and on the way we endured sprains, bruises, bee stings, thirst and aching muscles. We arrived at the summit at 1:30 in the afternoon. The panoramic view was exhilarating, spanning the Himalayan range. We sensed a feeling of victory looking down at the world from that height. From there, we trekked down to Stelling. By the time we returned, every one of us was famished and exhausted, but with proud smiles on our faces. It was an amazing experience for all of us. The next day we trekked again to Naggar and spent another night there. In the evening we went for rapelling, which helped us conquer our fear of heights. Some of us even helped an old shepherdess carrying her tired rams.

An hour long bus journey brought us to Manali the following day, where we went for sightseeing places like a Tibetan Monastery, the Shiva Temple and the Hadimba temple. In the evening, we went shopping to the famous Mall street, where we bought typical Manali caps and shawls. 
The next day, we took a day long bus ride to Chandigarh. Once again, the bus journey proved to be a bonding experience. In Chandigarh, we visited the Sukhna Lake and the Nek Chand Rock Garden. Both were extremely beautiful in their own respects, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

After lunch, we boarded the bus once again, this time bound to the Delhi Airport from where we flew back to Mumbai. We returned with stronger calves, lower cholestrol levels, unforgettable memories and cherished friendships made in the humbling depths of the mountains. Click for more pictures

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Exploration cum Adventurous Journey Camp for Gold and Silver Level

Vani Dugar, Gold participant from Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata, attended an Exploration cum Adventurous Journey Camp at Dharamshala and Khajjiar from 24th to 29th May 2016. Vani is sharing her experience here with us.

The journey started with the arrival of 69 Award participants (Gold and Silver) and 3 mentors of Modern High School for Girls, accompanied by six ICNL instructors on 23rd May. After a long overnight journey from Delhi, the group reached Amritsar in the afternoon. The whole group visited the Wagha Border to witness the glorious Beating the Retreat Ceremony in the evening.

The next day began on a high note, with a visit to the famed Sri Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar, more commonly known as the Golden Temple. As we walked through the main entrance, we were left speechless at the sheer beauty of the architecture, the exquisite workmanship and the beautiful mix of colours surrounding us. We left the temple with a lingering sense of serenity and a memory that shall never fade. From there, we made our way to the Jallianwala Bagh. Our History textbooks could not have prepared us for the emotions that welled up inside us at the sight of bullet marks on the walls. The plaque beside the Martyrs’ Well informed visitors of the 120 bodies that had been recovered, a reminder of the desperation of our ancestors as they tried to escape the shower of bullets.

IAYP journeys are about being ‘away from home, close to nature’ and this could not have been truer in Dharamshala. Staying in tents, with the stars and the open sky and the mountains just an open flap away, is something we always look forward to. We spent three days i.e. 24th - 26th at Dharamshala and perfumed different activities such as Multi Chain Rope Walking and sessions on tent pitching, first aid, leadership and planning and the chance to construct the Burma Bridge. It was certainly a learning experience for all of us. The 12 km trek to the tea garden left us exhausted but with a sense of achievement. We also saw the cricket grounds, officially the highest in India, and the Dalai Lama Temple from afar.

On 27th, after a seven hours bus journey from Dhramshala we reached Dalhousie from where we left for Khajjiar. It is a fact that Khajjiar is considered to be mini Switzerland of India for its breathtaking scenery. During the next three days of our camp at Khajjiar, we did trekking and hiking. We trekked through sunlit meadows to the village of Pukri in the Chamba district. We did get a chance to interact with the locals and do a village survey. We had sessions on orientation and navigation, knots and ways of overcoming hazards with the ICNL instructors. The Camp Night, as usual, was a fun-filled and touching event.
We bid adieu to Khajjiar on the 30th of May and left for Delhi. As always, it had been an experience which was challenging yet satisfying and educational and fun-filled. Click here for pictures

Abbas Ali Baig

Chief Guest at Gold Award Ceremony - 14th July 2016

Abbas Ali Baig is one of the most elegant right handers to have worn the Test Cap in the history of Indian cricket. A child prodigy, Abbas Ali Baig, born on 19 March 1939, made his debut in First Class cricket at the age of 15, during the 1954–55 Ranji Trophy, against Andhra Pradesh.

He played in 10 Tests between 1959 and 1967. In a career spanning 21 years, he scored 12,367 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 34.16.

He made his initial reputation playing for Hyderabad, but it was while at Oxford that he started making heads turn with his dazzling and exquisite stroke-play, fleet footed movement and incredible hand-eye coordination. While at the crease, he was more like a composer directing his orchestra rather than a batsman wielding his willow.

His debut for India had an element of drama in it as the 20-year old Abbas Ali Baig was drafted straight from University into the Indian team to make his Test debut in the 4th Test at Old Trafford in the late 1950’s India tour of England. Baig became the youngest Indian cricketer to score a century on debut when he made 112 in India's second innings. It was also the first century by an Indian debutant outside India.

Following the series in England, Baig was included in the Indian squad for the home series against Australia later that year. In the first innings of the third match at Bombay, he scored 50 and was involved in a crucial 133-run partnership with Nari Contractor. Baig followed that with another half-century in the second innings when he made 58. His half-centuries helped India secure a draw. With over 12,000 runs in the First Class, and a style of batting that captured the viewers’ imagination, Abbas Ali Baig was the quintessential romantic batsmen in an era when India was not known for its cricketing prowess and the limited touring opportunities that were available never really allowed India to exploit his talent to full potential. During a break in India's second innings, when Baig walked to the pavilion along with Ramnath Kenny, he was kissed on his cheek by a young woman spectator, leading Vijay Merchant to remark “wonder where all these enterprising young ladies were when I was scoring my centuries and double centuries.” 
For Baig’s excellent batting in that season, he was named one of Indian Cricket’s five "Cricketers of the Year" in 1959-60.

He was impressive in the domestic circuit, scoring heavily in the Ranji and Duleep Trophy tournaments. In 1966, he was included in the team for the home series against West Indies. He was selected to be a part of the Indian team that toured England in 1971. He was the manager of the Indian Cricket Team during the 1992 World Cup.

Thursday 2 June 2016

My Award Journey

Makesh Srinviasan, Bronze Level participant from Hiranandani Upscale School, Kelambakkam shares his Award Journey experience with us in his words.
IAYP has helped me to grow from an ordinary person to someone who is respected, given importance and now seen in the world from a different perspective. The Award Programme brought many things into my schedule that helped me to improve myself in myriad ways. It shaped me not only to take up more responsibilities and challenges but also to handle them and be a citizen that a nation would be proud of. This journal records details of my experience in this course starting from July 2015 until today.
As an IAYP participant, responsibilities were assigned to me by the school for the first couple of months. I was part of an adventurous trip to a hill station called Coorg. It was a three day fun-filled trip where adventurous activities were organised like zip lining, trekking, river rafting and swimming in the cold river. My main focus was to learn how to be independent, gain experience and provide valuable support to my companions. To move out of my comfort zone and challenge my own learning, fears and skills was the outcome of this adventure section.
Next, in the service section of the Award, during the weekends, my friends and I provided education and basic computer knowledge to kids from the orphanage. We conducted regular and scheduled classes for them. Although during some weekends it wasn't possible for them to attend classes due to transportation trouble, national holidays, floods and rains, nevertheless, we managed to reschedule their classes on the availability of our time periods. Moreover, apart from teaching, I also worked for rescue and relief missions during the floods times in Chennai. Every day was very critical, and I used to spent many hours in preparing food, collecting clothes and gathering necessary items from shops. Eventually, we grew into a big association involving more than 50 members from our society. Together, we were able to help hundreds of poor families and kids. We provided food packages, medicines, water bottles, clothes and other necessary items, to about 1000 people in more than 5 different areas. Besides these, I had also been involved in taking photographs (for which I was given the responsibility) for an event that took place in my community. Compassion, communication and connect with the community were the cherished gifts that I saved from this section of the Award journey.
My physical activity involved playing football. Being my favourite sport, I made good progress in it. I practiced regularly for about 2 to 3 hours on the ground and about 1 hour indoors to workout. During exams and flood time I was unable to play regularly. But apart from that, I was a very regular student and had shown progressive improvements in this sport. It is a sport that once broke my nose but still, I love playing football.
In skills Section, my interests were mainly focused on playing instruments such as violin and piano, and I chose piano. From July till today, I have been practicing piano lessons regularly and with great interest. Although, due to some reasons my teacher couldn't continue, but I kept on practicing my lessons at home for about an hour or two almost every day. Eventually I found a new teacher but he insisted on starting the lessons from the basics. But even then, I did not feel discouraged. I love piano today as much as I loved it on my first day! Thanks IAYP for making me what I am today!Click here for more pictures

60th anniversary film

Award 60th logo 203x70
2016 marks the 60th anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in the UK by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
Over the last 60 years, the Award has transformed the lives of millions of young people in more than 140 countries and territories, equipping them for life. By celebrating this exciting milestone, we want to encourage millions of youth to get involved, either by doing the Award or by becoming an adult volunteer.
We are excited to say that The 60 films to celebrate 60 years of the Award have been launched on Tuesday, the 31st of May 2016. The 60 films project and all the films are now available to view We are happy to announce that the five participants from India,AdrijaIshitaPallaviRanjana and Vivek have been showcased in this project. Our congratulations to all our Award Participants.
To know more updates, keep an eye on our social media for exciting announcements and follow#awardat60.