School of Happiness meets SurManjari

The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence…Denis Waitley

The future of children is shaped by the love and care that is bestowed upon them, the environment in which they grow up and the guidance and direction that are provided to them to develop and excel. However not all the children are fortunate enough to fulfill their dreams, nor find the best of circumstances to live the life of their dreams. For them, earning their bread and butter becomes the primary objective of their life and they are forced to help their parents very early in life.

These children also have a dream to fly high, they have their passion for arts and science but they hardly get the moral and financial support to pursue those. But there is hope; social organizations like Srijan Foundation and SurManjari strive to recognize the potential in these children and dedicate their time and resources in uplifting these children of the economically weaker sections of the society.

School of Happiness was started way back in 2001 in Kishangarh, New Delhi by Srijan Foundation, with an aim to nurture these little children and help them grow in their chosen area of interest. It is a non formal after-school which the children attend to develop their skills in English speaking, in extra curricular activities like music, dance, sports etc. The School also helps the children develop technical skills to cope up with the needs of the time.

The school has been participating and excelling in several events thanks to the hard work, belief and constant encouragement from Rahul Dewan, the founder of Srijan Foundation and Retired Army Officer Col Ramakrishnan who has been at the fore front of the School of Happiness.

It is with similar intentions that the Skill’UP’LittleMore project was started by SurManjari which happens to be the Social Welfare wing of Factorize.  SurManjari  is a Music Education and Music Therapy Foundation which offers music education and Applied Music and Rhythm Therapy [AMRT] to people of all ages and stages. Conceptualized by Ruma Chakravarty, the Skill’UP’LittleMore project is an effort towards the holistic development of children from the weaker sections of the society. This project is considering a few creative & self-development courses to get the children trained & certified in those courses from reputed institutes as per feasibility. In normal circumstances, these children may not be able to opt for those skills or certification. In the words of Ruma, “The idea is to open some possibilities for the children and give them a direction, which they might be able to extend to mainstream studies/ degrees or profession when they grow up”.

SurManjari’s first batch of students is from the School of Happiness whom Ruma Chakravarty proudly calls as ‘angels’. The classes started in June 2018 for a batch of 10-15 children. The classes happen on weekends and it takes tremendous effort both from the teacher and the students to keep the program going. The children are learning fast and enjoying it too. For them learning is fun and they love the time they spend at the school.

Only 4-5 months down the line they got an opportunity to recite the Durga Vandana on Durga Sapthami (7th day of Navratri) at the Minto Road Durga Puja, thanks to the enthusiasm  of Col Ramakrishnan and the efforts of Ruma Chakravarty.   The children enjoyed the event thoroughly and apart from the recitation participated in a few fun activities too. Post the event they had stories to tell to their friends and an experience to narrate. These kind of little exposures go a long way in building the confidence in children along with imbibing in them the love for their culture.

There is a long way to go for these children to get fully trained and certified in the Hindustani Classical Music programs but the day is not far thanks to the dedication of the students, the faith and patience of Ruma, and the continued support of Col Ramakrishnan.

These attempts at giving back to the society go a long way in shaping the future of the nation…kudos to those who spare a thought for the less fortunate.

Report – Forestry and Medicinal Plants Revival initiative in Himachal

This is report sent by Mr. Rahul Saxena of Lok Vigyan Kendra (LVK), Himacha Pradesh. Srijan Foundation is supporting a project in which LVK runs in the Chamba District, for reviving medicinal plants and thus creating self-sustenance through forest produce.

There is a Presentation attached.

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Dear Friends,

After a long delay, we are sending you the report of the forest management effort that many of you had supported (the list of donors is given at the end of this report). We thank you all for all the support that was extended to this initiative; without it things would just not have been possible. The team at Lok Vigyan Kendra wants to express heart felt appreciation of the spirit of philanthropy that the appeal was able to mobilize – even from people who did not know us previously.

First, the reason for the delay in posting this report – we wanted you to see images of the village that took up the forest management initiative and the area that got restocked with the medicinal herbs (see the attached power point presentation). We did not have a camera at the time the plantation activity was undertaken and hence no images of the herbs being planted. The images that I am sending to you have been recently taken when a team member had gone there to have the people loosen the ground around the herbs for better growth of the roots (the harvestable part).

We had planned to take up the plantation activity in two villages this season – Kut Batoa and Mahua. The area to be planted in Mahua was a much drier one (it is a patch of grassland) than the one in Kut Batoa (an oak forest with plenty of undergrowth). Kut Batoa incidentally also had a drier patch ready for plantation which was to be planted with the same herb(Heracleum specie) as the patch in Mahua. Since, the rains arrived late in this region, almost all the able bodied men from Mahua had crossed over the high Pir Panjal mountains to Lahul region for the collection of commercial herbs, similar to those that this initiative is trying to rehabilitate in their own forests. We could not take up any plantation activity in the Mahua village this summer – that shall have to be done during the coming winters. Luckily, there were a few people still remaining in Kut Biota who gathered the herbs (Valerian specie) from far away areas and planted them in the Oak forest, adjacent to the plot that had been planted last year with the same herb. In all 100 Kgs of Valerian plants were utilized by the villagers for the plantations. This roughly translates to around 9000 to 10,000 plants in total. Since the full grown roots do not occupy a large area, not much digging is involved in the planting exercise and around a hectare of area was planted with the herbs.

Two months later, the herbs have shown an excellent survival ratio with a more than 90 % plants surviving, a factor that had inspired the villagers of Kut – Batoa (and some other adjoining villages) to undertake similar efforts this year. We are planning to expand the initiative to these villages to create a visible impact and hopefully influence government functioning. We hope to get your continued support this year too.

If you are interested to know more about our other activities, please write back.

With warm regards

Rahul Saxena,
Lok Vigyan Kendra,
Chanakyapuri Colony,
Ghuggar Nala Road,
Palampur, District Kangra,
Himachal Pradesh.
Tel : 098160-25246

The details of the expenses made from the donated money is as follows:

Total donations received Rs. 53,100

Expenses

Cost of planting by the local villagers Rs. 8,540

Travel and honorarium for Rs. 5,205

meetings and supervision

Cost of planting material to villagers Rs. 900

Total expenses Rs. 14,645

Funds carried over for plantations in Rs. 38,455

winter in Kut Batoa and Mahua

The list of donors is as follows:

Name

Amount

Sandeep Narang

5000

Radhika Johari

3500

Prashant Varma

1000

Huang Mengchi

500

Jaya Iyer

250

Dr. M.B.Athreya

2000

Florence Koh

2000

Roopak Malik

2000

Neelima Sheikh

5000

Kanchi Kohli

1000

Varun Rattan Singh

100

Pooja Chauhan

5000

Jaya Iyer

250

Uma Singh

5000

Rahul Dewan

10000

Srijan Foundation Trust

10000

Soumya, Malathi and Manthan

500

Total

53100

Project Presentation – Charda, Chamba, Himachal Pradesh (PPT)