Archive for September, 2011

Our journey began with Aditi Basu from Apeejay contacting us to apply for the NGO plus Individual volunteer awards category. We filled up the forms put up and thereafter forgot about it. After sometime, Aditi called up and said, could you please send me a picture of yours with the kids and a single snap of yours as well. I complied with her request little knowing that I was one of the 8 finalists competing for the Apeejay Surendra National Volunteer award 2011.  The competition had over 1,000 applicants of which approximately 8 volunteers were chosen across the North, South, West and East region. This was followed by our interview with the Jury and a few interviews with the press.

Then they announced that we would have to travel to Delhi for the National Award ceremony. Our stay was arranged at The Park, Delhi. We reached Delhi on the 25th Sep 2011, after which we had a 3-4 hour session of interaction with the jury members. During the interaction session, we were asked to speak about the work we do, what our aim was as a volunteer and so on. Post interaction, the award ceremony began by 6pm that was chaired by Honourable Union Minister for Law and Justice Salman Khurshid. He handed over the awards to the winner as well as finalists and spoke a few words of praise and support to all. The winner in the individual volunteer category was Mr. Ram Sundher, who has devotedly spent 20 years on various causes. He has reached out to those in need of help when there was no one in sight. From patrolling the Ulsoor lake banks in a bustling part of Bangalore city during SSLC / PUC results to preventing dejected students who have failed from committing suicide, to helping people complete details in the form to claim a body at the morgue, the testimonials of his volunteering excellence are many.

Thereafter, the awards were handed over to the winners and finalists of other categories such as volunteers involving NGOs  and Companies.

The good part was that we were the only NGO – GREAT Foundation that became a finalist in both the categories. Kudos to our entire team and especially all the hard working volunteers who have made this possible. Keep up the good work 🙂

The ceremony was closed with a speech from Shireen Paul, head of The Park Hotel group; followed by dinner. 

This was another humbling experience since we met with like minded people from the same sphere, who had a common aim – upliftment of the underprivileged sector in some way or the other. There was more of a feeling of camaraderie  compared to competition. It felt like ones mind was at peace looking that somewhere someone is doing something.

Brief about Jaslene: Jaslene Bawa is a financial analyst at Value Notes in Pune, and researches the Indian infrastructure sector. A double postgraduate from Pune University and a social worker on weekends, she works with GREAT Foundation in the role of a volunteer who teaches English and also as a volunteer co-coordinator who manages a group of volunteers. She believes that education is the key to liberation and awareness and has used methods that help achieve this belief.

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  • Shortlisted for National Award

GREAT FOUNDATION has been selected as Regional Finalist (West) for APEEJAY- India Volunteer Awards 2011 in the best NGO category. Jaslene Bawa, volunteer, GREAT FOUNDATION has been selected as the Regional Finalist (West)  2011 in the Individual volunteer category.


  • Libraries for PCB Schools

Akshar Bharati has agreed to set up libraries through GREAT FOUNDATION in six PCB schools in 2011-12. This is the first time that the schools will be getting library books which students will be able to read for a period every day. The schools that will get the libraries are Mahadji Shinde High School, Mahadji Shinde Primary School, Ghorpadi Village High School, Maharashi Anna Saheb Primary School, Dr. Ambedkar Memorial High School and Dr. Ambedkar Memorial   Primary School. Books worth of 75,000/- approximately will be given to these schools.


  • Stationery Worth Rs. 1,00,000/- Distributed

Stationery worth Rs. 1,00,000/- was distributed to all the students of Mahadji Shinde High School, Ghorpadi Village High School and Dr. Ambedkar Memorial High School. These comprised 4500 Long Note   books 2500 two hundred page Note books. Compass sets were distributed to all the students of Stds. IX and X.

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  • One Note Book and One Pencil from Top Source and GS LAB

170 Note books and pencils were collected by the employees of Top Source, and 175 Note books with hand-written motivational messages and pencils were given by the employees of GS LAB for distribution at the GREAT FOUNDATION Stationery distribution function held on 2 July. These were given away to the students, much to their joy.


  • Spoken English Training for Teachers

Tanjana Sehgal, Principal of Tree House, a volunteer for GREAT FOUNDATION has been training the teachers of Mahadji Shinde Primary School in Spoken English for  two hours every Saturday. This will help them teach English to the students better and make them more confident in its use. Today. parents of less privileged school children aspire that their children should be able to speak English.


  • Azim Premji Foundation  and GREAT FOUNDATION to Tie Up

A tie up between Azim Premji Foundation and GREAT FOUNDATION

is near finalization for intensive training in the latest teaching techniques including ICT use in class of all the PCB school teachers. The idea is that if  all the 160 High School and Primary School teachers are trained in interactive pedagogy their teaching will benefit the students in the long term and help them to master the fundamentals better. The goal of  GREAT FOUNDATION is to get 100% results in the SSC exam in the three High Schools aa early as possible. This tie up is a move in that direction.



  • Toys Distributed

Toys and games were distributed to the children of Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Primary School, Anna Saheb Maharashi Primary School and Rabindranath Tagore Primary School.


  • Akshay Surve of Symbiosis International School of Business, Pune worked as an intern with GREAT FOUNDATION for a month between May and June this year. His contribution was very useful in gathering feedback about the current status of teaching in the schools  (Jaslene, this can go into the Blog).


  • Prizes for Students Scoring above 80% in the SSC Exam

A prize of Rs 2000/- was given to each student who scored above 80% marks in the S.S.C Examination 2010 – 2011. This is the first time that eleven students have scored above 80%, and a total of 22 students  have  scored above 70%. For the first time, three girls students topped the exam with over 80%.  The first ranker in  the three High Schools was a Muslim girl student, Heena Shaikh. She scored 87%. The second ranker was Manisha with 84%. Mnaisha had lost her mother days before the exams. The  students gave credit to their teachers, to teaching by GREAT FOUNDATION volunteers and to the Meditation & Mind Power development sessions by Mohan Pawar of GREAT FOUNDATION. Of this training Heena said that “Earlier we had thought we could get only 70% but after meditation training we began to think that we could get 80%”. She was supported by many students in this observation.


  • Meditation and Mind Power Development

Meditation sessions were started in August 2011 at Ghorpadi Village High School for the new batch of Std 10 and Std 8 students, and in September 2011 at Mahadji Shinde High School. These sessions will continue through the year to help students concentrate better and become more confident. The schools cooperate with GREAT FOUNDATION in ensuring that meditation is practiced by the students every day in the first period.


  • Life Skills Training for Girl Students

The first phase of an 8 week training in Life Skills for the girl students of Stds. VIII, IX and X was completed at Mahadji Shinde High School in August 2011 with the help of partner volunteers from the Soroptomists Club Pune East.


  • Art Classes for Std III

Our partner volunteers from the Soroptomists Club Pune East have begun holding Art classes for Std III students of Mahadji Shinde Primary School. Last year they had taught Art to the students of Std II in the same school.


  • SSC Form Fee

The SSC form fee will be given to all the students of Std X in Mahadji Shinde High School, Ghorpadi Village High School and Dr. Ambedkar Memorial High School in end September 2011.


  • Eaton Sponsors Training for National Science

Students of Std. VI of Mahdji Shinde High School are being trained by GREAT FOUNDATION volunteers for a national science competition sponsored by Eaton.


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Recently, my shaanti was disturbed with a new cubicle partner. Otherwise my seating is at one secluded corner with the whole cubicle to myself. However, recently my “abode” as I call it, where I read the newspaper, listen to music all day and work on one client request after another was disturbed. My new cubicle partner a 22 year old is chirpy like hell. Firstly, i wished to stay all alone and was egging her to move to another bay. But later on she turned out to be quite sporting. We started chatting and have ended up discussing everything under the sun, i discovered we both like mythology. For god sake we were discussing “Sati Savitri” and the “Sati” Pratha…ha ha you guessed it right “Widow burnt alive after the death of her husband” Sati Savitri was the lady who brought her husband back from “Yama”. Hence we formed a bond. I trouble her quite often, we match the color of the clothes we wear most of the times during the week, the eyeliners we use, bags, etc. It is fun. She has also decorated her side of the desk with loads of “McDonald freebies”

In short I have gotten used to her being around chatting and irritating me at times. This is when I give her a look and say “baby work and don’t disturb” She is quite a creative character. Today was super awesome, I told her let us watch the movie “Contagion”, she said I am game and please drop me home afterwards. I said alright. I booked tickets online and we went to watch the movie. The movie was very boring, rather so slow that we ended up pointing out at the entire row of people, there was a very fat man sitting next to us. He ended saying “Arey yeh toh action movie hi nahi hai” We just smiled and then during intermission giggled outside. We stated in unison “Haan isme kahe ka action hai na”

Overall the movie was very slow, we ended up discussing all the people in our row, the couple that was about to make out, the fatty who sat a seat away from us and how he scolded the couple in front of us to shut up since they were yapping loudly.

The movie revolved around A lady (Gwyneth Paltrow) returning from Hong Kong infected with a disease that cost her life and she infected her son and they both died. Matt Damon her husband and their daughter survived since they developed anti bodies, the whole world suffered due to the disease/virus and 20 million people across the globe died due to the disease. The virus attacked the body at a rapid speed killing the good cells and damaging the brain causing seizures. The film showed the level of bureaucracy and capitalism Americans practice. It showed how they introduced an antidote and how most of the Americans received the vaccination whereas other people belonging to other parts of the globe suffered. In all I would say, don’t spend a penny on the movie. Mere 160 bux went down the drain. 😦 but we had a good time. Sweet Meenakshi, so child like. 🙂

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Fallen for you

Is wondering if she is falling in love?
Am I falling in love with you?
You cross my mind a million times
I dream of you and awaken at night
It feels you are right here beside me
Your name brings a smile on my lips
The things we did reminds me of the moments spent together
You take my breath away
You always stay on my mind
Have lost my heart and mind to you
Don’t know if things I say are true
Then I have fallen in love with you

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Will you be there?

Around 7 years ago I used to compose poetry and songs, I have a small notebook filled with them. Just a way of expressing one’s feelings. Lately, I began composing poetry again and also sketching, that i really love doing.

A small poem or a song that i composed at the spur of the moment.

Will you be there?

If I ask you hold my hand when I feel low, will you hold it?

If I ask you to walk with me when I am alone, will you walk with me?

If I ask you to wipe my tears when I cry, will you wipe them?

If I ask you to share my joys, will you share them with me?

If I fall down, will you pick me up?

If I go on the wrong path, will you correct me?

If I behave like a child, will you behave like a child with me?

If I walk away, will you let me go?

If I do something wrong, will you forgive me?

If death do us part, will you forget me?

Tell me you will be there all the way and never let me go

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Playing on my mind

You have been playing on my mind

I can simply say, am missing you, missing being around, spending evenings, days and nights

What is happening, there is no reason i can find

Too many thoughts running through my head

driving me insane

Speaking to you makes me feel good, but how am i to put thoughts and feelings through

There are no words i can find

You are miles away, i wish i could be there

Playing on my mind

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