As I drove past the Shikshan Gram Shelter last night on my way to the new site, I caught a glimpse of a whole series of new signs.
I had been away for a week, farewelling Renee Lighton in Mumbai .. and now here was something different sprouted in the empty space beside the children’s shelter… what was it.. ah ha – a word tree… and further on .. a fence of words.. with individual words laminated and strung along the fence wire.. and here more trees.. and an alphabet painted on wood.. just at eye height for the little ones.
And today when I visited a whole series of changes revealed themselves. Now we have a worm farm – embedded into an old bathtub and filled with yummy goodies for the big fat worms to eat.
And bins labelled.. plastics, paper etc.. ready to really help the children be discerning about where they throw their rubbish.
And a new washing line.. beside the house, where the clothes are less likely to end up in the dirt.
All this may not seem to you to be the miracle that it is .. but to me it is just that. It is a miracle that was inspired by a volunteer – Renee Lighton - one who is so good at inspiring others.. who spent just a few short hours discussing possible changes with one of our very creative teachers – Satish Mankar – and he picked it up and took the ‘ball’ as they say.. and ran with it.
In just one week he created a transformation that has shifted the shelter to a whole new level – providing the children with stimulating possibilites for their learning.
I hope you are as inspired as I am with this example of a profound contribution – how just a very short time spent in quality conversation can make such a difference to people’s lives.
We hope in fact that you become inspired to visit us and discover just what is it that you can contribute to this project in the short time that you are likely to be with us?
Because we know that you too can do this .. you too can throw a spark which lights a huge bonfire. As Renee has done.. lighting up her world as she moves through it with joy – in whatever field she chooses to play.
We are so glad she came and played in our back yard!!
Yesterday we waved Renee Lighton goodbye as she headed back to Capetown. It was very hard to stop the tears flowing as we had a last hug outside the departures gate of the Mumbai Airport.
What a wonderful journey we had.. yes with only one participant but the value we found from Renee’s visit was profound.. and she gave so much and there with no thought of the weather being too hot, or being too tired, or any other excuse for delaying an action that was to benefit the whole.
It was a surprise to both of us to find that it was time for school holidays and most of the children at the Shelter had headed off on various excursions – but undaunted, Renee threw herself into teaching the young Karate Masters in Training an English class twice daily. What a teacher she is. She held their interest in the palm of her hand, playing games, laughing, singing and helping even those who’s English was non-existent to start with, and in the short space of just over a week, had everyone practicing and trying out their new skill in language. We were all singing “Head,shoulders, knees and toes” – almost in our sleep!
So what did we accomplish in this time:
Brought the level of English language to a remarkable state with only just over a week of instruction.
Reviewed the set up and layout of the existing shelter and provided substantial recommendations for making the school there more effective.
Conducted training sessions with Satish Mankar the teacher at the school.
Purchased furnishings and set up the guest space at the new site to provide accomodation to overseas volunteers.
Researched and purchased books and training manuals for the teachers at the Shelter School.
Donated funds for the continuation of the building project.
Commenced training and collection of necessary materials for the compost heaps at the new site.
Set up new Facebook page for the Shaolin Training – which is to play a large part in assisting the Shelter to become self sustainable.
Conducted marketing training and review of marketing materials for fund raising efforts.
Conducted two introduction meetings with students in Mumbai to promote the Shelter and spread awareness of the work there.
The days were so full – we played and laughed and laughed some more.. and all the while were so privileged to spend time with the young Masters as well as Satish, Yogita and Arybal and his family. We did a road trip extraordinaire to the Ajanta Caves over two long days.. and hiked all over the valley around the new Shikshan Gram site.
What a wonderful three weeks we have had. We thank Renee deeply and I know that she will join me in thanking all those who helped make this time a memorable and extraordinary experience.
The learnings from being in this simple and peaceful space will continue. We know Renee will be back.. and we invite you to come and join us and discover what it is that creates this field of attraction to this place of the heart.
At this time we are unable to accept donations from overseas - however our application for the necessary permission - the FCRA - is in process. Stay posted and we expect to be able to accept your kindness soon.
Attention our Valued Indian Donors
In order to ensure that all your valuable donation reaches us please when possible donate directly to our Indian bank account.
Bank of India, Branch JM Rd PUNE,
a/c Naisargik Shikshan Sanstha
Acct No: 0518 1021 000 000 2
We thank you for your invaluable contribution and pledge to utlise all funds to enhance the lives of our children.