Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Director's Message - June 2020

The last few months had been very hectic for Udayan. While we were trying to proactively avert the Coronavirus crisis and manage things amid lockdown, Cyclone Amphan hit West Bengal which caused massive devastation across the state. Fortunately, Udayan’s staff members are all safe but one-fourth portion of the boundary wall of Udayan collapsed. Luckily all the building infrastructures did not suffer any damages.
However, the impact on Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal was severe with residents reeling in the aftermath.  It took significant time for Kolkata to get essential services like electricity and water back up and running and with lockdown still on, getting help for the ‘clean up’ has been a challenge.
To ensure the safety of our children and staff members, Udayan was closed in March and April. In this newsletter, we bring you the snapshots of major events and activities before lockdown. At the same time, we are also striving to ensure the best for our children and families through COVID-19 relief work. We hope things are soon normalized and Udayan operates in full swing.
On behalf of Udayan I wish you good health in these trying times. Keep safe. 

 Dipak Sahu

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Udayan Revamps its Funding Strategy

With our administrative staff working from their homes, it has presented a good opportunity to forge ahead with our work to secure the financial security of the organization going forward.


There is great uncertainty in India among nonprofits about the future of funding opportunities and there is an expectation that many funding opportunities will dry up and or decline due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and diversion of funds to tackling the pandemic and its impacts (it is estimated that the pandemic may push 400 million Indians further into poverty).


Working with Mumbai based fundraising expert, Nandita Dalal, Udayan is conducting weekly fundraising meetings to revamp our strategy and diversify income sources. As part of our preparation, we are putting all our fundraising collateral in place, developing databases, qualifying prospects and allocating roles and responsibilities across our fundraising team.


Udayan collaborated with Nandita Dalal, a Mumbai-based Fundraising Consultant earlier this year to conduct a strategic review of the organization from a fundraising perspective and take Udayan to the next level.

Ms. Nandita Dalal

Udayan also welcomed new staff member, Shourya Chatterjee to Udayan in March who takes up the role of Fundraising Manager.  With extensive experience in raising Sponsorships and working with Schools and colleges in and around Kolkata, Shourya is a great addition to the team to help support our fundraising efforts.


Currently, the core fundraising team comprises Nandita Dalal, Dipak Sahu, Adrija Mitra, Shourya Chatterjee and Emily R Menon. 

Post Lockdown Planning by Udayan Team

The NGO sector in India has been in a state of flux over the last 3 months during Lockdown. As it tries to re-imagine life post COVID-19, Udayan is refining its strategies to suit the changed scenario.


Focusing on the immediate post-lockdown scenario, Udayan is channelizing its efforts to ensure the protection of our beneficiaries and staff. The Governing Body of Udayan has been working with our Director, Dipak Sahu, to develop a detailed operational plan that will help us continue working on our goals without putting people’s safety at stake.


Total Estimated Budget for proposed COVID-19 post lockdown measures is INR 1.96 Lakh – we seek your support to help us cover this additional expense.


Udayan will implement the following broad guidelines from our Post-Lockdown Strategy:

 Cleanliness and Hygiene

       All buildings and vehicles at Udayan will be sanitized on a regular basis.

       After entering into the premises, mandatory hand sanitization is to be followed by all.

       Sanitation of walls, doors and windows will be done twice a week.

       Washrooms and toilet cleanliness will be ensured. These facilities will be cleaned daily with phenyl to keep a check on infections.

       Masks are compulsory for all children and staff members.

       Sanitizers and hand wash soap will be placed in all cottages and common places inside the premises. House Brothers and House Mothers will ensure regular cleanliness and handwash be maintained by all children.

       All the staff members shall daily sanitize their respective mobile phones, laptops, electronic tablets, etc. 

       All the groceries and vegetables will be properly cleaned and  sanitized as soon as they are brought from outside before being used in the kitchen.

       All kitchen staff members will use hand gloves, headcover and masks while cooking in the community kitchen. Frequent hand washing by cooks will be monitored by the Accountant and Store Keeper.



Entry and Visit

       No staff member with symptoms of cold and fever should enter Udayan premises.

       Compulsory screening for all people visiting the premises.

       Entry gate will be equipped with a thermal scanner.

       Visitors, sponsors or volunteers are not allowed to visit Udayan cottages and interact with children. However, they can visit the office with proper permission from Udayan authorities.

       Children should get a fitness certificate issued by a Doctor before coming to Udayan. Any child with fever or related symptoms will not be allowed entry.

       Children’s entry in Udayan premises post-lockdown will be in  phase-wise manner.



Helplines and Other Information

       A contact person will be appointed for every cottage. This person will be responsible for reporting the health status of children on a daily basis to paramedical staff. The paramedical staff will bring to notice any illness to the Director.

       Staff members will avoid crowd formation in the premises and will ensure maintaining social distance while working and interacting with children too.

       Food will be served while keeping in mind the social distancing norms. Food will be served using spoons and tongs and will strictly not be touched by hands.

The Public Helpline numbers of the Central Government of India (1075) and Government of West Bengal HelpLine Number (1800313444222/03323412600) to be displayed in all prominent places inside Udayan premises. All House brothers & mothers must keep the same saved in their mobile phones.

Continuing Education During Lockdown

Udayan is committed to keeping up the educational interests of our children despite all challenges. Even during lockdown when children are at home with their family members, Udayan staff is making sure to keep them engaged with educational and awareness activities. Besides academics, the emphasis is also on highlighting the importance of social distancing, frequent hand wash and wearing face masks.


With whatever little access to technology that our families have, Udayan is trying to make use of it and conduct online sessions with children. For children from grades KG to 4th, our primary teachers are taking sessions over WhatsApp video calls or simple phone calls. Teachers have formed WhatsApp groups and are taking classes from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm. Our intent is to keep our children in touch with the subjects by revising concepts and clearing their doubts.

 It is encouraging to see children showing a lot of interest in the classes. In fact, those who don’t have smartphones are borrowing it from their neighbours.

For senior kids studying in classes 5th to 12th and who have been attending the local government schools, they have re-joined online classes from 11th June 2020 - after their summer vacation. The State Government has also taken initiatives and is telecasting educational programmes on television - Udayan encourages them to watch the series and clear their doubts during online sessions.

Seven of our children pursuing nursing courses in Chhattisgarh are also regularly attending online classes organized by their respective colleges.


We hope the schools and colleges will reopen soon and all children at Udayan will continue their journey towards a brighter future.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Ensuring Proper Nutrition with Ration Support Program

Current times have been particularly difficult for families surviving on daily wages – and with most families from West Bengal’s Leprosy Colonies relying on daily income from begging, rag picking and labouring work, the impact has been harsh. To ensure proper nutrition during this time, Udayan responded with distribution of ration kits to families, with the support of corporate donors, Wipro & SBI Life Insurance.

The nutrition of Udayan children was affected during the lockdown as it was becoming increasingly difficult for their families to arrange the basic necessities, despite rations delivered by the Government. Considering that many of our children and their family members are undergoing leprosy treatment or have been affected in the past, proper nutrition becomes even more crucial for them.

Despite government aid and support from ‘local groups’, it was evident that the members of our Udayan family would need more support to make it through extended lockdown with adequate supplies to ensure proper meals. 

In April 2020, Wipro Foundation extended its support of INR 6 lakh to provide dry ration for families facing the loss of livelihood due to COVID-19. Our staff members and community volunteers from the respective colonies quickly mobilized and coordinated with local grocery shops to finalize the rate of dry rations for relief work, with the support of our Director.  
With the help of Wipro Foundation, Udayan team provided dry ration support to 600 families in 10 colonies under the district Bardhaman Bankura & Purulia of West Bengal. Each family received 20 Kg rice, 1 Kg soybean, 3 Kg potatoes, 1 Kg masoor dal (red lentil), 1 liter of mustard oil, 1 Kg sugar, 1 Kg suji, 1 Kg salt, and 1 pc soap. 

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Udayan Responds Quickly to COVID-19

  • COVID-19 Relief Work
Despite initial response by the Government with supply of rations to our Leprosy Colonies and some support by 'local groups' it soon became apparent that our children and their families would need more support to make it through the extended lockdown with adequate supplies to ensure proper nutrition.  Like so many in India, due to lock-down people in the colonies have not been in a position to go out from their home for begging, rag picking and petty labour work, as a result they are not being able to arrange their bare minimum food to survive. 

We approached Wipro Foundation on April 22nd 2020 for providing Humanitarian support to distressed 600 families (2400 people) of 10 leprosy colonies.  On 27th April 2020, Wipro foundation approved the proposal and transferred the INR 6,00,000 (Rupees six lakhs only) to Udayan account. Our staff members and community volunteers from the respective colonies quickly mobilised and coordinated with local grocery shops to finalise the rate of dry rations for relief work, with the support of our Director.   

Dry ration support was provided to 600 families in 10 colonies under the district Bardhaman Bankura & Purulia of West Bengal. Each family received Rice 20 kg, Soybean 1 kg, Potato 3kg, Masoor Dal (Red Lentil) 1kg, Mustard Oil 1liter, Sugar 1kg, Suji 1kg, Salt 1 kg, soap 1pcs. Distribution of dry rations started a week before and completed on 12th May 2020.

Additionally, with confirmed support from SBI Life Insurance for the year 2020/21, we approached them to divert funds allocated for food and nutrition of our children at Udayan, towards providing ration relief at this time.  An amount of 3lacs was harnessed to supply 1 month's ration to our 270 children from 197 families.

With our staff located in many of the colonies, we have been undertaking certain education and awareness activities to highlight the importance of 'social distancing', wearing of face masks and hand-washing.

  • Education of our Children
We are doing our best, under difficult circumstances, to keep the educational interests of our children at front of mind.  As such we are harnessing the little technology our families have access to, to communicate with them and try to continue imparting education during the lockdown period.

Children (From Classes KG to IV) of Udayan Vidyalaya attending on-line classes from their respective colonies, conducted by our primary teachers through whatsapp and phone calls. WhatsApp groups from classes KG to Class IV have been formed by our Udayan teachers and they are taking subject wise online classes from Monday to Friday (from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) they also share assignments through WhatsApp.  Children clear their doubts by raising questions in the group. Children who don’t have their smart phones are getting support from their neighbours to stay connected with teachers for their academic updates.

Children from Class V to XII who attend local Government Schools have completed their online sessions which starting from 13th April 2020. Now their summer vacation has been started from 15th May it will end on 10thJune 2020. Again, the online sessions will start from 11th of June 2020 while we await announcement of the Government for re-opening of schools in the state.  The State Government has also taken initiatives for subject wise classes (class V to XII) on television, and our children are following that also.
Our 7 children, pursuing Nursing courses in Chhattisgarh are also regularly attending online classes from 10am to 5pm conducted by Nursing colleges.

  • Scenario Planning Post Lockdown
The NGO sector in India has been in a state of 'flux' over the last 2 months during Lockdown, as it tries to re-imagine life post COVID 19 Lockdown and how to resume programme delivery whilst protecting beneficiaries and staff from the virus.  The Governing Body of Udayan has been working with our Director Dipak Sahu to develop a range of scenarios, including relevant budget, to look at how we might operate in a post lockdown environment where the virus remains a risk. 

We are refining our plans at the moment and are looking at taking the following courses of action:
  • Disinfection of all the buildings and vehicles of Udayan.
  • Compulsory screening for all people entering through gate with thermal scanner - no staff should come for duty with fever.
  • All the people entering into gate shall be permitted inside only if they are wearing a mask.
  • Hand sanitizers/Handwash shall be kept ready at the entrance for all children, staff members and outsiders.  After entering everyone will sanitize their hands before proceeding to Udayan buildings.
  • Visitors/sponsors/volunteers are not allowed to visit the Udayan cottages and interact with the children during COVID 19 Pandemic period. They can visit the office with permission from Udayan authorities.
  • Special attention will be given to wash rooms/toilets every day, cleaning with phenyl.
  • Sanitisation of Walls/Doors /Windows and all fittings will be done twice in a week.
  • ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ during COVID -19 pandemic will be given to House Mothers and Brothers, which will be displayed at a visible place in each of the cottages.
  • Wearing of masks will be compulsory for all the staff members and children inside Udayan.
  • Before coming to Udayan, children should get a fit certificate issued by a doctor.  Children having cough, cold and fever will not be allowed at Udayan, they will be allowed only after they recover from the infection.
  • Keeping of sanitizers / hand wash in all cottages and at prominent places and in the office will be done. Availability of hand washes in toilet of each cottages & Kitchen basin will be ensured.
  • Concerned House Brothers and House Mothers will promote regular and thorough hand washing for children.
  • After lockdown, when Udayan will be reopening, we will bring the children onto the campus in a phase wise manner.
  • For each cottage there will be a Covid-19 point of contact person. The focal person will be responsible to report the health status of children on a daily basis to paramedical staff and paramedical staff will bring to notice any illness to the Director.
  • Staff members will avoid crowds and will ensure they maintain social distance while working and interacting with children.
  • All the staff members shall daily sanitize their respective Mobile phones, Laptops, Computer touch pads with sanitizer before using it in office.
  • All the groceries and vegetables will be properly cleaned and  sanitized as soon as they are brought from outside before using in kitchen. All the kitchen staff members will use hand gloves, head cover and mask while cooking in community kitchen. Frequent hand wash by cooks will be monitored by Accountant and Store Keeper.
  • Food will be served by maintaining social distance. All the food will be served by using utensils, touching of food by hand will be strictly prohibited. 
  • The Public Helpline numbers of the Central Government of India (1075) and Government of West Bengal Help Line Number (1800313444222/03323412600) to be displayed in all prominent places inside Udayan premises. All House brothers & mothers must keep the same saved in their mobile phones.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

International Volunteering Program

Udayan has re-launched its International Volunteering Program and has developed a detailed ‘Guide for Volunteers’ to help them in making the decision to volunteer and spend time at Udayan.  With the help and support of City of Joy Aid, UK and Hazel Nash, the program has kicked off with a bang – with 3 recent volunteers from the UK and more volunteers set to arrive in the coming months!

  • 2 x New Volunteers from UK

2 New Volunteers arrived this week from the UK and are presently spending time with our children in Udayan. Miss Joanna Musty passed her Bachelor of Arts with honours in Politics at Newcastle University and is presently working in an accounting Firm in Jersey. She is fond of teaching children & spending time with toddlers in Udayan. Miss Anna Sophie Rowan has completed her studies in Business Management from Newcastle University with first class honours degree. She has experience in working in corporate communication and is eager to use these skills to support Udayan Communications efforts. She likes to spend time with children and teach sports to the girls of Udayan.  Both of them would like to help Udayan in near future.  

  • 3 x Volunteers from UK

Udayan played host to 3 volunteers from the UK in late 2019 who spent a month at Udayan upgrading the Library, planning a revamp of Dominique Lapierre Park, teaching English and sports to children and partaking in all aspects of daily life at Udayan.  The experience provided an amazing cultural exchange for both the Volunteers and Udayan Children and Staff – injected loads of positivity on campus and motivating everyone.

“Udayan was honestly the most amazing and interesting experience of my life, and I am so grateful to you for organising it! 

For me, the most wonderful part of the experience was the people. Both the staff and children were so lovely, friendly and kind. The staff in particular went out of their way, bending their backs to help us and ensure we had a good time in every way they could. The love and positivity I felt from the children, is something I will always remember. And the friendships I made with the older girls is something I hope will last.

As well as this I also really enjoyed learning about leprosy in India, and the challenges faced by those affected by it. I really appreciated the conversations we had with Adrija, as she patiently answered so many of our questions. However, in a way a low point was visiting a nearby leprosy colony, as I found it extremely sad and heart-breaking to see the conditions there. However, it was uplifting to see the work that had been done there to improve it.

The highlight for me has to have been completing the library project. It was really hard work planning it, sorting through the books and painting it, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was to have finished it, and pleased I was that the children now have a pleasant and exciting library.” – Olivia Lewine Mair, Volunteer from UK.
  • Upgrade of Guest Rooms 
To support the re-launch of our International Volunteering Program, Hazel Nash has generously supported the revamp and upgrade of the Udayan Guest Rooms to be more homely and comfortable for long-term volunteers.  The upgrade included the installation of small kitchen appliances & equipment (fridge, kettle, cups, bowls, cutlery), furniture (dining table & chairs), recovering of an old sofa and lounge chair, purchase of Almirah for storage, clothes line for drying clothes and installation of mirrors, hooks and soft furnishings.  An air conditioner was also installed.  The Rooms will soon be painted and water proofed in preparation for monsoons – giving them a new lease on life!  Guest rooms are now warm and inviting and offer the comforts of home – a great asset for all guests for Udayan.  A huge thank you to Hazel & City of Joy Aid UK for their ongoing support, passion and drive!

  • Carbon Offset Program
In order to offset the carbon footprint made by volunteers who fly from abroad to Kolkata, City of Joy Aid, UK, Hazel Nash and Udayan are collaborating to establish a ‘Carbon Offset Program’ whereby trees are planted in the Leprosy Colonies that we serve.  It’s an exciting environmental initiative and one that many internationally are conscious off these days.  We also hope that the program doubles as a beautification and greening program for Colonies and can offer livelihood supplementation to colony residents who will plant and look after the trees in the long term.  Trees will consume the CO2 generated by airplane flights and of course provide oxygen into the atmosphere to help tackle climate change.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

Udayan celebrated its 50th Anniversary with gusto on 26th January with many dignitaries, donors, members and friends joining in for a wonderful day of celebration!

Australian cricket legend, Steve Waugh was present to help bring in the occasion and addressed children and guests - recognising the incredible feat of having educated and empowered children affected by leprosy for half a century!

To celebrate the milestone, over 150 people attended an event at Udayan, which saw the inauguration of a statue in memory of the late founder, Father James Stevens; a tree plantation by VIP guests; a historical photographic exhibition; and cultural program by Udayan children.  

A new family centre was also unveiled as a tribute to Lallita Stevens who has now moved to the UK to be with her son Ashwini.  The lalita Stevens Family Centre will provide an undercover, seated area for families of our children to congregate on visits to Udayan.

Udayan was decked out in style with many buildings receiving a facelift and paint job prior to the event. Even staff donned a new uniform for the occasion ...

Children put on a grand performance of singing, dancing, playing instruments, displaying karate techniques and perfoming the Udayan School Song! https://www.facebook.com/UdayanKolkata/videos/2957895810896186/

We are proud of our long history and legacy here at Udayan, and look forward another 50 years transforming the lives of leprosy affected children.” She said.

Friends of Udayan: Australia & Kolkata

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our first ever ‘Friends of Udayan, Australia’ and the re-launch of ‘Friends of Udayan, Kolkata.’
  • Friends of Udayan, Australia – Deborah Bedford, who penned the recent biography of Udayan Founder, Father James, has been a staunch supporter of Udayan, along with her husband Paul Bedford, for many years now.  In the hope to extend more financial support from Australia and generate awareness of Udayan and Leprosy among Australian’s, they have launched Friends of Udayan, Australia and will be helping to drive Child Sponsorships from among the Sydney and wider community.  Udayan has a long history of association with Australia, thanks to Steve Waugh, and more recently, Chair Emily R Menon, and we hope that the Friends of Udayan Australia grows to become an integral spoke in our international wheel of support.
  • Friends of Udayan, Kolkata – Australian Christine Ford, who recently moved to Kolkata with her husband Andrew Ford (the new Australian Consul General, Kolkata), has offered to drive the re-launch of Friends of Udayan Kolkata with the help of existing Patron, Shamlu Dudeja, and newcomers to Kolkata David & Linda Enlers who are also from Australia.  David & Linda have been living in Chennai for the last 9 years and recently moved to Kolkata and visited Udayan on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary, along with Christine & Andrew Ford.  We look forward to growing the group and kickstarting meetings, events and activities to support the work of Udayan from within the Kolkata community.

We thank both Debbie & Christine for their enthusiasm, passion and time in supporting Udayan and helping to grow our ‘family of supporters’ both within Australia and Kolkata.

Strategic Planning - 2020 & Beyond

In September 2019, Chair Emily R Menon & Director Dipak Sahu led a Strategic Planning Workshop with Governing Body members to chart out the strategic objectives of the next 5 years at Udayan.

It was a powerful workshop and many insights were captured.  Key highlights of the strategy include:
  • Launch of a Community Outreach program to provide Early Childhood Education to children pre-Udayan; educate parents on the importance of education/livelihoods and leprosy.
  • Improvement of Education outcomes at Udayan via capacity building of teachers, implementation of specialist programs for Foundational Literacies (literacy & numeracy, digital, science, English speaking, finance); strengthening of evening tutoring program.
  • Strengthen Employability program via skill training (particularly boys), sessions to build aspirations for children, career counselling and institute/industry visits.
  • Development of a detailed Personality Development program to overcome Self Stigma and foster workplace competencies and character traits in children for livelihood.
  • Detailed Infrastructure Development Plan to address campus issues and upgrade facilities.

“Strategic Planning is an important annual exercise and we at the GB will be holding an Annual Strategic Planning Workshop to ensure a strategic, big picture focus to drive Udayan into the future.” Said Emily R Menon, Chairperson at Udayan.