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!

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.

Child Sponsorship Program & Online Donation Facility Launched

A new child sponsorship program has been launched and sponsorships have been coming in from across India and the world to support our children.

The program offers individuals the opportunity to support children in a number of ways – providing donors with options according to their budget and interest:
  • Education Sponsorship
  • Home Sponsorship
  • Full Child Sponsorship
  • Vocational Training Sponsorship
  • Corporate Sponsorship
One Child Sponsor recently visited Udayan and said she had decided to sponsor 2 girl children because she herself had 2 boys.  “I wanted to support some girls and have them join my family.”

Another sponsor from Dubai had been looking around for a program to sponsor a girl child, and was thrilled to be able to select and pay for the sponsorship via Udayan’s new online payment portal.

Thanks to the support of Dana Mojo, Udayan has set up and new donation facility on our website so that people can donate and support us easily, from their mobile phone and with the ease of their credit/debit card.

“Donating should not be an arduous process” said Chair Emily R Menon.  “People want to help, but when the process is complicated, they get frustrated and shy away from giving.”

“We have been receiving donations every second day from across India and internationally, in places like Dubai, US, UK, Australia and Singapore.” She said.

Fundraising Expertise Injected at Udayan

In order to take Udayan to the next level, Udayan recently invested in some fundraising expertise via the support of Mumbai based Fundraising Expert, Nandita Dalal, who conducted a strategic review of the organisation from a fundraising perspective to devise a new positioning for fundraising success. 

“Nandita has helped us develop our Case for Support – which is a strategic fundraising tool (a brochure) which clearly defines why a donor should invest their funds with Udayan.” Emily R Menon said.

The new Case for Support is a game-changer for the oragnisation and already, GB members are in talks with International NGOs, Corporates and National Social Service organisations, using the new messaging to upgrade existing and secure new donors.

To support the new Child Sponsorship Program and to support and drive our corporate fundraising efforts, a new Fundraising Manager has been appointed and commenced work on 3rd February.

Shourya Chatterjee is very experienced in raising individual sponsorships via schools and other educational institutions and has experience in corporate fundraising with such organisations as Smile Foundation, Haemophilia Federation India, Global Cancer Concern India and Laxmi Distributor.

A new fundraising office has been established at the Jodhpur Park Apartments, donated to Udayan over a decade ago, to enable Udayan leadership and Fundraising Manager to conduct key meetings and have easier access to corporates and potential funders in Kolkata.

World Leprosy Day Rally

 Once again, the children of Udayan, staff members and members participated in the World Leprosy Day Rally – creating awareness on the issue of leprosy with placards and banners. With 5 different Leprosy NGOs taking place in the rally, significant attention was raised as the march started from Maniktala crossing in Kolkata and covered 3-4 Km. stretch of the city. 

Udayan boy’s drummer group participated in the rally which attracted the eyes of pedestrians.  The rally disseminated information about the disease of Leprosy, stigma related to it and social integration of leprosy affected people.  The police patrolling van followed the rally and made the rally successful on the busy roads of Kolkata.

Latest & Greatest from Our Children

  • Exam Results

All the children at Udayan achieved good results in their recent exams and have successfully promoted to the higher classes.  A total of 25% of children have secured marks above 90% and 27% of children have secured 80% in aggregate marks in their final examination held in December 2019.
Moreover 85% children have secured marks above 75% in aggregate marks. The quality of education in Udayan has increased significantly thanks to new methodologies of teaching,   resulting in improvement of education among the children.  

Compared to the annual examination result in 2018, 20% children have succeeded in getting higher marks in their Final Examination in 2019.  Well done children and a big thanks to our teachers and tutors for their diligent efforts in this area!

  • Udayan Children Dominate Sports Meet

In the month of January 2020, Sewli Boys’ High School celebrated their Annual Sport event. A total of 65 children from Udayan participated in the Annual Sport event, and among them 25 children have won prises in 100 meter & 200 meter races, Shot put, Riley race and Long jump.  Udayan students always perform well and this meet was no exception!  Sports and participation in meets like this do wonders to help our children overcome the ‘self-stigma’ so common among leprosy affected people – boosting their confidence, self-esteem and elevating them in the eyes of others also!  Congratulations kids …
  • New Football Coach at Udayan

Did you know that our kids are mad about football?  They play it at every chance they get and to encourage them further, Udayan engaged a new Football coach in September 2019 to strengthen the technical skills of our children in Football and rigorously build their fitness levels for the sport. Mr Santanu Sengupta, who is a dedicated football coach in the district, has helped many Udayan boys qualify for under 19 years state football league and comes highly regarded.  He visits Udayan twice in a week and teaches our children passionately – instilling values and ethics like discipline, hard work and team work along the way.  We look forward to seeing the progress of the children in the coming year!
  • 31 New Students Integrate Well

31 new children have arrived at Udayan to kickstart their education and Udayan home life.  Aging from 6 years to 11 years, the new children suffered from homesickness for the first couple of weeks, but soon found support in the friends from their colonies and of course, made new friends.  Older students also have been displaying great leadership in taking new students under their wing and nurturing them – teaching them about life at Udayan and all aspects of our daily routine.
  • Christmas Cottage Competition

Once again the Christmas Cottage Competition took place at Udayan with students working long and hard to decorate their cottage in a variety of themes.  This year, for the first time ever, the girls from Nivedita Bhavan took out first prize with their sculpture themed around the environment and reducing plastic use. The Boys cottages were also been decorated with innovations and social themes. It was surprising to see how ‘waste materials’ could be reused and utilised for decoration at Christmas. The children used earthen idols which were discarded after Puja, old silk materials, sand mixed with dry colours, twigs, straw and many more materials for their displays.  The children of Udayan took themes like water conservation, reducing plastic, global warming and recycling of materials which surely shows their concern about environmental social impact.