Thursday, January 5, 2012

Visit to Timbaktu - 26-27 Nov 2011

Ajay, his family (sis and dad) and myself visited Timbaktu this weekend. It was the first visit for each of us and a very good experience.

Ajay and I needed to plan for the Team Asha visit on Dec 10-11 and all of us wanted to soak in Timbaktu as much as we could.

We were hosted by Vaneeta who's recently moved in to Timbaktu to take classes and train the teachers amongst other things. She put us up in very nicely designed, simple and comfortable guest rooms. The rooms can accommodate a larger team and there are other such rooms too. Acco is not a concern. Likewise, food is also very tasty and simple and can easily scale to higher demand.

One update is that if we're not able to make the visit on Dec 10-11, then next available dates are only towards Jan end.

Sunday morning Vaneeta joined Ajay and me to show us possible routes. Ajay was happy with an out and back option (5k one way). Ajay can better explain more on that. We drove further and visited Timbaktu CRC as well. We saw the calendars. They have come out very well. We also saw some bags that the girls had made. I for one was very impressed with the aesthetic quality and the finish. After the drive, we discussed with Vaneeta, how we could utilize the time before/after the run. She suggested that if we can reach Timbaktu by late afternoon atleast on Saturday instead of by night, everyone can visit the Timbaktu organic products marketing office and adjoining factory and look at the fields and the products. This might be of interest to the vistors. On sunday the factory and office are closed. People can then spend the rest of the evening interacting with the staff and kids and choose to leave earlier on sunday, maybe soon after the run. We'll need to see if there will be takers for that.

We met Babloo and Mary, the couple who started Timbaktu and spent some time with them at their house and over lunch. Ajay discussed with Babloo the possibility of Timbaktu benefiting from corporate programmes that fund social entrepreneurship ventures (eg. Mahindra). Please share your thoughts on this. We can accordingly discuss this in our next meeting and look at helping them in this, if its something we want to do.

We met Dinesh who's been with Timbaktu for long and has nurtured Timbaktu's organic farming initiative from the start. The major products are groundnuts and different types of millets. Currently, the demand is more than Timbaktu's capacity to produce and so there's potential to scale it up. Dinesh has now set up his own venture in organic farming. He will continue to be associated with Timbaktu organic.

We also met Mani who's employed at Timbaktu and takes care of finances amongst many other things.

We also visited the marketing office and factory. We saw the processing and packaging of different products and bought some samples too.

Good trip overall and certainly one that anyone would enjoy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Team Asha 8K @ Ananya - Oct 30th, 2010.

Team Asha 8K is fast becoming a popular community owned event in Bangalore. It is a unique event where children from various backgrounds - class, caste, religion etc. participate together with adults from again various backgrounds - teachers, professionals, students etc. Children from Asha supported efforts or other efforts catering to the underprivileged participate in the event for free of cost. The event always focuses on environmental sensitivity. We reduce the use of plastic/paper to a bare minimum and use environmentally sustainable practices to the fullest extent possible. This helps create awareness for such a need for environnmental sensitivity amongst children as well.

The entry fee this year came down further to Rs. 100, making it accessible and worthwhile for everyone to participate. The fee also got the runner a delicious breakfast and a sporty Team Asha cap. More than 150 children from various schools/efforts and a total of 300+ runners participated in the run on Saturday, October 30th, 2010. The Ananya children planned, organized and executed the entire race. There were teams to take care of each aspect of the logistics - Race course directions/marking, Parking, Timing, Water stop, Registration, Drop bags, Catering, Touring Ananya - All of these tasks were led and coordinated by the children.

There were two options - 4km and 8km. Many children did the 8km run. The run was on a scenic route with a lot of trees in sections and in some sections running along fields. The 2K out and back route had a turn around on a large clearing next to the road. The village folks also cheered and supported us. All the water stops and cheering stations were managed and organized by the children of Ananya school. It was an electric atmosphere with the children cheering every runner who came along the route! It was heart warming to see the children cheer each other forgetting all the differences between them once outside of this setting.

Children from the following efforts participated:
Sita School
Kaigal Sanctuary Schools
Spastics Society
Thai Mane

The children were very thrilled with the experience and it was an important exposure for them. It was heartwarming to see Ananya children and Spastics society kids trying to plan a cricket match. Kaigal children and Thai Mane kids also invited everyone to their schools. This has given an opportunity for the various efforts to interact and further their learning. Most importantly, as organizers of this event we believe in this event providing an opportunity of learning through experience. It was indeed a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved!

This academic year Ananya, is trying to help the children become independent and also learn some entrepreneurial skills. The idea is to create projects over a few months which will involve the children in designing and rolling out products - for e.g. puppets, organic produce etc. Through the projects we tie in concepts related to business studies, maths, science, social science etc. The kids put up their own stalls and displayed a stunning array of products! There was a very successful sale and all the kids could recover more than their loan amounts! 4 groups were given Rs. 3K each and together they raised a revenue of Rs. 21K!!

Here are the words of Sriranjani, a facilitator/coordinator for the Kaigal Sanctuary Schools:

"It was a great event yesterday. Our children and teachers were all happy and proud to have participated in the run. They were so excited and thrilled that not a single one of them took off their bib or cap till they reached The Valley School.

The event was very well organized and it went off so smoothly. Like you had mentioned earlier, we are looking for the day when other schools will participate in events like ours which are there just for the joy of doing and participating.

It has been a wonderful experience for all of us going through the training and the discipline. Many of our kids want to run more and Jayaram (name changed) is keen on running the half marathon next. It was indeed a special moment for us to watch Kanthamma (teacher, name changed) run in her saree, overcoming any resistance her community may have posed for her running. Many of our teachers feel willing and able to run to raise funds for their schools.

We would like to convey our sincere thanks for the support and services rendered by the following partners -
Printo - for all the water proof Bibs, beautiful caps and stickers.
Greenpath & Era Organic - for a splendid organic breakfast and organic bananas for the run.
Ponnusamy - Neighborhood milkman for providing fresh cow's milk and space for parking!
Rajashekar Hospitals - for their reliable and consistent medical/emergency support as always.
Volunteers - Manjula, Kavitha, Siva (Cyclists), Decathlon reps (Sijo, Sachin), Mathew, Anuj, Sourabh, Hyma and other Citrix volunteers, Sriram (Asha volunteer), Kids and staff of Ananya!!


Video(Courtesy: Tom Cole, a team asha runner):

Team Asha 8K run prep
Team Asha 8K Run - Start/Finish area
Photos from Prem's camera
Manjula's Facebook Album (has photos taken on the run route)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Strides of Hope - Update Feb 20

I was there at Cubbon park at around 12.30PM to catch up to say "Hi".

Our Ananya kids were also there all tired in the blazing sun.

Then came Santhosh with Chandra. Going strong as of 1PM. Then Balaji delegated some certificate writing to Anisha for Ananya kids.

It was balzing hot already and Santhosh was due to hit the 24 hr mark in 3 hours. Way to go man.

Great going volunteers.

Go Team Asha Go !

Here are some pics:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ananya Puppet Show

After a long long time !
Team Asha is also a partner in this event.

Last Friday we where at St.John's Auditorium to watch our Ananya kids perform puppet show.

Unlike previous performances this one was amazingly different. Rohit, the chief composer did a marvelous job and many of us were just stunned to see this amazing show.

Great Job Kids. Truly Amazing. Don't miss out and this Friday, 12th Feb, 2010 at JSS Auditorium, Jayanagar 8th block as they have the last show at 12, 3 and 7PM respectively. MUST SEE !

More Pics in here:

Good Luck to all for the Auroville Run, 2010 as the running season draws to a close.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kumite Sessions - Ananya

Team Asha is back full strength at Ananya after almost a months lull. Long weekends and midterm breaks robbed all of us of our great times at Ananya but you can't keep us waiting for long.

This Saturday we had a full throttle Karate sessions, with Sensei Manjula sparing none. All sets were repeated 100 times ! Before the Karate session we started off with for 3K tempo running.

We then had "Kumite" sessions where we learned the aspect of sports Karate where one showcases the ability to sneak through the opponent's defenses rather than actually hurting/hitting him. This was an important aspect that needed to be conveyed to the kids as they can get carried away easily.

Then we had one of our kids, Priya sharing us her experiences in watching "kalaripayattu" show and what it demanded as a form of martial art. Then our Sensei emphasized on how much dexterity one required in performing "kalari".

Some pics in here:

So we are back and updates will follow as usual !
Aregato !

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Team Asha 4k/8k @ Prakriya

Wow ! What a run !

It was a unique event where children from various backgrounds - class, caste, religion etc. participated together with adults from again various backgrounds - teachers, professionals, students etc. Children from Asha supported efforts also participated in the event for free of cost. The event also focused on environmental sensitivity as we reduced the use of plastic/paper to a bare minimum and used environmentally sustainable practices to the fullest extent possible. This helped create awareness for such a need for environnmental sensitivity amongst children as well.

The race begins

100+ children and 100+ adults - in all about 220 runners where participated at the run on Saturday, October 24th. Lots of children and staff from Prakriya lined the the entire race route cheering vociferously for all the runners!

Go Team Asha, Go !

There were two options - 4km and 8km. Many children did the 8km run. The run was on a scenic route with a lot of trees in sections and in some sections running along paddy fields. The 2K out and back route had a turn around in a small village called Gattahalli. The village folks also cheered and supported us. All the water stops and cheering stations were managed and organized by the children of Prakriya school. It was an electric atmosphere with the children cheering all their teachers, parents and every runner who came along the route! We saw them every 500m in the course. It was heart warming to see the children cheer each other forgetting all the differences between them once outside of this setting.

Bravo !

We would like to thank for all the magnanimous support from the community for this event. We got nice high quality T-shirts at a very nominal price, thanks to Satya Dyeings. Printo supported us with Bibs, Flyers etc. Thanks to Children and Staff of Prakriya for hosting a wonderful event and providing tasty breakfast for everyone!

There are still lots of T-shirts left from the event. You could buy it for your friends and family at just Rs. 150 per shirt and support the event.

Team Asha, Bangalore

Results from the event are available now available : Download/View results!

Here are some pics from one of the cameras:

Here are more pictures from another camera: Team Asha run photos

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Team Asha Vs Ananya - Cricket match.

(Contributed by Balaji, Asha volunteer, Team Asha runner)

A fully fired Team Ananya was ready and roaring to go. Team Asha - Well had a team but only 5 people - too small to make it up a cricket team. Santhosh went out to scout a team like Aamir Khan in the Lagaan. He invited George, a teacher at Ananya and Valentina, a volunteer with Ananya to be part of the team Asha. Valentina exclaimed 'I don't know how to play'. Santhosh replied that it serves well to be part of Asha Cricket team! Such was our composition that included the likes of Vinod, Sriram, Balaji, Srinivas and Santhosh! Eventually, we were granted permission by Shashi to sign a few players from Ananya. We got George, Asha (thanks to her name!), Aruna, ........ . The team was ready and all set to battle out with Ananya. As we assembled the team, a bloodless coup saw Vinod self-anointing himself as captain as he walked out with Suresh for the toss. Nevertheless, Team Asha saw their first success of the day by winning the toss and the victory was celebrated with glee. Opting to bat first, the primary target was to see through 15 overs of the game. Balaji and Sunder were sent out to open the innings amidst the fanfare and cheering. Balaji was set to face the fiery bowling of Suresh. After facing the first ball, he looked at the Pavilion and complained for bowling fast only to be reminded that it is a match and he has to face it!

More photos here- Ananya_cricket_game

The first two overs saw some sluggish batting from Balaji and quick loss of the first wicket. Vinod joined Balaji at the crease and both stayed till the end of the fifth over surviving on a ball to ball to basis. At the end of fifth over, Balaji announced his retirement from the innings, much to the delight of batting team and even the bowling team, who by now had almost gone to sleep, watching one of the most boring batting performance since Navjot Singh Sidhu's 201 against West Indies in 1997! The scoreboard was 30 for the loss of 1 wicket with Balaji contributing just 5 runs after staying for 5 overs. He was replaced by Srinivas at the crease who decided to add some sparkle to the game. He started his innings with a six followed by two fours and game was back in action. Team Asha, who until then was seen praying to Rain Gods to save them, started seeing some hope in the game. Shashi was getting furious seeing their team let so many runs. Instead of being calm and composed cricket team manager, she now resembled a football team manager with her instructions from the pavilion. Vinod retired after the 7th over making way for George. He took to the field amidst intense pressure with Shashi asking him to come back to the pavilion at the earliest. There seems to be no dearth of healthy sledging before and during the game. One of the kids asked Santhosh if he had a proper sleep the previous night! George and Srinivas played a brilliant innings together and the score crossed the three digit mark. The ASHA team finished, what looked impressive then, at a total of 107 in 15 overs.

More photos here- Ananya_cricket_game

Ananya team came out to bat with Suresh and ....... opening the innings. The bowling attack of Santhosh and Srinivas was soon found to be posing no challenge to the Ananya team. With the crowd cheering loudly 'Ya Ya Ananya,' the batsmen lashed out the poor bowling attack into pieces. The fielders at the boundary line had a tough time going out and collecting the balls and getting it back to bowler. Their fifty appeared too soon after just 3 overs! Vinod suddenly remembered that he is the captain and decided to get into action. He rolled up his sleeves, (even though he wore only a half-sleeve shirt)!, picked up the ball and decided to bowl. That over did not do much to change the course of the game. However, the next over by George was more fruitful. He bowled an economical spell and picked up a wicket in the last ball of the over. This was followed by another wicket in the first ball of the next over. The batsmen was caught behind by George off the first ball by Balaji. A strange sense of optimism was found in the Team Asha's camp only to be dampened by the announcement '20 runs more'. Yeah, too little too late! The over proved to be productive with Balaji taking another wicket - another caught behind by George. Suresh stood firm on the other end taking his team past the target with 7 overs to spare! Sriram did not take the field as he stayed back to do the scoring. Encouraged by the success, the boys challenged the team for another encounter - this time, it was for 10 overs.

More photos here- Ananya_cricket_game

Team Asha again took to bat with Sriram and George opening the innings. Sriram, who got out in the previous match without even touching the ball, decide to show his mettle. They put up an impressive total in the first few overs. George got out to make way for Srinivas who could not produce the fireworks that he produced in the first match. Vinod joined Sriram and they put on an impressive 55 runs in 4 overs. Some tight bowling by Suresh refrained them from soaring high. Sriram made way for Santhosh who carried on the good work on the field. The batting by Team Asha vastly improved and they piled up runs. The boys from Ananya were getting tired and they could not keep up the same standards of performance they demonstrated in the first match. Team ASHA finished the 10 overs with an impressive 122 runs.

More photos here- Ananya_cricket_game

Team Asha opened their bowling with Sriram. Sriram started with a bang picking up couple of wickets in the first over. Joining him was George who bowled impressively conceding few runs. Sharad held the fort on one end for Ananya and he was soon joined by Suresh. Both added significant amount of runs and the target looked achievable. Team ASHA tactically decided to bowl slower deliveries . The bowling was getting slower and slower testing the patience of the Ananya batsmen. Balaji’s bowling was more sedate than his batting though it only conceded a few runs. After a few economical overs by George and Balaji, the target was now getting difficult. Ananya’s fans were seen leaving the venue and this acted as an additional pressure on the boys. Suresh was run out and this turned the game towards Team Asha. The target was now 42 runs from 18 balls. The next over from Balaji costed ASHA few more runs and the target got reduced to 26 runs from 12 balls. Few more run outs in the next over and target for the last over was 16 runs. Team Ananya eventually lost to Team Asha by 8 runs.

Team ASHA finally made some ground for their humiliating defeat in the first match with a consolation win in the second.