Saturday, 22 December 2012

Reality Gives Events....Teach India YEP Graduation!

On Sunday our Youth Empowerment Program students gathered at the National Centre for Performing Arts to celebrate their graduation from the Teach India English program. The English component of our Youth Empowerment Program has always been a huge focus and draw for the program, however this batch we made a significant change to the curriculum and elected to become part of the Teach India program. This is a Times of India initiative which uses a curriculum designed by the British Council and taught by volunteers from around Mumbai.

"There were two main reasons we decided to adopt the Teach India program. First, it focuses on conversation and speaking skills, which our students have always struggled with. Some students come to the YEP with pretty good written skills, but lack the confidence to speak and are looking to improve this in particular. Second, there is a job opportunity component in particular for individuals who wish to work in the retail sector. We have always hoped that the YEP could be a stepping stone to employment or other education or training programs and this is a first step towards developing this sort of career ladder." said Summer Starr, Executive Director, Reality Gives.

Teach India focuses on the speaking ability of students with the goal of making them more employable. They then offer students the opportunity to meet employers and apply for positions at their career fairs.
Sunday's event included performances from about 15 schools across Mumbai who also participated in the program and a high tea. Performances included english musical and dance performances as well as skits. Supporting the environment and the benefits of speaking English were big themes for the skits this year. The Reality Gives YEP students did not perform this time, but we look forward to participating in the future.

Teach India Volunteers teach for 2 hours a day, 3 alternate days a week for 100 days. They commit to 8.5 days of compulsory training under the British Council. The next batch of trainees will start March/April 2013.

If you would like to volunteer to teach English through the Teach India program, see their website for more information:

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Reality Tours and Travel News...The Blind Walk!

On Saturday, Reality Tours in collaboration with BMW Guggenheim ( an urban think tank currently in Mumbai to explore how urban environments can be made more responsive to people’s needs- did a tour of a very different nature! The 26 participants, from Mumbai and abroad, were blindfolded for the full 90 minutes of a custom made tour, which started from the serene park setting of Horniman circle and ended in the equally serene setting of Byculla museum. 

The “bit inbetween” was anything but, as the participants were bombarded with different smells such as the chickoos, tea, garlic and meat in Crawford Market, or the freshly made pau bhaji, or dosas in one of the “Khao Gallis” visited- ie street food where they also sampled some of the local delicacies. They also experienced many of the different sounds that one can’t avoid in Mumbai- honking of vehicles, a mosque’s call to prayer, and of course the sound of people, including some telling them to get out of the way! 

Each participant had a guide designated to them, and this role was performed admirably by Dharavi’s youngsters, some of whom are or have been part of Reality Gives’ programs. These young men expertly helped their guests on and off buses and trains and pointed off where there were dips in the road or obstacles to avoid. 

After the tour, the lab facilitated a feedback session where the participants shared their experiences and they were shown video footage of where they had been; a number of different emotions were expressed but the consensus was that it had been a fascinating experience and that they had felt very safe. Well done to the guys from Dharavi- you did us proud! 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Reality Gives Connection Projects...Masoom Resource Centre

One of the first connection projects of Reality Gives was Masoom, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to establish quality education in night-schools in Mumbai. Last Saturday they opened a new Resources Centre which was supported by Reality Gives.  Chris and Summer visited the opening to inaugurate the centre and to discuss future plans.

Please read below Masoom's perspective on the new centre and our partnership:

Given the inadequacies in the Night School infrastructure, there are several children in the Night School who are not able to fulfil their aspirations to move up in life. They have the desire to pick up and strengthen their skill sets, but the Night Schools are not equipped to meet their aspirations.  Masoom is a not-for-profit organisation with a passion for establishing quality education in Night Schools. In order to achieve this, Masoom partners with Night Schools to facilitate the “Night School Transformation Programme”. The Transformation Programme is specifically tailored to meet the needs of the Night School and the individual students.
Based on the studies conducted by Masoom, it was felt that the two broad areas where such skills upgradation will have a substantial positive impact were Communication skills, especially English Conversational Skills, and Vocational Skills, which enhance the employability and hence the livelihood generating capabilities for the students. Accordingly, Masoom decided to set up a Resource Centre that would offer courses to help the students pick up skills to make them future ready.
The Resource centre was inaugurated on Dec 8, 2012 by Mr. Chris Way, Founder – Reality Gives and Ms. Nikita Chawla of HR College. The Resource Centre is currently training two batches of 10 students each on Computer Proficiency and one batch of 14 students on English Conversation Skills. It will add more market oriented courses in the future.
The Resource centre is a key component of Masoom’s Career Cell, which provides personalized and group coaching & guidance to the students of Masoom enabled Night Schools, and equips them with skills that help them make informed choices about their future.
Masoom is grateful to Reality Gives for their support towards setting up the Resource Centre.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Reality Gives Events... Count on Cycling and Beach Clean-up with RUR!

Today RUR - Are you reducing, reusing, recycling?, the Panasonic Experience Centre and the Reality Group organised a cycle rally to promote the cause of e-waste recycling in Mumbai. Seventy people of all ages - the youngest was 6 years, the oldest above 70 years old - participated in the event to support the cause and spread the word for a greener Mumbai. 

RUR is a longterm partner of Reality that provides us with recycled paper, conducts workshops on recycling in our Community Centre and helps us to promote our school tours. Panasonic supports them as they aim to become a green technology provider as well - at their store in Andheri where the tour started everyone could come and give their e-waste for free. They will recycle it in a 100% clean way. Reality Tours and Travel provided the bicycles - therefore a big thank you to our amazing Asim who had big issues to organize them in a bicycle free city. 

Two weeks back RUR and Panasonic also organised a Beach-Clean-Up at Juhu Chowpatty. For two hours a group of 30 people collected waste and talked to beach promenader and stall and shop owners how we all can do our bit to keep our beaches clean. Five tour guides and ten kids of our cricket and Aussie football program in Dharavi joined the awareness raising and were rewarded with a certificate. 

Thank you Monisha and Sejal for so much efforts towards a greener Mumbai. And of course we are also excited to see so many people from all strate of society to come together to promote this cause - thank you!

Please like RUR also on facebook to help them grow bigger and stay up to date about their events:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Reality Tours and Travel News...Responsible Tourism Awards Ceremony

Ray Way, Chairman of Reality Gives and father of our founder Chris felt very honored when he received the awards in the sections "Best Poverty Reduction" and "Overall Winner" on behalf of the RTT team during the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards Ceremony two weeks back. Read here about the event and how proud he is to be part of our team:
"My name is Ray Way, my son Chris and his partner Krishna Pujari formed Reality Tours in 2005.   I chair Reality Gives UK which gives additional support to Reality’s activities in India.

The sheer breadth and diversity of the activities of the companies participating in the awards ceremony was truly amazing.  One that particularly caught my eye was the Huilo Huilo biological reserve in Chile – a must for a future holiday.  The stories that some had to tell were truly impressive.  Perhaps most important was the obvious enthusiasm and commitment of the participants which was infectious.  It seemed more like a celebration than a competition for award.

On behalf of Reality I was delighted to receive the awards for Poverty Reduction and the overall award for 2012 – it was a very emotional moment for me and a wonderful recognition of eight years and commitment by Chris, Krishna and the team.  Later at the evening reception I was touched by the number of generous comments I received.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Reality Gives Connection Project...Barefoot Acupuncture Site Report

The women section of the clinic

Barefoot Acupuncturist Dharavi Clinic is located in the midst of Dharavi Slum in Mumbai. It’s a precious stone of fraternal help in a multi-cultural neighborhood.
The neighborhood has an highly active population and life never ceases on the narrow alleys and streets, making Dharavi an authentic maze to anyone that doesn’t know the area.

BA Dharavi Clinic is at one brilliant corner of this amazing maze. You would never guess that at this particular spot someone set up a western style multi-bed clinic to help anyone in need.

Satish and the expert volunteer Valerie
The Clinic is full of people, and the variation goes from full to extremely full. 80‰ of the people that come to us mainly have pain related complaints and post-stroke recovery needs.

Acupuncture is a serious business in this part of the world, and its exactly that seriousness that founded this project, and more than that, it provides the clinic results we, as acupuncturists, can observe as the works progresses. Every person is a single case and response takes its own individual time, but progression is undeniable as we see the people siting outside waiting for their turn to receive treatment. 

Our team is composed by two indian full-time acupuncturists, one assistant, and an occasional volunteer that takes part of the project. The full time acupuncturists amazingly manage alone most of the patients regardless of numbers – everyone that shows up receives treatment with equal concentration and commitment.
The clinic is always packed

“I arrive at the Clinic every morning at 9:15am. Our assistant Mitali, and my colleague acupuncturist Vrushali, are already there preparing everything that is required for treatments, I say “good morning” to everyone, and go around to make sure everything is at its right place. Then I sit on my chair to have my morning chai and prepare myself to work. Patients start to show and sit patiently at the waiting room with their file on their hands and the eagerness for their turn. Every time I feel surprised when I look at them and realize that they come not for regular medicine but for a treatment with needles. Happiness and satisfaction fills me when I greet them in, and happy faces greet me back with “namaste”. Some lay down on the treatment beds, some sit on chairs as they come in and wait for me.
My first patient, Mr Nadar who lives nearby, has pain in his right leg and he’s coming to the clinic for 2 months now. I ask him how is he feeling about his complaint, he replies that he has had an improvement of 80‰ and that he feels much better but still some little pain remains. He’s very happy and rests on the treatment bed with total faith. I start my treatment as always taking his pulse and seeing the tongue, then I apply acupuncture.
To be able to witness this is pure happiness to me and I’m thankful to Barefoot Acupuncturists which had given me the way of joyful, blissful life and inner peace.” Satish, Acupuncturist at BA Dharavi Clinic

Satish and Walter, the founder of
Barefoot Acupuncturists from Belgium
“I am suffering since one year from pain in leg and lower back. I have done so many treatments but didn’t found relief. When I started treatment at Barefoot Acupuncturists at Dharavi Clinic I got an improvement of 80‰ in my pain. I take treatment twice a week since 2 months. I’m truly thankful  to Barefoot Acupuncturists.” Mr A.M. Nadar testimony from 9.11.12

This article was written by Chetan Sharma, a staff member of Barefoot Acupuncturists