Friday, February 28, 2014

3rd week of assignment in Ludhiana, Punjab- India

That was our 3rd week in Ludhiana  and I cannot explain you in written words how many things has happened to me, so let me share with you some of them.

According to our Project with Ludhiana Steel Rolling Mills with my 2 team members (Anneliese&Lukas) we believe that for the next week we will be ready as the end of the 4th week we are committed to deliver a Program Documentation and of course a Final Presentation with our recommendations. They should see what they need to cover in the coming months/year during their pilot/phase 1.

On 26th Feb we had the first meeting with the Potential Committee Members (GM, Managers, Sales, Hr and Employees from various levels)

We show to them according to our surveys, questionnaires and focus group studies what they should focus and how they should build up the tasks within their LSRM Girl  Education Program.

Based on our suggestions those are the main activities they should follow:
1. Establish a pre-screening activity. At that stage they should visit all of their employees who have at least 1 girl child. 
2. LSRM Committee task to select the girl children based on some requirements which we come up: 
  • Committee will meet to select beneficiaries based on scores from home visit (pre-screening activity ad /or evaluation form)
  • Selected girl children beneficiaries will be selected based on total score from Household Assessment and Girl Child Interview.
  • Committee will determine level of support for both girl children and mothers via the “menu” of options.
3. Committee members should attend in weekly program meetings and they should facilitate program monitoring and evaluation like hold monthly committee meeting to review evaluations and any health issues the girl children face.
4. A part of a PR activity they should arrange how to get involved with social change initiatives like Corporate Social Responsibility for LSRM and spread awareness on issues facing girl’s education

We will provide for them a Monitoring and Evaluation tracker which will help them to supervise not only those girl children& mothers progress who will be involved in this Girl Child Education CSR program, but to monitor cost and budget.

We visited 1 home again, but now not at Ludhiana but at Sirhind, Punjab and ask about them how much a family spend on education in general.
Based on this we can put this information to the LSRM Program "menu" and the committee will than select which will be the company's best option how to support each families selected girl child(children).

We had than a good surprise as based on a suggestion  - coming from Rajeev and from the Employee-  we went to a famous Gurdwara, which is called: Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib

We came back to Ludhiana and the day was not over, we went directly to Shri Krishna Mandir which is a very famous & biggest temple of Ludhiana in Model Town Extension, Ludhiana where we live currently.
What Rajeev mentioned to me this temple is one of the newest beautifully furnished temples constructed on 500 Sq. yards with more than 520 statues have been established in this temple, but the main attraction is the 37 feet high statue of Lord Hanuman.
Janam Ashtami, Dushera, & Shivaratri are three festivals celebrated with great fervor, enthusiasm & glory at Krishna Mandir.
A large number of devotees, use to recite bhajans and shlokas & Devotees kept pouring on this temples during the whole day.

And to finish this day (and almost the whole week) on Thursday near 21.30 it started to rain really heavily and than it started hailing as well, see the pictures below. You can see a "little" dismay in my face.

Next blog will follows tomorrow, as we participate in an IBM -NGO Volunteer Day in Ludhiana at one of Swabhimaan's school, post you soon.

#ibmcsc india22

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nice weekend in Himachal Pradesh

"Himachal Pradesh what a beautiful part of India..."

7 members from the IBM CSC India 22 team & myself spent the weekend in Shimla.

View from the main squere

The weather was nice and we had the chance to visit most of the places which connects the Shimla Heritage Walk on Saturday.

We started our walk with the Jakhoo Temple, which is the main temple of the Hindu God Hanuman. The temple is at the top of the Jakhoo mountain 2.455m above see level.

The entrance
Hanuman sculpture (around 32m)
Dimitri, Anneliese myself and Lukas

Is he hungry?
"We are a family"
The temple of Hanuman

As you can see from the pictures that place - Shimla itself as well - is a favourite place for the monkeys. To share with you my experience some of them are friendly, but some of them can be very aggressive as well (of course they are hungry and they are searching for any moment if they can get/steel some snack "from the tourists")

We continued our trip in Shimla and some of us stopped for a street food at the local Lakkar Bazar. Have a look at the "Indian carrots sculpture" as well the red-white-green dips of course it reminded me for my Hungarian national flag.

The carrots Himalaya
Lakkar Bazar

"Hungarian" street food

In Shimla center we found lot of nice places which British colonial architecture beauty goes back to the neo- Gothic structure as well.
Main example is the Christ Church, the neo Tudor library building and the Gaiety Theatre building.

Beauty from Shimla
Breathtaking view

Main square of Shimla
Indira Gandhi,  Dzsaváharlál Nehru's daughter

The Gaiety Theatre
Mall Road

I am hungry
Searching for some food

For Sunday we decided to take the Kalka Shimla railway from Shimla to Solan (this took "only" 3 hrs) and which is known by it's breathtaking views of the Himalaya's and surrounding villages.

Here we go!

Our little team,from the right: Cathy, Cristian, Kazu, Anneliese, Dimitri and myself
Train station of Shimla

View from the train

One of the bridges

The view to the Himalaya's

We arrived to Solan
The engine driver with his son

We arrived back to the Hotel at Sunday evening and feel ourselves re- energized after this marvelous weekend.
We wait for the 3rd week of our assignment at Ludhiana in Punjab.

Post you soon!

#ibmcsc india22

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This week wrap up - Ludhiana Steel Rolling Mills - IBM CSC subteam

That was our second week in Ludhiana  .we are middle of our CSC program - and to be honest with you, the time has past so that quickly with us.
Now I would like to summarize what has happened with me and with the team during this week.

As I explained to you in my blog (14th Feb) our project is to focus on girl children education and especially on those who were some how dropped out from school or never attended because of several reasons and also to understand those girl children who are willing to learn, but due to the poverty in her family,  she cannot go to school.

In terms of our methodology (data gathering phase) we surveyed 40 families, went to 5 family visits up till now and made an employee focus group discussion also 2 focus group interviews with other NGO's in Ludhiana who are involved with education programs.

One of them was Swabhimaan a great NGO with lot of experiences also a clear vision on their expansion program and opportunities.

Mr Sanjay in the middle explains about his vision

A group photo from all of us, I hope that was just a begining within the 2 companies

The main outcome was from that discussion that they were pleased to hear that a company from Ludhiana's industrial area came up with this CSR study, and they would like to focus on education. As they mentioned LSRM will have the power to collect from other companies also their children and educate them. What can be interesting as not only to provide education for the families girl children, but there are big potentials for the mothers also. We made a survey and most of the employee's  wife are very welcome to join a vocational program or a work based training.

Focus Group discussion at HR office LSRM

3rd family in scope
4th family in the program
Anneliese tried to ask from the mother what will be her need in terms of her children education
On Wednesday we had a chance to visit one (or the) biggest NGO who focus on children education with key focus on girl children education especially. The NGO name is BHARTI Foundation. Their program is clear and well structured and focusing on education, especially full support school facilities, but more you can read about them under this site: Bharti Satya Schools
I hope LSRM could pick up some good project steps what we heared from Bharti and they can implement into their CSR activity. Thanks for Bharti as they shared with us their professionalism.

Thursday was the day when we finished the data gathering stage and we visited our 5th family as last. I have never seen such a poverty where they live, as they are living just in a rooftop and imagine that under them a factory is operating, and every where in the surrounding lot of factories with incredible big noise and smog.
According to the LSRM  CSR objective they would like to provide education for all of their employees children and especially they would like to motivate the girl children.
With my colleague Anneliese we felt that this family is worth to have the best opportunity out of this program as they are poor but fulfilled with lot of joy and happiness. SMILING is very important for them and of course we SMILE-d back to them. We just simply enjoyed the 1 hour what we could have spent with them.

Anneliese interviewing the oldest girl child

All of us together with this lovely family
Time to say goodbye now and get prepared myself for Shimla trip as we
- 8 members from the IBM CSC team -  will spend the whole weekend in the foot of the Himalaya's, will post you soon!

#ibmcsc india22

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amritsar & the Wagah Border Ceremony

the whole story begins with barefoot(s)...

16th February was a Sunday, so we agreed with the team and with our local consultant Jaspreet to go and visit the famous Sikh Temple, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and in case we will have time we can go and see the Wagah Border Ceremony.

As you can see from the picture I cannot describe you how many people were on the street and all came to Amritsar to see the mystic Golden Temple or Sri Harmandir Sahib and its area.

Some background about Amrisar and the Sikh religion:

Amritsar city is one of the major cities of the Sikh nation. Under instructions from Guru Amar Das Sahib, this city was founded by Guru Ram Das Sahib in 1574.

Sikhism is a practical religion. It does not consist in a certain set of beliefs or mere words. Religion does not imply wandering to shrines and tombs, or following austerities of Yogis. Sikhism is a way of life, something to be lived according to a pattern. Its main virtue is simplicity. There is no super naturalism or mythology on which it rests. It does not believe in devils or angels or heavenly spirits.  Sikhism is a universal religion. 

The Sikh temple is called a Gurdwara. The word 'Gurdwara' means 'Gateway to the Guru'.

Many of the Gurdwaras in Punjab have a pool (sarovar) for bathing in.

In Sikhism one can bath in these pools if they wish, but they should be pure inside in order to accomplish anything. For the water may clean you on the outside, but it cannot clean you on the inside if your heart is not pure. Unlike some religions, pilgrimages is not a part of Sikhism. Sikhs may visit any Gurdwara as they are all considered equal because in all the living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scriptures), is installed as the spiritual head of the Sikh religion. 

We spent in the area around 3.5 hours and we received a better insight of this religion. Have a look on this pictures/video and enjoy the music, the sun and all together the peace what we felt there from the first sight.

Yes, we made it! We had time still so e were on our way to the Wagah Border Ceremony which normally starts when the sun comes down near 17.00 every day. Wagah is the only road border crossing between the two countries

The ceremony lasts for around 45 minutes in total. It starts with high patriotic spirits from sides of the border. Soldiers march towards the gate at the border, which is thrown open when they reach there. The soldiers salute each other other and start lowering the flags.

The flags are lowered at the same time. The soldiers retrieve and fold the flags, the gate slams shut, and a trumpet sounds the end of the ceremony. The soldiers then return with their country's respective flag.

During the ceremony all of the Indian people chanted very loudly:

"Bharat Mata" which is "Mother of India"!

#ibmcsc india22