Friday, December 9, 2011

December 2011 CORDUSA News

Hope you are all having a great time decorating your home to bring holiday cheer!

We, at CORDUSA also did some holiday decorations. We redesigned our web site! Please check out the new design at  http://www.cordusa.org.

CORDUSA New website
In fact, I started redesigning the site as a distraction, to get my mind away from some disturbing news. I thought dipping my hands deep into mindless technology would be the easiest way to keep it occupied. However, as the design evolved I was able to keep my mind positive and was very thankful that I was able to turn my worries and anxieties into something creative. Please do visit the website and let me know how I can make it better.

Let us start our information blog with our activities during October – December in USA.


This quarter, there were 5 walkathons conducted, raising a total sum of over $80K! Thanks to our Tri State (New Jersey, Philadelphia & Bridgewater), Columbus, Buffalo, Boston & Minneapolis centers! Keep up the wonderful work! Click on the links above to   see the pictures.

What is the true spirit of giving? How can service to the community transform our lives as well as others?  Austin based CHYKs (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) learned this valuable lesson during their camp on October 1st. As part of their Seva, they cleaned up the Montopolis Greenbelt as part of   their camp. Please check out the pictures and see how much fun they had!

CORDUSA, Princeton Chapter did a school supplies drive for the Auten Road Intermediate School, NJ in September. "Your example of caring and sharing will hopefully promote a spirit of community cohesiveness and responsibility in the many students you have helped,” wrote the social worker who received the supplies on behalf of the school.

Princeton also went through "WorldCares"  http://www.worldcares.org/ training and started working with them on the Hurricane Irene relief work.

A few high school students at Minneapolis started the project of making fleece blankets to sell at the Chinmaya Mission Minneapolis Diwali Mela, and they wanted the sales proceeds to be donated to CORDUSA! What a wonderful way to contribute! Those super soft, extra warm blankets sold out in no time!

Our Washington DC Chapter did an "Operation Gratitude" run during Halloween. Children shared their Halloween bounty with U.S military soldiers overseas, thereby expressing gratitude for their service. These acts of caring help us instill in our children the values of giving and sharing.

As for our upcoming adventures…


We will have our annual service visit in June 2012. This is an opportunity for high school students enrolled in the Chinmaya Bala Vihars to travel to India and volunteer their time serving the under-served. Next year’s visit will be to CORD Sidhbari. More information will be available soon. Stay tuned!

As we speak, Acharya Vivek Gupta of Niagara Falls is getting ready to lead a group of CHYKs on a Yatra, and part of their trip will take them to CORD Siruvani. We are very eager to hear more about their visit and certainly will keep you posted as well!

Thank you Shabana again for helping me pull the following information together…

News from CORD INDIA & CORD SRI LANKA


CORD Thamaraipakkam trains to gain. They conducted a 21 day ‘Basic skill Training on jute bags and other fancy Jute articles’ for self help group members and young women from nearby villages. Next time you visit India, instead of buying designer bags, why not support their cause and go eco-friendly? We'll be helping a lot of families this way. Think about it. >>Read the full report

CORD Siruvani promotes healthy teeth. More than 400 villagers were screened for dental caries, oral cancer and other problems. The villagers were also explained the effects of tobacco chewing and smoking. They were given packs of toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash and shown the correct method of brushing teeth. >>Read the full report


CORD Sidhbari continues to grow! They have identified 770 Village Volunteer Resource Persons (VVRP) on different issues pertaining to sanitation, domestic violence, female feticide, HIV/AIDS, adolescent girls, Bal
Vihar, single women and disabilities in 28 selected Panchayats. They are continuously working on training VVRPs in order to better serve the community. >>Read the full report

Ever wonder where our rice comes from? CORD Deuladiha is working on training farmers and rice growers to be more efficient in producing rice to guard them from scarcity during drought season. >>Read the full report

CORD Lathikata goes green! They recently held a “Vana Mahotshav” celebration where they planted more than three hundred seedlings in school premises! They also conducted a quiz for 100 school children along with an awareness program on the importance of the forest and its protection. >>Read the full report

CORD Kaza improves the standard of education for children. While CORD Kaza (Chinmaya Vijaya Orphanage) continues to provide all the basic necessities and training for the children, they are now sending the children off campus for formal schooling. >>Read the full report

The former President of India, Hon. Abdul Kalam, sponsored   a lunch for all the children at Chinmaya Vijaya on the occasion of his birthday.

After the Tsunami in Sri Lanka, women have been widowed or displaced from their homes. CORD Sri Lanka helps such women get back on their feet by actively facilitating self-help groups and by implementing a program with the bank of Ceylon whereby the women can have access to loans. >>Read the full report

Let us continue spreading holiday cheer….


Sree Sankara Balashramam, an orphanage in Kerala state, was started in 1978 by His Holiness, Kanchi Kamakodi Peethadipathi, Jayendra Saraswati Swamikal. In 1988, during a visit of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda in Trivandrum for Jnaana yagna, he had a chance to visit the Balashramam. At that time the working condition of the Ashram was not optimal. Observing this, Gurudev's heart melted and he took necessary actions to resuscitate the noble vision. This was followed by the handing over of Sree Sankara Balashramam to Chinmaya Mission, Trivandrum. We bring you a few pictures from the Balashramam.

Let us introduce you to, Varun, an eight year old, with aortic valve stenosis (narrowing of the Aortic valve in the heart). His parents are very poor and he has just undergone Balloon Valvuloplasty with the help of Rs. 50,000 that CORD Siruvani managed to get as donations. They require funds up to Rs.10,000 for his regular hospital visits, reviews and medications at concessional rates in Kuppuswamy Naidu Hospital.

Also, please meet Naseera Begum, an 11 year old girl from Assam, and now resides in Thennamanallur, the village where CORD Siruvani operates from. Naseera has a very aggressive, malignant bone cancer (osteosarcoma ) in her right leg which requires immediate surgery and chemotherapy to save or prolong her life. The biopsy and MRI have already cost Rs 11,000 at a subsidized rate in New Ganga Hospital which CORD Siruvani managed to raise from donations. Another Rs. 100,000 is needed for chemotherapy followed by surgery.

If you would like to brighten your holidays further, please consider helping these two children. You can make your donations online to CORD Siruvani,  so that these funds will be used for Varun and Naseera.

You always knew that volunteering is the right thing to do, but have you given it enough thought as to why it is key and why volunteering is good for your career? Please see Nicole Williams's blog, she has very good insight into this matter.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I am just an email away...

Happy Holidays!
Subha

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 2011 CORDUSA News

Dr. Meera Krishna "The Village Doctor" - The Hindu

Hello there!

There is a lot happening with CORDUSA, and we want to bring it all to you. Here is my first trial through the blog. I would appreciate your feedback on this.

A big thanks to Shabana Dipchand for helping me with it.
Let us start with CORDUSA news from our US of A!

In July, Pujya Guruji sent an update regarding CORDUSA and it was followed by a survey which was sent to all centers.

I am very happy to report the results and suggestions of the survey below.  Certainly, there are several other activities we are doing under our Mission centers and we will continue to work on collecting the information and presenting it to you.

Local humanitarian projects done at the centers (descending order)
Feeding the homeless
Distributing blankets and/or coats in winter
Providing help to elderly
Mentoring/ tutoring children in the community
Helping Bhutanese refugees
Collecting and distributing school supplies
Distributing sandwich bags
Offering professional services
Creating holiday baskets



The fundraising activities for CORD at the centers (descending order)
Walk-for-CORD
Readathon
Cultural Event
Member 90th Birthday gift collection
Annual kite festival

Suggestions
Request for Poster Panels for CORDUSA activity display purposes
Need regular meeting of all the leads across the US centers for CORD USA to share ideas.


We will work on implementing the suggestions and collecting relevant information.  Now, let us take a bird's eye view of CORDUSA events over the last months...

  • The children in Virginia’s Summer Camp 2011 participated in "Love in Action", a series of seva activities.  They reached out to the needy through a sandwich drive (June 24th); toiletries drive (July 8th) and a card drive for sick children in Ronald McDonald House in Washington D.C (July 1st).  
  • In June, we organized a service visit to Sidhbari, please read about it on our facebook page and on blog!
  • Miami, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Atlanta, Portland and Ann Arbor were in the list of centers that conducted a "Walk for CORD" this year Jan-Sept.  See more on our events page.  We will also send out our progress report at the end of the year.
  • Chinmaya Mission Chicago conducted two fundraisers for CORD.

We are very glad to be part of this movement, everything you do to raise awareness and funds helps the needy

    As for what is coming up, October is a very busy month!

    • CM Minneapolis is preparing for their Walk for CORD on October 1st.
    • CHYK Austin is conducting a  seva retreat entitled "The Joy of Service",  where spirituality joins hands with service on October 1st.
    • Chinmaya Halton is doing a fundraiser  for CORD Sri Lanka on October 1st.

    Now, we will look at a few highlights from CORD Centers in India and Sri Lanka.  All quarterly reports are up on our website, on the "News and Events" page.  Here, I can only touch on some of the highlights from some of the CORD centers.  Please see the full report for more information, because there is a lot of great work happening and it is hard to list them all in a blog!

    I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Meera Krishna whose selfless service was acknowledged by the national newspaper, The Hindu. Please see The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : The village doctor

    CORD DEULADIHA is promoting the conservation of medicinal herbs: Rauwolfia Serpetina which is popularly known as Pagal ki Dawa has been disappearing from the forests due to excessive exploitation. These herbs are especially helpful in the treatment of blood pressure, stress and  hypertension. CORD Deuladiha is working on getting local farmers trained in planting these herbs to conserve them for our future.

    CORD Deuladiha's empowering of women continues:  A new Mahila Mandal with forty tribal women was formed in the village of Tamanga. CORD Deuladiha now has 23 Mahila Mandals which brings it to 868 members.

    As a result of their self-help-group, watermelon brings additional Rs. 48 lakhs to villages.  The cultivation of watermelon took a giant leap this summer! The watermelons were transported to and sold in distant places, yielding at least Rs. 48 lakhs  benefiting around 200 households.

    CORD KAZA blossoms young minds. Aside from studying the regular curriculum, Chinmaya Vijaya children are also celebrating festivals such as: Guru Purnima, Independence Day, Krishna Janmashtami and many more. This is indeed a great way to keep our culture and tradition alive!

    CORD LATHIKATA is getting Tech Savvy:  The 4th batch of the Computer Literacy Program kicks off once again! Eighteen youths from Lathikata and a nearby village have been admitted to a three month’s computer course which will be conducted by a software professional for three hours daily, five days a week.

    They also did a Special  TREEt for Guruji’s birthday:  CORD distributed varieties of Neem, Karanja, Guava, Papaya, Lemon, Ashoka, Amla etc.  for plantation in the orchards of the villagers in Lohadar & Budhikudar. Simultaneously, they also conducted an awareness program emphasizing on the education of young children, negative effects of alcohol and the process of preparation of herbal medicines.

    As part of their work on fighting social injustice, CORD Lathikata organized a signature campaign on April 8, 2011 in support of Anna Hazare’s fast  for the enactment of  the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ and staged a one-day Dharana at the main market of Lathikata.


    CORD SIDHABARI is booming. As of March 2011, CORD has facilitated 1,547 self-help groups and it doesn’t stop there. CORD Sidhabari is now working with 1,311 self-help groups composed of 17,520 members. Way to go!

    They take a strong stride in curing anemia.  CORD Sidhabari arranged for the testing of Hemoglobin levels in 358 girls. Among them 70% were diagnosed with anemia. As a result, they were given iron supplements and were advised on a new diet which includes jaggery, gram and peanuts.

    CORD SIRUVANI celebrates World Anti-Tobacco day. On May 31, 2011, CORD Siruvani visited various areas and showed the villagers cds about tobacco cessation. They are also constantly raising awareness on the hazards of tobacco use and options available to stop tobacco.

    CORD THAMARAIPAKKAM is encouraging students to wake up! Choosing a career has never been easy especially for youth today. Thanks to CORD Thamaraipakkam’s Vizhithidu workshop which means ‘Wake Up’ in Tamil, seventeen experts in different fields such as law, teaching, armed services and more addressed 150 students guiding and inspiring them on different career opportunities.

    To cool off the hot summer, CORD Thamaraipakkam hosted a children’s COOL camp which is a four day non-residential camp for rural children. Around 350 students learned about spirituality and patriotism through interactive sessions, folk arts, games etc.

    CORD SRI LANKA is expanding its outreach to provide counseling and carry out visualization sessions among disillusioned men, women and children of Jaffna, Killinochi and Batticaloa to set aside past wounds and re-start their lives.

    Around 600 women in various parts of Jaffna and Killinochi were coached to form Self-Help Groups (SHG); the SHGs have now formed Mahalir Mandram (MM) groups. They have been empowered to rebuild their family lives.

    These are just glimpses of the news from India and Srilanka CORD centers.  Please get more information and full report from our News and Events page - http://www.cordusa.org/index.php/events-calendar

    You will be able to get more updates from our webpage (www.cordusa.org) as well as our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/cordusa).  As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I am just an email away...

    Thank you!
    Subha