Friday, June 14, 2013

June 2013 CORDUSA News




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In the middle of May, in the heat which felt like a thousand degrees, but in fact was 110 degrees; I ventured to the heart of Odisha to two of our CORD centers in Deuladiha and Lathikata.  Mona Malkani, CORD India's Secretary and I had a fun, interesting, eventful and educational trip.  I will write all about it, but first let’s cover the major events this quarter.

First and foremost, I am so proud to announce that CORD USA, Inc. has been honored as a 2013 Top-Rated Non-Profit!  The GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations announced on June 12th, 2013 that CORD USA, Inc has been awarded the prestigious 2013 “Top-Rated” award. “Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, “People with direct experience with CORD USA Inc. have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”  A big THANK YOU to all who wrote the raving reviews!

Chinmaya Grameen Sevak Prashikshan (CGSP), a 1-year, free, full-time residential course at Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh, from CORD was inaugurated by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda in early May and is in full swing. The graduates from this course will be posted back to their own villages to help start CORD activities there.  See the pictures…

CORD Deualdilia continues to passionately work to increase their presence and programs in rural villages. These programs include Mahila Mandals, Self-Help Groups (SHG’s), Farmers Club, and Youth Clubs; which are all designed to increase the standard of life in the rural villages.  As of March 2013, CORD Deuladilia has expanded its area of operation to 42 villages, which includes 3,831 households.   Read more…

CORD Kaza stays focused on the importance of education. In order to provide a sound education for the children at Chinmaya Vijaya, CORD Kaza decided to admit all children to the Indian School in Gollapudi. Overall, the children have done very well academically. Each child has passed their examination, and about 85% have secured a distinction of 75 marks. Read more…

CORD Lathikata initiated an integrated health awareness program (Swabalambi Swasthya). The major highlight of this program included educating people on locally available plants and shrubs with remedies that can be prepared at home. These herbal medications can be used to treat gastric issues, joint pain and migraines as well.  Swabalambi Swasthya educated a total of 1,641 people from 35 villages.  The program also provided a free medical consultation to 450 patients and 118 patients were given free herbal medications.  Read more…

CORD Sidhbari is working to integrate persons with different abilities into mainstream society.  Up to date, there are more than 460 people under this program.  CORD includes the children in mainstream education, the adults in Self-Help groups, and enables them to hone their life skills.  CORD has also provided assistive devices such as walkers, specially modified cerebral palsy chairs for children with multiple disabilities and have constructed ramps for improved accessibility.  Read more…

CORD Siruvani’s youth empowers villages. 32 students of the Junior Red Cross of Chinmaya Matriculation School, Vadavalli went to Thennamanallur. They cleaned certain areas in the village, went door to door to speak about anti-plastic awareness and the importance of recycling waste.  They also planted trees in the Panchayat grounds.  Read more…

CORD Tamaraipakkam raised awareness on oral hygiene. An awareness campaign was organized where 392 villagers benefited from a dental check up and treatment by dental surgeons.  The villagers were also taught about the importance of oral hygiene and proper brushing of teeth.  Patients needing more elaborate procedures like fixation of dentures and extraction were referred to the hospital for free treatment.  Read more…

CORD Sri Lanka hosted a fundraiser featuring renowned flutist and performer Himanshu Nanda from India, Chithrasena-Vajira Dance Foundation and Ms. Thivya Sivanesan.  Read about how the self-
help-groups are working in villages like Jaffna, Killinochchi, Batticaloa and Ramboda through various projects like cattle raising, handicrafts, tailoring and other income generating activities. Please read their detailed annual report.

Now, as for our home front;

On April 6th, CORDUSA Portland held a “Homeless Shelter Cook & Serve” for the second time. Every participant agreed that this fulfilling event will surely be repeated on an ongoing basis. Read more…

On April 7th, CORDUSA Los Angeles held a “Walk for CORD” to increase awareness about CORD and its activities. They raised $6K through this event for CORD.  On May 25th CORDUSA Portland held their annual “Walk for CORD”.  They are still tallying the donations and I will be updating you next quarter with the total amount.

On April 13th, CORDUSA NY held “Salsa Meets Bhangra”, a party to raise funds for CORD’s Income generation and Adult literacy & Child education programs. The evening included food, Bhangra and Salsa performances, dancing and a raffle with great prizes. The tickets also included one-month of free Latin dance classes and an 8-week free Intro to meditation class! All had a great time and they all agreed the event will be continued in the future!  Our CORDUSA NY chapter leads Gayathri Narayan and Chandni Trivedi's efforts to bring CORD USA to the mainstream was featured in the "Indian Panorama".  Congratulations ladies!

Back to the adventures in Odhisha!  The kick-off was with Delhi-Ranchi flight.  Quite an eventful different flight than what I was used to. Behind me, one child thinks she is the Mangeshkar of go-air, and screams some garbled songs at the top of her lungs. Just ahead of me a lady is playing some car crash game on her Samsung; with full sound blaring on.  Yet ahead, there is a little child who keeps asking her father to tickle her and keeps laughing. The passengers took it all in stride.

Mona and I overnighted at Ranchi and drove down south for 5-6 hours to Lathikata. I think Lathikata was the HOTTEST place I had been to, EVER!  Swami Kevalanandaji, CORD lead in Lathikata, was very happy to receive us, and showed off the new Mahindra Xylo they received from CORDUSA Portland’s sponsorship last year. I also enjoyed driving it.  We visited a number of SHGs and discussed their concerns.  I was fascinated by the tribal "welcome dance", and I tried the dance steps with them and played their drum.  More than keeping the beat; I think I provided entertainment for them.  :)

In Lathikata, we visited several Self-Help-Groups in Betjharan, Mando, Nuagaon, Timjore and Karlakhaman areas.  In Betjharan, we noticed the beautiful mats they were sitting on and learned that the ladies made it right in their own homes!  Mats were made of Kahjuri leaves and when we asked if we could have a smaller one as a sample to take with us, they turned around and made two (one for me and other for Mona) overnight and delivered at the CORD center next day - that is entrepreneurship!

The day after we reached Lathikata, it was time to move on to Deuladiha, which is again about 5-6 hours southeast of Lathikata. On our way, we realized our chauffeur and Lathikata Community Development Officer didn't really know the way to Deuladiha, so I whipped out my "map my India" GPS from my bag, and it showed us the way to the CORD center in Deuladiha without any problems! I should say I was impressed, as the roads were really primitive and she (well… GPS was set with a female voice, hence "she") was still able to guide us. 

Dr. Rath, who is the CORD lead for Deuladiha showered her affection on us by giving us fresh cut mangos.  I had never seen so many varieties of mangos in my life!  Alok, their Community Development Officer arranged the programs well for us, minimizing our exposure to the really hot sun.  On the first day we went to SNPuogoda to visit two SHG's and learned so much about Bee keeping.  It was an inexplicable feeling to see all the bees just "hanging out" inside the bee case, when the keeper removed the lids to show them to us!  Later we moved on to Bhimkand where we met the youth club and a couple of women's groups.  The youth club impressed me so much by the way they were leading their village cleanups. 

In Deuladiha, the power outages were much more random and severe. Soon I found myself running
out of iPhone, camera, computer and even my kindle batteries!  No, the cell phone and wireless didn't work anywhere in Odhisha for me, but I was listening to music which had to stop.  The nights were so hot that I chose to sleep on their terrace, which was a new experience for me.  Good news is it was so hot that all the mosquitoes must have been gotten fried; none bothered me out on the terrace!

Next day, we met with the Yuvati groups and CORD officers in the CORD center and we were off to our next 5-6 hours ride to the south, to Bhubaneswar to catch my flight to Kochi. We went in Deuladiha's CORD vehicle, again a Mahindra, but a basic Thar.  Well, because I had fun driving Lathikata’s new vehicle, I had to try my hand in driving this as well.  Though I must admit, it wasn’t as much fun without the a/c and power steering Xylo had.

I took the flight to Kochi with a full heart, thankful that I was able to meet such wonderful people and understand how much work is going on quietly in Odisha. 

Big thanks to Paulomi Campbell, Shabana Dipchand and Samihita Bhat for their help with the newsletter!  

Looking for the upcoming quarter, there is Walk for CORD by CORDUSA Ann Arbor, the two service projects coming up in July, one to Sidhbari and the other one to Kaza.  Both teams of children are bursting at the seams with excitement while we are busy with the preparations.  We will have a lot to talk to you about that next quarter...


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

Thank you!

Subha
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