As we enter 2014, Lakshya looks back to see & cheer for the significant progress during 2013. Here, we take you through some of the key hits and misses during 2013.
Annual plan: The aftermath of Beacon, a training program organized by Bhumi for the coordinators of various projects / cities, resulted in sleepless nights and endless discussions to sculpt and shape the future plans of Lakshya for the next two years. Probably it was the first time Lakshya did such an attempt to establish stretched targets that was taken head on by its functions with complete ownership and responsibility. With great vigor and support from fellow Lakshyans, it marched greedily towards as many objectives it has set forth. It might not have succeeded in achieving every objective but atleast it has been conscious of the desired outcome, planned the efforts required and has learnt from its failures. It is just a matter of time for Lakshya to realize its objectives.
Chennai Operations: It has been a very bad year for us in terms of our Chennai operations. We started off with 5 centres out of which 4 were new and 2 were based on workshop model. However, within a month we had to discontinue 2 centres and one more centre after 4 months due to lack of support from the centre management. Luckily we happened to add one more centre. Currently we have 2 centres in weekly model and 1 centre in workshop model. The positive side of the story is that we tested and tasted new waters (Police Boys Clubs & Govt. schools) beyond our comfort zone (Residential institutions) and in the process learnt new things. The flip side was that we lost a lot of good volunteers due to instability. We hope to recover from the scenario and bounce back in the coming months. We have to focus on our centre identification process for next year and ensure that we get stable centres with good management support.
Bangalore Operations: Bangalore too, similar to Chennai, faced a lot of issues in operations right from identification of centre. Having discontinued the last year centre on the reasons of lack of students, they started off this year with a new centre (Govt. school). The efforts of the volunteer team to build a rapport with the children and establish the project has been significant. However, due to school administrative constraints the program had to be discontinued in December despite a good support from the school Principal. Efforts are on to discuss with the educational officers from the govt. to ensure a smooth program next year in the same school. We are also in the process of identifying new centres. The only solace for us has been the retention of volunteers who are willing to continue with the project.
Trichy Operations: Trichy, on the other hand, had a relatively good year continuing with the last year centre (Maanavar Illam) and adding one new centre (King Jesus home). Plans are on to expand to 2 more centres within this academic year. The biggest strength has been the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers and the bonding among them. An interesting initiative was conducting a full day workshop at Maanavar Illam foreseeing the non-availability of volunteers during exam period. With the start of mentoring this month, Trichy would have established the key facets of the project successfully.
After care program: Ever since Lakshya was formulated, one of our major objectives was to extend the program beyond the 10th standard. We did not have a concrete plan then. But today, with the support of centre management of Bala Mandir, we have successfully initiated an after care program for the children passed out of the centre. Even though it is a modest start, we are confident that this program will grow leaps and bounds.
Training & Development: Last year, mentoring training was restricted to only Chennai as the other chapters were still in initial phase. This year the training was facilitated in Trichy and Bangalore also. Almost 75 volunteers got benefited from mentoring training this year. In addition to mentoring training, by the end of this year we plan to facilitate a separate training for “Group Activities through Value Education” which will be facilitated by Vayam Foundation. We believe this training will be yet another milestone and lay a strong foundation in developing a curriculum and class plans for group activities. The only thing that didn’t go well was learning cycles which had been a source of knowledge sharing and value addition to our volunteers.
Group Activities: Group activities have always been our forte. We made an attempt to record and track the performance of children over several sessions. We also attempted to impart values such as anti-bullying, character realisation, self-esteem, appreciating others through group activities. Another interesting attempt is to involve children in the planning and execution of group activities which proved quite successful.
Children Engagement: Like every year, we continued our successful run in Design for Change and Doodle for Google that saw enthusiastic and spirited participation from children of all 3 cities. We also organized events on occasions of festivals such as Diwali and Children’s day. This year also saw the successful introduction of a few new key initiatives. Mobile library provided a platform for the children to improve their reading skills in which 15 books have been subscribed so far and 2 book reviews were conducted by the children. Introduction of suggestion box served as a medium for the children to express their likes, dislikes, requirements, interests etc. Some of the notable suggestions received include spoken English class, general knowledge exposure, tough & interesting GA, additional tutoring support etc. Further plans are on to organize industrial visits, field trips and career guidance workshops for the children in the remaining months.
Volunteer Engagement: Despite instable operations, volunteer engagement activities ensured that the key volunteers are retained in the program with full energy and motivation. The significant of all has been the success of Ripples that has evolved elegantly to embrace not just volunteers but also the children we deal with. Today, Lakshya can proudly claim to be the only project that has sustained a monthly newsletter over two academic years. Children’s day event for volunteers and Secret Santa event has garnered the attention of lot of volunteers not just from Lakshya but also from other projects. While the Chennai team has already completed the volunteer outing, Trichy and Bangalore teams have planned it for the last phase. However, we could have used the ‘Caught Ya!’ cards much more effectively to appreciate volunteers’ contribution in a small way.
~ Ganapathy, Chennai