Shaping Lives
Shaping Lives
April -June | Update : Issue 2
Shaping Lives Update

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to share with you the second quarter edition of the Shaping Lives newsletter. Your support to our initiatives has meant a lot to us, a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for this overwhelming desire to meet and interact with the children from our chosen charities.

Our Foundation has effectively spread its wings in the tourist friendly cities of Jaipur, Delhi, Agra and Goa, and received consistent and overwhelming support and encouragement from our inbound guests and travel partners.

This quarter also brought smiles to children from our Partner NGO’s as we welcomed travelers from the world who spend a few moments of joy with these less privileged children, sharing and caring for them. It is truly heartening for us to be the bridge that can make a visible difference in the lives of these children.

We share with you also the good news that the formal registration of our ‘Le Passage Travel Foundation – Shaping Lives’ was also completed this quarter. Our foundation website is now officially open, do take time out to see and be a part of our initiatives on your next visit to India.

Most Warmly
Arjun Sharma
Managing Director

Shaping Lives’ gets support from England
We are happy to share with you that recently the Chief Experience Officer of a prominent English tour operator, visited India to see the work our Foundation is doing. The team was introduced to two of our many partner NGOs in Jaipur. These were NGO Umang and NGO I-India’s Project Ladli.

NGO Umang works for the development and welfare of children with special needs that have cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism and multiple disabilities, thereby facilitating a better quality of life for them. They follow an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for each child according to his/her needs, to include holistic development of their motor and sensory systems through studies, recreation and therapy. Our guests visited the Umang School, interacted with the children and their teachers to better understand their needs and current facilities.

The visit also included an interaction with NGO  I - India  that works for the welfare of abused, orphaned and destitute children. Our foundation supports their Project Ladli, which is a multi-faceted project, where girls and boys in their care are imparted compulsory education in government schools besides learning life skills in the afternoons.

For most kids, the alternative to Ladli is begging, child labour or prostitution. Most of these children scored above 75% marks in their annual exams held in March 2010, and were partially felicitated for their good result by the Foundation.

Our English friends interacted with the Project Ladli team at Govindpuri Centre, while the ‘life skills class’ in jewellery making was in progress for girls. The girls are paid monthly stipends and a percentage of sales as incentive for this work. Impressed by the work being done by the Foundation, and the choice of these grass root NGOs, the CEO expressed an interest in helping raise awareness and funds for these causes. We are indeed delighted to have the support of these friends from England and look forward to many more of you, our partners, coming forward to make a difference!

For all of us at the Foundation, while many groups from across nations have been successfully hosted by our NGOs, this was the first formal assessment visit by a travel partner. We are sanguine that this will be the harbinger of more associations and eventually help realize the Foundation’s goal of being a meaningful bridge between our affiliated NGOs and our esteemed travel partners.

Shaping Lives
An Eventful Day for the Foundation - Elephant Polo Match at Dera Amer

April once again saw 40 special children duly accompanied by their caretakers from NGO Umang, Jaipur, disembark gleefully at Dera Amer, Jaipur. The sight of five elephants in their regal polo attire and the sound of drums and trumpets had most of the children clapping well before their entry into this picturesque elephant polo ground and hillside locale.

The event was hosted by a group of clients from Iceland. The summer heat notwithstanding, the children cheered on their teams and had to be restrained from spilling over into the ground in their excitement. It was once again a pleasure and a deep satisfaction for the Le Passage Travel Foundation to have brought on so many smiles to these children afflicted with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, etc.

The Icelandic hosts took turns to interact with the children and sponsored a special child, Shubham Jain’s, education and care at Umang for one full year. So happy were they to meet the children that personal stocks of chocolates and various curios and CDs and presentations from their home country spilled out into a collection and were presented impromptu to the staff for fair and equal distribution amongst the children. Our team added with their own bounty of crayons, water colors, drawing books and tee shirts for the older children.

The children were treated to an exclusive meal thereafter, and all of them signalled the ‘top class’ comment with their fingers amidst happy contented smiles. As they were bundled up and ushered into their buses amidst loud and vociferous ‘thank you(s), byes and see-you-again(s), the Foundation, LPTI and the Iceland travel partner felt that they had made a difference in their lives for a day, and in their happy memories for a long time to come.

Our Partners - NGO Umang were thankful for this level of exposure to the children reiterating the importance of recognition, love and care from normal people outside their known circle of family and caretakers. The Umang children presented the Group Leader with a painting done by them, besides the numerous handmade thank you cards.

NGO Akshar Visit

The Icelandic Group also visited children of our Partner NGO Akshar, during their Jaipur visit. A warm welcome by the children of the Subhodh Play School Centre and a meeting with. Mrs.Reeta Kuhad, founder member of Akshar on arrival made the guests feel at ease. NGO Akshar is a unique afternoon school initiative for approx 850 marginalized children from the slums of Jaipur. 

Our friends from Iceland being a teachers’ group, their natural affinity towards children saw immediate rapport being established. They exchanged views and news of their countries and the elder children were especially eager to know the after effects of the volcanic ash and how people had coped with it. The guests were so charmed by these children that once again, personal stocks of chocolates and goodies were freely doled out to the children. The group gifted the Subhodh Play School a Desktop computer and a Printer.

For the Akshar children, the meeting gave them a small insight into Icelandic people and raised their confidence and belief in their abilities through their education and grooming at with our partner NGO Akshar.

The evening ended on a special note, as Mrs.Kuhad invited our guests to her personal residence for tea. The warmth and hospitality added to the charm as our guests joyfully admired the exquisitely kept home and her fine art collection. Mrs.Kuhad is also the Curator of a Contemporary Art Gallery in Jaipur. The joyful evening came to an end on a happy note with some indelible memories created through these meaningful interactions. 

Shaping Lives
When the Americans came calling at the Artificial Limb Centre, Jaipur

Formally known as the ‘ Bhagwan Mahavira Viklang Sahayita Samiti’ -  The Jaipur Artificial Foot Centre greeted our American guests in April 2011.  This family from USA had specifically desired to see this facility, having heard an impressive talk by their Founder, Mr SR Mehta’s give in Castilleja, USA. The visitors’ were met and shown around the facility by Mr Mehta himself as he explained every nuance and economics of the Jaipur Foot organization.

Our guests interacted with numerous new and old beneficiaries of the Jaipur Foot, leaning about the genuine and lasting quality of this unique low cost prosthetic limb. They were visibly impressed by the humility and kindness shown to the patients, many of whom had heard of the Centre and gathered enough money and courage to reach Jaipur, from far flung interiors of India, confident that once they reached BMVSS, they would get a free prosthetic limb or even two, and go back walking happy men/women or children, to lead lives independently once again.

The BMVSS has performed approx 65000 limb operations in the year ending March 2011. Relying solely of external donors and funding, the organization takes great pride in transforming the ‘crawling sad dependent people’ who enter its premises, into ‘walking smiling independent faces’ when they leave the Centre.

We at Shaping Lives are indeed privileged to be associated with this esteemed and benevolent organization, that offers a new lease of life to crippled people.

Surprise Tea Party for our Venezuelan Friends

Our guest from Venezuela, where on a familiarization trip of India, enjoying the vibrance of Rajasthan in May this year. Impressed with the colourful grandeur of India and its hospitality the guests savoured every moment of their trip. Little did they know that we had saved the best for the last! 

A special tea – party hosted by our Foundation for this group was indeed a delightful surprise ,  when 14 children with physical and mental disabilities, invited from our partner NGOs of Umang and DISHA Foundation, greeting the guests. The occasion was made all the more special, as the guests was presented a paintings made by the children as a memoir from India.

The guests were so overwhelmed that all of them rushed back to their rooms, returning with handfuls of chocolates and goodies for these lovable children. The paintings by the children were much appreciated, in fact, so impressed were the guests that we had to actually initiate a draw of lots, as the guests could not decide which painting each one should take much to the joy and laughter of all the children at this grand importance being given to them and their paintings, which take them months at times to make due to their disabilities.

This personalized interaction saw the children blossom into more confident human beings, gainfully adding to their innocence and liveliness. For all of us at the foundation it was something to cheer as we had been successful in creating a platform where time, distances, countries, language barriers and disabilities, all seemed to stand still in that hour of togetherness, replaced with genuine love, care, mutual respect and regard for each other.

The event has lent another dimension to our Foundation in promoting paintings made by our NGO children.  NGO DISHA also showcased cards and bags made by other children. Seeing their work so appreciated was in itself a motivating experience for these children, and will hopefully create zest and motivation in them to produce more beautiful works of art and give flight to their latent dreams and creativity, unmindful of their own disabilities.

Shaping Lives
World Environment Day celebrations

The development of a sustainable environment is an aspect very closely linked to the long-term growth of tourism. This year our World Environment Day celebrations at Le Passage to India were a part of the TUI Travel Plc global initiative of the weeklong event between May 30 & June 5, 2011, themed ‘Forest, Nature at your Doorstep’.

On the International front, TUI offices around the globe organized activities which involved both colleagues & clients, like beach cleaning day and fundraising for a cause. The TUI Mallorca & Head Office also organized an excursion for colleagues to a reforestation project called "TUI Forest" on Saturday, June 4th, 2011.

In the words of Mr. Arjun Sharma – Managing Director, Le Passage to India “In keeping with the TUI Travel Plc worldwide event theme, we believe our India initiatives created greater awareness not only among our colleagues but also within the large community though our leaf pledge campaign and street plays in association with our partner NGO’s Chintan & Manzil.  We are also happy to share with you that this is first of its kind global initiative of a travel conglomerate on sustainable development.”  

A grand three day event was held at Select City, New Delhi for environment awareness between June 3 & 5, 2011. We had a ‘Green Desk’ at the Select Citywalk shopping centre where guests were encouraged to wear our environment awareness green ribbons and carry home the 9R’s flower sticker; Replenish, Recover, Remodel, Repair, Reuse, Refuse, Reduce, Rethink & Recycle. The volunteers from our partner NGO Chintan met all guests here, requesting them to join and pledge a leaf campaign in support of the environment. A street play on the benefits of home compost by the children of our partner NGO Manzil, received much appreciation by the gathered crowds.

June 4, saw many more shoppers visit the green desk and pledge there support to the environment in our leaf campaign. In the evening, on this day we also had a plant a tree campaign where the enthusiastic guests had the opportunity to try their hand at the potter wheel and also plant and carry home a complimentary the revered Tulsi (Basil) plant.

On June 5, with four tree’s now looking lush green with their pledge leaves, we added two more barren tree’s to the display. By afternoon, these trees were loaded with pledge leaves, and it was nice to see so many children had come forward and pledge simple yet meaningful things like “I will use only bucket of water to bathe”, “I will avoid using plastic bags” and “I will remember to switch off the lights not in use”.  The evening again saw tulsi planting, live pottery and an on the spot painting opportunity for children. With about 300 Tulsi plants gifted and 4500 pledge leaves on 6 trees, the celebrations ended on a happy note.

In addition to all these outdoor guest engagement initiatives, on June 2 our offices in Delhi and Noida had a special visitor- the recycling expert Mr. Jai Prakash Choudhary. His vast experience on waste management kept everyone enthralled and many a times appalled at the magnitude of waste we generate. He shared some practical solution for handling, disposal and optimum use of house waste.  After this really enlightening talk, the children from our Partner NGO Manzil staged a short skit of on “making compost out of wet waste from a house” and the ‘evils of tobacco’. Both Mr Prakash and the children received a standing ovation from all of us for the educative and entertaining shows.

Gala Outing for Children of Deepalaya

The month of June also saw us meet our special friends- children from the Deepalaya Gram, Gusbethi. This facility of our NGO Partner Deepalya is the home of children from less privileged backgrounds, single mothers, orphans or those whose parents are too poor to accept them home even for the summer breaks. With summer holidays announced, the Deepalaya team sought our help to organize a day outing for the 45 children, who had nowhere to go during the holidays.

We are happy to share with you that our Foundation was able to convince The Heritage Village Resort and Spa, Manesar, to host a day picnic for these kids. The children got a warm welcome at the Resort, with lots of fun activities planned for the day, there was visible excitement all around. The hotel team, showed the children around the hotel, sharing with them many interesting facets of the business.

Some cake ’n cookies later, the children were taken to a specially created theatre ambience for them where they watched a movie of their choice. A lavish lunch followed …. loads of ice cream had them beaming ear to ear thereafter. Fun games in the cool confines of the hotel, saw the children interact with one another on a whole new note… laughing, joking and playing with joy.

The evening ended on a still happier note, with the hotel management hosting a grand tea party for the children, as they gobbled at the elaborate evening snack, especially made for them.  The Hotel team was truly touched as the Deepalaya children presented a handmade thank you card and tied friendship bands on their wrists, for their generosity and hospitality. Another moment where all of at the Foundation, can look and savour the delight of the bridge we created ... bringing smiles to these less unfortunate children.

Interaction with our German Travel Partners

The recent India tour programmes workshop of two of our very prestigious clients from Germany saw our CSR team meet and meaningfully interact with them.  The workshop for tour guides in India to understand their client’s behavior and expectations during their India Round Trips. Both the Gebeco & Dr Tiggs brands lay a great deal of emphasis on CSR in their tours.

At the workshop, our CSR team shared the role and endeavours of the Le Passage Travel Foundation in India. The relevance of this meeting gained even more importance as our German Partners, expressed a keen desire to include CSR activities in their tour programmes of India as well, a part of their good tourism practices pledge. The Foundation showcased its footprint in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Goa for the participants. Our initiatives received much appreciation and the tour escorts showing interest in fitting-in visits by their clients to our NGOs in their Indian itineraries.

Shaping Lives