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LPTI
 
Shaping Lives
Shaping Lives
January - March | Update : Issue 1
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Shaping Lives Update

Dear friends,

We are delighted to share with you the first edition of the Le Passage Travel Foundation quarterly newsletter with information on our activities between January & March 2011.

A keen desire for our entire team to give back to society, led us to formally launch our Travel Foundation – ‘Shaping Lives’ with partner NGOs on 08 Dec 2010 at a CSR Symposium in Delhi.

Our foundation logo has a unique bonding with all of us at Le Passage to India, showcasing the Group’s strengths; the hands on the logo connote our strong employee base, the branches represent our diverse business base through specialised strategic business units and the stem represents our strong foundation base as a travel group that strengthens our resolve to do significant work to shape the lives of the many less privileged children of India.

Shaping Lives has a simple and straight forward mission ‘to bring a smile on every child’s face’ as we endeavour to be the bridge from the Travel Industry that can facilitate change. The foundation goals focuses on ‘education, health & hygiene, life & vocational skills and protection from abuse & trafficking’ of children from less privileged backgrounds.

We are committed to working towards making a difference and giving back to society meaningfully. We certainly hope we can create a model foundation for the Indian Tourism Industry to emulate. It is indeed heart-warming to have such wholehearted support from our partners across the world that we have, in the last quarter, been able to make our foundation’s mission a reality.

Most Warmly,

Arjun Sharma
Managing Director

Initiatives of the Quarter
January’2011 was the first month of our foundation and the initiatives started with our group of guests from HongKong. They visited and spent time with the children of NGO Deepalaya along with a rural India experience in the nearby village! Another exciting event of the month was an elephant polo with our American friends which was enjoyed by children from NGOs Umang & Disha.
February’2011 saw dreams coming true for many of our NGO children. The foundation arranged 03 flights of fantasy- an opportunity to fly between Jaipur and Delhi along sightseeing tours of Delhi and Jaipur. The children were super excited and enjoyed every bit of the initiatives creating memories.
March’2011 was dedicated to our beloved guru and travel doyen (Late) Mr. Ghulam Naqshband. The foundation organized a prayer service followed by a special lunch in his memory for less privileged children. Another initiative of the month, was the celebration of festival of colors- Holi, with the special children of Deepalaya along with distribution of sweets and food.
 
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Deepalaya gets visitors from HongKong

A group of 33 students from Hongkong, on a recreational and education tour of India, spent a day at the Deepalaya Gram, a hostel for less privileged boys and girls com-bined with a school and medical aid facility, in Gusbethi. This facility is owned and managed by our partner NGO Deepalaya and is located about one hour’s drive from New Delhi.

These visiting students were our guests from the GIO University, Hong Kong who had expressed a desire to meet and interact with less fortunate children in India and see a NGO project in a village for children.

Spending January 3, 2011 with these children was indeed as memorable for all of us. After the warm Indian welcome, the children of both insti-tutions engaged in a gainful interac-tion learning about their immediate surrounding and sharing experiences that could inspire the Deepalaya children to remain motivated to-wards a better life away from their unpleasant and unhealthy family circumstances they had before being here.

Being in the midst of a village, Deepalaya Gram also gave the Hong Kong visitors an opportunity to see village life up-close. They were warmly welcomed by the village residents, keenly observing the daily life and living conditions and savoring the harmony between man & nature that co-exists with such ease in India. Their joy was plainly visible when they physically touched livestock and took a walk in the lush green and yellow mustard and wheat fields, a sight most of them had only seen as wall papers on computer screens perhaps!

After an interesting walk in the vil-lage and also seeing the Deepalaya initiative of medical facilities in a Mobile Van that services the needs of 22 close-by hamlets and villages, the team headed back to have a healthy ‘n wholesome lunch with the 109 Deepalaya friends, who stay at the Gram hostel. The rest of the afternoon was a cultural exchange between the children, with the Deepalya team putting up a small cultural program, wherein the guests also participate actively amidst squeals of laughter and appreciation from both sides. The guests were also acquainted with the very agile game of ‘Kabaddi’.

With sunset round the corner, the Deepalaya team hosted an informal tea for the guests, where the Hong Kong visitors also presented the children with books on science and technology, music CDs and lots of stationary for the kids to use.
Last minute photo shoots and good-byes followed, they were the culmi-nation of a wonderful day of cultural exchange, moral boosting and confi-dence building for both the guests and the Deepalaya students.

Elephant Polo Match in Jaipur

Also in January, special children from our Jaipur NGO partners Umang and Disha celebrated with our American guests at an Elephant Polo match especially organized for the children.

The guests interacted with the 40 special children from the partner NGO’s Umang and Disha, engaged in the welfare and schooling of children with physical and mental disabilities like autism, down syndrome & cere-bral palsy. The excitement and joy of these children knew no bounds as they fed the elephants an all time favorite food – bananas, immediately on arrival. It brought loud cheer and claps from the children and the camel cart ride laid on as a bonus was a collection of squeals and de-lighted shouts exchanged between the mounted and dismounted friends. Also especially organized for the children was a drawing competi-tion and kite flying which they thor-oughly enjoyed. Thereafter the chil-dren saw the elephants play football, which is like an animal symphony in slow motion. They grouped into supporting teams, with loud cheering and motivational advise and shouts egging on the elephants and their mahouts to score and win. Seeing such enthusiasm, our American guests also joined these children and exchanged hearty banter with all.

The children were thereafter intro-duced to their American hosts and the ‘smiles’ were clearly visible on every face, as both parties ex-changed light banter and partook of an excellent winter lunch. Each child was also gifted a goody bag with
stationary, crayons and smiley balls.

The interaction ended on a happy note for both institutions, as our guests pledged two scholarships for children of Umang and gifted a Digi-tal Camera to Disha, as per their wishlist. All of us at the Le Passage Travel Foundation, certainly had much to cheer as, we have through this initiative been able to create a meaningful bridge for our NGO part-ners.

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Flights of Fantasy

Le Passage Travel Foundation, quite literally took advantage of the group’s strength this February, with the utilization of empty legs on our charter fights between Delhi & Jaipur for bringing smiles to children from our Partner NGO’s in these two cities.

Most of the children of these NGOs have never even done a long bus journey. With a keen expression of interest from the NGO’s to give the children a memorable flight experience, Le Passage Travel Foundation took on the onus of converting this dream into reality through an initiative aptly called ‘Flight of Fantasy’.

Taking our NGO partners in Delhi and Jaipur by pleasant surprise, we shared with them our intent of fulfilling their dream as the arrangements finalized. The excitement and joy of receiving this news was palpable in them. In fact most of them made excited phone calls to our Foundation to re-confirm that the mail titled ‘Flight of Fantasy’ was real and true! This was a moment of joy for all of us at the Foundation, as a small step towards the much cherished dream of the NGO children was going to become a reality.

February saw 03 ‘Flights of Fantasy’ - two on the Jaipur- Delhi sector and one on the Delhi-Jaipur sector. Each flight comprised 50 passengers which included the hyper excited and awestruck children and their support staff on-board.

 

The First ‘Flight of Fantasy’ gave fifty children from the Jaipur Partner NGOs Umang and Akshar an opportunity to fly from Jaipur to Delhi on 03 Feb 2011. Their overnight happiness trip included Delhi sight-seeing to India Gate, an organised tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Nehru Planetarium and Museum followed by a grand lunch and party games hosted by The Heritage Village, Resort and Spa, Manesar.

It was a thrilling experience for the children as well as for us to make this possible. The children were overwhelmed by the experience and whirlwind tour where each of them was treated as a special guests of the Foundation and its fantastic and compassionate volunteers drawn from the parent body Le Passage. KK Royal Hotel, Jaipur, hosted a lavish lunch for these children.

The Second ‘Flight of Fantasy’ was from Delhi to Jaipur with 50 children from our partner NGO’s Project Arman, Deepalaya and Manzil.

Their stay and gala evening on arrival was organised with a war decorated Indian Army unit. The motive behind this exposure was to give them a live example of how through hard work, education and self discipline - the Indian Soldier is born from amongst us. We believe this interac-tion was an inspirational one which many of them may choose to emu-late. In fact some of the children and soldiers still maintain telephonic contact even after well nigh three months. They also went sightseeing to Hawa Mahal, the City Palace, Albert Museum and zoo. On the way back KK Royal Hotel, Jaipur, hosted a lavish lunch for these children.

 

This third ‘Flight of Fantasy’ initiative brought in 50 children from two other partner NGOs Disha & I-India of Jaipur. The excitement of these children on their first ever air travel knew no bounds. They were a vision!

In their Delhi sightseeing tour, they saw the mighty Qutub Minar with some of the braver children wanting to climb it much to the amusement of the onlookers, the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President of India’s residence), Mughal Gardens, National Science Centre, the fascinat-ing Rail Museum and the toy train ride and the Solar Energy Park where they drove the mini solar powered cars much to their profound joy. The children were also treated to a wholesome lunch spon-sored by the Park Plaza Hotel.

 
The flights were a grand success with children expressing their experience and elation in words, letters, drawings and the sheer smiles and twinkles in their eyes. Besides the air travel experience, these flights also acted as condience boosters for the specially-abled children from Umang, Disha and Deepalaya special schools as most of such children stayed away from their parents for the first time in their lives. Exposure to new people and places where they were treated with love and respect gives them a new dimension in life and a faith in their own entity as self respecting human beings The mere thought of seeing their children on the next series of ‘flights of fantasy’ has also encouraged parents and children to look at their NGOs with new respect and awe in some cases.
 
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First Death Anniversary of Mr. Ghulam Naqshband
Mr. GN, as he was fondly referred to with reverence, our Chairman, Late Mr. Ghulam Naqshband, was more than a guiding spirit and force for all of us at Le Passage to India. His death was an immeasurable and irreplaceable loss. On his first death anniversary – March 5, 2011, we held a prayer meeting (fatiya) at the Nizamudin Cemetery in New Delhi, where he was laid to rest.

On this day, the announcement of a befitting tribute to Mr. Naqshband’s passion for tourism was the setting up of ‘Ghulam Naqshband Endowment Fund’, an initiative in association with the Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism, Amity University. This fund will be utilized to undertake projects for meaningful studies on tourism. We believe, this tribute to our beloved Sir, is one that will motivate us to continuously build on the treasure trove of knowledge and experience this great pioneer of Indian tourism bequeathed to us in his lifetime.

After the solemn prayer service, the Foundation also arranged a special lunch in his memory for 125 children of the Nizamudin Basti. Most of these children are students of Project Arman, our initiative with NGO Chintan, for weaning them away from the hazardous trade of rag & waste picking. The meal distributed by the Foundation and Le Passage volunteers, was a healthy serving of Nizamudin’s well known culinary delight, the ‘ghosht (mutton) biryani’ in neatly packed foil containers.

Holi Celebration at Deepalaya Special School

The Foundation sponsored the Holi celebrations at the Deepalaya Special School in Gandhi Basti, New Delhi. This school also houses the 10 differently-abled children we support through the unique & participative initiative of collective fund raising by Le Passage Team. Holi is a vibrant, festival of colors, and for children specially, it is one of those events of the year where they can joyfully engage with colours without a care of the world!

The children of this special school are hearing and speech impaired, with a few with cerebral palsy and autism as well. For them any celebration is grand reason enough to cheer and brings instant joy to their faces. The celebrations unfolded with a display of talents at an On the Spot Painting Competition, de-scribing their very own version of Holi, followed by much awaited and exciting real action, where the children joyfully played with Holi colors, drenching themselves in rosy red, passionate pink, bright blue, sunshine yellow and leafy green colours … to say the least, they freaked out!!! Being environmentally conscious, only dry organic colors made from dried flower petals were used for this celebration. The children, although hearing impaired, seemed to take a cue from their other normal hearing friends and danced and made merry to loud music, from the popular Bollywood chart busters.
The fun filled morning culmi-nated with high tea for the chil-dren. With multicolored faces and broad grins that were testi-mony to the delightful celebra-tions, we bid goodbye to the children with a promise to return soon and spend many more happy hours with them.

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