As we head into this new year, I am delighted to share with you some of the things the 'Project Help India' team has been doing in Kotdwara over these first few weeks in January. Our mission is to help the poor, and I write today to encourage our supporters in knowing that your donation is directly helping the poorest of the poor.
Aavej is twelve years old. He lives in a slum area in the middle of Kotdwara. He belongs to a muslim family. His father Mr. Abdul Gaffar is a tailor and he earns about 1500 to 2000 rupees per month, which is just $30-40 Australian dollars, and way below what’s needed for him to being provide for his family's basic needs. Aavej’s mother Mrs Ruksana, is a house wife. Aavej goes to a government school which provides less than a satisfactory education.
Aavej takes his study seriously which is why he also attends our City Slum Centre every afternoon. He also enjoys the healthy meal he receives every day at our centre, which gives him far more than he would ever eat at home.
Aavej has high ambitions for his life and we have been delighted to support him in achieving his goals. His life last year however, was completely turned upside when his elder sister committed suicide. Aavej was very close to her and he was grief stricken and in a state of depression for many months. He withdrew from his friends and lost his appetite. Thankfully through our City Centre, Aavej received some counselling. As well as being kept busy with his learning he has also had the opportunity to participate in different activities and sports. He danced at our functions, and importantly he socialised and played with his friends and classmates. Through all of this he is now well and is overcoming his depression. Aavej is now a happy kid again. He is studying and eating well. He also once again started talking to others and he is now preparing for his annual exams with renewed determination and positivity.
Aavej’s mother is also getting help from our Project Help Team. She is now more open to talk about the challenges she is facing. She is getting some parenting help for supporting Aavej, and she is becoming more confident to leave the house (in her community, Muslim women are not encouraged to leave the house), and to talk with other women.
Kindness, compassion, hope and love are at the heart of this Aavej’s story which is just one of so many wonderful things that are happening at ‘Project Help’ with 270 children attending our 7 centres each week.
The weather is also going crazy in India!
Our work over the past few weeks as also extended into the local community reaching out to many impacted by some crazy winter weather. It has been freezing in Kotdwara and huge unseasonal rainstorms have also hit the area. ‘Project Help’ has been delivering blankets to street people and the kids in our centres have also been seeking up small chai tables, giving out hot tea to those who need who be warmed up. We are thankful for our Directors and staff team who have responded to the needs that they see around them. Our actions are both challenging and changing the way people in the community respond to the needs of others, by providing a model of compassion, care and kindness. It’s incredibly powerful when we see people who have nothing, give and make sacrifices to help others who are in desperate need.
Be part of our story in 2020
Join me in making kindness, compassion, hope and love our key drivers for all we do in 2020. It’s all about being part of a community that authentically cares for one another. We are seeing this in Australia at the moment, as we rally around the many people who have been devastated by the fires.
So if you’re still reflecting on how you would like 2020 to look for you, can I ask you to consider joining the ‘Project Help India’ story. Your regular donation will be used by us to help the poor and, as I hope you have seen, we are making a difference in such a powerful way.
'Project Help India' is hoping that 10 people who read this blog will commit to making a $40 a month (= $10 a week) donation across 2020. The combined donations of 10 people will pay approximately the annual salary of Aavej’s teacher, the cook and meals for all 40 kids at our City Slum Centre. This small amount makes big things possible. Please let me know of you would be able to do this, so that we can set up regular payments.
With love and thanks.
Lead alongside people
Lead from the middle within your school and sphere of control
Lead outwards across other schools, and into your community
Lead upwards by influencing policy and strategy at a national and/or global level.
The ethical leader will stand out in the crowd for all the right reasons
What are some of the dispositions of ethical leadership?
Alongside this, the ethical leader will hold onto these seven virtues
Don’t underestimate how much your leadership is modelled to others. All of us, have people who are watching what we do, and are making judgements and measuring us on how our words and actions align.
Flex your ethical muscle. What is the right thing to do?
You don’t have to be a saint to be a hero. Just chose to do the right thing.
As a leader we should also be prioritising the development of self-awareness. It’s good to check in with yourself when you are tired and stressed, how do I behave?
4 ethical behaviour tests
1. The Sleeping Test – if I do this, can I sleep at night?
2. The Newspaper Test – if I do this, would it be published in the paper?
3. The Mirror Test – if I do this, would I feel comfortable looking at myself in the mirror?
4. The Teenager Test – if I do this, would I mind my children knowing?
(credit to Marc Le Menestral)
Many thanks to Peter Kent for his inspiring words and thoughts on this topic
(Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education, UK)
In 2019, I spent some time raising money for The Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation (POWHF). Actually, the true inspiration came from my incredible school community who were so generous in their support, encouragement and donations for our local hospital. The students at my school were so enthusiastic as they worked towards achieving their personal health and wellbeing goals. I'm so proud of them! Claremont College, all up raised over $28000 for the POWHF. Amazing hey! Together, all of my teammates on this TV show, raised $150 000 ... it's amazing what we can achieve together when we set about helping others.
Here's the episode that I was in ...it was an incredible adventure and an experience of a lifetime. Not sure about the "all-stars" bit though!
Happy New Year from the team at ‘Project Help India’. I'm incredibly excited about 2020 and thankful for your interest, help and support. My prayers are with you for all that you hope to do and achieve this year. 2020 is shaping up to be an incredible year in the life of 'Project Help India'. We have many goals and we are ambitious and intentional about all we are seeking to achieve. We will be guided by our vision and mission and have a clear sense of purpose and strategy.
A reminder of what is our big picture
The mission of ‘Project Help India’ is to bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to the poor. Our vision is to focus on education, nutrition, health and ultimately human rights, so that individual lives are impacted, empowered and restored. ‘Project Help India’ seeks to bring about community change and generational transformation. ‘Project Help India’ seeks to grow in its impact and influence in the lives of people and communities, with a goal to ultimately expand into other towns and places of need.
This article was published last week in one of the local newspapers here in Kotdwara which outlines eight of our priorities for the coming year. Some of these priorities will focus on ongoing long-term projects and some are completely new that have organically evolved as we work closely with the police and other community leaders. Something that is very exciting about 2020, is that our goal to expand into other cities is becoming a reality.
1. Helping poor children through education and medical care, especially those involved in begging, labour, and children with disabilities,
2. Women’s empowerment. We will be holding our third ‘SHINE’ Women’s Empowerment Conference in April.
3. Working with the police to get teenagers involved in a ‘Junior Traffic Force’
4. Working with the police in anti-human trafficking programs
5. Working with the police in other cities in the state of Uttarakhand, as part of ‘Operation Freedom’ – getting kids out of begging and into schools,
6. Anti-drug programs
7. Developing a community anti-crime program
8. Initiatives to promote environmental awareness and solutions
This year we will also be developing strategy to be prepared for extreme weather events, such as heat waves, monsoon storms and flooding, which sadly are inevitable.
Our other big goal is to continue to investigate and develop a strategy how we can purchase a property in the heart of Kotdwara (for our HQ).
What is your New Year Resolution?
For me as I head into 2020, helping the poor will be one of my resolutions. Whether you agree with the concept of new year’s resolutions or not, might you resolve to be committed to supporting ‘Project Help India’ in 2020? We are an organisation that really is committed to making a difference in the lives of people, and I hope to can see that we operate with great intentionality and integrity. Your donation goes directly to our projects with minimal admin fees. It is important to us that you feel connected to our story, so that the stories of lives of people impacted by poverty in India, intersect with your story too.
Relationships are our ultimate priority
'Project Help India’ is all about friendship, learning and growing from each other. As we bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to these beautiful people, your life will be changed too. We are very mindful that the people we work alongside are the marginalised and vulnerable – this is our way of helping the poorest of the poor, this being exactly what ‘Project Help’ represents and stands for.
During this countdown to Christmas, can you help me to help others?
‘Project Help India’ is passionately working hard to reach out to this local slum community this Christmas time. We have the privileged opportunity to help a group of people who live in poverty. Their faces in this photo tell a powerful story of relentless hardship, determination, and courage despite some terrible circumstances. When I visited them recently in October, I was welcomed with smiles, warmth and hospitality. I was embraced as a trusted friend, a friendship that extends to our many ‘Project Help India’ supporters. These people are beyond grateful to you for the help you bring through our education and community development programs. Through these programs we communicate and demonstrate love in action.
These people are known as ‘Dalits’ and they live on the banks for the Khoh River in the city of Kotdwara in the State of Uttrakhand in Northern India. Their houses are unsafe and unhealthy. Most are made of plastic, old pieces of sheet metal and cardboard. They don’t have windows, and have dirt floors, leaky walls and roofs. The homes are overcrowded, and the weak structures are often blown away or destroyed during storms and the heavy monsoon rains and floods. Here there is limited or no access to basic services like water, toilets and electricity.
The Dalits are considered as the lowest caste people in India. They are the “untouchables” and considered the most oppressed class in India. They face discrimination, particularly in access to employment, education and marriage partners. They perform the work that nobody else wants to do, such as preparing bodies for funerals, tanning hides, collecting rubbish, recycling plastic and killing rats, vermin and other pests. Doing anything with dead cattle or cow hides is regarded particularly unclean in Hinduism. Under both the local Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, a job that involves death corrupts the worker’s souls, making them unfit to mingle with other people in the community. To compound this, this group of people face exclusion and oppression in society. They are frequently affected by anti-dalit violence and repression by others.
These beautiful people are certainly not untouchable. Nothing could be further from the truth!
We extend our love and hand of friendship to these people this Christmas. We embrace them with a message of hope, value and purpose. We will be bringing the joy of Christmas to this slum. The children who attend our school will each receive a gift and needy families will participate in a special Christmas party. Our help will extend into 2020 through our education and women’s empowerment programs, medical help, supporting families with leprosy, emergency assistance and much more.
We need your help to do this
At a time of the year, when we are filling our shopping trolleys with more than we need, please consider how you can be a blessing to these people. Your donation will go towards bringing Christmas to this community and also to the five other communities (each with a very similar story) where ‘Project Help India’ is working. Your tax-deductible donation will be one of the most meaningful gifts you could possibly give this Christmas. Please let us know (by replying to this email) if you make a donation because we would love to thank you.
Thank you for bringing some happiness and Christmas cheer to some people who really need it.
Your donation will make a difference and no doubt reinforce that notion that it is always better to give than to receive at Christmas. Thank you for being part of our story.
YOU CAN JOIN OUR STORY
1. Donate - Your tax deductible Christmas donation can be made HereEnsure that you are donating to (WYG-IND-PHI-2019)
OR if tax deductibility is not required, your EFT donation can be made at
BSB: 062 230 (Commonwealth Bank Randwick)
Account: 1134 1909
Account Name: Project Help India
Please write your name in the reference section so we can thank you.
2. Please like and share this blog on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Thanks so much and Merry Christmas
Leaders will always be
Your role as a leader is to bring about the best in those who work with you, to help them to shine and be successful, do not manage people.
Let people understand you
Show that they know they matter and are valued
Respect is more important for employees than anything else
What shadow do you cast?
Making a difference is also about the small things, connection and knowing they matter to you.
Help the people around you get to places that they could not get to without you.
Leave people in a better place because they’ve been led by you.
Notes, thoughts and reflections from Shanghai Conference (October 2019) - thanks to all the inspiring speakers.
KINDNESS IS THE HEART OF JESUS
Our Chapel theme this Term has been ‘The Heart of Jesus’ and each week, this has been aligned with our Claremont College thinking, learning, and intellectual character dispositions. This morning I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to the children about empathy. I explained that empathy is the key that unlocks the door to our kindness and compassion. Today happens to be ‘World Kindness Day’, so what a lovely alignment with this theme.
Today, our Deputy Principal and School Counsellor have delivered social skills lessons to all grades (K-6) with the goal to promote and understand kindness. Three key outcomes of the lessons were;
Compassion is the desire to want to help someone in need.
Ways to show kindness and helpfulness to others.
Being grateful when people show kindness to us and others.
As we head into the Christmas Season, we will be focussing on kindness and compassion as we respond to the needs of others. We are inspired by the fact that God demonstrated His kindness by sending Jesus into the world - this is what Christmas is all about. So how can we respond?
“Now, this is the goal: to live in harmony with one another and demonstrate love, sympathy, and kindness toward each other.” 1 Peter 3:8
“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15
Here at school we have chosen to do some exciting and special things over the next two and a half weeks.
‘Kindness at Home’
We have been inspired by so many children, who have asked if they could raise money to help Australians who have been impacted by the bushfires. Over the coming weeks, many children will be working on kindness projects with the goal of setting up stalls, holding guessing competitions, small raffles and the like, which will all be held in Week 8 (check next week’s newsletter for details), the last week of school. We are sure to raise an impressive donation. The children’s enthusiasm and genuine kindness is such a pleasure to be a part of each and every day, here at school.
Next Friday, we will have a special Christmas Mufti Day, as well as our Kindy Nativity Pageant in Chapel. As part of the celebration, all children and staff are invited to wear a Christmas outfit, in the colours of red, green, white, gold, silver or any combination of those colours. For participation in the mufti day, we ask that each child brings in $5. This money will be directed to the children at ‘Project Help India’ to pay for a Christmas gift for 260 children and 12 teachers, as well as for them to have a class Christmas party celebration. For many of the children this will be their first ever Christmas present and for most, it will be the only Christmas present that they receive this year, as their parents are too poor to purchase one.
As part of the ‘Kindness Overseas’ Project, the Year 3 Pixie Post will give all Claremont students a blank Christmas card, and a small fact sheet, for you and your family to write a special message to each of the ‘Project Help India’ kids. I will hand deliver these cards to India in the week before Christmas (I am heading there for a wedding).
‘Kindness to the People we Know’
Today in Chapel I also shared a story about the power of random acts of kindness done in secret. It’s good to ‘pay it forward’, and God loves it when we do these things without being in the spotlight and drawing attention to ourselves. The challenge is out there for students, staff and families to be strategic in showing kindness to one another. If someone is kind to you, or if you are impressed by your children, please let us know.
Lastly, how wonderful it was to hear the stories of our Year 5 students visiting the Dorothy Boyt Nursing Home at Malabar this week. Their kindness, and gentleness with the elderly folk was impressive. The students will be visiting the nursing home again over the coming weeks.
So there you go! Let’s extend ‘World Kindness Day’, so that every day is kindness day, especially as we celebrate Christmas, and what has been a wonderful year. Thank you for your part in making our school such a very special school community.
Many thanks to DR VICKI PHILLIPS @drvicip National Geographic for your presentation at the 2019 International Principal's Convention in Shanghai
School leaders love to learn.
Uncommon leader attributes
“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods, or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions…and increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”
Barack Obama’s Final speech as US President
Being your best more of the time
“We all have down times and up times and it is important that we give ourselves permission to have those down times. But the best leaders are able to be at their best more often because they reflect on it, then they apply what they are learning in a more consistent way. Reducing variation within our own leadership, that is a great skill. Outstanding leaders aren’t necessarily better leaders than the rest of us, they just operate at their best more often”.
Steve Munby - 'Imperfect Leadership'
Encourage others to step up. You don’t have to be the finished product to step up. Encourage others to take risks for them to authentic? People will want to follow you if you are genuine and honest, and demonstrate you know what you are doing. They will forgive you if you admit your mistakes rather than cover up or blame others. Admit you make mistakes.
Steve Munby - 'Imperfect Leadership'
What knowledge, experiences and skills do I have that makes me an effective leader? What are the gaps?
What do I think others want and expect of me as a leader? How do I know? Am I happy with that?
How strongly do I believe in myself as a leader? Do I have a healthy balance between confidence and humility?
How do my traits work for and against me as a leader? What are my default modes? Why do I sometimes end up behaving in a way that I regret afterwards? How might I adapt or change my default modes to make me even more effective?
What motivates me about leadership? What are my drivers and how does that effect my behaviour and how I feel about myself? Making a difference? Achievement? Ambition? Status and power? Income for my family? Not being a failure? Need to be liked?
You must always have a balance of fearing of failure, plus a desire to excel
Imperfect leaders are learners who learn from mistakes.
Employ people who are better than you
It’s not about you
Empower your team
Be invitational - ask for help, and be prepared to admit it. Builds collective ownership and responsibility.
If you are new in your role, include others as you form your vision. 'Santorini in the mist'...we had to wait for the mist to clear. I have a misty vision, working together to get the clarity.
Invitational leadership leads to better solutions
If out of your depth, ask for help
Choose mentors who have expertise that you don’t have. The more I’m in the role, the more I need a mentor, because you are too close to the role. Avoid group think
(Notes taken in Shanghai)