Friday, September 18, 2015

THE TURNING POINT - My Fellowship Journey

                                                             THE TURNING POINT 
Mentor : Bani Sodhi, BA (Hons) Political Science, Miranda House, DU
Mentee : Nargis, Student Class XII
According to Mahabharata, " There is nothing humility cannot accomplish". SEWA Bharat's Youth Connect has been such a humbling experience for both me and my mentee Nargis. More than anything else it has acted as a catalyst of sorts in connecting girls from different backgrounds to achieve a substantively benevolent purpose. The journey has been long and beautiful, having given us a myriad of opportunities to discover not only tangible aspects of life but also the intangibles. I am very proud to say that throughout my mentoring journey, Nargis and me connected on an emotional level as well which is what makes it very difficult for me to narrow down to one incident that we could coin as the 'turning point' in our journey.
As Lord Krishna says, " The senses are higher than the body, the mind higher than the senses; above the mind is the intellect, and above the intellect is the Atman. Thus, knowing that which is supreme, let the Atman rule the ego. Use your mighty arms to slay the fierce enemy that is selfish desire". This has been one of my primary stances throughout my mentoring journey. I wanted it to be a self introspecting, self realization journey for my mentee. Hence through out our meetings we endeavored to reflect upon our being and state of mind and perhaps try and alter the thought process.
Each meeting or interaction as me and Nargis call it, was about introspecting our reactions to situations, deliberating on them and sieving out the 'perceived right reactions, that consequentially led to the ' certainly right RESPONSES' . This not only enhanced our thought process but also our way of living. I made conscious efforts to develop the attribute of 'Emotional Intelligence in my mentee'.
It was all about giving yourself time to reflect on the nuances of a situation before taking a step, though it seemed a little tedious at first, since having to think and choose rational responses for every situation in life is humanly not possible, but well this journey for me was all about developing this as a way of life for my mentee.
It was only when 'IMPULSE' was eradicated, the path for ' RATIONAL CONSEQUENTIAL THINKING' was paved which definitely was the crux of our entire mentor-mentee journey.
I will forever be indebted to SEWA Bharat, for giving me such an exquisite opportunity of mentoring, and in all my humility would like to believe of having made a positive impact in the life of a young girl, who is endeavoring to do the same in her household, in her community and her country.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tanvee Ma'am for the constant support and adding bundles of cheer to our journeys :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Note from Kriti and Sheetal

SEWA Youth Connect has brought two individuals from two backgrounds together. It was started with 11 pairs in Dec 2013 . Seeing the positive feedback we started with 14 pairs in September 2014 and the latest batch was started in April 2015 with 13 pairs of mentors and mentees.  Currently we have 24 pairs of mentors and mentees in the programme.

Each pair has its own journey and its own individual story to share. It has been a two way learning process for both the mentor and mentee building them as confident individuals. Here is what Kriti and Sheetal shared with us recently after they were awarded for their best performance in the programme so far.

Mentor Kriti, B.A Pol. Sc(H), I.P College, DU, (19 yrs):

 “With each passing day, I stand here filled with reverence and awe for this organisation and people working for and within it. The bond I have built with few of the other mentees along with my own mentee Sheetal is extremely sweet and simple.
I never interacted with anyone from this background at this level. After seeing the way they live their lives happily brings satisfaction with our own lives, It teaches us that life is about living beyond materialistic things. Best things are the aim of program, in this program both mentee and I learn equally and develop personality equality like sisters.
My  expectations from the program are fully met, a lot of freedom and exposure is there. Also, Sheetal comes well prepared for meetings now and she has understood her role in the program.
The Program is going very well.  I have full freedom to develop Sheetal as a whole.
My parents are very happy with me joining Youth Connect and wish to meet mentee My mother says I have grown as a responsible and mature person.
I hold a lot of respect in my heart today for the work that has been initiated by this organisation and the amount of happiness spread by each one us. I believe this is one of the most beautiful and special relations that I have built which will be termed with a 'FOREVER' now.

Thank you Tanvee, and the whole team for the constant appreciation and motivation. I wish all the good luck to all the other mentors and mentees irrespective of the fact that I know you or not. The only thing I can assure is, if you are a part of this programme, you will have a beautiful journey ahead, without doubts!

Sheetal, Class XII pass (18 yrs)
“ I thank SEWA Youth Connect for giving me a wonderful mentor. She works on my English skills. We meet every week either in her college (IP College, DU) or we go and explore historical monuments. We recently went to see the Humayun’s tomb. I like seeing new things and learning about them with her. Earlier I could not travel alone. But travelling for the meetings have made me confident and now I can go anywhere. Tanvee ma’am says ‘Ab toh tum kahi bhi aa-jaa sakti ho.” She also gave me the responsibility to bring the new mentees from our area(Rajeevnagar) to the head office for meeting as they were not confident to come alone. I felt proud. Me and Kriti was also given an award for being best mentor and mentee in the last 6 months period. I am extremely happy.

 I am much more confident today. I can talk to strangers better. Earlier I would not even say a word and was shy. Kriti made me speak to her friends in college once and Ma’am also asks us a lot of questions in the monthly meetings. I think that has helped me to speak better today. We also got the chance to pose for a photo shoot wearing Loom Mool outfit. I was nervous initially as I had never put make up and never done anything like this. The clothes were also very nice too. All the mentors and mentees were a bit nervous for the shoot. But  Tanvee ma’am encouraged us to be confident and we all were very comfortable and happy towards the end. It was a life time experience. Ma’am always encourages us to do well.

Kriti remembered my birth day and wish me at 12:01 a.m., I felt very good that she loves me so much, I have become habitual of staying with her, she is also very concerned for me. Earlier I used to fight with sister even on small issues but now I don’t, people say that sheetal is changed now. I now know how to face people and situations. It’s a good program, earlier we were dull but now we know a lot of things. My sister was a mentee in the first batch. She has also grown positively through this program. Today, my Mentor is my best friend! 

Congratulations every one !

It is amazing to see the 11 pairs of mentors and mentees from the second batch of SEWA Youth Connect started in September 2014 complete 6 months of togetherness! SEWA feels proud and happy to encourage the young girls to come together and engage in the two way learning process.  To encourage them further the best performing pair so far was awarded with a token of appreciation !

Here is what we had for mentor Kriti and mentee Sheetal!

We congratulate everyone for their journey so far. We wish all of them luck to bring about a positive change in their lives!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Working with SEWA

My Mentoring Journey So far
Dalai Lama once said, "All religions try to benefit people, with the same basic message of the need for love and compassion, for justice and honesty, for contentment". This is what me and my mentee realised in our journey with SEWA Bharat. Me and my mentee Nargis come from completely different religions and backgrounds. Being in a country where religious modernity continues to dominate public sphere it was beautiful for us to surpass these boundaries that not only helped us see a part of life that we were unaware of but also helped us to evolve as mature individuals on a personal level.
Having passed the rigorous selection procedure for this fellowship that sought to look deep within us to measure our potential as mentors, my ethusiasm for the same made me believe I could do justice to the responsibilty, However as I progressed in this journey, I realised that there exsists a veil of ignorance that blinds us into believing that we are efficiently equipped to handle the tangible challenges in life. What we fail to realise is that there exist many intangible challenges as well, that come up unexpectedly. This beautiful journey made me and my mentee realise these intangible and significant challenges of life. 
The trajectory of our journey by far highlights the admirable achievement of emotional Intelligence. As we progressed, each meeting brought with itself a myraid of emotions that encouraged us to dwell deeper within ourselves and strengthened the mutual bond of dedication and sincerity towards each challenge we set out to conquer. On a personal level I was determined to have Nargis blossom as much as she could with my support. I realised a simple act of appreciation could do wonders to one's self confidence and self esteem. My mentees perseverance and welcoming nature came as a healthy surprise.
Even as we dealt with serious and specific topics like improving her english, health,personal hygiene, self defense, time management, women rights, we also developed insights into unconventional  topics like fashion, telephonic conversations skills, interview skills with stress on interpersonal skills. However apart from the routine, what stood out for me and my mentee were the different levels of empowerment fabricated by our circumstances. Empowerment for the ease of comprehension was related to emotional intelligence as apart from its usual generalised interutilization of professional independence and the former. It was pivotal for me to make her realise the dynamism of this attribute that encouraged independent thinking. As a manifestation of this, rational decision making found its way into her thought process, that made her take all aspects into consideration before asserting a choice. Hence, she learnt the art of consequential thinking. In this entire process I saw myself reiterating these  values in my mind again while speaking to Nargis about it so we could collectively channelize the same into our future prospects of leadership opportunities. An elightenment struck that empowerement was directly proportional to freedom that sought its roots in the virtue of mutual faith and trust among our folks.
This journey has definitly made me and Nargis get a taste of " Eudaemonism", and we are thankful to SEWA Bharat for the same.

Monday, February 9, 2015


The idea of meeting a stranger and making them believe that you are there for them is a hard task. I feel privileged to be a part of SEWA Youth Connect. This programme has given me a chance to experience something really challenging and different. At the same time, there is a lot to learn from it.

I still remember the first meeting with Prabha. We both were a bit nervous and excited. But today, after completing four months of this programme, I would say, I am lucky to have a mentee like her. Prabha is a sweet and caring girl. She has a supportive family. When it comes to her career, she is hard working, optimistic and focused.

Through our constant phone calls and meetings, we both have tried our best to strengthen our bond. I can see the curiosity to learn and explore in her. Her active participation in all the meetings encourages me to make our further meetings more interesting. There were hardly any situations where we had differences of opinion. I am happy that she is honest with me and share her problems. It’s not only Prabha; even I share my problems with her. The best thing about our bond is the understanding that we both have for each other.  She is no more a mentee for me but a younger sister. There have been moments of worry and there have been moments of pride. I was so happy when she told me that now she is comfortable and confident in travelling alone.

It is well said, if you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your path. I enjoyed the chance to have challenging discussions with Prabha. It made me realize how much knowledge and experience actually I have.
It will be rewarding to see Prabha achieve her goals and grow in confidence. I am thankful to SEWA Youth Connect for giving this opportunity to me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


After a few days the first batch of SEWA Youth Connect will come to an end. This was a pilot project and we started this with just a hope that we will add something to the lives of the girls associated with SEWA. After 6 months we end up with experiences beyond imagination. We fill extremely happy to have made some changes in the lives of these young girls connected through YOUTH CONNECT. 

Students from Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi have created this video on YOUTH CONNECT capturing what the girls had to share about their journey so far. 

Selection for the next batch will begin soon. Watch this video and support our endeavour!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Spreading Her Wings

In the process of creating a hand holding relationship with Neelam, I accrued the role of a mentor to myself for the first time. Being the youngest one in the family, I didn't have enough precedents from my own life to base my relationship on. To bridge this gap, Violet, Program coordinator and later Tanvi, Program coordinator held numerous training sessions and one-on-one meetings with the mentors. And that's when I realized that mentoring relationship was taking place at more than one level. 

SEWA Youth Connect envisioned bringing together young girls from two opposite spectrum of life. Dr. Sanjay Kumar Singh, Director, SEWA Bharat, put it very eloquently as "realizing one's social responsibility by giving back resources that we have enjoyed at the cost of those who have been denied yet come so far". Thus, the mentor-mentee relationship is that of equalizing besides empowering. 

Neelam, when I met her first, was a timid young girl, just out of school. She reminded so much of me when I had first come to Delhi. I was nervous and scared. I could sense similar emotions in Neelam. As my relationship with her grew, I realized she has not been encouraged to be independent. She had comfortably accepted the fact that she isn't a thinking being. A lot of it, I would blame on typical educational pedagogy in our country that taught Neelam how to take exams but not how to think. In my capacity, I tried pushing Neelam to think alternatively and creatively. I bombarded her with questions, which she found silly and then intriguing. The pieces that I asked her to write may not be very high-sounding yet it reflects her individuality and her own thinking. 

Over the period of time, Neelam slowly reposed her trust in me and made me her confidant. This is what she wrote when I asked her about our relationship

"Mentor-mentee ka rishta ek teacher ki tarah hona chahiye jisse padhai me help kar sake aur ek dost ki tarah hona chahiye jisse mai apni har baat share kar saku. Mujhe aaj tak aisi mentor nahi mili jinse mai apni baat share kar saku. Jo baat mai ghar me kisi se share nahi kar pati, wo mai apne mentor se kar sakti hoon. Jab mai youth connect se judi toh maine socha bhi nahi tha ki mujhe itni saari nayi baatein pata chalengi, naye logon se baat karungi. Ab mai akele aa ja sakti hoon. Mujhme confidence aa gaya hai. Jab mai apne mentor se milne jati hoon, wo mujhe alag alag jagah le jati hain aur batati hain ki yeh jagah bahut purani hai, jaise agrasen ki baoli. wo mujhse kehati hai ki jo na pata ho wo kisi se bhi pooch lo bina jhijhke. Meri metor ne mujhe vaishvikaran itne achche se padhya ki mujhe aaj bhi yaad hain. Meri mentor mujhe apne aas paas safe atmosphere banae ke liye bolti hai". 

I take immense pride when Neelam immediately rises up from her seat to order coffee for both of us on our weekly meetings, something she was hesitant doing initially. She has shown evident signs of overcoming her hesitation and fears. She's catching up with spoken English because she feels intimidated by the fact that other people can speak English fluently while she can't. I encourage and help her to learn English however I make sure that she doesn't base her self-worth entirely on these superficial attributes. 

Six months ahead from when we had started, Neelam can now travel on her own. 
She laughs more often now. 
She writes. 
She paints. 
Most importantly, she is beginning to have an opinion on matters trivial or important. 

Neelam is growing. I am growing. 
Together, with SEWA, we are growing.