Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blue @ Marina!!!

The Marina beach, world's second longest beach is also the number one landmark in Chennai. But the cleanliness on the beach remains a huge challenge. When someone says Marina, two things will come in our mind - Beach and Dirty. The pollution at Marina is pretty higher when compared to the Besant nagar beach and the other beaches in Chennai.

As part of the Celebration of Service Initiative, IBM joined hands with Exnora to clean Marina Beach on 25th June 2011. Exnora is derived from Excellent, Novel and Radical ideas (in solving environmental problems by involving those who caused the problem) which focuses on preserving nature and preventing environmental degradation.

We were asked to come in IBM T-Shirts and families were also invited to be a part of the initiative. People dressed in blue Ts were spotted at Triumph of Labour Statue @ 7:30 AM. The cleaning started with a small talk by Senior members of IBM and everyone was given a apron, mask, shower cap and a pair of gloves for protection purposes. One big green bag was given to each group to put the trashes. Baskar, Gayathri, Jacintha, Edwin, Scalet, Ramesh and I were a group. We started collecting the trash from one corner of the beach and covered upto half the stretch as the other half was taken care by HCL. I thought of listing the various trashes we found at the start of the cleaning activity, but I am not gonna list it down as remembering it itself disgusts me. I really wonder how people are able to pollute the beach to the core. No, I am not gonna take a lecture here. Anyway, most of us were exhausted bcoz of the bending and walking in 2 hours itself. I remembered our KG rhymes "Bits of Paper" while picking up the trash. :-)

At the end of the session, we piled up all the trash bags which was then collected by Chennai Corporation garbage trucks. IBM had also distributed Coffee, Tea, Biscuits and Sandwich which sort of made my breakfast. Point to be noted people, all the garbage and leftovers were put in bins only. :-) Had a photo session after it and we all dispersed.

Forgot one important news, I was also caught in action by Kalaignar channel and was telecasted in News. :-) Unfortunately I missed the news as I was travelling but my friends and colleauges were able to spot me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The White Washing day!

Sorry for the delay in posting my yesterday's activities. I usually use this phrase "I am dead tired". Well, yesterday I realized what this actually meant.

My day started at 5:30 AM when I got a call from one of the volunteer asking me some doubts about the costume to put on. Reached office at 7:20 as we were expected to gather at 7:30. Everyone started coming in from the moment I reached and the last person reached around 8:40. Two tempo travelers were waiting for us and we(23 volunteers from IBM, one on bike and one staff from Habitat for Humanity) started our journey at 8:45 from DLF IT Park. Oops, sorry guys.. Forgot to tell you where we were going.. rewinding back!!!!

Yesterday, I had registered for a NGO called Habitat for Humanity. Our basic human needs are Food, Clothes and shelter. Habitat as the names says helps develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities. Under the "Prevention and Elimination of Bonded Labour in South Asia” (PEBLISA), 32 bonded labourers (25 families) from rice mills in the Red Hills area of Tamil Nadu were rescued and located them back in their home village of Bangarampet in Thiruvallur District. Even though the government provided grant to built their own houses, they further required financial support. This is were Habitat team comes to picture. Habitat along with JVI(Justice Venture International)responded with technical help. They were able to get volunteers from many corporate firms and help assisted the families to built the houses. The project is in its final phase now, 21 houses needed white washing and this is where we come into picture. All our volunteers were split into 5 groups and were allotted a day for each group. I belonged to the second group and 16th was the date given to us.

So coming back to where I left, our journey started at 8:45 and most of them dressed in some nice clothes and some already in old dresses to do their painting job. Once we reached the spot at 10:30, we sort of had an orientation session on what to do and what not to do and were divided into groups and each group was given a house to be painted. Guna, Solomon, Sri, Jaci, Edwin and me were the team. Guna and me started our work with the right side of the outer wall with Guna taking care of the upper wall and me the lower part. We had transformed to professional painters wearing hard helmets, gloves and goggles. Gloves were not helpful as we were not comfortable with it, so most of us removed it. Guna did a great job by painting the wall as well pouring the paint over me so by the end of painting a wall, I was drenched in Sunnambu.. :D Jaci and Sri were all-rounders. They took care of inside, outside and everywhere and moreover not one drop of paint was on them but lasted till the morning break only. We didn't expect that we would have so much for the break.. Lots of water, juices, biscuits, lays and so on.. Well you can imagine what we would have done and so after the break, I went inside to try my luck with the ladder. Somehow got up using the ladder and started my painting inside with Jaci and Sri. :-)

Lunch time!! Most of us were almost complete with the white washing inside and out and started with the color paints on the outer. One group - they call themselves Team of Terror had their lunch only after completing their painting work. We painted, repainted and had fun in all the ways possible. Finally, when the entire house was painted, it was beauty - The effort of 6 people who are not skilled in painting but still made it. The occupants of the house was very happy to see their house beautiful (I am not pretty sure about it whether they are cursing us for our work) but still they looked happy to us. I remember a conversation a kid had with one of the volunteer. It goes like this...

Kid - Anna, what color is the paint?

Volunteer - Pink, why are you asking?

Kid - My shirt color is also Pink then. (He was wearing a pinkish shirt) Ennaku intha veedu romba pudichi iruku anna. Ennoda shirt color laye iruku... means he likes the house a lot as it is same of his shirt color.

Volunteer - smiles

This made many of us realize how important this house was to their inmates. Felt good to be a part of the great initiative. :-)

We started our journey back at 3:30 and made a stop in Pondi Reservoir and reached office at 6:00 PM. A memorable trip indeed!! :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Am back!!!

Hello friends, I am back!! I am sure that I certainly will keep blogging to update my weekly trip that is gonna start from this Saturday. For people who don't now, IBM is celebrating its centennial day tomorrow (June 16th). Yes guys, IBM is 100 years tomorrow. As a part of this, IBM is organizing Celebration of Service where most of the IBMers take part in service activities. The Kick off for this CoS took place today in Eureka Super Kids - Triplicane center, which is organized by AID India. For the next couple of days, I am going to update my weekly activities about these activities.

Firstly, let me introduce my dear readers to AID - the NGO that we are working with. Association for India’s Development is a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. But we are currently focusing on education initiative by AID. Through this initiative AID focuses on improving the Kid's reading, math and other primary skills which are supposed to be developed in school.

So, as said I am going to blog about the time I am gonna spend with them. To start with, during the kick off session today we had around 60 kids in and around Triplicane. After a long gap, I had the chance to interact with these many kids at the same time. It reminded me about the tuition we(Wisdom Club) used to take in the village near our college. The kids were from 1st to 8th standard. We conducted some games involving math and English. We also had other activities like 'Rocket' & Rain clapping, singing songs, dance, fire in the mountain and so on. The event was started with a short introduction about AID by Dr. Ravishankar Arunachalam and from IBM side, we had Prince E Nehemiah who introduced about our activities. The event was preceded by Girish Vasudevan from IBM. Selva and Venkatesh from AID helped us to get along with the kids.

That's all about today's activities guys.. I will be back with tomorrow's activity which is for Habitat! :-)