Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why does BHUMI do whatever it does?

Why does BHUMI do whatever it does? Why Education & the Environment?

It's a question lots of people have asked me... Why not clean the beach? Why not fight politics? Why not feed needy children? Why not fight corruption? The list is endless as are the ills that plague this country...
Obviously there are a lots of things a young group of individuals as large as ours can do to Make India a better place but why the focus only on Education and the Environment?

The answer is quite simple, 'We believe that these under-privileged children whom we work with are the latent potential India will need for the future and if we don't act against climate change there simply is no future for India or the human race'

Lastly one of my fav quotes... I think it explains a lot :)
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margret Mead

Cross Posted from The BHUMI, Chennai Blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say ‘No’ to an unsafe touch

November 19 is Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Day. Having to spend more and more time away from parents, it is necessary for you to know how to take care of yourself.

Shreya is nine years old — a happy, smart child. One day, when no one was around she was touched in a way that left her confused; by a favourite uncle. He said he would teach her about growing up and slid his hand under her dress. He told her that this was to be their secret. Shreya was puzzled and didn’t protest. She liked her uncle but didn’t like what he was doing.

When Rahul comes home from school his parents are still at work. He has to wait at his neighbour’s house till his mother returns. The neighbour’s son Naresh is in the final year of college. He owns a motorcycle that he likes to show off. He allows Rahul to sit on it and pretend he is riding it. But there is a deal. Every time Rahul sits on the bike he has to return the favour by touching Naresh’s private parts. He has also scared Rahul by threatening him that if anyone other than the two of them got to know about this, he would kill him.


Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you have or if you find yourself in one, here is what you can and should do. Remember what your parents always told you about not playing with fire, looking to the left and then right and left again before crossing the road and not talking to strangers? These are warnings that ensured you were safe when you were doing certain things.

Now there is another aspect of safety that you should know about — i.e. personal safety. With you having to be home alone with both parents at work or having to travel in the school van or auto with other little children or walk back by yourself from tuition class or dance class or music class or tennis coaching or whatever, in the evenings, keep the following tips in mind to help protect yourself :

If you are home alone and there is someone at the door that you don’t know if you could let in, call mom or dad at once to check or ask the visitor to come back later.

Danger signs
Sometimes people with not-so-good intentions may suggest playing “pants down” games or “doctor patient” games or “Amma Appa” games or may touch your private body parts ( any part of your body that is covered by your inner garments or underclothing) or want to play around with your lips.

If the van driver pinches your cheek or the auto driver places his hand between your legs or the tuition teacher tickles you every time you get a math problem right or the servant strokes your ear in a way you hate or if your family friend or cousin squeezes your breast or grabs your bottom and it feels uncomfortable don’t ever remain silent at such times.

Always keep in mind this important touching rule — if some one touches you in a way you don’t like or that leaves you feeling unsafe or confused or uncomfortable or forces you to touch them in a funny way just say a firm ‘NO’.

Protest loudly and get away from the spot and immediately tell someone who will listen to you and protect you — like your mom, dad, aunt, grandparent or teacher. Keep telling someone till you get help to make the abuse stop.

Nobody can touch you in a way that leaves you feeling unsafe or confused.

Your body is very special and belongs to only you. Nobody has a right to touch your private body parts but to keep you clean or healthy. If when you are being given a medical examination or a bath and the person is making you insecure or uncomfortable, say ‘NO’.

And yes you can always ask for your parent to be with you when the doctor is taking a look at you.

Whenever a person breaks the touching rule (no matter who it is — a relative, family friend or a tuition teacher or someone who works at home) and hurts you not only physically but also by causing you worry and fear, don’t ever blame yourself. It is not your fault at all. The important thing is to tell a trusted adult quickly and get help. Stay safe always. And say ‘No’ when you have to.

From the Young World by Sudha Uma Shanker

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Encounters of the Third Kind!

Warning: May seem insensitive to those who haven't experienced all what I've gone through!

The week before I left for New Delhi, when Y text-ed me, asking if I was scared of Eunuchs... I sent a big YES in a flash! She started laughing... But it brought a flood of memories... I had just been reminded of one more reason why I shouldn't be looking forward to the impending train journeys :(

Riots were just subsiding in Gujarat, a group of 6 bold 20 year olds, we undertook our summer trip to Himachal Pradesh... It was a un planned series of treks and happy memories packed in 13 days @ 5000 bucks a head! When we were heading to New Delhi by GT, somewhere in MP... a bunch of Eunuchs got into the train and started begging... we ignored them like we were ignoring all other 'normal' beggars and continued playing amongst ourselves. Suddenly they started doing funny things and one of them pinched P's dick!! :-O Shocked... we coughed up 50 bucks!

Our happiest trip ever done... we were on our way back, the eunuchs were back. Neither of us were anywhere near our cabin when they came. While P and some others hid inside the toilet, I ran off to the next compartment!

Thanks to Capt. Gopinath I've been flying quite a bit in the last 2 years... 2 train journeys together after quite a while. Started off to Delhi by the night TN... we (different group of people this time... my room mates and some others) were having breakfast the next morning when the eunuchs came. I was sitting near the path and squirming in my seat hiding my private parts with newspaper and food :( The 'good' eunuchs just passed us since we were eating... PHEW!

We weren't so lucky 3 days later during our return... I was happily near the window this time! They came sat down next to us and started 'asking', for a while, we all  ignored them. One started rubbing my friend's thigh and the rest started clapping! They left only after we gave up some of our money to rescue our friend...

After they left we started sharing our 'horror' stories... While some had been kissed and pinched (yeah there!) one had breasts thrust against his face, one was kissed in front of his father :-/

No why wouldn't I be scared of these 'extortionists'?

As a doc... I understand the reason why they exist and am not scared of seeing them as patients or like normal people in normal jobs. Unlike most other people my fear for them is not irrational... But, using lay people's fear into coughing up money and intimidating them to achieve that, is not begging, but, 'extortion'! And they're not helping the opinion about their sex among the lay public by indulging in such activities... Can't really blame the society!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

BHUMI's Speak Out - Make A Difference is a Global Youth Award Finalist!

The numbers were so baffling that I had to read them over and over again to convince myself that in fact, they were true, and no it was not time yet to change my specs again….

521 entries from 61 countries… And the MAKE A DIFFERENCE project has been picked as one of the 15 finalists…

After convincing myself, (and reading again), I realized that this was no fluke…

We were finally being accepted for the work that we do…

The Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition’s purpose is to discover and recognise creative, inspiring ways in which young people are changing the world….

And as a BHUMIan, the fact that we got picked from among several hundred deserving nominations from around the world, is a matter of immense pride… If you’re a Bhumi volunteer, I’m pretty sure you’re feeling euphoric too…

Anyhow, the competition isn’t done yet.. Go to http://changemakers.net/en-us/competition/staplesyv to vote for the most deserving candidate….

Check out MAKE A DIFFERENCE, COCHIN's Voting Made Easy section for more detailed info on how to vote…

Three Cheers for everyone at MAD Cochin & MAD Pune as well :)