Category Archives: Poverty

India, Uganda and USA: What Can We Learn by Comparing and Contrasting in Youth Development?

As mentioned, in earlier blog posts thanks to my formative United Nations Volunteer experience in Uganda, I’ve spent considerable time and energy as a founding team member of Khelshala in India. In the last couple of weeks, I was fortunate to attend fundraisers at Khelshala in Boston and the The Child Is Innocent in Boston. For both of these non-governmental organizations, this was my second time attending their fundraisers.

Listening to Satinder Bajwa (an engineer by training, turned coach and teacher) and Kevin Schwartz (a pediatric oncologist), as co-founders of their respective non-governmental organizations, I was reminded by other inspirational leaders I’ve heard speak at the Harvard Kennedy School in the social enterprise movement such as Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Bank or Bill Drayton of Ashoka, who have used their talents to improve the lives of the next generation of leaders. The objectives and challenges facing both Khelshala and The Child is Innocent are simultaneously similar and different.

Today, perhaps more than ever, it is possible for young people to make a difference through grassroots activism, social justice campaigning and demonstrating solidarity with those who are disenfranchised. Small steps taken over a long horizon can and do make a difference for organizations like Khelshala and The Child Is Innocent. How and when will you make your next step?

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Community Development, Education, Grant Making, International Development, Leadership, Networking, Philanthropy, Poverty, Professional Development, Public Policy, Stakeholder Engagement, Uncategorized

Celebrating a Decade of Common Good Days

As a Bowdoin alum living in the Boston area I have enjoyed participating in the Common Good Days organized by the College. In 2016, the Bowdoin College Common Good Day in Boston was held at Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter for men. Over the years, the College has selected different nonprofits across the country to perform a day of service. This year’s event saw almost 500 alumni, faculty, staff and friends participated in Common Good Days with various nonprofits in different cities. In Boston, there were 12 alumni and friends stationed in the Pine Street Inn kitchen to assist the staff with basic meal preparation.

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Bowdoin Alumni and Friends at 2016 Bowdoin College Common Good Day at Pine Street Inn, Boston, MA. Photo credit: Pine Street Inn Staff.

Alumni from a wide range of years, professional backgrounds and communities enthusiastically cooperated with the Pine Street Inn staff in helping to cut tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and chicken to make sandwiches for residents. Pine Street staff were generous with their time and guidance to offer a personalized tour of the facility to see how the shelter fulfills its mission. We shared stories of our Bowdoin years, previous volunteer experiences and current professional roles. Though we had never met before our common links through Bowdoin allowed us to focus on the task at hand while seeking a greater understanding of the significance of Common Good Day.

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Pine Street Inn Kitchen and Cafe. 2016 Photo credit: T. Mohammed

This marked for me a decade of participating in Common Good Days organized by the Bowdoin Club of Boston. Based on the conversations with fellow alumni at Pine Street Inn, the meaning of service varies from individual to individual. Being part of a group, working towards a common goal, helping to improve society all with a bit of fun – are some of the many reasons why people participate in such events. However, a humble suggestion for future Common Good Day planning could entail greater follow through and assessment of the impact of days of service events for long term sustainability of the organizations and individuals it aims to benefit.

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Community Development, Education, Homelessness, Leadership, Networking, Philanthropy, Planning, Poverty, Psycho-Social Support, Rehabilitation, Stakeholder Engagement

Sports Memorabilia: Is at an excessive love of sport?

If you happen to live in the Greater Boston and are looking for a way to inspire your son or daughter with a dose of Boston sports history, then request a museum pass from your local library. Thanks to the Memorial Hall Library Membership program (my local library) a free entry pass to The Sports Museum in Boston made it possible for a summer visit.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library, Andover, Massachusetts.

The Sports Museum was a new discovery for me given that one has been traveling from country to country observing sport for development and peace practices. What I found unique about The Sports Museum was that it provided a greater awareness of the four major American sports – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – which were all highlighted in some way during the tour. Our young tour guide was very knowledgable and had lots of great stories about Boston sports personalities.

Highly values sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts from July, 2016 visit Photo credit: T. Mohammed.

Furthermore, since the professionalization and specialization of sports in the United States, there are dedicated “Hall of Fame” for sports such as tennis and squash (both in the New England area too). Such devotion and allocation of resources to sport does not typically happen in low-income countries since there are more pressing needs like water, sanitation, electricity, agricultural development and housing, for example. Is this excessive love of sport in high-income countries or should low-income countries also strive for such development?

This is an ongoing debate within international development circles on whether sport is a “cost-effective” social and economic development tool in low-income countries. The 2016 Olympics in Rio, has an opportunity to leave a positive legacy for Latin America and the rest of the world. The 2012 London Olympics’s International Inspiration certainly did for 12 million children in 20 low-income countries.

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Filed under Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, Foreign Policy, International Development, Leadership, Leisure, Olympic, Paralympic, Planning, Poverty, Recreation, Stakeholder Engagement, Youth Development

Marking a Milestone for Khelshala

On 9th August, 2014, Khelshala celebrated its 5th anniversary in Chandigarh, India. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event, but was celebrating in spirit with colleagues. Since I was not in Chandigarh to report on what took place, the India-based team are putting together a post-event synopsis.

Once again credit goes to Coach Bajwa and the Khelshala team for reaching this milestone. While there is still a long way to go, there continues to be significant achievements made by the Khelshala children as well as the program itself. For those interested in the details, these can be found in the Khelshala newsletter(s).

While I am thrilled to be part of Khelshala, this is a good time for self-reflection for one’s own journey. I have used this summer to review, assess and plan for further career development. After speaking with various career counselors about the field of social enterprise, I am reminded by a friend’s comment that “it would be good to do something that pays.”

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, Gender, Leadership, Networking, Peace Building, Philanthropy, Poverty, Private Public Partnerships, Psycho-Social Support, Stakeholder Engagement, Uncategorized, Volunteering

Thanking Well Wishers and Donors for Khelshala Service Trip

The Youtube video link below is a big thank you to all who donated and provided encouragement for my summer in India. I may have forgotten to thank someone so, please forgive me if I missed you.

My hope is that by sharing this Youtube video it will educate, inspire and motivate others who feel moved to get involved or make a contribution to this initiative.

Keep Squashing!

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, International Development, Leadership, Networking, Peace Building, Philanthropy, Poverty, Private Public Partnerships, Psycho-Social Support, Squash, Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteering, Youth Development, Youth Sport

Engaging in a Day of Service with Bowdoin Alumni

Thanks to the Bowdoin Club of Boston, I volunteered on a Saturday afternoon at Gaining Ground, a Concord-based organic farm that draws upon community volunteers to donate food to local meal and food programs.

Bowdoin Alums at Gaining Ground, an organic farm for a “Day of Service.”

Bowdoin Alums at Gaining Ground, an organic farm for a “Day of Service.”

Beverly Halliday, a Bowdoin alum who is on the Board of Directors of Gaining Ground facilitated introductions and not long after we were in two groups – weeding, planting and sorting various types of vegetables and flowers.

Having facilitated service trips for Concord Academy students, it was good to get first hand experience about the importance of environmental sustainability right in one’s own neighborhood.

If you ever find yourself looking for meaningful things to do over a weekend, I highly recommend spending time at Gaining Ground. Go U Bears!

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Filed under Community Development, Education, Leadership, Networking, Philanthropy, Poverty, Professional Development, Stakeholder Engagement

Sport and Development Documentary Filmmaking: Khelshala Next?

Earlier this month, I attended the 2013 UMass Boston Film Series to watch the movie China Heavyweight and listen to a question and answer session with the Director of the movie. Without giving away too much, for friends and colleagues in the sport and development field I recommend watching the movie. Below is the trailer.

The movie resonated with me since the master coach’s triumphs and tribulations were parallel to my observations of Coach Bajwa’s vision for Khelshala. While Khelshala graduates will be making their career decisions in the coming years, the young boxers in China Heavyweight illustrate the challenges of collective action versus individual pursuits in a resource-constrained environment.

In listening to the Director Yung Chang speak about the production process behind the film, I could not help but think that a Bollywood Director or documentary filmmaker would find an equally enriching storyline behind the children of Khelshala. A “Champion from Chandigarh” would be a fun movie to make.

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Filed under Coaching, Community Development, Education, International Development, Leadership, Literature Review, Networking, Poverty, Professional Development, Stakeholder Engagement, Uncategorized

Bringing Change Through Private-Public Partnerships

Just over 10 years ago, I embarked on a journey to Africa to serve as a United Nations Volunteer in Uganda to help strengthen and expand the Cisco Networking Academy Program across secondary schools, technical colleges and universities with an emphasis on gender equity and workforce development. I shot some of the footage from Uganda for the video below that was shown at the 2003 Africa Forum in Dakar, Senegal.

Fast forward 10 years later the explosion of social media and computer networking is continuing to rapidly bring about economic and social change in developing countries. While I am yet to return to Uganda to see the long term impact of the Cisco Least Developed Countries Initiative, I am grateful to Ugandan and non-Ugandan volunteers, colleagues and friends for sharing a pivotal growth experience. Moreover, the lessons that the emerging sport for development and peace sector can learn is that private-public partnerships can spur innovation.

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, Foreign Policy, Gender, International Development, Leadership, Networking, Philanthropy, Poverty, Private Public Partnerships, Public Policy, Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteering, Youth Development

Concord Academy Students Donate Blankets to Homeless Mothers and Children

As one of two advisors to Concord Academy Students in Action (CASA), a student club for community service, I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Dorchester, Massachusetts to deliver 37 fleece blankets made by the students for the Brookview House, a community setting serving homeless mothers and children.

Concord Academy Students in Action (CASA) members with fleece blankets for homeless mothers and children.

Concord Academy Students in Action (CASA) members with fleece blankets for homeless mothers and children.

Since September of 2012, CASA has been busy with organizing bake sales, fundraising for the critically ill and more recently making fleece blankets. CASA students met for approximately an hour a week to execute these initiatives with energy and enthusiasm.

Donating Fleece Blankets to Brookview House in Dorchester, MA.

Donating Fleece Blankets to Brookview House in Dorchester, MA.

Concord Academy Students in Action (CASA) members with fleece blankets for homeless mothers and children.

It was a team effort, with my colleague Susan Flink, an experienced biology teacher who led Concord Academy students to quickly mobilize themselves to rally for a good cause. The all round feel good factor for these student-projects raises morale and builds character. Stay tuned to learn about more CASA projects in 2013. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Community Development, Education, Homelessness, Leadership, Philanthropy, Poverty, Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteering

Blending Service and Sport in the City of Joy

Thanks to my second cousin Daniel Ghaznavi, owner of Taam, an upcoming restaurant in Kolkata, I was able to spend an action packed week of service and sport in Kolkata.

Eager to build on last summer’s volunteering experiences, I chose to spend 3 half-days volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity where volunteers from many nationalities, including Indians, registered at “Mother House” to be assigned to sites around the city. My volunteer site was Prem Dan, a residential facility for elderly, abandoned and neglected men and women.

Another reason I was keen to visit Kolkata was because it is home to one of the oldest private squash clubs in the world – the Calcutta Racket Club. Thanks to the members and Head Squash Pro, I was able to conduct a junior clinic for 30 beginners for 2 hours with the help of 2 local instructors. After sharing tips on technique and drills, I also conducted a 3 hour clinic at the Tollygunge Club, a private club with 4 glass-back squash courts for 10 juniors and adults.

Visit to Calcutta Racket Club

Visit to Calcutta Racket Club

Looking back, it was a privilege to be able to volunteer and teach squash in what is understandably the “City of Joy.”

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Filed under Coaching, Community Development, Education, Networking, Philanthropy, Poverty, Squash, Volunteering, Youth Development