children at shanti bhavan
the terrorist attack on WTC
BYU team with Dr. George & Principal
grace in motion
dancers with their director
SHANTI BHAVAN FLASH NEWS!
It is with great pride and joy that we would like to announce that all fifteen of our first batch of children who appeared for the tenth standard public examinations conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi, have passed with first classes.
The highest accolade is for Dr. Abraham George who envisioned and executed the concept of Shanti Bhavan that is true to Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy – “The weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.”
Congratulations to our students and our wonderful teachers, residential and support staff that have not spared any effort to work with and prepare our children for the last two years.
Update as of March 28, 2007
Young Indian Professionals’ Interactions with the Children
A few years ago, Nikhil Desai, an aspiring twenty-something professional from the corporate world of Bangalore, heard about Shanti Bhavan. He thought he would visit a school, nothing more. That visit marked a turning point in Nikhil’s life. In his own words, “the vision and dedication of the Founder, Dr. Abraham George, is something I never expected.” Nikhil resolved that he would come each year with three of his close friends to interact with our children and contribute to their growth.
Today, Nikhil is in the Indian Institute of Management at Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. His Bangalore-based friends are
In March 2007, these four friends arranged a day of team building games and challenges for our eighth and ninth graders. They had prizes for the winners and chocolates for all our children. In our children’s own words, “We understood the lessons in each game and also learned about ourselves.” They participated in games such as The Human Web, Situation Analysis, Association of Random objects, Team Rescue from a Sinking Ship, Pirates and Captains, Alphabets and Words, and Best Friends.
The children’s response was phenomenal. Here are a few samples from an exercise where each child was asked to bring an object and explain what it represented..
Karthika shared a small piece of granite from the grounds that, for her, represents “My mother’s work of breaking stones in a quarry as providing for the family, and a saga of love and devotion.”
Vijaya Kumar explained that his 21-gear bicycle represented “the generosity of ‘haves’ for ‘have-nots’. You are in-charge of where you go and the pace at which you go over the roads you choose, good or bad.”
Gowtham showed his ruler as “the yardstick of my life. The inches show the progress I have made, and the centimeters what remains to be done.”
Mani brought a weed that for him “represents perseverance. People try to displace you or your work. You can overcome.”
Manimala picked up a handful of sand. “This shows the people in my life who have made a difference but whom I take for granted. Though sand is always there, it is least noticed.”
Sheeba displayed a figurine of two doves. “One is myself, one is
Children had simulated situations where individuals took turns being Principal of a School; member of a Family that Honors Human Sacrifice; making Three wishes; and obtaining an Income Certificate from a Taluk Office
Mahalakshmi, the winner from ninth grade was asked why she agreed to face the corrupt Taluk Officer even when she could be killed, and her response was, “somebody has to make a start.”
The most touching experience was when they described their best friends. Each stated a friend’s best feature, and gave constructive criticism. When they were asked to imagine a future without their friends, the children said not being with their friends would be “like a world without the sun,” “unimaginable,” “like emptiness,” “like being blind,” and so on. Some children broke down and cried.
Thank you, Nikhil, Pramod, Naga and Aruna. Your message, Nikhil, “Always stick to the truth” will stay with our children always.
Update as of September 30, 2006
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints continues to support us through their Humanitarian Assistance program. Glen and Margene Erickson, Country Directors for India, and Dr. Gary Lambert and Mrs. Peggy Lambert, both humanitarian volunteers (who are currently teaching English Literature and music at Shanti Bhavan), have recommended that Salt Lake continues its support. They are assisting us in procuring two commercial size washing machines to deal with our laundry needs at Shanti Bhavan. They have approved a container of hygiene kits and educational supplies, food items and clothing. We need to send our proposals on a regular basis.
Ms. Mariam John, cousin of Dr. Abraham George, donated Rs.700,000/- . She and her daughter Maya Alunkal worked as volunteers for a fortnight at Shanti Bhavan.
Dr. Vijay John, brother of Mariam John, also spent two days at
Dr. John is Professor and Head of Department in Oil Extraction , at Tulane University, Louisiana, USA. His daughter, Mira, spent a month as a volunteer this summer. Dr. John’s mother donated Rs.300,000/- towards the Shanti Bhavan Endowment Fund.
Three volunteers, all business graduates from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, USA, spent a fortnight in May to work with our eight graders. Irene Tse, Kerith Dilley and Felipe Arratia taught the children how to undertake SAT tests, how to make a business plan, about leadership and communication. Their efforts met with resounding success. We invited some of our staff who were on vacation to attend a day-long workshop with them.
Dr. Paul Ithoop, brother-in-law of Dr. George, and a donor, visited with a relative.
Dr. Ittoop examined approximately 20 patients with lung and breathing problems at our Baldev Clinic.
Fay Prendergast, British, theater director from Torino, Italy, directed our School Day performance last year. We mourned her sudden passing this year. Her sister from the USA sent us a sum of money collected by Fay’s friends for the Shanti Bhavan Endowment Fund, as Fay had wished.
Joseph Mathew whose film, Crossing Arizona, was an entry at the Sundance Film Festival in the USA last year, was hired by us to make a film on Shanti Bhavan. The purpose of the film is to raise funds, and bring about awareness of our unique long-term approach to solving the problem of poverty.
Committed and dedicated professionals from Europe and North America have spent from a month to three months working as volunteers with our children in various fields such as computers, academics, art, music, dance, sports and games. We have listed them individually in the Principal’s quarterly report. Their contributions have been outstanding, and they have all positively enhanced our regular academic program.
We had invited the Chairman of Ashok Leyland to be Chief Guest for our School Day celebration this year, but he was unable to attend.
Dr. George was featured on the cover of Stern Business School Alumni magazine. The lead article was about his professional achievements and his philanthropic work. It was an honor for all of us to see him chosen among many eminent people for this prestigious publication of his alma mater. Dr. George was interviewed by
The Need of the Hour
So far, the Endowment Fund has been funded mainly by
Appeal to corporations, foundations and wealthy individuals to join forces with us in strengthening this unique model that addresses poverty.
Shanti Bhavan children spend 3 days at Pegasus Camp
The Pegasus Institute for Excellence conducted a superb three-day camp free of cost for our sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Our teacher, S. Vijayanthi was responsible for contacting their organization. Subsequently, two of their senior officers visited Shanti Bhavan and promptly offered to conduct the training sessions and host our contingent of staff and children without charge. They asked us to write a letter specifying what aspects we would like them to focus on for our children. Vijayanthi, Johnson, Daniel, Shanthi Mary, Nancy and the principal accompanied the group of 41 children.
We took our children by train from Hosur to Bangalore. Pegasus sent a young woman (ex-Naval) officer to receive us and provided transport from the train station in Bangalore to their camp about two plus hours away, near Nandi Hills. They were all very impressed with our children right from their initial individual introductions. Treks, obstacle courses, rappelling, rescue exercises and a mock production line were some of the “learning by doing” exercises that we were all put through. Each exercise brought out something we wanted, such as, seizing a
By the time we left, they said they want a long-term relationship with The George Foundation. They would like to do this every year for our children, preferably for two batches – grades nine and eleven. As their organization shares the same values as The George Foundation, I gave them our new brochure.
The children were sad to leave because of the fun activities and the food. Pegasus went out of their way to treat our children with special things. They could hardly believe that our children were from deprived backgrounds. What impressed them was the children’s openness, clear speech, respect for rules, interaction with all staff regardless of rank or status, spontaneity and freedom with the principal, teachers and aunties. They were also impressed with their general knowledge and sense of humor.
The staff of Pegasus has requested to meet Dr. George when he is next in India – during Jan or Feb 07. Most of the officers (ex-Army and Navy, plus civilians) were reading his book. They have visited our website. They would also like Dr. George to visit Pegasus Camp when he is here. They know that Dr. George is ex-NDA ( National Defence Academy) and a former Artillery Officer.
We were truly proud of our staff and children. They proved themselves second to none at Pegasus. This is true. We are most grateful to Pegasus and its staff for making the camp a memorable event for all of us.
Lalita Law, Principal
Update as of September 30, 2005
The new batch of 24 pre-school children (ages 3 ½-4 years) joined Shanti Bhavan in June 2005 at the start of the academic year.
Recent eminent visitors included Andrew Whitehead, Director for the BBC, India , and senior managers of Infosys, Bangalore , including a Board Member. Joseph Joy and friends from Microsoft, Bangalore visited. The Chairman of Usha Martin, Mr. B.K. Jhawar and Mrs. Jhawar, visited. Former Joint Secretary, Mr. Shiv Kakodkar and his wife, Dr. Prabha Kakodakar, also visited. Mrs. Edda Sehgal, wife of Mr. Suri Sehgal, of the Sehgal Foundation, also visited with her nephew, Jay Sehgal. Dr. P.V. Rao from Bangalore brought a team of dentists to inspect our children's dental health.
Titan Industries donated a sum of Rupees five lakh to the
Five educational assistant volunteers from the U.S. and one theater volunteer from the U.K. enriched the learning experiences of our children in manifold ways – academics, sports, music and theater. Four medical volunteers for Baldev Medical & Community Center gave our children several health sessions that were both useful and enjoyable.
School Day celebrations this year were in the form of a theater performance directed by Fay Prendergast, a British theater director from Italy . The theme was Shanti, which means Peace, and the children's presentation of drama, dance and song was entitled,
The construction of the extensions to Teachers' Quarters and the existing school building are both underway.
Shanti Bhavan in World News
Thomas Friedman, the noted columnist for the New York Times, wrote an op-ed piece on 20 May 2004 about the Indian national election results, pointing out that the poor in India voted out the ruling government because the benefits of the economic reforms are being confined to only a small minority. His article (carried by hundreds of other newspapers in many countries) described good governance and better education as the necessary ingredients for India’s success in the future. In explaining his argument, Mr. Friedman cited Shanti Bhavan as an example, and quoted Mrs. Lalita Law, our principal, and
Shanti Bhavan has been granted affiliation to The
Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, Delhi, with effect from March 2004. The Council is a nationally and internationally recognized
The curriculum we follow up to the eighth grade is a combination of the above prescribed ISCE course, elements of the International Baccalaureate approach, and the syllabuses of elementary and middle schools of excellence in India and the U.S. This is in keeping with our goal to provide world-class education for our children.
Love blossoms in the gardens of Shanti Bhavan
Mr. Anil Kumar from our Facilities Department wed Shanthalakshmi of Siddenahalli
Village on 21 February 2002. Anil and Shanthalakshmi met while both were
working at their tasks in the gardens of
While we rejoiced at their happiness, Dr. George jokingly remarked that
the wedding is proof of The George Foundation efforts of converting innocent
young women (village belles) to Christianity!
Shanti Bhavan has 140 children at present. A new batch of 24
PBS Lehrer News hour featured Dr. Abraham George, Founder and Managing Trustee of The George Foundation in its program on national television in the U.S.A on 25th July 01.
Fred de Sam Lazaro had interviewed Dr. George at Shanti Bhavan in February 2001. Fred and his team spent an interesting and enjoyable half-day with Dr. George, staff and children. The text of the interview will give an idea of the impact of Dr. George's vision for poor children in India.
Shanti Bhavan & The George Foundation Reactions to the Terrorist Attack on the U.S.A
It was the evening of September 11th, 2001. The time: 1945 hrs Indian Standard Time. Mr. R. Devdas called from Bangalore to ask for the latest information from the TV news, as there was no power there. He said the World Trade Center has been bombed. By the time the TV in the dining hall was switched on to the BBC news channel, residential staff was escorting children to their dormitories after dinner. The remaining staff watched in horror as the shocking drama unfolded on the screen. In between, we switched to CNN for confirmation. Our immediate fear was for the safety of Dr. George, our founder, who was in Washington D.C that day and was due to travel from there to New York.
For the next couple of hours, adults who were not on duty with the children, stayed glued to their television sets. Most of us were unable to sleep, and we awaited news from Jude Devdas in Bangalore. Jude tried for several hours to get through to Mrs. George in New Jersey. In the wee hours of the morning our time, Mrs. George confirmed that her husband and their son Vivek in New York University were both okay.
At assembly the next morning the news was conveyed to the children and all staff. The principal let them in a special prayer for the people of New York and Washington who were suffering. Some had already seen the horrific images on the morning news. Everybody was visibly shaken. A few cried. There was fear, anger, sadness and concern. One girl wrote, "If other people destroy my country, I would be very angry and do the same thing to their country." A little boy wrote, "If I were in the U.S. I would join the rescue operation and take people out of the buildings." A third child said, "If I were there I would build a hospital and a restaurant." Another boy wrote, "I would take people to hospital and help people who lost their family." In the course of the day, several parents phoned to ask whether Dr. George was safe and to express their concern. The local village day staff initially reacted with amusement born out of their ignorance. Later, when they saw the newspaper pictures, they understood that something terrible had happened, and discovered a newfound interest in watching TV news. One of the laundry staff said that Dr. George should come and stay safely at Shanti Bhavan instead of such a dangerous place as New York. That night and the following nights, many of the children had difficulty sleeping.
For the next fortnight, at morning assemblies and evening prayers in their dormitories, children and staff prayed for the people of the United States of America. In their classrooms, the children expressed their feelings in drawing and writing. The children also wrote about the attacks on the US in their letters to their parents. Staff members took the initiative and met to discuss how they could conserve resources and cut down expenditure in the light of the downward spiral of the U.S. economy. The children also expressed their dismay at the financial market losses incurred by Dr. George. A little girl put it simply, "Now in the U.S.A money is less." They keep reminding each other not to waste money by scribbling in their books, leaving lights switched on, and faucets flowing. When they were taken on a picnic to Bangalore's Cubbon Park this week, some of the fourth graders said, "Why are we wasting money?"
The Preschoolers and kindergarten children saw a small aircraft on display in front of a tall building in Bangalore and asked, "Is this the plane that bombed the World Trade Center?" The children are coming with new aspirations each day, such as, "I will not do anything like this in my life," and, "I want to be a good grownup, not a bad grownup." Their childhood innocence has been marred by the behaviour of "grownups."
In Bangalore, Mr. R. Devdas emailed Dr. George with a message of concern from the TGF family. His email stated that it was a great tragedy for America, and an inhuman act. He also assured Dr. George that our prayers were with him and his family, friends and co-workers. Mr. Devdas also emailed Dr. George's neighbour, Roger, with condolences for the death of his wife Angela who was at a business meeting in one of the World Trade Center towers when a plane went through it. A prayer meeting was organized in the Devdas family home at 10 p.m. IST, on 26 September 01, to remember Angela and all those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
The faculty of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media also emailed their expressions of concern and sadness at the tragedy.
All of us were afraid of losing our leader, Dr. George. Dr. George had
driven by the Pentagon on his way to Baltimore just 20 minutes before
the attack. His parents had watched the entire episode from their condo
across the Hudson River. His son, Vivek, studies in New York University
just a mile away from the World Trade Center. Dr. George used to have
an office on the 29th floor of 1 WTC when the last bombing took place
in 1993. With the tragedy for the American people has caused great financial
losses. TGF has taken a decision to cut costs with immediate effect. We
realize how close we came to becoming bereft of Dr. George's dynamic leadership
and enduring vision. This time around, we consider ourselves fortunate
Brigham Young University visits Shanti Bhavan
was made in a remote village, Baliganapalli, in Dharmapuri District, Tamil
Nadu, in Southern India. Modern dance from the United States of America
was brought to rural India, probably for the first time, thanks to Dan
and Ethel Caldwell, our friends and
Caroline Prohosky, Artistic Director, and Marilyn, together with their group of twenty dancers, spent the day giving creative dance workshops to our children from Pre School through Fourth Grade. The children learned to experience energy in nature and within themselves, and to express these in movement. The dancers' techniques were so expressive that language or accent was no bar to communication and learning. Their rehearsal was conducted in a way that the staff and children were able to appreciate the meaning of their movements and gestures. The rehearsal was a promising prelude to their evening performance.
Three hundred village guests from the villages surrounding
The success of their performance was in no small measure attributable
to their superb co-ordination backstage. Their stage management, lighting
and sound were all executed efficiently by their stage production team.
Their combined achievement was a lesson in teamwork for us all.
Our most eminent visitor has been Sri IK Gujral. In the words of the former prime minister in the Visitor's Book: " I am highly impressed both by the idea and the venture. It's unique in perception and equally remarkable in the dedication of the staff and the trust. My compliments to George.Now I see what a single man's vision can do. Thanks."
The parents of our children are regular visitors. They have all met