Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Volunteering: A selfless way to promote global understanding

"We share our creative thoughts and ideas through discussions. We feel happy as we are doing something to the society. Indians are very kind and nice people, we are treated as their own here," say FSL India volunteers.
Mysore is a tourist spot and we see a good number of foreigners visiting the city daily. But here is a group of foreigners who have come all the way for a noble cause with lots of enthusiasm.
Nicky from Canada, Lisa and Ewelina from Holland, Yalseo, Sunmin and Jungme from South Korea are our foreign guests, who are doing the odd jobs of painting the wall, cleaning the house, washing vessels, tidying the hair and manicuring nails of the children at Makkala Mane in Kuvempunagar. The volunteers are in city on a ten-day camp under FSL (Field Services and Intercultural Learning – India) and are staying at the Youth Hostel. They will leave Mysore on Dec. 18.They are NGOs who are spending their personal money for all the expenditures and are working under FSL India.

What is FSL-India?
FSL is a non-profit, charitable, social and independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which was established in 2001 with the objective of promoting global understanding and inter-cultural learning. It was encouraged by World Peace through Youth Mobility and Volunteerism to work for togetherness. It co-operates with a large number of NGOs across India in coordinating the inter-national exchange of volunteers and by supporting the volunteer movement in India.
FSL India, with its head office in Bangalore, undertakes projects across India. It places international volunteers in local community projects to support sustainable development and to bring an inter-cultural dimension to community projects. Volunteers are assisted by local communities.
"Volunteers are the heart of our work and activities. We place the volunteers in various societies throughout the world. We fix the meeting point one month before and intimate the volunteers accordingly and also make people aware of the world in which they live in. Behaviour and dress code are culture-sensitive, especially in villages or schools," says Joy J. Carvaloh, Workshop Co-ordinator.
"The volunteer service we are promoting is a kind of non-formal education. This requires skill and fundamental education built on practical experience. We believe that we get experience by living and working with people of different cultural backgrounds. We promote understanding, respect and make them feel that we should all work responsibly for the betterment of this world," says FSL Team Leader Dinesh Kundapur.
"There is also a 24-hour hotline service for volunteers. Weekends are free and they can plan their travel or leisure time activities accordingly. Holidays during voluntary service are not allowed," adds Dinesh, who can be contacted over Mob: 99869-14581.
"Our mission is to expand horizons by organising volunteer camps throughout India with the help of national and international voluntary organisations, institutes and colleges by bringing people of different cultures, languages and regions together," adds Joy Carvaloh.
FSL India believes in the work camp principles that people in any community should be given freedom to express their solidarity with others in a practical and basic level so that the young people can discover or develop talents and skills within themselves.
FSL-India aims to increase social, cultural, educational and environmental actions in the rural and urban areas of India through national and international volunteering by means of work camps. Being an active NGO the group does not support any political or religious cause and aims to offer people in India direct contact with youth from abroad.
The living conditions in India are very different from their home town. But still these volunteers make an effort to communicate in the local language.
Besides gaining new skills of communication, practical knowledge and work experience, the volunteers become aware of the importance of being socially active. This way, they raise the level of consciousness of the society as a whole.

Science Express: A Pathway to Discover

Science is the sector which blooms and is the base of life. It fulfils the objective of triggering interest in Science and motivates one’s ambition in their career. Hence to provide beneficial information to the students an innovative Science Express - Science Exhibition on Wheels, is moving from one milestone to the next.

This sparkling white ‘Science Express’, mounted on a specially designed fully air conditioned train has 16-coaches which aims to spread scientific awareness, has arrived at Mysore City Railway Station on Platform No. 6 and was formally inaugurated by Divisional Railway Manager B.B. Verma here this morning. Public can visit the train between 10 am and 5 pm. Entry is free.

After successful completion of two tours around the country, it is embarking on its third phase. During this phase, this train will travel about 18,000 kms by covering 56 locations across India in a span of 208 days before returning back to its starting point at Gandhi Nagar in Gujarat on 27 April, 2010. It halts at each location for a few days during which it will remain open to visitors comprising mainly students.

The exhibition features more than 300 large-format visual images, over 150 video clips and multimedia exhibits which showcases extensively with cutting-edge research in science and technology. It also has working models and a laboratory. The exhibition has created four National Records and has received overwhelming response at all the halts.

Science Express is the World's largest ever mobile science exhibition and was flagged off by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel on October, 30, 2007 from New Delhi. It has been showcased in 100 cities across India in two phases and now it is its third phase. The Max-Planck Society, Germany has developed this venture in collaboration with Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC).

The Main objective of this unique venture is to nurture curiosity amongst our youth and rekindle their waning interest in Science. The exhibition seeks to address issues from micro-cosmos to macro-cosmos. It answers how scientists have uncovered our understanding of the Universe; how they are concerned about finding practical solutions for protecting our planet. It has large screen displays for audio-visual experience, interactive computers and each coach are informative and attractive too. This will fulfill the quest of scientific knowledge in the common masses and students.

“Every child in city should utilize this opportunity and visit the Science express. It’s very beneficial. It creates awareness on environments issues, the needs to protect and conserve environs. More than 40 lakh students have visited this train in this phase,” said Verma, who was very much enthusiast after viewing the exhibition.

As soon as the event was inaugurated students rushed inside to share the knowledge stored on varied issues. Thirteen of the 16 coaches showcase exhibitions on various topics.

Coach 1: On the way to the Big Bang
This coach represents the Universe according to inflationary cosmology from the smallest particles of matter, its energy, elementary particles and the fundamental forces. It also displays information on Atlas Detector, XFEL X-ray Laser, Filming a molecule, Time microscope, Super Cold atoms and ultra short light pulses.

Coach 2: Nano Cosmos
Nanotechnology is the technique of molecular manufacturing and an applied science. The basic theme of the coach is how we can systematically influence the physical and chemical foundations for better. It also informs about Synchrotron, Optoelectronics, Milling machine, scanning tunneling microscope.

Coach 3: Building Blocks of Life
This describes the story of building blocks of life, which means it reveals the facts of life. Cells are the basic unit of life; they have different kinds of interactions within the body which combines with molecular and protein interactions. It also imparts knowledge on artificial vesicle, Quantum Dots, Molecular motors, protein interaction.

Coach 4: From Gene to Organism
This coach exhibits us the details from Gene to Organism — which means how gene interaction leads to the formation of an individual. It has information on Genomics, human genome project, living antibiotic, plants in cancer research, etc.

Coach 5: Architecture of the Mind
It narrates signal transmission, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, complex communication and Neurological disorders.

Coach 6: The World of Senses
This coach tells about the world of senses, basically human evolution, speech gene, window to the brain, Tansen query by humming (Music), etc.

Coach 7: Technologies for the Future
It narrates about technologies of the future — supercomputer and teraflops, quantum geometry, dielectric resonator and sensors, etc.

Coach 8: Climate Change
This coach tell about the major over-riding environmental issues like Cause, Effect, Mitigation and the challenges facing by the modern civilization, how a tree gains weight, adaptation and mitigation, Carbon foot, Carbon hand print and promises related conserving energy like “I will walk or cycle whenever possible’, “I will use public transport”, “I will switch off fans and lights”. A 45-minute talk featuring Al Gore and video clippings on climatic changes, make the visitors, glued to the screen.

Coach 9: Global Challenges
It tells about global challenges — global warming, fusion energy, fuel cell, epidemics, recombinant DNA technology and plant protection, etc. This coach also depicts the shift of conventional energy to non-conventional energy resources. The fascinating this in this coach is the World of Language globe, where more than 7,000 languages can be heard on a press of button on globe.

Coach 10: Spaceship Earth
This coach tells about what happen when earth loses it resilient capacity, why do natural calamities occur and its magnetospheres and also informs Bacterial reef, genetic diversity, sulfur pearl, adaptation, particle Imaging detectors and aerosol.

Coach 11: Our home in the Cosmos
This coach influences about the sun on earth and our home in the cosmos — orion nebula, Alma Radio telescope, weight on other planets, solar flares, sunspot, etc.

Coach 12: The Universe
This coach describe about the Universe — it’s originate and evolve, Supernova, apex telescope, Gravitational lens, neutron Star fusion and Milky way.

Coach 13: Science & Technology in India
As India is one of the most powerful knowledge hubs, this coach focuses on India’s achievements in science & technology — inventions from ‘zero’ to launch of Chandrayaan - 1, discoveries and developments

Finally The Joy of Science – ‘Hands-on lab’
The Joy of Science (JOS) Lab has been developed by VASCSC is one of the fascinating part of this coach. It tells about children can perform practical experiments and hands on activities in physics, chemistry, biology, electronics and mathematics in the mobile lab. The 6 workstations in the lab are equipped with more than 50 exciting experiments and activities based on high school curriculum, facilitated by Science Communicators are performed here. It’s really a glorious legacy.

Each coach has two communicators (science experts) helping out children and also career counseling is also provided for those interested in science education. Over all there are 30 experts among 19 girls and 11 boys.

“It’s a golden opportunity for all the ages of people particularly children and students, research scholars for updating their knowledge and learning new things from this Science Express. Students enjoy learning about cutting-edge research in science while explained through interesting audio-visual exhibits and interactive tools,” says Communicator Charvi from Gujarat.

Teaching is a challenging profession and I enjoy it. We share the knowledge and create awareness throughout wheels, I feel very happy as I teach throughout India and I come across new persons and their languages,” said Vinith from and Rajasthan who joined here just three months back.

This exhibition strives to take modern research out of the lab and reveal just how relevant science is to everyday life. It attempts to develop scientific temper among students by encourage them to pursue careers in science. Hence Science Express is providing excellent opportunity to the students in remote and urban areas to expose them to the development of science around the world. After spreading the joy of science in Mysore, the Science Express moves to Udupi on coming. Friday.
Not allowed: mobiles, cameras, bags, match-boxes, cigarettes, beedis, tobacco, water bottles, any liquid and any sharp pointed objects.

Public views…
I am spellbound…
“The facts of science are very well described, especially for youngsters it’s an interesting and wonderful technological frontiers. I have never received such type of information in science and technology. It as developed me a scientific temper to pursue careers in science. I hope by visiting this train at least few people save the earth from climate change. All the staff are dedicated and the way express is awesome”, says Rekha a 9th standard students who was her way to Bangalore.

Organise during Dasara…
“It was a fantastic experience going through Science Express. It’s a nice and novel concept for popularization of science amongst the public. We can study each and every part of a science in a single train; it has enlightening on various, aspects of life, earth and other related issues. It was a good change for us to see what we studied in our school. We got more details from this Science Express. I request the authorities to organise these science expo during Dasara,” says Yashwanth a Science Student of JSS College.

Transmit in National languages too...
“I like the Science Express for its facts, fine and rich information. But the drawback is it can’t be understandable by a common man, as it is only transmitted in English. If the concerned authorities takes the initiatives to introduce the transmission in all the National Languages it will be very helpful”, says Mala a senior citizen.

AIDS awareness at CAVA through paintings & poems

"Majority of youth are afflicted with AIDS. They should be aware of the consequences of this deadly disease," says Dr. H.T. Chidananda.
Here is a 62-year-old social worker Dr. H.T. Chidananda, who is not just a doctor by profession but also a Professor who has successfully used the medium of painting to create awareness among people and provide information about HIV/AIDS.
Though he is not an artist by profession, he was very passio-nate about learning it. He initially began by drawing sketches. Later it occurred to him that this could be used as an effective medium to educate the public about various diseases that afflict mankind. So he started painting, focusing the theme of his paintings on diseases.
Dr. Chidananda, who had earlier served as Principal of Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) and Shimoga Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), is currently working as a Professor and HoD of Pathology at KMCT Medical College in Kozhikode (Calicut). He has over 50 paintings to his credit since 2 years and majority of them are related to diseases.
At present, he is holding an exhibition of his paintings at Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), Mysore, under the auspices of Karnataka Lalitha Kala Academy. The expo will be open for public between 10 am and 6 pm till Dec. 9.
Of the 25 paintings on display, ten are explained through poems and others through captions, explaining the symptoms, causes and consequences of the disease, all in Kannada.

The posters depict the way the dreaded diseases spread and affect people including drug addicts using the same syringe for injection; awareness on blood transfusion; saving human lives by using condoms and indulging in safe sex; a painting depicting a HIV patient walking from light to darkness; Gonorrhea; continuing the cycle of life, the role people must play to ensure an AIDS-free society in future; a tree without leaves depicting that the person with HIV loses all characteristics of life; one man - one woman concept and pregnant mother with HIV and so on.
“The main objective of this exhibition is to create awareness amongst youth as they are more vulnerable to this disease and they should be educated in this regard. They should be made aware of the consequences of the disease. A cure for this disease has not yet been found. It is only through exhibitions such as this the public can be made aware about the disease”, says Dr. Chidananda.
“Paintings refresh my mind and help me to relax. I love creating art works that supplement the subject theme. Though in the beginning I was painting without any specific topic, during my days as a medical student, I started practising on my own the paintings related to diseases and was successful in my pursuit. Today, I paint regularly for about four hours everyday. After my retirement, I decided to create a collection of paintings all related to diseases and it has taken me two years to complete these paintings," says the doctor.
"Most people who are infec-ted with HIV do not know that they have been infected because no symptoms develop immediately after the initial in-fection. A HIV-infected person is highly infectious and can transmit the virus to another person. The only way to determine whether a person is infected or not is by undergoing a HIV test. This type of awareness camp helps the person to know on his own, whether he is infected or not," adds Dr. Chidananda.

"I feel I have succeeded in my efforts and I feel happy for exhibiting my art works here as it reaches the public. It is a very new experience for me. In future too, I will continue to create awareness by holding exhibitions of my paintings all over Karnataka, especially in the remote villages," says a beaming Chidananda, who is all set to release his book 'ROCHIKA' (ROga CHItra KAvya) next month.
He also has plans for providing guidance, information, counseling and screening facilities to people who are interested to know about AIDS. They can contact him on his Mob: 98869-53876.
The paintings which are on display here are not only informa-tive but also educate the public by telling: 'The threat from HIV virus is very dangerous.'

It's nestling time at Karanji Lake

The rush of visitors to Karanji Lake Nature Park is going steady. The Park located on the banks of the Lake has been restored of its greenery, attracting several species of winged beauties that have descended upon the Lake and begun nestling.
The nature park consists of a Butterfly Garden and a walk-through Aviary. It is an abode for many species of migratory birds like herons and egrets and a paradise for ornithologists.
The lake, situated in the heart of the city against the backdrop of the Chamundi Hill, has a total area of 90 hectares. While the water-spread area is about 55 hectares, the foreshore area measures about 35 hectares. The Zoo Authority is in charge of its maintenance.
This Lake was neglected for long, being filled with sewage and dumping of garbage. But the Zoo authorities acquired the place in 1976 and developed the Lake. Soon after the development works started paying dividends, the lake became a visiting place for nature lovers and a nestling area for variety of birds. And now, the lake is transformed into a mini bird sanctuary .
What was once only a refuge for Painted Stork, now witnesses a regular influx of varied species including the Glossy Ibis, Grey Pelican, Snake Bird, Painted Stork, Black Ibis, Bill Storks, Egrets, Purple Heron, Cormorants, Great Cormorant, Spotbill Duck etc., which are busy weaving nests on trees in the islands of the lake (see pics.)

Herons, Asian Open Bill Storks, Egrets, Red wattle lapwing, Sandpipers, Rose ringed parakeet, Black Drongo, Brown Shrike, Red-whiskered bulbul, Booted warbler, Sunbird and Greenish Warbler are some of the other species of migrant birds found here.
According to the staff at the Karnaji Lake, the recent survey of birds indicated 87 species of birds in which 12 are migratory birds. Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds due to changes in food availability, habitat or weather.
Bird Watch Tower
A 10-meters high Bird Watch Tower at the site enables the visitors not only to view panoramic environs of the lake but also to watch birds unhindered. Looking through the binoculars, one can see scores of nests of black-headed ibis, painted stork, spot-billed pelican, egrets and cormorants. Visitors to the lake can also enjoy boating there. One can hire pedal boats and rowboats in a designated area to watch the greenery and the birds roosting on the trees. The scenery, cool breeze, serenity and chirping of birds witnessed during the boating, makes one enchanted with the place.
Except on Tuesdays, the Karanji Lake is open on all days from 10 am to 5 pm.