All posts by Pete Richmond

Manavodaya on Tyneside

Some Thoughts About How to Make a Difference in 2013

In 2012 a small group of workers in Tyneside met to think about how Manavodaya’s approach might be relevant on Tyneside. The group was made up mainly of professionals who work with people with learning disabilities and a couple of people working in community development.

The discussions centred on what the principles of the Indian organisation Manavodaya meant to personal development and social justice work in Tyneside. We mean by social justice work where a facilitator (volunteer or paid) is working with dispossessed or oppressed people to support them to claim equality.

Continue reading Manavodaya on Tyneside

Manvodaya course, Lillehammer, Norway, 2012

At the end of 2012, participants from both Norway and the UK attended the programme based in the beautiful surroundings of Nordsetter in the Mountains above Lillehammer. The course was facilitated by Anne Bregnballe and Bjarne Ovrelid, supported by Varun Vidyarthi from Manavodaya India.

Participants were able to hear first hand from Varun about the techniques used and the wider experience of Manavodaya India. How long standing barriers to the disenfranchised rural poor, such as bonded labour, uneconomic and unsustainable agricultural practices, women and girls educational opportunities are being overcome. Through the process of self- and collective reflection, participants were able to then share their experiences and consider common themes in work in India, Norway and the UK.

One participant, Ruth from Aberdeen, said:

‘I would recommend the course to everyone no matter what your field. It
helps clear the mind so you get more done by doing less… go figure! It
introduced me to yoga, which I still do every morning and its helped my
back pain a lot. I’m also more relaxed at work.’.

Funding raised by Manavodaya UK is contributing to the training of 80 facilitators

A number of individuals make monthly donations to Manavodaya. The fund has built up over the last three years so that, along with money raised through training events in the UK, Manavodaya UK has been able to help the programme in India happen.

Varun Vidyarthi, Manavodaya’s Director, sent the following account:

‘I would like to share the good news that Manavodaya is now working on capacity building of 80 facilitators from eleven districts of Uttar Pradesh for the formation, nurturing and promotion of various development activities at village level. Of these 20 are from the sugarcane belt in district Lakhimpur Khiri from where I have sent a preliminary report titled Taming of the Tiger.

In the background of this news, we propose the use of MIUK funds for meeting expenses related to the project for training of facilitators mentioned above.

There are several costs involved in training and guidance of 80 facilitators in different districts. The National Bank ( NABARD) is meeting part of these costs i.e. those related to training at Manavodaya and a small lumpsum amount. Most of the other expenses like salaries of project staff, support staff at office level expenses on travel, communication and electricity are all wide open. These will be met partly from MIUK funds and partly from another donation from Norway. We are hoping to raise the rest from training programmes. We shall still fall short of the requisite funds.

Despite the short funds availability we decided to go in for the project as there were two major advantages:

A. Close collaboration with a local bank for onward credit support to the groups formed at the village level. In this case, we collaborate closely with the Allahabad UP Gramin bank in the identification and local monitoring of the facilitators. Such ownership and support by a bank is extremely helpful in running the project.

B. Support from the apex bank NABARD which helps us in keeping pace with policy changes and updates on what is happening where.

We are in a tight position and MIUK funds, together with the Norwegian donation, were important in helping us to take the plunge..

Scotland/Norway: November course

Manavodaya UK’s course in Scotland, scheduled for September, has been switched to Norway in November!

Our colleagues in Norway are organising this course and Varun Vidyarthi, from Manavodaya India, has just told them he is able to be there. This creates an opportunity for people from the UK to work with Varun and people in Norway. So we have decided to join forces.

The content of the course remains more or less the same – exploring how professionals can help to create genuine, sustainable social change.

The seminar will take place in Lillehammer, Norway, 15 – 18  November, 2012. The title is: Promoting human dignity in social work and community care – experiences and challenges.

The cost of the course is only £180 (227 euros) so that participants can buy their airfares.

Accommodation is in traditional Norwegian cabins with fire and sauna. There will be chances to go skiing, sledding and walking.

Read the full programme and get the application form below.

Continue reading Scotland/Norway: November course

Development from within: September course

Effective leadership and personal action – a sustainable approach to Self-Directed Support

Residential retreat: 19 – 22 September 2012
Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Lockerbie, Scotland

This course is important for everyone who wants to play a part in creating sustainable social change – for example, community workers, social workers, health workers and, particularly at present, all those involved in implementing self-directed support in Scotland.

Participants in two previous courses considered the experience to be challenging, important and different to anything else they’d done. One said: ‘The course was genuinely inspiring. It challenged me to start with myself and change my behaviour in order to do my job differently.’ Another said it was the best course they’d ever attended.

Click here to download the flyer..

International course in India 2013

Manavodaya India provisional course dates

10-23 February 2013

A two-week programme titled ‘People Based Development – Concept and Practice’ for participants from abroad, is a unique experience in participatory development in India. It combines inputs in classroom with field visits involving direct interaction with villagers. A number of UK colleagues are already signed up for the course.

The programme is based on the following lessons learned at Manavodaya:

  • Participatory development is a process that builds on people’s own capacity and resources and it can be initiated by outsiders.
  • The process of  participatory development is feasible even among the very poor and illiterate.
  • A successful participatory development process requires a clear vision, strategy and suitable values among facilitators of the process.
  • The process can be adopted among groups of marginalised or disabled people too.
  • Participants from earlier programmes have used the method among refugees in Norway as well as people with learning disabilities in the UK.

If you want to know more about Manavodaya’s work then you can visit the following websites.

Tyneside discussion coming up

Martin Donkin writes:

An Invitation to a series of discussions

A few of us met recently to take forward our discussion about how the ideas of Manavodaya could work on Tyneside.

Manavodaya in India is a movement based on both social justice and an emphasis on combining this with inner development and how 8 steps of action provide a foundation for individual and collective development.

 The Eight Steps are:

•    taking time for inner development
•    being part of collective reflection
•    sharing time by committing some of our time to a good cause or project
•    sharing money – giving a proportion of our earning to make a difference
•    buy local produce whenever possible so that we support local economies
•    working on our faults
•    controlling our speech to limit harm
•    Taking an equal share in domestic tasks and chores.

In addition to working towards these personal commitments we were all interested in how we could take part in social justice work or strengthen good work that is already going on. Click below for more detail and to see some of the ideas that came up. Continue reading Tyneside discussion coming up

Development from Within in 60 minutes?

Erna Majormoen describes her attempt to familiarise a student group with Manavodaya’s approach in just one hour:

I attended the course run by Manavodaya UK in 2011. I wanted to present something of what I discovered to students who were graduating with a master’s degree in Health Promotion and Community Care at Lillehammer University. I presented this as an examination task with my colleagues Bjørg Stenersen and Anette Raasok.

Introduction: (15 – 20 minutes) First we showed a presentation given by Carl Poll (Time 13 min). The students found this informative. Everyone got a copy of the Eight Steps in Action.

Practical exercises (35 minutes)
Exercise 1: Calm down (2 minutes) Bjorg conducted a session with relaxing breathing exercises. Everyone appreciated this exercise.

Exercise 2: Self-Reflection (5 minutes) We asked everyone to reflect on ‘What have you learned this semester and how do you evaluate your own efforts.’ The students thought this exercise was good.

Exercise 3: Group-reflection (25 minutes) We asked the participants to reflect on ‘What have you learned this year and how can you use this in your work as health promoters?’ All was quiet for a while. But then nearly all came along with their reflections, one by one. Some found the reflection group tedious. They thought that the method was unusual and demanding.

Summary: (2 minutes) Anne Bregnballe, who had attended the course in Scotland, said she was able to recapture the feeling experienced at the Scottish course. However, several students stated that they struggled to find peace and concentrate. Our conclusion was that one hour gave a tiny taste but the message and the method of Development from Within requires more time for participants to become accustomed to this very different way of working.

Erna H. Majormoen.

Course planned in partnership with Norway

In 2011, we held a successful course at Samye Ling in Scotland. Three participants came from Norway. They have had a long association with Manavodaya in India and are organising a course in Norway in October.

Manavodaya UK will support our Norwegian friends to arrange the course. We hope that Varun Vidyarthi will be present.

We will publish further details as soon as possible..

Tyneside meeting

Martin Donkin writes:

Thirteen people met on Tyneside on 11 February to consider the ideas and practice of Manavodaya. We began the day with yoga and meditation. We heard Pete Richmond and Doreen Kelly talk about the work of Manavodaya in rural India – helping villagers to set up self-help groups. Pete and Doreen described how Manavodaya International UK was trying to financially support this work in India and explore connections with and relevance to practice in the UK.

The discussion focused on three areas where there might be relevance to the UK.

  1. Inner developement – some participants already practiced some reflective techniques or gave carefull consideration to their behaviour and its impact upon people they were trying to support.
  2. Professional work – facilitators of work who support dispossessed or marginalised people often work flat out to keep their organisation going. There seems little time for reflection about how our values are reflected in our behaviour. Self-reflection will benefit our work and sense of fulfillment.
  3. Equality work – the group considered Manavodaya’s ‘outer development’ or equality work related to the UK. There were many good ideas for collective action: joining a local community  action group, environmental work, supporting the Hardest Hit campaign. The group was united by common values around social justice but wondered what would be the group’s common purpose. The Eight Steps in Action were thought to be a useful structure for future discussion while thinking further about how social justice practice could develop.

Some of the discussion was about the universality of the Eight Steps and how there were similar useful frameworks. Many of the group wanted to think more about them and meet again. Others unable to attend on the day can join the discussion then.