From the Desk of the Director
June 2023 (Present/See Below)
Dr. Fr. Ranjit George SJ
BA (Economics), MASW (PM & IR), MA (Philosophy)
Ph.D. in Management and Labour Studies
Office Mobile: 0091-9446397763
(Through Anandavalli Amma)
It is wonderful to announce that LES actively continues its out-reach services as well as its transformative and exploratory journeys. With a small team of committed persons, and an ever-expanding network of partners, collaborators, friends and well-wishers, we have taken many strides in the service of the local communities -- with the preferential treatment of the poor, marginalised, vulnerable and those at-risk. And, we intend to affirm our commitment to continue our efforts and initiatives in the coming months. The journey of LES, as well as our effort to re-imagine itself as LES Multiversity, instills a living hope in all of us.
I take this opportunity to thank all our collaborators, friends and well-wishers for the unconditional and unwavering support extended to LES, which makes LES more relevant in its contemporary -- and hopefully future -- engagements. I also take this opportunity with pride to thank all LES staff
(https://www.les-multiversity.net/team) for their unconditional involvement (in the face of many challenges touching on governance, administration, human resources and financial).
A handful of engagements that need special mention here are the Heroes of the Heart Award, Certificate Course in Pre-marital Counselling, Capacity Development Programme for the Youth (Youth Engagement), and the DACE Programme for the Digital University Kerala (DUK) Students.
The Heroes of the Heart Award is the most noteworthy initiative during this period. LES, with the support of various collaborators and well-wishers, recognised seven (7) ordinary people who engaged in extraordinary acts of compassion (For details, see our website: https://www.les-multiversity.net/hhawards & here: https://www.les-multiversity.net/hha-community). These heroes were presented with a cash award of Rs 10,001, a Certificate of Appreciation and a specially designed HHA Trophy.
The primary purpose of this award is to form a community of individuals who would become special educators for the teachers and students of Loyola College of Social Sciences (and hopefully the Loyola School in the future) and inspire them to partner in the sustained acts of kindness in making society better than they have found it. The award was presented to these Heroes on 17th March 2023 at Sutter Hall, where Mr Conrad Saldhana, former Vice-President of Times of India, delivered the Keynote address.
Another notable initiative was completing the online certificate course in pre-marital counselling for the practitioners. This programme was organised with Dr Razeena Padmam, Director, SKILLS Kochi, and former Head of the Behaviour Sciences Department, MG University. The first batch was awarded certificates of completion on 10th January 2023 at LES, where Ms Sathi Devi, Chairperson, Women’s Commission, Kerala, was the chief guest. The trainees initiated a voluntary group named ‘OPPAM’, which means empathetic accompaniment, for the training and accompaniment of the younger generation in their journey to family life. The second batch of Trainees was awarded certificates on 16th April 2023 at Kochi. 100 trainees from across Kerala completed their training and would collaborate under the aegis of OPPAM in rendering their services.
It is also noteworthy that 250 postgraduate students from the Digital University of Kerala (DUK) underwent an eight-day-long community immersion training in six batches at LES as an effort to find digital solutions for community problems. Dr Elizabeth Mathew, the former Principal of Loyola College of Social Sciences, led this programme titled Digital Access for Community Empowerment (DACE). Mr Baby Prabhakran, CEO of Bluepoint.Org, was our community partner in offering this programme.
With moral and financial support from Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, we have taken another step in our youth civic engagement programme. We have now completed four capacity-building workshops for 40 youths from the needy community in our youth civic engagement programme. Cheru Resmi Centre, Canosa Social Centre, Bluepoint.Org and School for Social Democracy were our partners in offering these workshops. (See our webpage here: https://www.les-multiversity.net/youthengagement). Among others, Dr. Sr. Janet our consultant/staff at the Poonthura fisherfolks community has been instrumental in this effort (https://www.les-multiversity.net/communityengagement).
All the above initiatives are testimonials that LES is growing with its collaborative initiatives and in continuing to actively form “Communities of Solidarity and Compassion” (CSC). These communities coming in many forms, sizes and shapes are foundational to LES (and LES Multiversity) social and educational outreach and engagement initiatives. Such communities offer sustained continuity.
Other notable initiatives for the remaining two quarters of 2023 will be the GMF Fellowship Programme, Capacity Building Workshops for the Youth/Youth Engagement, Core Curriculum to the students of LCSS, Certificate Programme on Child Protection, Conferences and workshops under the aegis of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies ( https://www.les-multiversity.net/interdisciplinarystudies) as well as the transdisciplinary studies/initiatives ( https://www.les-multiversity.net/transdisciplinarity).
As an effort to build local ‘communities of solidarity and compassion’, this year, the Gandhi-Mandela-Freire (GMF) Fellowship (developed and managed by Nat) is offered to the students of Loyola College of Social Sciences. I am happy to inform you that six students from 1st Year MA doing sociology at LCSS have completed the rigorous selection process and are selected to grow the 2023 GMF Fellowship community. Details of GMF can be found here: https://www.gandhi-mandela-freire.org/
In the upcoming two quarters of 2023, LES envisages offering two more capacity-building workshops for the youth, one in August and another in October. It also aims to offer a certificate course on Child Protection to various groups.
As CHILDLINE -- one of the most sustained and active focus areas of LES for the past two decades, being its nodal agency -- becomes part of the government project, LES aims to re-imagine its engagements with the needy, vulnerable and at-risk children with a new inclusive, dynamic initiative called BALAMITHRA (developed and managed by Jobi). Among the many efforts and focus of BALAMITHRA, forming child-friendly panchayat in Trivandrum District would be very important. This will grow in time. Having child-friendly panchayats in the long run will help popularise the importance of fighting against childism in private and public spaces in a sustained way. It will help creatively institutionalising, at everyday and public levels, the active democratic nurturing of children and in educating all to the treatment of children with dignity.
Another milestone initiative of LES/LES Multiversity in the coming months (but stretched over 3 years) in active collaboration with the Loyola School and Loyola College is the Garden of Compassion. This will also be created in moral, material and financial partnership with other national, regional and international organisations and institutions. The effort is directed at creating a tangible education-focussed Garden of Compassion. It will be an educational garden engaging students of the Loyola college and school (as well others students) to deeply engage with empathetic compassion. This mindfully nurtured garden components will also have creatively organised compassion-based communication and educational icons and messages to encourage and nurture reflection, contemplation and small group discussions. It will aim to encourage a personal pledge in the building and nurturing of a ‘culture of compassion’ (through more ‘gardens of compassion’).
Dreaming of building up compassionate communities -- I sincerely appeal to all those who share the ideals of LES/LES Multiversity to join hands with us or strengthen our hands in forming and nurturing “communities of solidarity and compassion”. Lets build a ‘new humanity with compassion’. Everywhere.
With greater hope and dreams,
Dr. Fr Ranjit George SJ
9th June 2023