From the Desk of the Director
“If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.” Adrienne Rich (Based on Ubuntu Wisdom)
It has been almost a year since I have assumed the role of the Director of Loyola Extension Services (LES), the Social Lab/Incubator Centre of Loyola College of Social Sciences (LCSS). Being at the helm of LES for a year, I realise the immense responsibility to transform a ‘brutalised society’ by living up to the principle of “preferential treatment of poor and powerless”. I also realise the nurturing possibilities as well as the resolvable challenges that await LES in this era of the ‘new normal’. It is instructive to recall the wisdom of Pope Francis here: We are living “not in an era of change but a change of era”. A change of era where we have to build society ground up.
LES was officially registered as the social lab of Loyola College only in 1986. Yet, it has built a robust tradition in the arena of community engagement. In its development trajectory over the years, LES has metamorphosed to appropriately shoulder new challenges in family counseling, legal counseling, formation and training as well as publicly useful research. In the past two decades, LES has focused predominantly on children who needed special attention (“Children at Risk”) from society. Our engagements under the aegis of Childline and Kerala Child Rights Observatory (KeCRO) enabled us to represent the concerns of the children constructively.
I realise that it is an appropriate time to re-imagine and reinvent LES. I am happy to share with you that as a step forward in this direction, LES has ventured into a couple of new avenues with the support of a group of new collaborators. One of such steps is ‘NEST’, a social entrepreneurship promotion venture initiated in collaboration with Mr Baby Prabhakaran, the founder of Bluepoint Org based in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.
Another decisive step is the engagements in the Poonthura Coastal region facilitated by Dr Sr Janet Augustine, who joined LES as its Networking & Partnership Facilitator.
We are also happy to inform you that in the area of social entrepreneurship, we are now exploring a new approach:“transformative entrepreneurship”. We hope to offer it as a way to serve one’s ‘calling’ (more than just a career). In addition, we hope to address sustainable livelihood as well as transform a critical dominant practice to community value creation.
The most remarkable shift happened recently, in January 2022. We re-imagined LES as a Multiversity Platform, to integrate many of the present initiatives and activities as well as proposed future ones. We have launched a global certificate programme on “Conscience and Compassion”, under the aegis of Gandhi-Mandela-Freire (GMF) Fellowship. The GMF Fellowship is the maiden global programme of LES Multiversity Platform.
The fellowship programme was developed, designed and is being delivered by Dr Nadarajah Manickam, who is popularly known as Dr Nat. Dr. Nat works with LES to develop the Multiversity Platform.
I am sure that the multiversity platform of LES would explore many more relevant engagements to re-establish the culture of transformative learning by deepening its inter- and trans-disciplinary foci and strengthening its commitment to critical civic engagement based on the foundation of compassion. We hope to establish the LES Multiversity in the next 10 years as we realise the orientation and activities of the platform.
We are also in the process of developing a new vibrant website for LES, unraveling the nuances of the newly established multiversity platform. Though not yet developed into its fullness, it will however present you with glimpses of the future LES is endeavouring to build. Please do take some time to explore this website (.https://www.les-multiversity.net/home).
Let me take take this opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable services offered by all our staff and collaborators for making LES a better place. I invite you to explore this website and the many initiatives that awaits realisation. In this, we seek your active collaboration and support in any way you can -- from volunteering in our social initiatives to fund raising to funding our efforts. We want to build an actively community-supported LES. Join us to co-create a compassionate and inclusive society.
Meanwhile, please take care and stay safe.
7th March 2022