Stories That Matter

Coming home with a burden.

PTSD is one psychological disease that people often ignore. They only address it after it becomes a real hindrance to their daily lives and start having very adverse effects. Most of the people aren’t even aware of such a psychological disorder and some others who are aware of it believe it to be nothing but something people are just faking for attention.

I came across an experience of a veteran from Australia. He was in the infantry and thus was always on the field. He accepts doing some pretty horrible things that usually comes with this job profile but he had always seem to get over them and when he couldn’t, beer would come to the rescue. Eventually experiences would be blocked out and happiness would be found again.images

That was until they went into this village, only a few hours after the militia had left. They suspected that the villagers were involved with the militia and wanted to set up an example. This ‘example’ ended up in massive destruction with homes burning, people screaming and crying over their own injuries or the bodies of their loved one. In the end, they did catch some of the militia and called in the medics but the horror was too much and it followed him home.

After coming back, he started experiencing flashbacks. His mind especially struck over this one child who had been mutilated but not killed. This affected his daily life. He started getting short tempered, shouting at his wife and kids. Eventually it got so bad that he could not think straight and only wanted to draw the curtains and lock himself up.

His wife realised what was happening and she heard of a similar experience of her colleague’s husband.  The veteran’s wife took him to a psychiatrist. He tried to do was talk about the experience but all he could do was cry. Fortunately, hes healing now. Finding his hope back again and having lesser and lesser of those flashbacks and nightmares but it will be a while before his fully alright.

To read the story from his point of view, please visit :-  http://at-ease.dva.gov.au/veterans/resources/case-studies/case-study-ptsd/

He is one of many veterans who come back from the war with more than just their baggage and injuries. They most of the times also come with a burden but most veterans take no treatment to help carry this burden. So they go on in their lives, forever living in this misery.

If anyone you know is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD described in our previous article, please make sure they get the treatment they direly need.

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Marathwada! A droughtful story!

I am sure we all know about how important resource Water is to humanity. 2/3rd of a human body, 2/3rd of our planet, approximately 80% of all the nutritious food we eat, our breathing process, all our daily chores, everything comprises of heavy amounts of Water. Oddly, it will be ‘safe’ to say that No Water, means No Life! With the temperature rising to over 50 (Degree Celsius) in a few parts of India in the recent years, regions have started becoming vulnerable to Drought! A condition where a being yearns for every drop to drink. Maharashtra, is one such state in India which is adversely hit by the water crisis. The main region being the Marathwada, comprising of Beed, Osmanabad, Jalna and Latur districts.
Coming from a prominent Social Sciences Institute which is based in the same region and being exposed to the local villages I can assure that the condition is worse than it appears. The Institute is one of the very few suppliers of Water tanks or any other kind of relief for people. There sure are tanks put up at short distances for the supply of water, but the ‘Supply’ at most of them is way less than the demand! Perhaps, even close to nil. All one can see is names of the huge brands and personalities that bestowed the village with a tank but forgot water maintenance and supply. Certainly cannot expect too much, can we? The region has seen some famines before and has also been officially declared a ‘Drought-Prone’ Zone. People literally travel miles towards the ponds and the lakes. The wells are mostly dried. Official Reports and Statements even say that only 5% water is left in the Marathwada Dams. The region, with a population of about half a million, accounts for one of the largest number of Farmer Suicides every year. With an average rainfall being less than 1/10th than expected in the region in the last three years, water is being transported through trains and tanks, which also are said to reach once in a week to their destinations. Steps, which sound amusing at first, do not sound funny anymore like postponing marriages and restricting the number of people to collect water at a place to avoid riots!drought-india-story_647_090915032013_090915085001
A saying which goes like, “Water, Water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” seems to have come true for the world today, literally. And way sooner for the Marathwada region. This article will mostly be exposed to a very educated class that lives in very rightfully earned luxuries and comforts. The sad part is that as a part of this class we are unable to feel the real ‘thirst’ and ‘hunger’ that people living in these areas go through and hence, we fail to do anything about it. Most of us would even start cribbing if we have to live without eating or drinking even for half a day, then how do we understand the pain of someone who is thirsty for weeks! Mere empathizing is also not a solution to such a problem. But it sure is the first step towards it. The aid to these regions are provided by willing individuals only. Whether from the government or Non-Government Organizations, irrespective of the age, sex, cast, religion and community, it is important for each one of us to be able to join hands, volunteer and contribute as much as we can in whatever way we can. This article was supposed to be an informational one but on a personal level it was hard to end it on a depressing note. Since, no statistics or facts might bring a smile to your face. Though the steps are being taken by the Government and NGOs to overcome the problems but those are just baby steps! Every Individual should do their part. If we cannot help directly or spread awareness, at least by becoming self-aware and practicing conserving water, each individual can contribute to solving this water crisis.
Save Water! Save Lives!

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Lakshayam- A Ray Of Hope.

We all nurture a passion but few translate it into action. A passion left unanswered results in a dry life; an act driven by passion can transform lives. This defines the journey of Rashi Anand and the dream she nurtures.

Rashi is the founder of Lakshyam, an NGO working for street and underprivileged children in Delhi. The idea behind the noble venture was the sheer number of street children in Delhi that totals over alakh. What are these vulnerable kids falling prey to? Drugs, beggary,pick-pocketing and prostitution to name a few. Rashi discovered a zeal among these children to do something meaningful in their lives; they only needed support.rashi-anand-blingg-bazaar

Today, Lakshyam has a school in the name of Sakshyam located in Vasant Kunj in a slum area where 200 children are provided necessities such as education and taught crafts. The organization also conducts workshops with street children under the flyovers, in the red light areas and at the railway stations to aware them against drug addiction and tobacco intakes.

Within a span of a year and a half, Rashi’s efforts have taken Lakshyam to such heights that it has a presence across six states namely Jharkhand, Delhi , Bangalore, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Rashi can recall vividly a scene of a group of street children playing enthusiastically, cheering and chirping. But what did they play with? Discarded tires, empty plastic bottles and stones. She compared the picture with kids more privileged who are blessed with real toys and play inside swanky homes. This instigated her to start a campaign named Lakshyam Toy Library in under which huge boxes were placed in 12 esteemed schools of Delhi and students were motivated to donate their toys. The response was surprisingly huge with a collection of over 60,000 toys and books in the boxes. These were distributed to street children in Delhi. As the number was massive, Lakshyam tied up with organizations in different states as a result of which toys were sent to rural villages ofBihar, Kurnool village, Theni district and Refugee camps in Dharamshala to name a few.

At the age of 18, Rashi was the board member of Lakshya, an NGO founded by her mother Poonam Anand who has worked for tribal women, against naxalismand in the red belt area in the state of Jharkhand.

She has opened an orphanage in Ranchi city. Also, she has worked for three years with blind, deaf and dumb children.

Rashi considers her mother as her idol and fondly recalls all the trips she made with her as a child to rural and tribal villages. Her travels have made her sensitive to the problems of the underprivileged. “I feel blessed that even at a young age of 25, I have been able to touch the lives of at least 7381 people, making a difference – small or big – in those lives,” she says.
Rashi’s aim is to see every woman stand on her feet and every kid enjoy a normal childhood. She feels that every one of us must give back to the society in any way possible, be it voluntary or monetary services. She says that if we go into theses hunned areas and have a first-hand experience of the lives the dwellers lead, we’ll know how valuable our lives are.

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Bhutan Plants A Million Trees in Celebration

How the Birth of a Prince Gave Rise to the Birth of a Million Trees

In a world that is plagued by deforestation and rising pollution, the little nation of Bhutan recently gave Mother Earth a reason to celebrate. The birth of the nation’s Prince resulted in over one lakh trees being planted across the country. Yes, you read that right. One hundred and eight thousand trees were planted across the capital city of Thimpu and the rest of the country.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, three of his ministers, and the Leader of Opposition were among the 100,000 volunteers who planted the trees across the country on March 6, about a month after King Khesar and Queen Jetsun announced the birth of their baby boy on February 5.

“In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms, symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Buddha attained enlightenment under a Banyan tree”, says Tenzin Lekphell who coordinated the event. The number of trees planted was exactly 108,000, as ‘108’ is a sacred number in Buddhism, denoting the purifying of the 108 impairments which stop the being from attaining enlightenment.

“Each sapling encapsulates  a prayer and a wish from the person who planted it to His Royal Highness the Prince so that just like the bountiful tree, the Prince also grows up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate”, Lekphell said.

It would be very difficult to find another monarchy where the people look up to the royal family the way they do in Bhutan. Needless to say, with this beautiful step, Bhutan has set major greenery and afforestation goals for other countries of the world.

 

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Give, Not Take

We live in the new world now, a world where humanity is considered to have been lost, people believe that we have become so selfish that we do not really care about what happens with anyone else.  This new world is the capitalist world where we all are just racing towards success, and not looking back at what or who we are trampling over to get there. At least that’s what people believe, but we then we have some stories  come up, which makes us wonder if really humanity is nothing more than a concept now? Or is it hidden in the world we don’t see?

This incident is described by a guy living in Bangalore. To travel to work every day , he has to take a bus and on this day of the incident he was lucky enough to get the straight bus home. He noticed a man boarding the bus who had no hands. As there were no seats empty, he was forced to stand. Nobody offered him their seat and he was trying to hold on to the poles but was failing in the attempt and thus with every brake that the driver, he was pushed forward. The narrator could not take it anymore and went to the front of the bus and requested a young man to give up his seat. He offered the seat to the disabled man but to his surprise, the disabled man rather than sitting, offered the seat to an elderly man standing nearby.  The disabled man eventually got a place to sit but his humane action, amazed everyone on the bus.

The disabled man had a hard time standing but he still offered his seat to an elderly man, this shows great character and it is nothing less than proof of the fact that the good in people still exists. This human being should be an inspiration to all, especially to the people who are so concentrated on themselves and their problems that they let go of the very basic human values. Their eyes are somewhat blurred with their own beings, so much that they don’t even see the pain of others.

I believe that we should all aspire to be like this disabled man who believes in giving, even though he might not have the hands to do so.

Source: The logical indian

 

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Epitome of Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.

Courage comes from within. Makes us size up our adversaries, do the unthinkable, and achieve the impossible. It takes courage to stand up for what’s right, and what we believe in. Courage isn’t performance of stunts, or a test of bravery. Courage is a test of integrity, and the possession of the humane ability to distinguish between the black and white and acting upon one’s instincts. Standing undaunted in the face of brute power, and emerging battered but resilient, is courage. Courage is embodied in Sunitha Krishnan. One doesn’t know how to begin writing about Mrs. Krishnan. She was doing social work before most of us could even spell it. She taught dance to mentally challenged children at the tender age of 8, started running schools for the underprivileged children residing in the slums at the age of 12. The event that further solidified her resolution to work for the masses was a horrifying experience for any individual to go through. At age 15,while campaigning for neo literacy for the Dalit community, Krishnan was gang raped by 8 men. An event that usually breaks most women, only strengthened Krishnan’s fortitude. Since then she has been a part of major social campaigns such as the one against the organisation of Miss India contest in her city Bangalore, against the bulldozing of people’s homes in order for beautification, and the like. She finally started ‘Prajwala’, is her initiative to rehabilitate former prostitutes and help them lead better lives. She has drafted recommendations for the Andhra Pradesh government for the rehabilitation of victims of sex traffickers, which were passed by the State Government as a Policy for Rescue and Rehabilitation of Victims of Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. Based on the success of her anti-trafficking initiatives, Krishnan has evolved global parameters for best practices for shelter homes for Department of Justice, United States of America as well as National Minimum Standard for running second generation prevention program in India. Krishnan has been physically assaulted 14 times and she receives regular death threats. She says that a Sumo van once deliberately rammed her auto rickshaw, but she escaped serious injury. She was again fortunate to escape injury when acid was once flung at her. Good fortune saved her a third time when she was the target of a poisoning attempt. Krishnan says that these assaults have only steeled her resolve to carry on her crusade against human trafficking. Based on her courageous and tireless work as an anti-trafficking crusader, Prajwala’s founder Ms. Sunitha Krishnan has also received numerous accolades and honors, among which is the Padma Sri, the fourth highest civil honour in the country. No words of appraisal can fully convey our appreciation and wonderment at her work.

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Scaling Heights- Aparna Kumar

Ever since the days of yore, since a formal notion of society has been established, it has been always felt that the existence of women and their duties in life are subject to certain limitations and obstacles by the virtue of them being of the sex opposite to the human male species.  This misnomer associated with the female gender has continued into the present societal scenario and more probable than not, it will continue for several other years to come before this misconception completely dies away. However, a multitude of strong and empowered women in the past and present have come and shown the world from time to time that being a women does not come with any strings attached. There are no physical or mental constraints on women to pursue and profess what they aspire and achieve.

 

Indian women have also tremendously helped in erasing this tainted image of women all around the globe.  One such feisty individual being an IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Aparna Kumar, who has conquered five out of the seven most challenging mountains for mountaineers in the world. She hoisted the Indian tricolor and the flag of the Uttar Pradesh Police Service on Mount Vinson Massif on 17th January this year. She bore the breath-freezing temperatures of -35 degrees and cut throw the thickest snow, dragging a sledge full of luggage along with a ten member team through glassy gales with a speed of approximately 100km/hour. Aparna Kumar lost six kg of weight and is at present suffering from mild frost bite which will take around fifteen days to heal completely.

She is India’s first civil servant to have won over the tallest peak of Antarctica which is only an added feather to her cap of achieved climbs. She has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Carstensz Pyramid peak in West Papuan province of Indonesia, the highest peak in the Australian and Oceania region. She also plans on climbing Mount Everest in April-May and Mount McKinley in July-August of Alaska. Her brave achievements haven’t gone unnoticed as she has been bestowed upon with the “Rani Lakshmi Bai Puraskar” by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in March 2015 and  also was awarded with the special DGP Commendation Disc to applaud her efforts and encourage other women to follow in her footsteps on Republic day this year. Such women continue to break the gender based stereotypes that are promoted and propagated in the society of today.

 

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Footloose

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”- Voltaire
Human mind needs to express itself. Its infinite intricacies, desires, whims, fancies and emotions, are consistently looking for an outlet. Some write, some talk, and some dance to express themselves. We dance in ecstasy, we dance in melancholy, we dance when we feel shattered, and we dance when we want to let out the bottled up feelings. There’s hardly anyone who doesn’t like to dance. Some do it in private, whereas some showcase their talents with no inhibitions. Sudha Chandran had always harboured the dream of making it as a dancer. She trained since childhood. Her dreams met with a near dead end when she met with an accident in 1981 and suffered wounds on her legs. She received initial medical care at a local hospital and was later admitted to Vijaya Hospital at Madras. The doctors discovered formation of gangrene on her right leg, and amputation was required. This period was the toughest Chandran ever had to face. On one hand she was burdened by her disability, and on the other she felt her hopes slipping through her fingers. But, like a passionate artist, she came out of it. She got fitted with a Jaipur leg, learnt how to walk again for months, and then learnt to dance again for three years. She went on to become a world famous Bharatnatyam dancer, and had a successful television career. She has been invited to speak at events like seminars from all over the world. She starred in two movies based on her own life. She was awarded the 1986 Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards for her portrayal in the film. She has been invited to perform in Europe, Canada and the Middle East. Her television career encompasses diverse roles and have earned her much acclaim. She never lost her passion for dancing, and she established a dance academy in Mumbai,’Sudha Chandran Academy of Dance’, which has branches all over Mumbai and Pune. Chandran has also judged various reality shows and has helped in bring new talent. She is a symbol for will power and perseverance. She chased after her dreams and achieved them, and carved a niche for herself. After all, you don’t need two feet to dance!

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Specially for him.

India is a country where “special children” are never treated as normal. We show sympathy towards those with these special children and also bless our stars for having a normal child. So you can see that they have a stigma attached to them even before they are brought into the world. While they may be with disabilities, a lot of special children can perform their own menial tasks and in some cases even earn a living. But in the Indian society they are considered to be nothing more than a burden on not only the parents but the society in its entirety. Mental disabilities in India are treated with utmost judgement and they are treated more as ‘freaks of nature’ than fellow human beings.
But as we have been saying from our very first articles, the mentality in India is truly changing.
In the month of January 2016, Aditya Tiwari became the youngest Indian to adopt a special child. When Aditya had met Binney, the law stated that single parents below the age of 30 could not adopt and thus he suffered disappointment but not for long because in August 2015, the law was amended to let single parents adopt from the age of 25. Aditya was ecstatic as he had been trying to adopt Binney since September 2014. Binney sufferes from Down syndrome but this did not stop Aditya from fighting to adopt the toddler. She was at the time living in Matrachhaya which is a shelter for abandoned and homeless kids and a volunteer organization in the year 1997.
When Aditya had his first meeting with Matrachhaya in September, he was bombarded by useless questions like how he would get married if he adopted this ‘special child’ showing that Indian society does not see these children with mental disabilities as normal children that bring joy and happiness to the lives of their parents.
Fortunately, good news is that after much pestering, Aditya has finally brought the toddler home and begins his new life as a single parent.we begin to live in a better society where people like Aditya exist and it is through them that the ordinary man learns to hope and we see ‘human’ in the word ‘humanity’ come out in it’s true essence.

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Neerja

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”

Life is unpredictable. We’re never really sure about what the next hurdle is going to be. On the face of it, it is an endlessly long journey of uncertainty and trials and tribulations. With each struggle however, we come out a little stronger, a little more prepared to take on life. It’s these little changes in us, which mark our evolution as a person. The way we take on these struggles, is what defines us as a human being. This is the time where we’re devoid of everything, but our presence of mind, and more importantly, our principles. This is when the realisation dawns, and the true importance of things becomes crystal clear. This is when we realise our true purpose in life. For Neerja, it was to save the 360 passengers on the ill-fated Pan Am flight.

It all started on 5th September, 1986. Neerja Bhanot, was the senior flight purser on board Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by four armed men. While the plane was on the tarmac, the three member American cockpit crew, escaped. Neerja, being the senior most cabin crew member at 23 years of age, took charge. The terrorists belonged to the Abu Nidal Organisation, and were backed by Libya. They instructed the flight attendants to collect the passports of all the American passengers on board, so as to eliminate them. Bhanot, along with the attendants under her, hid all the 41 passports, some under the rubbish chute, while some below a seat. 17 hours later, the terrorists opened fire and set off explosives. Bhanot opened the emergency doors for the passengers to get out. She could have let herself out first, but she chose not to. She was martyred by a hail of bullets while shielding three children.

She is the youngest recipient of the Ashoka Chakra, and has been posthumously been awarded the Justice For Crimes award, by the US State Attorney’s office. Her killers were captured in Pakistan, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Their sentence was later commuted to life in prison. She was as much an inspiration in life as in death. She did not succumb to the pressures of dowry from her in laws. She rather applied for a job at Pan Am, underwent training at Miami and returned as a flight attendant. She was a brave, independent young woman who saved not only the 360 lives of the passengers on board, but 360 families, while sacrificing her own. Neerja Bhanot will always be remembered for her gallantry, her quick thinking, her kindness, and selflessness. She is a true hero, in every sense of the word.

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