Way for Life advocates for a more environmentally-conscious society. To curb the environmental damage that rapid urbanisation has caused, we organise a multitude of events in all the 7 cities across India, which aim at sensitising different sections of the society to varied environmental hazards.
Plantree strives to solve the root-cause of our environmental problem – the dearth of greenery! The plantation of an innumerable number of seed-balls along the lake beds of Ooty and the parks of Bandipur and Coorg has been induced each time this event has been conducted. This simple and feasible method of mass sowing of seeds has provided a sustainable rectification to our primary environmental problem. Our previous Plantree events have successfully planted over 3,00,000 seed balls and our most successful session witnessed a total of 1,00,000 seed balls planted in one day.
Entree gives volunteers and attendees from various organisations a hands-on master class on making pens out of paper! A proclivity to upcycling is an attitude we strongly encourage in the Government Schools and Shelter Homes we work for. Entree workshops are also conducted in corporate spaces, as a collaborative initiative with their CSR projects. Whatever creatively-reused produce that is generated is delivered back to our children in Shelter Homes. An example of what is taught in these workshops is the reusing of the plastic refill –which is converted into a seed-holder and then planted in a plastic vase, made out of a discarded plastic bottle. As evident from this, these workshops aim to reduce our dependence on plastic usage in our everyday, essential dealings while simultaneously inspiring creative habits which are harmless to Nature.
Reusing an unwanted material to serve another purpose is always welcomed as it reduces waste generation. With ‘Green Bottle’, we ‘upcycle’ or ‘creatively reuse’ unwanted plastic bottles, by transforming this discarded scrap into a useful plate – an essential item that can now be used for multiple purposes instead of polluting the environment. This choice of our products – ‘plastic bottles’ and ‘plates’ – has been done intentionally, in order to exemplify the normality and productivity in upcycling the items we use daily.
Plantree 2.0 is a developed model of our own event with the same name. This initiative implements the Miyawaki Method of afforestation. A pledge had been taken on World Environment Day 2020 that in a year’s time, Way for Life would have planted 365 saplings; on account of the dense and fast paced growth of tree cover assured with this method (with the minimal time of necessary maintenance), we are confident that with the attainment of this 12-month goal of ours, a substantial contribution to the atmosphere would have been made by our collective efforts. Plantree 2.0 plans to beautify the physical spaces surrounding the Government Schools and Shelter Homes by enhancing their livelihood with this necessary supply of organic, enriching greenery!
‘Notebook Upcycling’ brings new meaning to the saying that ‘one man’s trash is a treasure for another’. We are guilty of throwing away notebooks which still have pages which have remained untouched. This event makes new notebooks with these unused pages from rejected notebooks as well as reusing other recycled paper. The notebooks produced are then distributed to eager learners in Shelter Homes and thereby instil an attitude of distributing our surplus to the needy. This endeavour attempts to not only undo the hazard caused by careless paper disposal, but also demonstrate the simplicity of reusing and recycling. We also acquire recycled paper for the sections in the notebooks which require a firmer density.
Our endeavours would never be as efficient and our efforts would not be as productive without the support of our partners. These are a few of our clients who have been a constant source of support for all of Way for Life’s activities.
The strengthening of our outreach is facilitated by the efforts of our interns. Our interns, who render their voluntary services come from varied professional and educational backgrounds which contributes to the comprehensive approach which Way for Life constantly adopts and adapts to. Their innate skills and abilities are enhanced through the different avenues of assistance they choose for themselves! Their contributions are integral steps that are fundamental for the sustenance of our interventions, and also mark the beginning of a life-long relationship between our interns, the organisation and the spirit of volunteerism. The design of our internships varies depending on the interest of our interns, but the knowledge and maturity that one receives through our internships has been almost identical in all of our interns! The diverse range of our activities has been the most crucial element of learning which all of our interns are equipped with, and subsequently benefit from, which eventually translates in their personal, educational and professional skills too.
Cleanathons are one-day clean up drives which leave an indelible impact on all our volunteers and partners. Urban spaces are often prone to being misused by the general public who may traverse through an area. Careless attitudes and practices like our refusal to throw plastic packets in dustbins to unhealthy transference and disposal of wet and dry waste in an open space, pose dangerous risks to the environment and the livelihood of people who abide in the surrounding areas. Our Cleanathons aim at restoring the damage done to such locations, by creating a more environment-friendly surrounding, decorated with cleaner, colourful walls! These paintings have etched an indelible awareness on passersby, and the cleanliness in these locations is maintained by the local residents of these locations.
Complying with our emphasis on learner-centric assistance and independence, volunteers of Way for Life construct reading spaces in many Shelter Homes for the children to develop an imaginative and creative mindset. These ‘Reading Spaces’ are equipped with libraries filled with books which cater to the children’s interests and unanswered questions. Our installation of physical libraries, made attractive with fancy artwork that adorn the walls of these Shelter Homes – with numericals or learning tips etc. (which are painted by our volunteers) – have had significant positive effects. In our assessment of the impact created by our multiple ‘Reading Space’ projects, we have noticed that the provision of a Library and a Reading Space has not only caused an ignition of curiosity in the minds of young readers, but also an independency in their approach to learning!
One of our flagship projects, ‘Government School Development’ is an initiative which demands the cooperation and contribution of almost all of our volunteers and partners. The project commences with rigorous research conducted by our volunteers who inspect the conditions prevalent in Government schools, report on their inadequacies and eventually, conceptualize all the possible interventions which Way for Life can undertake.
The volunteers are allotted different wards (segmented by different Government Schools) to conduct their surveys on and only after thorough study and analysis is completed, we collectively proceed to make arrangements for the reconstruction of the many aspects which contribute to efficient teaching and learning.
Painting and decorating the classrooms, constructing proper lavatories, tables and benches, providing drinking-water supply, supplying boards and charts which aid the task of teaching are not the only activities which we perform through this project. This revamping of the infrastructure is accompanied by a rejuvenation of the quality of teaching too. Our volunteers finally partake in the role of volunteer-teachers in these schools which establishes a perpetual, comprehensive medium of support to the children in these government schools!
The coldness of the month of December inversely creates warmth in all volunteers in the all-inclusive event, ‘Joy of Giving’. December’s tasks range from invitations and requests to making transportation and delivery arrangements for the collected items! This event is open to all interested donors who have blankets, clothes and compassion to spare for the homeless. This encouragement of a generous, giving spirit is aimed at mitigating the health risks that accompany the wintry chills of this season which harshly affect the livelihood of the ones without a proper shelter. Benevolent donors, volunteers and the homeless people we reach out to never fail to don a warm smile on their faces during these joyful interactions!
Creating awareness about issues which plague the society and giving exposure to our volunteers is just the initial step towards instigating corrective action. Way for Life emphasises on a ‘reaction’ to situations which need improvement. ‘Shelter Home Visits’ are much more than what the name suggests. These visits are conducted with the motive of understanding the nuances of running a Shelter Home and reporting the problems faced by these entities. Their requirements are then catalogued and after these resources required are obtained by us, the Shelter Homes that have been visited become a recipient of support – infrastructural construction, food supply and/or manpower – acquired through the voluntary service of our volunteers.
In order to achieve uniformity in the learning capabilities of children in Government schools as compared to students in Private schools, we create and develop teaching and learning methods which are student and learner-friendly. The techniques and material acquired after our research and its practice deviates from the age-old method of rote learning and favours a learner-centric approach instead. The compiled material and guidelines serve as a backbone for the teaching methods which our volunteers then implement in these Government schools through their voluntary service as teachers and tutors. A preference for practical learning – with relevant considerations made for the four types of learners – which strives to create relevance in their lessons and value in their learning is the motive with which our efforts are guided by.
Flood Relief campaigns are undertaken when the unfortunate need arises. In the past 2 years, in collaboration with different NGOs, private organisations and government bodies, we have provided relief support to flood-affected regions in Kerala, Uttarakhand and Karnataka in places like Coorg, Bagalkot*, ____ and _____. These campaigns are undertaken not only to provide immediate aid – medical and financial too – but also to ensure that the victims of such natural calamities can quickly become independent and self-sufficient and lesser prone to the devastating effects of such environmental factors, when the eventual media coverage and general public concern for such disasters reduces.
We try our best to maintain and sustain the natural environmental endowments found in each of the cities where we function in. This initiative is particularly frequent in Bangalore, as in addition to the gardens which it is famous for, beautiful lakes can be found within the confines of the city space itself. With the rapid rise of urbanisation, the conditions of these lakes pose a threat to the ecological balance that is mandatory in a metropolitan city. In order to curb this impending hazard, Lake Clean-Ups are organised in multiple spots to spread awareness on the importance of maintaining our water bodies, and also to inculcate healthy habits amongst the people who utilise these lakes and their enclosure as an exercising space.
At the onset of our journey, the interpretation of our research prompted us to opine that the first institution which demanded the most urgent intervention was Shelter Homes. The first initiative that Way for Life undertook as an organisation was to furnish efficient educational assistance in Shelter Homes in and around Bangalore, which took place every Sunday. This formed the basis of our work and projects in the initial stages of our journey, and has now developed into a continued support system to multiple Shelter Homes. By enriching the children’s educational competency in subjects like English, Mathematics, Science, Life-Skills and other necessary lessons, the livelihood of the children is improved, the pressure on the caretakers is reduced and the first-hand exposure to this way of life is introduced to all our volunteers.
The educational assistance has further transformed into a regular space of our involvement. The installation of Libraries and Reading Spaces in these Shelter Homes which cater to the children’s creativity, conducting of Workshops where children learn practical skills (like upcycling) while also imparting transferrable skills to the caretakers – by equipping them with techniques that help economise the finances of the Shelter Homes (like Kitchen Gardening) – make our ‘Lit Education’ model much more comprehensive than its name might suggest. In addition to these, trees that are planted from our Plantree and Entree events are done within the spaces of our Shelter Homes; the produce made in our collaborative CSR projects and workshops too is also given back to our Shelter Homes! What started as a model for our volunteers to ‘teach’ or impart what they knew has now transformed into a space of constant learning for them too!
Our intervention in Shelter Homes is not restricted to the children only. Our initiatives are also directed towards the overall functioning and sustenance of the independent Shelter Home too. The projects we design cater to the caretakers too, to relieve the pressure and workload. In order to help reduce the struggle of managing their limited finances, we encourage and teach methods to enhance their financial independency. The most effective medium to achieve this are the Kitchen Gardens we help construct. The produce which these small plots yield goes back to the Shelter Home itself, which is then utilised as their food supply. This serves as a constant source of material support for these Shelter Homes, who then teach these skills (gardening etc.) to the children too.
The natural physical changes that our body goes through is unfortunately still regarded a taboo in the Indian society. The attention that our body requires is therefore inadequately addressed as its care is forced to be done implicitly, or in most cases (which is also the worst case), such issues are simply ignored. This ignorance poses a grave threat to our physical and mental health. To change the prominence of this practice, we develop Hygiene Kits for the female children in our Shelter Homes. Through this initiative, physical awareness is created which ultimately facilitates their physical and mental health. The inclusion of this initiative is but one of the many minute areas which our work focuses on; what is generally left ignored or neglected are issues which we encourage to set right and shed light on.
Mental Health awareness campaigns, which are comprised of a plethora of activities – from online campaigns to workshops and training – are designed to help all of our volunteers, partners and beneficiaries to be aware of the possible threats which our mental health might be susceptible to. Lessons and topics that are discussed in these engaging workshops are crafted with a keen consideration of the target group in attendance; Mental Health workshops in Shelter Homes differ greatly in their content to the ones we conduct in Government schools.The relevance of the content is studied upon with feedback sessions and a provision of remedy measures too, for any mental health concerns that may erupt or be faced by any of our associates.