Saturday, December 03, 2005

Seniors Network

Today I was talking to Darshan (Dr. Priya Darshan Patra of Portland) about how we are approaching the retired persons in Orissa to mentor and monitor talented kids via FFE(Foundation For Excellence). The idea is to use the 1st post-Independence generation of India/Orissa who emerged out of opportunities extended to the people from poor and lower middle class, who were helped by Govt. to be Engineers/ Doctors / Professors/teachers etc. They had talent and were willing to work hard. These benificiries of Independence are now getting retired over last 10 or so years. Many of them are in perfect health, have raised successfully children. There kids are now independent and adult. They have thus the expertise and time to mentor and monitor other's children - children with talent, willing to work hard but no career guidance as they are first generation who are educated from their families. This is a win - win situation. In most cases such people feel lonely as they have done their live's duties and tend to wither away. They have both financial freedom, free time and various expertise.
But they have lot of knowledge in their various fields of expertise and experience in raising children successfully. If a net work is established among them and this free time and expertise harnessed this will be very useful to the society at large. We can use the expertise of these men and women of high quality to mentor and monitor of kids - and guide them to success in education and careers.
Limited benifit of this idea has been taken to establish the Foundation For Excellence facilitator network in last 5 years. About 75 persons are enrolled as facilitators, who are mostly working with their kids or contacts who are called FFE coordinators. Starting from a low 25 this type of network has helped in about 5 years to reward scholarship money to 195 students last year. They have received about $35 thousand last year as scholarships.
This net work and others similar if developed can have a oversight over the deterioration and commercialization of education and stall the downward trend, while giving them something to live for. The ideal will be to have atleast 2 of them in each of 314 blocks of Orissa.


Blogger Darshan said...

Really neat idea.
Traditionally people who are 60 years or more in India were considered old. But actually they live much longer now. Some of them would like to contribute to the society in some meaningful way -- not to be considered simply as someone who from now on needs to be taken care of by family and society.
Moreover some of them live away from their grand children and a contact (that too in the role of a mentor) with a younger person(s) is so wonderful and productive. How do we spark it and catalyze the concept? Probabl will keep them healthy too.
Thus a network of and for the seniors with a cause is so simple and beneficial.
"Top-down educators!"

12:41 AM  

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