Message from Mr. Boyd Roberts

(Founder, International Global Citizen’s Award Program)
Photo of Boyd Roberts with a painting by IGCA Gold Level recipient Priyanshi Bareja, presented to him by her on behalf of Pathways World School, Aravali.

I have worked closely with Dr. Pathma Naidu since August 2012, when she oversaw the introduction of the International Global Citizen’s Award (IGCA) at Pathways World School, Aravali, India (PWS). The introduction of the IGCA at the school has been a great success, with PWS established as the leading school in the world for the programme. Pathma worked very effectively with colleagues to ensure the widespread introduction and consolidation of the programme in the context of her school. The well-established PULSE programme, which Pathma had devised for the school, was integrated with IGCA to produce a wide-ranging comprehensive programme involving the whole senior school. Pathma also worked with colleagues in the primary school to develop the school’s own Global Citizen’s Award for the younger students, and leading into the IGCA subsequently.

Pathma’s work on various programmes and activities stems from her deep and impressive commitment to the importance of caring, compassion, respect for one another and for the environment, and practical action to make a difference; and to the development of such characteristics in young people.

During a visit to PWS, I was very impressed with the way in which the IGCA had been implemented at the school,  integrated with existing activities and other programmes to form a holistic approach to the personal development of students. This fostered their awareness of the natural environment and of other people, and a commitment to working towards a better world. IGCA participants at PWS have undertaken remarkable projects and activities, benefiting the local environment and community, and a substantial number have received IGCA awards at all three levels – bronze, silver and gold. I was delighted to meet many award recipients, who were very impressive young people and global citizens.

Pathma has been a stalwart, committed and energetic supporter and champion of the IGCA, recognising its impact on individual students, the colleagues who work with students as mentors, and on the school as a whole. She has contributed fully and very helpfully to the ongoing evolution and development of the programme and I have found her perspectives and input invaluable. She has also been especially keen to promote uptake of the IGCA in India, and it was a particular pleasure to present together about the programme at a TAISI (The Association of International Schools of India) conference during my visit to India and PWS in 2015.  Pathma also organised a subsequent full day workshop at PWS for schools interested in the programme, which we co-led.I was also privileged to take part in a whole school assembly on global citizenship, during which IGCA student representatives presented substantial donations to local charitable organisations.

Pathma is the designated Ambassador for the IGCA in India, recognising her support for the programme and its development. 

Pathma has a deep and strong commitment to the development of young people as good global citizens and considerate, thoughtful, socially committed and contented human beings, expressed through her work on her own PULSE programme, the IGCA and in the many other activities and initiatives she promoted and introduced in her school. Pathma has been keen to become associated with a number of organisations whose work she values and feels she can contribute to. This led her to become aligned with The Charter for Compassion. She is currently an Ambassador in the Education Sector, Charter for Compassion, India. She has been instrumental in helping PWS become a Compassionate School.

For some time, Pathma has also wished to share her experience and knowledge with other schools, by working with them on the development of young people. Now, without the inevitable time constraints of full-time work in school, she plans to give more time to this work, including promotion of the IGCA, and offer her experience, insights and associations to other schools and organisations. She is also keen to introduce the Pulse Program as well as the Charter for Compassion to many schools and help them develop the programs in their own settings. I wish her all success in this.

Sharing ‘Head, Heart & Compassion’

With Gratitude & Love – Message from Dr. Geetanjali Chopra (Founder, Wishes and Blessings)
Photo of Geetanjali Chopra with Children she works with

A series of incidents spread throughout my life led me to set up my organisation ‘Wishes and Blessings’. While the episodes themselves were very different from each other, there was a strong line that tied all of them up- the golden thread of compassion. The first episode took place when I was barely 9 years old. I used to visit a school for visually impaired children with my grandfather to celebrate all special occasions with the students. On one such event, a tiny girl who must not have been over the age of 5/6 tugged on my clothes and asked me, “Didi, mera birthday kabhai?” (When is my birthday?). I could not fathom the question- how could someone not know when their birthday was? Were there people in this world who did not know that a birthday was a special occasion… were there no parties, no cakes, no presents? This innocent question opened up worlds to me- worlds that were different to mine. At that point, 9 years old me did not know all the consequences of that question, but in my head, I promised to help children just like her.

From realising that not everyone is privileged enough to have a birthday celebration… playing Holi with visually impaired children… to setting up an old age home for abandoned elderly; compassion is the solid base from where I could actualise the dream of spreading happiness amongst the underprivileged.

Compassion is what makes us humanand is very different from ‘charity’. Anyone and everyone can be charitable. However, it takes a special something to make you understand and recognise your privilegeand share your good fortune with someone who has been mistreated by life and society. My organisation’s motto is based on this very understanding- we are a platform that seeks to link the haves with the have-nots, to fulfil wishes of the underprivileged and to receive blessings in return.

However, do not mistake compassion, sympathy and empathy for a weakness; it is quite the opposite. These values teach you to be diligent, to show concern that is tempered with a clear sense of reality. The field is fraught with those wanting to take advantage of people’s generosity. Compassion teaches you to be careful with your benevolence, and helps you identify cases of real need. It is very much in tune with my own motto- follow your heart, but remember to take your brain along.

Many of the unique projects executed by Wishes and Blessings have their seeds from my childhood. Just as Birthday Manao was set up to celebrate birthdays of underprivileged children, the 3Cs award was set up to recognise intangible qualities. I remember as a child, my academic prowess was recognised in school, my values and morals were praised at home. There was a very clear divide, and I always used to wonder why such values were not praised at the school. This is why, when I established Wishes and Blessings, I set up the 3Cs award- an award that recognised the most Caring, Compassionate and Considerate child, to encourage the values society needs the most.

It has been amazing to see the mystical ways of the universe at play- how like-minded people come together to share their blessings with those who are less fortunate. How world over, individuals and organizations are coming together to build communities that are based on essential human values, that in an ever-increasing capitalist society, we are giving growing emphasis on the need to take what is only needed, and to give back manifold.

Just one of the examples of like-minded people coming together is how I connected with Dr.Pathma Naidu. I truly believe that the way forward is only through compassionate, sustainable and synergetic partnerships, and in Dr. Naidu I find an echo of this understanding of weaving one’s way through life. We share similar values and practices, and our energies align when it comes to building an empathetic and conscious world. Needless to say, I am delighted to join her on this journey of Conversations on Compassion.

At the end of the day, if one were to ask me what exactly is compassion…what keeps me going at the end of a very long strenuous day? I have one answer- compassion is the belief in humanity, is the trust we place in ourselves and others that together, we can get through even the toughest of situations, and together, we can celebrate the best.

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