Changing the world one smile at a time: Vasantham Vision Trust

A few days ago, I regretfully shared with my friend that Canada seems like a tempting place to move to. Let it be stated for the record that I am a proud and patriotic Singaporean. I love my country for all she is but Canada just seems so perfect, despite its crazy seasons. 

As we all know, Singapore is a multi-racial country. However, as much as I love my country and the principles that she stands for, I cannot help but realize the increasing disconnect between this amazing Country, her rulers and her people. 

I see instances of racial discrimination way more than I believe it to be. I see the lack of empathy in people everyday. We are a rojak in every sense of the word. However, I cannot help but realise that acceptance is slowly but surely replaced by tolerance.

Everyone seems plugged into this rat race where the moment you stop looking out for yourself, you are going to be trampled on. I see my rulers who are perched so high up in their ivory towers that any interaction seems pointless. They have increased the cost of water because apparently we lack awareness of it.

As I undergo a mid-life crisis deep-heated internal dilemma between my own principles and how I choose to live my remaining years, I got reminded of a rather inspiring quote I used to live by, "We must become the change we want to see in the world". Wise words of the Mahatma Gandhi. While that may be a little overwhelming for some at first glance, we also need to keep in mind that "Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world. But Their World".

That is precisely what a small group of individuals have stepped up to. They have taken a step towards effecting a change in the world in their own special way. Let's give it up for the folks from Vasantham Vision Trust

While most of us would think, tinker or analyze any idea to a point that any action seems futile, this special group of people have actually sprung into action and executed their ideas toward change.

Vasantham Vision Trust is a non-governmental organization carrying out social outreach programs for youths in former conflict zones in Sri Lanka. As I browsed through their Facebook page which logs their ongoing efforts, it is evident that this organization is driven to make this world a better place.

Here are a few of the efforts that they have initiated in the past few months:

1) Self Defense Program For Females in Northern Sri Lanka

Violence against women is prevalent throughout Sri Lanka, especially in former conflict zones.  To address this, they started a Self Defense Program for women in Northern Sri Lanka in June 2016 as their pilot project. 

Their objective was to teach practical self-defense skills to women. The workshop also included motivation and confidence building in order for the women to feel more self-assured and secured.

Ms Thulasi Helen, a renowned national boxer from India was invited by Vasantham Vision Trust to conduct this workshop. About 120 women from Jaffna and Kilinochchi benefitted from this workshop which was jointly sponsored by PMC Institute (Singapore) and Concept 101 Ltd (Canada).

The second phase of the program was held in November 2016 in collaboration with the Jaffna District Secretariat. The main objective of this workshop was to identify and shortlist candidates for the Self-Defense Trainers Course. 60 women from various women's groups and organizations participated in the workshop which involved teaching self-defense techniques and building of self-confidence. The workshop was carried out by Ms Helen as well as Mr Balasundaram (Vice-President of Singapore Amateur Boxing Association) and Captain Sakthi who conducts leadership and self-development workshops in Singapore.

2) Family Support Programme

This programme benefits people like Mdm Kumari, a single mother of 2, who is unable to work due to severe shrapnel injuries from the war. She receives a monthly allowance from the trust to take care of her family's needs, pay for her medical expenses and to put her children through school.

3) Preschool Library Project / Building of Schools

In this project, each library set consists of 50 books (English & Tamil-English Bilingual books). They have been carefully curated to ensure that the children are able to receive a bilingual education instead of replacing Tamil with English completely.

Some of the schools are located in areas that were badly affected by the war. Sampur, for example, is one such area. Development there has been slow and the people of Sampur are just being able to return to their hometown. The families in this area returned in 2016 and the school has been functioning for the past one year. 

The building of the preschool is not complete due to a lack of funds. They have currently paused construction and the children are studying outdoors. When it rains, they take shelter in the incomplete building.

Some of you'll may feel that the efforts of this group should have been channeled to help the needy and the under-privilege in Singapore. I, too, have been guilty of such a narrow and selfish mindset in the past. Let's  not forget that we belong to one human race. Any step taken to help someone should be welcome and supported.

Once again, much love and respect to this organisation founded by Ragulan and Kalaivani. 

Anyone who wishes to support their initiatives in anyway, do check them out on the FB page. Click here to connect to them.


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