Trekking the Trail
By Prof. Dr. Suresh Govind
More than three (3) months have passed since the last convention at Port Dickson in September. Pledges and promises were made on stage and its time we reviewed these to see the status of the way forwards.
One important pledge was that the council promised to embark on national tour to meet all states and its respective centre leaders. Except for Johor and Perak, council have covered all other states in the nation. East Malaysia requires a separate visit and this we promise in March when we return from the Yatra trip to Puttaparthi in February. Our trip to Kuala Terengganu was cancelled due to floods and this we need to postpone after the Yatra in February.
The trips revisited many management issues including secretarial and funding matters. We had individual spiritual, service, education, wanita, youth and SCA workshops. We found from the feedback that our trip was educational and many fundamental elements of governance were placed back into the system. The culture of handing over of documents from the previous chairpersons to the newly elected ones was found to be glaringly missing in a few places and this accounted for the gap in information. We provided a checklist to ensure that systems and processes were in place for wings at centre levels. We were well received in all the states and special thanks must be made to all state coordinators for making the preparations in the respective states.
We hope that state coordinators will follow up with the decisions made and ensure that all centre leaders reach their expected mark of excellence. The agreement that all centres will have their monthly management meeting was a stupendous achievement and with the constant monitoring of the minutes of the centre management meeting at state level, there is an opportunity to intervene and influence management so that the quality of programmes deployed at centre wing level can be enhanced.
Culture setting is the bedrock of sustaining performance. If leaders seriously scrutinize the systems and process and institute a way of doing things we will move away from fighting fires and become the fire of zeal to itself to do Swami’s work. This is the reason why regular meetings were enforced. Meeting is the DNA of a centre. By scanning through the minutes of the meeting one can capture the essence of what really is going on in a centre.
We need this culture to be deeply entrenched so that centres can sustain the blast of activities that will emerge in the coming months. In the past months saw the treasurer and his dedicated team have painstakingly go through the accounts and have generated a system that facilitates easier understanding on cash flow movements. Banks have been changed. Procedures were checked and our round the nation trip helped remind, coach and assist treasurers to adhere to the funding guidelines. The secretarial team divided their tasks among themselves and have closely captured the minutes and become very important coordinating body linking the aspirations of the Zonal leader, exco, council and devotees.
Education wing gathered a brainstorming session on how the entire SSE/EHV can be packaged taking the Rukun Negara principles into account for public schools. So far three meetings were called. A concept paper was evolved. Lesson plans were generated based on the concept plans. We plan to roll out in March. The New Year began with a firmer resolution to expand the SSE/EHV classes. How Sri Muda centre grew from a pocket full of children to 650 should be emulated by all centres. We have 6500 children as of today in the country. The demand for educational opportunities such as ours is phenomenal but we must expand and that comes from increasing the staffing.
We have carried out the National Parent care training programme under the National Parentcare team with close to 50 trainers attending the workshop. The reviews were incredibly inspiring. We hope state coordinators will now follow up with those trained and `demand’ such training opportunities to be given to your parents of SSE/EHV children, PTA of schools and organise massive parenting seminars at state levels. State coordinators will realize that this programme is a boon to expand numbers and reach out to wider section of the public as this innovative programme can match any professional parenting programme in the world.
National youth team jumped started after the PD convention. They rolled their sleeves and got their act together by first organising a National youth camp. 150 youth and two international speakers from India, Bro Vijay Menon and Bro Hari Subramaniam, raised the level of acceptance of Swami’s teaching which has resulted in amazing and well thought of deliverables. The promise of making SHAKTI programme for transforming negative gangsterism type of youth into sterling characters, to be more pervasive was inspiring. National youth leadership team has on their own managed to go one more round to all states to assess feedback and institute youth programmes. We congratulate them and hope that after the Yatra trip they will implement these ideas.
The Wanita wing got on the way, had their number of meetings and formulated the LIGHT programme, based on Swami’ teachings. Module writers were identified and brainstorming led to a pilot train the trainer session which refined the approach and defined the outcomes better. They unleashed documentation about LIGHT on Nov 19 last year and inspired the central region ladies. The national train the trainer programme is on Feb 26th and 27th.
Service wing sprang into action guiding the enthusiasm of the various co-ordinators under the wing. The Village Improvement programme team kept their zeal and continued to trek into uncharted areas of the nation to touch the deprived souls. Environment team released a new programme based on cleaning the environment by a simple act of picking rubbish. The programme though in its infancy stage possesses a potential to raise the levels of consciousness. A seminar for caring for the elders have been organised in March and this we hope contributes to the H.O.P.E agenda (Honouring our Parents Everyday). The plan to sign a MOU with the blood bank in the next few weeks is yet another milestone for the organization.
The basis of all these is spirituality. In this short period it is heartening to know that Self Transformation Programme (STP) has been conducted in various places. Many states have had their train the trainer sessions. Centres that are carrying out these sessions have reported positive feedback and the earnestness of the council to ensure that we don’t lose ourselves in activities but discover our true nature through them is assured through STP.
SCA is now busy with the Chinese New Year celebrations at Parthi. A play has been planned and SCA has assured that they will return after Yatra to translate the aspirations more pervasively.
In all these din and roar of activities, a team represented Malaysia for the world conference at Parthi during Swami’s birthday celebrations. In response to Dr Goldstein’s discussion paper for the conference we produced a 30-page document titled `Transforming Sai Organizations’ capturing the essence of our 25 years of work especially in management and governance of Sai centres. We distributed this to all leaders in our zone. On return we circulated an e-copy to all leaders in our country and it is hoped that this document helps to navigate centres forward.
Our editor for Transformation has released five (5) copies of the newsletter in the last three months. We congratulate him for the quality and consistency. Inspired by Transformation, a new magazine to capture the hearts of SSE/EHV children, parents and teachers is being planned. The Young Transformers is the name of this new magazine. With these frequent magazines being released we can now harmonize our expectations and all devotees can know what is happening around the country.
Criss-crossing across the nation, attending meetings, evolving concept papers and navigating discussions to better deploy programmes for Swami demands time. In this rushed period the FGIS implemented the 1st ever inter-religious youth leadership camp, supported by the Government and coordinated by members of our organization. We worked with other religious leaders and collectively delivered a beautiful, harmonious and an incredibly visionary camp. The 140 who came from all religious groups gave resounding thumbs up. The next way forward has been planned and we are hoping to open another FGIS chapter in Penang and Perak.
A concept paper has been drawn to address teenage pregnancy, code name RISE for VIP (Reaching for Inner Strength and Empowerment for Values, Innocence and Purity). The first school to be selected for this trial will be in Malacca and will be conducted after our return from the Yatra.
A concept paper on Values for the Nation has been presented to the Government for the inter school drama festival on filial piety to be carried out in the nation.
We congratulate Johor for their innovative EXPO where they managed to invite 30 NGOs who highlighted their service programmes and in the process they too learned about ours. The consolidation paves a way for future collaborative work especially to sustain long term service projects. They went on from walk for Values to essay writing competition involving hundreds of children and managed to now evolve the initiative to adopting poor schools to implement STAR. The approach should be emulated as it demonstrates consistency.
The outlining of these activities before the Yatra trip is critical as it positions us and makes us think of what would lie ahead. The cooperation and love by all leaders had led to the present homogenous deployment of so many diverse programmes.
The most exciting of all is Swami’s permission to allow Malaysia to stage a presentation on the 10th of February, one day after the Chinese New Year. The last minute instruction, when it came a few days back, generated an enthusiasm that has motivated more to come for the trip. A play has been written. We can only pray.
Let’s return after the Yatra and be ready to be better instruments for our beloved Swami.