Newsletter No 8. May 2008

Apologies for missing the newsletter in April it seems that this is becoming a bi-monthly (and when we have something to say) newsletter. Here is hoping that you are enjoying the sun and spring-time and also that we have more summer than just this week!

In this newsletter we share a story about Legacy what two middle-aged ladies in Nepal are doing to make the world a better place. We hope that you enjoy their story and that it helps you think about what you are doing to make this world a better place. After all, if we dont do it now, who will do it and when?

In this issue:

The LASA Team

Latest thinking

Leaving a Legacy the story of Nepal Annapurna Womens Society (N.A.W.S.)

Subatra Raj Kanikar (who just turned 50 in April) and Nani Maya Lama (who thinks she is 60, but isnt sure) are two Nepalese ladies of a certain age. One is Newari, the other Tamang (two of Nepals ethnic groups, called Janajati) and they live in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their children are grown up, they have grandchildren and they are neighbours in the neighbourhood in which we have lived for the past 15 years.

Subatra has a sweet shop and some houses that she rents out, so she is relatively well off. She has 3 sons and a daughter whom are all married. She has her own money. Nani Maya is also married and has one daughter who is married and Nani Maya also has her own income.

The whole thing started when they wanted to help other women who had not had the advantages they had. They ran classes on literacy (Nepal having a literacy rate of roughly 35% and 17% for women), income generation and provided micro-finance. In the beginning, this meant that they provided a guarantee to the bank for a loan (which poor people cannot provide) of any amount between 5,000 and 40,000 Nepali Rupees (50-400). They collect 10 Rupees fee every month (10p) which helps to cover the costs. If someone cant afford the 10 Rupees, they give what they can. This helps everyone to keep their dignity this way they made a point that all of the women coming to get their support also learn to contribute themselves and are proud to do so.

Then they were sent an old lady (they just called her Aama which means mother) from the street who didnt have anywhere to go. She had no relations and no one to look after her. So Nani Maya and Subatra decided to look after her, and then perhaps to look after some other old people. When Aama died (not long afterwards) they performed all the proper rituals.

Then they had a rethink what ought they to do? They both wanted to do something to help others, but hadnt a clue as to what the best thing was. They had noticed that there were many street children the civil war in Nepal meant that there were many orphans or children sent to Kathmandu for safety with no one to look after them. So they decided to set up an orphanage to look after these children. At the time, they didnt have a formal set up or charity, they just started looking after the children. That was five years ago. People heard about them and brought them children, but also, through their own networks, they supported the children. The money to support the work (which included the non-formal education for women) came from Nani Maya and Subatra themselves and from the local people who believed in them and their work. Eventually three years ago - they set up an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation which is equal to a charity here), so they are regulated and can qualify for possible government funding if and when Nepal gets a proper and good government.

We asked why Nani Maya and Subatra would do this they have busy lives, werent they due a rest? They looked at us in surprise. No one had ever asked them this before. We have our own children and grandchildren now. We like looking after children and we had some time free. We wanted to help. If we didnt do it, who else would? What else could we do? And it makes us happy, we feel useful. We came away with the idea that they felt this was their calling.

At present they have a license for 20 children, but they only have six because they can only support that many. They take in families, so there are two Tamang brothers and two Newari children (brother and a sister) and a Gurung and another Tamang child. There is also a child that lives with his older sister, but his school is paid for by N.A.W.S. and they look after him during the day while the sister is working.

The children are welcome to stay until they marry, unlike the national orphanage which releases their children at the age of 16 (consequently many of the girls end up in brothels). We asked what would happen if a child didnt marry. The ladies giggled, Why, then we could pass this work on to them! We wont always be here. Neighbours donate food, clothes and give small donations. The two ladies also pay for much of it (the rent included) themselves.

Until recently they had nine children, but had to send a family of three back to their village because they could not support them. They are hoping that as soon as they have enough money, they can bring the children back to Kathmandu as there is no school in their village (Dhading, near to Ghorka) and their relatives find it difficult to support them. It was because of this that Nani Maya came to us. They had heard of our work and knew that we did not offer funding. Nor did they ask for funds. They asked us to help them by having a Conversation for Generating Possibility with them and being a thinking partner.

It got us thinking. What if we did what we had often discussed? What if we set up an NGO in Nepal (The Bishnu Maya Pakhrin Foundation in honour of our late Nepali mother) to provide small amounts of funding directly to local organisations to help them over a tough patch? What would it mean? And what if we dont do it?

Setting up an NGO in Nepal is relatively straightforward, requiring 7 trustees, all of whom must be Nepali. We spoke to some friends, colleagues and family and gently planted a seed. The NGO will provide a thinking partnership and perhaps some small funds. We are not sure where the funds will come from yet, we expect that the trustees will gather funds themselves, or perhaps that those who have been helped might like to make a donation themselves when things go a bit better. No one will take a salary. It will have a virtual office. It will exist to help people to help themselves. In Nepal they have a saying, Afno gouw, afne benaune which means Its our village, lets build it ourselves. Our partner organisation in Nepal, Pragya and LASA Development will have the Foundation as one of our charities for the year. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to start with ourselves. And if we can encourage and magnify what others who are helping themselves are doing, then we can multiply the benefits.

�Patricia Lustig, 2008

Latest Books

The Integral Vision: A very short introduction to the revolutionary integral approach to Life, God, the Universe and Everything

Ken Wilber

Well, he isnt shy, that is for sure, nor modest with a title like that. Ken Wilber has been producing books about his research into a unifying theory across all knowledge since 1973. He tries to integrate knowledge from different fields and different thought orientations (e.g. Eastern and Western thought) in a simple way. He is often seen as New Age, especially since he includes spirituality in his model. Even if you think this sort of thing this gives you an allergic reaction, it may well still be worth your while to read it. In comparison to some of his earlier books, this is an engaging, approachable, relatively easy read, and it does make you think. It is about making sense and meaning out of what you experience in life. In particular it helps by defining a model or map of our brave new world.

We found the distinction between states and stages useful:

  • You can fall in and out of states. Being in a state is normally temporary. So, for instance three states are waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
  • Stages (or levels of development) are permanent. And each stage envelopes the lower ones. For instance, atoms are part of molecules which are part of cells which are part of organisms.

Using these definitions to talk about organisations and teams gives us a shared vocabulary with which to map what it looks like.

I think it will need several readings, but it is short, it has lots of pictures and diagrams and I enjoyed it. I also need to read it in small bite sized pieces, because it makes me think. If you want to challenge your thinking, give this little book a go.

IT Corner

The Future Of the Web

As a normal user of the web you may think that things move slowly in web technology. You do not experience massive daily changes; you may see new sites and old ones with new facilities but it does not seem that dramatic. However if, like me, you are involved with the technology and its deployment it is a constant race to keep up with new developments. It is impossible to be up at the front of all the various races but you do need to know whats going on and to form a view of what is going to be the next big thing. Often these races are big battles between the giants of the business. The unfortunate effect of this is that things slow down while they battle it out.

Currently there are lots of interesting developments in the standards areas which will determine what browsers will be capable of in a few years time. They also effects the way the internet itself works. In the future, the websites you use frequently will appear as desktop applications and not as though they are operating within a browser, they will even work off-line. Could it be the death of the Office bloatware we live with at the moment?

Microsoft has just thrown its toys out of the pram, after gradually improving its browser so that the next one (IE 8.0) will comply with the existing standards, it has indicated it will go its own way with IE 9.

The other debate is what to do about the internet itself, as its use for radio, TV and films is causing a lot of congestion. The user who just browses suffers as a consequence. The introduction of BBCs Iplayer has caused a lot of problems and the Internet Service Providers have even asked the BBC to help them improve their infrastructure to cope with it. New TCP/IP standards will be required to sort out the different types of traffic and make the sharing between them a little more equitable.

Interesting Links

Sunset over Solent February 2008 Photo � PMLustig April 2008

Latest News from LASA

  • Tricia ran a leadership development programme for CARE Nepal in April. It focused on their senior managers and how they were being leaders in their organisation and with their teams. The second module will run later in the year.
  • Nic continued work on several websites and bid on two new pieces of work.
  • Tricia continued facilitating Action Learning sets with participants on Henleys Leadership Development programmes.
  • Another Facilitation Forum was run in March at Henley and was very successful introducing graphic facilitation, restorative justice and world caf ideas to participants.

Quotes

Legacy Quotes

"No legacy is so rich as honesty"
- William Shakespeare

"If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader"
- Dolly Parton

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others"
- Pericles

"Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful"
- Author Unknown

"Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him" - Albert Schweitzer

"Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something" - Author Unknown

"While earning your daily bread, be sure you share a slice with those less fortunate"
- Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist"
- Laurence Leamer, King of the Night

"Charity sees the need, not the cause"
- German Proverb

"There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfilment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase 'to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy'. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution" - Stephen R. Covey

Joke corner

  • My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didnt.
  • I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
  • Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.
  • I used to have a handle on life, but it broke .
  • Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
  • You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
  • Earth is the insane asylum for the universe .
  • I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are missing.
  • Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
  • NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
  • God must love stupid people; He made so many.
  • The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
  • Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
  • Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
  • Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it!
  • Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew up!!!!
  • Procrastinate Now!
  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
  • Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!
  • They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken .
  • He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.
  • The trouble with life is there's no background music .
  • The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.
  • I smile because I don't know what the hell is going on.

LASA Website

If this interests you, there are other interesting resources on the LASA Insight website so why not take a look by going to www.lasa-insight.com

Comments and Feedback

If you have any comments or feedback on - or suggestions for - this newsletter then please email them to us  here

@Patricia Lustig 2008