Resilience in Adversity

In many conversations, around the world, I have had well-wishers who have always remarked that children who grow up in adversity have more resilience, so they are likely to do well in life. I have always cringed at this naïve correlation between adversity and resilience. I agree, some children growing up in adversity do have higher resilience, but that resilience needs a champion and needs a support system for it to truly help a child thrive.
A powerful way to explain this is through the story of Poorna (, one of the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest at the age of 13 years and 11 Months. If you haven’t seen this inspiring true story made into a movie by Rahul Bose called ‘Poorna’, do watch it and one will understand what I am trying to say.
Poorna is born and grows up in abject poverty. She has loving and supportive parents, but they don’t know much and are easily influenced by people and circumstances around them. Her fir…

Second Brothers

Last week over a dinner conversation with my boys, an interesting nuance emerged. Five of the boys had younger brothers and all of them were struggling in life. I did a quick think around other boys that I have worked with and realized that I know of at least 2 other young men whose younger brothers are struggling in life.

I asked the boys what are some of the reasons that their younger brothers are struggling and these were some of the responses

'They got more attention and care from parents because they were younger.'

'While I had to support my family through struggles of poverty and earning an income, they are enjoying the fruits of our hardwork.'

'They had more freedom.'

'They grew up in a time when the family was getting out of poverty so they didn't learn responsibilities the way I did.'

'It is the case of wrong company. Once they become part of a gang of troublemakers, it is difficult to get them back on track.'

'My mother does n…

Life Skills: When will the Skilling Sector wake up to see its critical role!

Recently, Samhita published a “CSR in Skills and Livelihood Report.” This study analyses the CSR efforts of the top 100 companies with the largest CSR budgets on the BSE 500 to identify the gaps and opportunities in the skills and livelihood value chain and provides a roadmap for companies and other stakeholders to overcome these challenges.
The report states that India is currently facing a huge socio-demographic challenge given that majority of its population is in the working age with limited or no skills. As per the Labour Bureau Report 2014, the size of the skilled workforce in India is only 2%, which is extremely low when compared to countries such as China (47%), Japan (80%) and South Korea (96%). It is estimated that by around 2025, 25% of the world’s total workforce will be in India. It has also been forecasted that the average age of India’s population would be 29 in 2021 as compared to China’s average age of 37, thus giving India a unique advantage of having one of the wo…

Who do you want to be remembered as when you exit?

People leaving is a normal occurrence in the journey of any organization. In my 17-year career, I have seen many people leave Dream a Dream – some have left with pride, friendships, love and camaraderie and others have left with grudges, disappointment and anger. It doesn’t matter that people leave, that is part of life. What matters is how they leave?

Recently, we had someone leave Dream a Dream after a short-stint of one year. We were sad to let this person go. In just a year, this person had won our hearts with his humility, work ethic and commitment. He got a much better opportunity and we were delighted for him while we were sad to see him go.

However, one thing struck me about his exit and it was the way he left the organization. For me, it was one of the most remarkable transitions and exits I have ever come across. Here are a few things he did, that won my heart.

1. While, he had a compelling offer and they needed him to join at the earliest, he negotiated that he can only …

New Year Resolutions

I have never been the one for making New Year resolutions. However, this year I feel compelled to commit to a few and seek support  from the universe to make it happen.

1. Being - Spend time doing less and being more. Being available. Being present. Making time for reflection and thinking. Slowing down.

2. Write - I have this urge to write and write a lot and keep holding myself back. I give myself many reasons - I don't write well. What I want to say has already been said. Who will read it. etc. I want to worry less and write more - Be it blogs, opinion pieces or poetry. I aim to write 15 pieces this year.

3. Reconnect - Reconnect with family and friends. Rekindle old friendships, make time to catch-up. Reconnect with my team at Dream a Dream. Reconnect with teachers and young people and partners.

4. Read - I enjoy reading but don't read as much. I want to read 12 books this year.

5. Prioritise - Prioritise myself. Support my dad with some of his tasks. Get my finances in or…

It's not Poverty but lack of Life Skills

Poverty had never bothered him or his family. They lived within their means and lived with happiness. A family of four, both his parents worked. Father in a lathe factory and mother in a garment factory. He was in school and his sister was completing college. It was a frugal existence and a happy one. The family decided to take a small loan to support his sister's marriage. Both the parents had regular jobs so they were confident they will be able to repay it over time. Marriage was a simple and happy ceremony. 

Jacob was a bright student at school and loved by his teachers. He was a natural leader and took on many responsibilities in his school. He joined the Dream a Dream Life Skills Programmes through his school and thrived as he discovered his true potential. He also found his passion for Rugby through Dream a Dream and became one of the best Rugby players in the team. Rugby taught him resilience, discipline, looking out for each other, supporting his team mates and most import…

Holding Space for Failure

She was young, feisty, confident and all of 14. Rare traits in young people that come from adversity. She shone through the first two days of the camp like she belonged here. The nurturing environment fueled her creative confidence and helped her achieve new milestones. Her learning edge was challenged and she always loved a good challenge. 

Day 3 is usually a Youth Led Day at camp where young people are encouraged to lead workshops for their peers. She signed up to lead an art workshop. Known for her discipline, she prepared well. She had thought through her workshop, played it over many times in her head. She felt confident and was positive that she will sail through. 
The workshop tanked. She lost her confidence when she fumbled through her instructions. She struggled with some steps and it became all chaotic and messy. She lost her composure and just about managed to complete the allotted time. However, she saw something strange. No one left her workshop or abandoned her. No one sne…