Tuesday, February 23, 2016
A report of first 'Lead for Change' program held in January 2016


Asia Plateau started a new programme, an initiative taken by Parag Shah—‘Lead for Change’, to build a network of leaders across the world led by their inner voice and to enable them to identify their higher purpose in life by taking a meaningful pause in their otherwise worldly rat race.

The four-day LfC programme brought together 38 participants from diverse backgrounds, some were college and university students, some NGO workers, some working professionals and two of whom were from Germany and Bostwana.

The AP family extended their warm welcome to all the participants and created a space where each of them felt at home. In his welcome address,  Dr. Ravindra Rao said to the participants, “I am glad that all of you want to be successful and I hope you know the meaning of success. We are in a big shift; think of the world outside your own world. What are you and me going to do with that shift?”

The call given at the inauguration by Parag Shah, the course director, was – “it’s absolutely alright to be crazy for the right cause, be crazy enough to address social needs through personal change.”

The atmosphere was filled with energy when everybody, both participants and LfC team (Mayur Shah, Asma, Parag Shah, Anup, Stephanie, Neeru Gandhi, Wima, Wangyal and the interns) introduced themselves and also shared about what makes them come alive.

“I have been doing soul searching for past four years I came here because the intention of this program aligned with my purpose.”

“Humanity is facing a lot currently; I am passionate about making a difference.”(Shared some of the participants in their introductions)

Silent walk to the Sydney point to witness the setting sun was a unique experience for each one of us to let go off the past year with gratefulness and make new resolutions for this year, following their inner voice. The participants also experienced and felt the value of silence, being in the moment, not getting distracted by the clutter around. ‘Be the Change’ was the message given to all in the form of an IofC song sung by AP family, which also grabbed the attention of passersby there.

The day concluded with (Gup-Shup) a get together at night in which the participants socialized to understand and know one another.

“Like nature looks beautiful in its abundance and unity with each thing, we humans can also make this world beautiful if we stay together in harmony.”

“Everything in nature is different yet in sync with one another, they all are happy.”

“It was my desire to sit under a tree and write, today it’s got fulfilled.”

“Nature is beautiful, because it has nothing to hide.”

These were some of the sharings by some participants in the first soul nurture walk led by Wima. “Hello Light”, a song sung by Masaki, added extra peace to the gathering.

Stephania held the space during inner listening, in which she gave a brief introduction of IofC and Frank Buchman.

Anup, Surjeet, Stephania, Wima and Wangyal shared their resolutions of personal challenges and how that freed them from within and enabled them to work for peace making at large. After half an hour of Quiet Time, the participants came up with their thoughts and some of them shared:

“I hate silence, maybe because silence has the answers which I’m not ready to listen to.”

“There is more to see in people than to judge them.”

“I would love and respect my basketball coach, but just before this inner listening session if I were given the permission to kill anyone, he would be the one. I quit playing basketball because he had dropped me and selected someone else in one of the important matches, for which I had really shed my blood and sweat, putting in strenuous efforts to win. Since then I am not in touch with him and I hated him the most. But now after listening to my inner-voice, I forgive him. I don’t know where he is, but wherever you are- I am sorry Sir! Once I am back to Mumbai, I will meet him and will apologize in person for I should not forget that he is the one who taught me basketball and maybe by not selecting me at that point of time, he would have something even better in his mind for me which I had not tried to understand” said Mansi, a participant.

The metaphorical use of nature to depict life, was a great experience for the participants. They drew on everything nature comprises, to depict their picture of life and then shared their thoughts in groups.

In Hope for the World, emphasis was laid on some of the grave concerns the world is facing—like Illiteracy, Corruption, Terrorism, Environment and Violence against Woman. In group discussions, the participants came up with the causes and effects of those concerns and chalked out a plan, suggesting ways of keeping them in check, both at the governmental and the individual levels.

An open dialogue was held with Pravin Nikam, a young man, lately appointed as Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School launched by the UN Secretary-General Bank Ki Moon and also elected as Asia Regional Representative to represent 1.2 bn young people and only Indian to be elected to the council. The work Pravin has been doing voluntarily at such a young age, amazed the participants. Pravin shared his experiences with the participants, of the organization ROSHNI, that how with the help of some likeminded friends, he took initiatives like,

  • To impart education to children using a unique model of activity based learning
  • To sensitize people about women’s health and hygiene
  • To motivate the youth to actively participate in strengthening democracy

This interactive discussion with Pravin encouraged the participants to be change makers. One participant said, “Now I believe that I can also make a difference and there are miles to go.”

“Gratitude doesn’t come to me only for those who do good to me, but for those too who do bad to me, as their doing bad to me, teach me a lesson.”

“My sister left her education so that I can get educated and at times I tease her that she doesn’t understand because she is not well educated. I must be grateful to her and I am going to say sorry to her when I get back.”

“Freedom lies in forgiveness.”

These were some of the thoughts shared by the participants on the theme of forgiveness and gratitude, during the second soul nurture walk led by Asma Shah.

Leadership Essentials held by Anup Pawar and Mayur Shah, was an inclusive session, which laid emphasis on ethics and humaneness in decision-making. We are always satisfied with ‘good’, that’s why we are not ‘great’, stated Mayur Shah. We are all leaders and life gives each one of us ample opportunities to play leadership roles in our everyday life, and for a good leader it’s his or her sense of responsibility that makes the decision-making a success. Some of the participants shared their experiences on how they played leadership roles in make or break situations in their life and how their taking responsibility of their decisions empowered them. The sharings were intense and did inspired us all.

The relationships was a co-created space, started with Mayur Shah’s sharing his experience of how letting go of some things in life makes a huge difference in the lives of those around you and he shared his story of how his relationship with his brother was mended after he became flexible enough to come out of his own perceptions and began to empathise with his brother.

Jayashree Rao shared that how after listening to her inner voice, she acted on it and apologized to her daughters for being strict with them which paved a new way towards peace in their relation.

Wima also shared about her relationship with her mother. She spoke about how after listening to her inner-voice she became friends with her mother and unlike earlier, she now talks about everything with her mother before speaking to others. She said this has been strengthening their relationship day-by-day.

One participant shared, “I am away from my home for many years now and I used to think that my parents have time for the world but for me. It had created a huge void in my life, but after listening to my inner voice here, I realized that what I know is just one side of the coin and I must open the lines of honest communication with my parents, with my father in particular. I called my dad from here yesterday and gave vent to my pent-up emotions letting him know that how I felt about him and about the indifference I had received from parental side, he listened to all that I said and this was a soul relieving experience for me, I felt relieved and I am sure we are going to have more heart to heart conversations once we meet.”

Fun –times included Expressions and Bonfire, wherein AP –family, Kitchen staff and Caux-Scholars also participated and presented stories, songs, dance, folk-dance etc.

Witnessing the rising Sun, Wima and Wangyal led the multi-faith prayers at Tableland, in which the participants from diverse backgrounds offered their prayers.

All of us are born twice, the second-time is when we know why we are born. With this call began the last session of the programme - Road Less Travelled. Mayur Shah brought their attention to the needs of the world and their role in it. If we put our skills together with our passions, we will find the answer to the needs of the world today. He shared his personal experience and then the participants shared their experiences about the results they got after putting their skills and passions together and they were amazed to see how the results they got answered the needs of the world.

“I am good at writing and passionate about working for women, so the answer I found to the need of the world today is to write for the up-liftment of women”, said a participant.

The participants also had an opportunity to meet Bhavesh Bhatia, who is differently abled. He is good at encouraging people and passionate about making a difference and that’s how he answers the needs of the world, by encouraging people he meets, by sharing his own story of struggle and success, about how he started as a street hawker and now owns a reputed candle factory, won over a hundred medals in sports and has got selected in international Olympics 2016 for physically challenged. He was also selected by the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and will be climbing Mt. Everest and hopefully will be the first blind person to do so. He gives full credit of his success to his wife, who supports him through thick and thin.

The participants were touched and inspired by his story and meeting him was a live example for them to understand the Road Less Travelled.

Some of the take-a-ways from this journey are:

“Engrossed in my busy life I had to shut the facebook page down which once I created out of my passion for writing, but now I decided to get back to it and will keep working on it.”

“Overhauling is required at times, introspection part I need to do.”

“Silence is the answer.”

“I have achieved self-awareness through quiet time and that’s what I am taking back with me.”

“You brought the best out of me, thank you LfC team”

“This is the first time in my life that I see honesty here, I am stubborn enough to say sorry, but not now”

“My resolutions are, to feed a hungry person every day and to teach someone at least for an hour everyday”

“I will publish a book”

“I was struggling with some decisions since past 4 months as I did not have enough courage to follow my heart, today I take the decision to quit my job and do what my heart wants me to do.”


4-day journey captured in a short film!