GCJ-Maher Partners facilitated the first ever Maher Youth Camp late last spring, 2017. Coordinators, Gaus Sayad and Mangesh Pol, supervised five senior youths at Maher to run this incredible, intense, fun-filled entire month-long residential leadership development camp for 85 youths from dozens of Maher homes from around the widespread, outlying areas of rural Pune. The curriculum integrated so many things that they learned on our GCJ delegation, including compassionate listening, gender dialogue, and dialogue practices as well as several skills and processes that they had learned from other Maher supporters over the years. But above all, they were led by the ‘secret sauce’ of the magic of Maher’s collaborative ways of being led by unconditional love.
According to 18-year-old camper Mayuri Katkar, “Nowadays we really forget to listen to each other. There is so much love and kindness in just listening to each other. Compassionate listening helps us to listen to each other.”
Camp sessions covered many life skills such as value-based positive thinking, career guidance, anger management, time management, communication skills, compassionate listening, and gender equality, etc., and a range of activities, including dance, drama, meditation, sports, yoga, cooking, craft, youth parliament, and debates. They also planned panels with various professionals and field trips to businesses and NGOs. By the end of the month, the youth felt tremendously bonded and empowered. These youths, who come from families living in impoverished conditions, were groomed to be the next generation of leaders for Maher. They will bring their deepened capacity for listening and building trust and vision to each of their homes in Maher.