A LeNoir Foundation school

Jay Mawaka-Smith
Jun 3 · 5 min read

”Dreams can’t be tamed, Dreams are not for sale”

What’s your dream? How will you let the world know that a certain “YOU” existed? These are questions one must ask themselves at some point in life.

Even though it had been almost a year of preparation, I had not felt any sort of anxiety or excitement until I was landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport. My first book Business. Impact. Brand.’ had just been published so I had not had a lot of time to let everything sink in and fully prepare for this trip.

The air was hot and sticky and the large amounts of people and noise everywhere was overwhelming. Earlier I had read a report stating New Delhi may be one of the biggest metropolises in the world with a population of around 18 million, but nearly half its people live in slums and unauthorised colonies without any civic amenities. I knew this will be a very interesting trip and I had to keep an open mind.

An hour into taking in new life halfway across the world I finally met in the flesh Vasudev Foundation founder, Prateek Saini. A man of my own heart, Prateek and I had been friends and partners for about 2 years and we had just accomplished our first big goal together; we wanted to make a difference so we built a school in the middle of the slums in Delhi.

The next morning we didn’t waste any time, still suffering from jet lag I was eager to visit our school. The hustle and bustle of early morning Delhi traffic was overwhelming indeed. Once you enter the inner city slums the roads and highways are a hodgepodge of cars, bikes, carts and animals going in all directions but the same. I LOVED IT! As we arrived on the dirt covered track, we pulled alongside a building that held the school banner. There it was “VASUDEV FREE SCHOOL”.

On entering warm introductions were made between me and our loyal teachers of the school. In usual Indian tradition, I was greeted with a rose from one of our students and Tilaka (a Hindu ritual of marking someone’s forehead with a red fragrant paste as a welcome and expression of honour when they arrive).

I was so honoured and humbled to meet all the students and teachers that had been a part of our vision. We provide the students with textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, school bags and all the school stationery they need. Besides English Hindi and basic Math, we decided to include Mindfulness in the curriculum. Practising yoga and meditation helps retain sufficient energy and concentration for quality learning whilst they are in their lessons. This is a great achievement for us and we’re really pleased to be able to teach these children. We are content to be able to put a smile on their faces. Our sole aim is for these students to get the best education possible so we try to impart the best that we have.

On entry, the children were doing their daily stretches and breathing techniques in preparation for their meditation session which is a part of the school's curriculum. I was delighted to be a part of the extreme calm that came over the class. I even witnessed some children so relaxed they began to fall asleep. Once the meditation and chanting was over they were all awake, present and much more aware. Insightful conversations were sparked between the teachers and myself as I learned about their backgrounds, the reason they wanted to be a part of the organisation and their view of mindfulness being a part of a school’s curriculum.

Our amazing teachers Sharma Sona & Divya Goel

Through LeNoir Foundation we plan to build 5 schools in Asia and Africa by 2022. I honestly can say this crazy idea now feels attainable.

We are being helped by our local volunteers and charitable donations from friends and family. Sharma and Divya our teachers work tirelessly to prepare lessons and offer the students our very best teaching. To date, we currently have 30 children enrolled. With the help of organisations such as NEWS NOW and other generous donors, we are now able to offer ESL Kids Online Lessons. Our hard work is bearing fruit and we are looking forward to seeing the change that is going to take place very soon.

While interacting with the children and presenting them with their new school uniforms I felt a combination of being grateful, humbled and a huge sense of responsibility. I came to the realisation that I was a part of something much bigger than myself and any small changes I was about to make for myself and by extension, the foundation would make a huge impact for many people and the future of our world. I am grateful that life has led me on this path to lead, uplift and connect people from all over the world.

During my stay in India, I was blessed to see so many amazing sights such as the Taj Mahal, The Red Fort and The Swaminarayan Akshardham (Highly recommend) and met with so many other kinds, caring personalities that I have built long-lasting connections with. I’ve had a remarkable life. I seem to be in such good places at the right time. If I were to sum up my life in one word: GRATEFUL. I would like to thank each and every person who is associated with me in my efforts and may we continue to help build a better future.

I know there are people who believe children are the future and the fact that we must place emphasis on their stability. People who are concerned about their communities and are willing to make the extra effort to give back even when the community just takes. People who believe in the good in every person and that we all deserve a chance to become our best selves on this journey called life.

If you are one of these people or if you have any hope for a better world and hope for a better self, I implore you to to our cause and help us purchase Yoga mats & Classroom Furniture. Let’s do this together and invest in our future.


Originally published at https://www.lenoirfoundation.com.

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