The Annual Awards presentation ceremony by Goa Sudharop Community Development Inc., a USA-based non-profit, volunteer NGO working for the betterment of Goa and Goans worldwide, was held at Hotel Mandovi, Panjim, on 14 January, 2010. Ms. Shilla Almeida, Youth Ambassador from the USA was also present for the function which was ably compered by GS volunteer, Mrs. Carmen Martins. The program also featured excellent cultural performances by the students of Fr. Agnel College, Pilar.
In accordance with the Goa Sudharop theme for the year 2009 ("Year of Youth"), and as a mark of support and encouragement of their efforts and achievements, Goa Sudharop chose to give cash and other awards to youth and those working with youth, including students, institutions, social activists and others.
The Chief Guest for the function was Mr. Rajendra Kerkar, a well-known activist committed to preserving the rich bio-diversity of Goa’s environment. In his address, Mr. Kerkar spoke on the scenario in the Goa of today, about the work being done by committed activists and of the dire need to preserve our natural resources and environment.
Goan Youth Achiever Awards were presented to Mr. Swapnil Asnodkar for his outstanding performance in cricket, to Mr. Motes Antao for his sustained struggle and proactive role in the solidarity movement against destructive mining in Goa, to Adv. Jessica Fernandes for organizing the Goan farmers and spearheading the movement for protecting agricultural land in Goa, and to Ms. Sonia Sirsat for her exceptional efforts in furthering an interest in Goan music both in the country and abroad, through her soulful renditions.
Special Recognition Awards of cash and a citation each were presented to Mr. Frankie Monteiro for unearthing the SEZ problem in Goa through effective use of the RTI Act and for his proactive role in the people’s movement against SEZ, and to Mr. Sebastian Rodrigues for his diligent, painstaking and untiring efforts in organizing solidarity amongst the mining affected villages in Goa and in creating through blogging and other means, an awareness of Goa’s environmental concerns.
Financial assistance was also provided to two battered women with growing children, through a donation by Raissa de May.
Goa Sudharop Scholarship Awards were presented to 14 talented, meritorious and deserving students of Class X and XII. Donations towards helping deserving and needy students were presented by GS Youth Ambassador Shilla Almeida to 4 colleges around Goa through a donation by Goa Sudharop’s Joe and Acaria Almeida. A donation in public interest was earlier made to the SEZ Virodhi Manch towards administrative expenses of the campaign against SEZ’s in Goa.
Mr. Pravin Sabnis who was the main facilitator and resource person for several Youth Leadership Workshops conducted by Goa Sudharop throughout the year at various institutions in Goa, spoke briefly on the need for such workshops which not only help the youth develop leadership qualities but also make them aware of current important issues in Goa. Fr. Frederick Rodrigues, Principal, Fr. Agnel College, Pilar also shared a few of his observations and experiences with respect to the youth programs that had been conducted during the year by Goa Sudharop in association with Fr. Agnel College, Pilar. Adv. Jessica Fernandes spoke about how, coming from an agricultural background, she was not only honoured to have been selected for the GS award for her role in the movement to protect agricultural land in Goa, but that the award was also an encouragement to her and to others to continue their efforts in this regard. Mr. Motes Antao also elucidated on his
experiences whilst working alongside other committed activists, against illegal and destructive mining in Goa. Youth Ambassador Ms. Shilla Almeida who has spent a major part of her recent visit to Goa in various GS related activities also briefly addressed the gathering.
A report of the many activities conducted through the year 2009 was then presented by Mr. Ibonio D’Souza, the local representative of Goa Sudharop. Amongst other activities, Goa Sudharop also organized in association with the Centre for Panchayati Raj a workshop for women to enlighten them on the working of the Panchayati Raj system. Six Youth Leadership workshops were held at various colleges in the state, where the topics covered included proactive citizenship, environmental concerns, drug addiction, stress management, leadership and other subjects relevant to youth empowerment.
Mr. D’Souza also informed the gathering that Goa Sudharop will shortly be holding an All Goa Youth meet on 23 Jan 2010 in association with the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, Margao. The highlight of this meet will be a discourse on the topic “Discover the Jewel in You” by world renowned scholar and exponent H.H. Swami Tejomayanandaji, Head of the Chinmaya Mission, Worldwide.
Mr. D’Souza concluded the report of activities with the remarks, “Some people despair, saying that Goa is gone or going or already orphaned. Goa Sudharop believes that if each of us lights his or her little lamp instead of cursing the darkness, we can flood the world with light and banish darkness forever. All of us present here today are lovers of Goa and many are valiant fighters for Goa’s honour at this juncture. Let’s swell these numbers, by ourselves being first the change that we wish to see around!”
The function ended with a Vote of Thanks by Mr. Ibonio D’Souza to the Chief Guest, the recipients of the awards for their good work, the volunteers, and in particular to all the supporters and well wishers of Goa Sudharop.