How leadership learning brings about social changes

By auther pic. Deepa M

March 5, 2019

How leadership learning brings about social changes

Grey Shades art workshop with Philanthropy. a not-for-profit organization

Disembarking from the local bus, teenaged Wyonna Trisha Dsouza’s eyes fell on an old man lying on the footpath. Unsure whether he was drunk or hurt, she still couldn’t resist approaching him. A brief conversation made her realize that he was in a car with his children and he was pushed off the car-that’s all he could remember. Anger and helplessness, yet the urge to do something filled her. On her way back home she called the police from a PCO. She was proud of herself for the first time. She knew that she didn’t wait for the ‘what-might’ to haunt her for the rest of her life. The next day she did not see the old man and was hopeful that he had found a shelter.

The urge to do something is still an essence of Wyonna. Her life followed the path of most Mumbaikars-a graduation in commerce and an active participant of various core committees and National Service Scheme (NSS) in college whilst volunteering at AIESEC. This was the time, she came face-to-face with the world problems and the ways the youth were tackling those problems Internships and work at TEDx Gateway, Prahlad Kakar School of Branding and Entrepreneurship, and a dream to open a café run by transgender community in Mumbai, Wyonna wanted to do something for others. It was this urge that made her a part of ISDM.


ISDM Cohort 2018

ISDM- The Indian School of Development Management creates leaders in the much needed development sector. ISDM in its quest to strengthen the social sector has an innovative course and curriculum. The Context Presentations, the Problem Based Learning Approach, the Rural Immersion Program, the Portfolio Presentations, and the Residency Program are just a few aspects of ISDM that ensures empathetic change-makers and effective leaders step-up to bring about a dramatic and sustainable transformation in the community. The renowned, expert faculties keep the momentum of inspiration and motivation in full swing. Every cohort of ISDM is as diverse as the social sector- poles apart socioeconomic backgrounds, various regions of the country, and from young graduates to corporate professionals.

It was at ISDM that Wyonna met Inderpreet, her classmate who was already working with senior citizens. Together they worked on the idea of building a happy and positive world for senior citizens-“Grey Shades”. Wyonna says, “It’s a registered charitable trust and we’re working on the problem of loneliness that senior citizens struggle with because of the changing trend of families moving from joint to nuclear family set, demanding lifestyles of today’s work culture, lack of space for engagement and digital revolution which has resulted in decreased participation and interaction, making the elderly more prone to psychological, emotional, and social insecurities. So, our organization, Grey Shades addresses these insecurities by creating spaces for community building in order to provide the elderly with supportive outlets for their social emotional well-being and help them lead a happy and active life.”


Wyonna D’souza during the Rural Immersion Program in District Siwan, Bihar.

For the world that Grey Shades has imagined to become a reality, therapy based sessions are part of the program. Dance, art, music, fun and recreation, and health activities facilitate new learnings for them as they enhance their physical, social, and emotional well-being. Chandigarh–Mohali–Panchkula, collectively forms Tricity has been chosen as an area for implementing ‘The Grey Shades Fellowship’ a 100 day program to make senior citizens live a life of enthusiasm and purpose.

Wyonna is optimistic about the positive outcomes, “As an organization, we’re also trying to bridge the intergenerational gap. So when one of our volunteers who participated in the art workshop with senior citizens, brought his grandmother along for the next session, we knew that he found great value in bonding with the elderly and wanted the same experience for his grandmother. That boy is only 14 years – it was one of our happiest moments, being able to change conversations around the importance of senior citizens emotional needs in school children and being able to see it change to reality.”

ISDM is making every individual count and creating responsible leaders. Wyonna expounds, “I believe that our parents have always been worried about our future and it’s time we start being concerned about theirs. I am happy I’m contributing my bit through Grey Shades and this was possible because of the mentoring and support made available by ISDM. ISDM has encouraged us to take risks and follow our dreams in the social sector.”

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Also Read: Code Unnati- An initiative to impart digital literacy in India


A banker turned educator, Deepa had been a Teach For India Fellow. She is currently working as a Consultant and Freelancer.


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