From APSA, Association for Promoting Social Action, one of FORUTs partner organisations in India.
Below is a photo of Terje Heggernes toghether with Lakshapati Pendyala in APSA Dream School in Bangalore, India:
APSA’s journey with Terje first started in 1984 when he and Laksha were fellow scholars in development studies at Selly Oaks College, Birmingham.
During their time together, Laksha and Terje discussed social development, political scenarios, global issues, empowerment of children and youth, something Terje was deeply passionate about.
They also swapped family stories and life experiences, and laughed more than a few laughs.
We didn’t know at the time what a momentous occasion this would turn out to be, and that it would be the start of a rock-solid friendship over nearly four decades.
Terje was among the earliest people to recognize and indeed, value the potential future of APSA as an organization, and the first to fund our work. As APSA grew, so did our friendship.
Terje had a great sense of humour and loved to talk about his work, his experiences of interactions with various peoples and what he had learnt from these.
We found in him, a combination of someone wise beyond his years, yet childlike in curiosity – he always wanted to know more about our work, our communities and about ourselves, and had the remarkable ability to draw out conversations.
What we loved and respected about him above all is the fact that, although Terje held multiple valued positions in FORUT over the years, he always wore these lightly on his shoulders.
Whether it was talking to the APSA Management or to community mobilizers in the field or to women from urban poor slums, he was always courteous, respectful and appreciative – of their work, their struggles through myriad challenges and the courage they demonstrated against all odds.
He also demonstrated an extraordinary human compassion, particularly evident when he was there for Laksha at a very critical time when Laksha lost his father.
Until he passed, we never knew how courageous he was as a person, and we have the utmost admiration and respect for his ability to work on improving his health alongside his continued commitment to development work.
As a colleague, mentor, guide, wellwisher, inspirational role-model and a fierce friend, Terje brought so much light into our lives.
APSA has grown and developed as an organization and been exposed to global issues through our many conversations with him, and we have learned so much about social development and human behaviour through his sharing his experiences. We also wanted his wife, his children and his grandchildren to know that we knew Terje to be an incredibly generous person – in fact, his was the very first donation towards the construction of APSA’s Dream School.
He had invited Sheila for his 50th birthday celebrations in Norway and she thoroughly enjoyed the fun and humour during the celebrations.
It was at that time that Terje contributed this key donation – which was actually his birthday gift from friends and relatives.
That gift turned out to be a blessing, because APSA received more funds following it, with which we were able to complete building the Dream School in Bangalore.
The School has catered to hundreds of underprivileged children since 2003, many of whom have gone on to higher education, skilling and employment, have started their own businesses and families.
All this stems from that first ‘foundation’ donation given by Terje.
As we face a bitter-sweet time ahead, Terje, we want to tell you that we will miss you more than we can express.
We are so honoured, so privileged, to have been associated with you and with your wonderful family – and through you, with FORUT.
You are cherished and loved and will live in our hearts forever.
Your life will always inspire us to live better, work harder, be braver and strive to make the world a better place for us and for those to come.
In emulation of the extraordinary life that you have lived, we take for ourselves for every day henceforth, this line from John O’ Donohue’s book To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book Of Blessings:
«May I live this day compassionate of heart, clear in word, gracious in awareness, courageous in thought, generous in love».
With warm regards to you all,
Lakshapathi Pendyala, Sheila Devaraj and the entire APSA staff and family