Distribution of relief goods and well drilling

Mon, March 9. 2015 - 00:00

Link to video of part 1 of the journey on YouTube:  click here


1st Report from India - the other group members will leave on Sunday

Submitted by frank on Fri, 11/14/2014 - 9:20pm

Good evening,

Below you will find the first report with photos by Alexandra from India.
The trip is scheduled to last until November 30 as beginning December the finish of the auxiliary transport to Moldova will start from Bamberg.
In the following the report from North India and the link to the new photo gallery.

Best regards,

India, November 2014:
For this year’s November trip Alexandra will fly to India one and a half weeks in advance to prepare for the work of the team.
This time, the group will work in two new areas: Uttarakhand at the foothills of the Himalayas will be the first target. In June last year, a devastating flood had occurred when tens of thousands of people lost their lives. It generally takes years or even decades for a region to recover and reach its original condition. In this case, the disaster hit not only many pilgrims on their journey to the Kedarnath temple, but a great number of farmers who barely have enough to live. At this time of the year it is already snowing in some regions. With a van and truck fully loaded with blankets and caps it is not possible to just leave the main road that has been repaired to some extent. The roads to the villages are mostly accessible by foot only…

The second destination of the trip is Andhra Pradesh, a State located more south where FriendCircle WorldHelp has not been active so far. In a village where there is not enough water for the inhabitants, a well is planned to be drilled...

In addition to organizing the delivery of blankets and the renting of mini-bus and truck as well as buying train tickets for the group, etc. Alexandra is working in the slums north of Delhi, distributing fruit, blankets and caps.

Safely arrived - soup kitchen - onward travel

Submitted by frank on Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:44am

Good morning from Delhi!

Yesterday morning, Caye, Thomas, Jürgen and Frank safely arrived in Delhi. After the 23-hour nonstop trip via Istanbul, they will have a two hours rest before the program start. First photos are in the gallery. On Tuesday, they will start at 4am to Uttarakhand…

Best regards,


Greetings from the Himalayas

Submitted by frank on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 2:41am

Good morning,

Tuesday evening, Alexandra, Caye, Thomas, Jürgen and Frank after a 15 hours journey from Delhi arrived in Guptakashi.
The trip over the small mountain roads is very impressive. Everywhere you can see traces of last year’s landslides. The road is mostly unpaved and only one lane is passable, bridges are destroyed.
On Wednesday afternoon, the truck with the blankets arrived.
After reloading we started directly with the pick-up to the first three stations to distribute blankets and caps.
In the past four days our contact persons had set up lists of needy people who so far have not received any help.
Unfortunately, Internet access is here available only via mobile phone network; therefore a detailed report and photos will follow after our return to Delhi...

Best regards,
Frank, Alexandra, Caye, Thomas, Jürgen


Return to Delhi and drive on by train

Submitted by frank on Sun, 11/23/2014 - 5:03pm

Good evening,

Yesterday, Alexandra, Caye, Jürgen, Thomas, Venu and Frank spent the whole day in the car on the road driving back to Delhi. After 15 hours of travel the team safely arrived at the hotel in Karol Bagh.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi there was not operational this Sunday, therefore, the reports and lots of photos could not be uploaded. These lines were uploaded by mobile phone in the train. The train journey to Hyderabad will last approx. 23 hours until Monday afternoon. Hopefully, we will get there a fast Internet connection so that the beautiful pictures can be shared :-)

Greetings from the train in 3rd class with beds. We just had hot dinner...

Best regards,


Return from the Himalayas to Delhi - train ride to Hyderabad

Submitted by frank on Mon, 11/24/2014 - 2:26pm

Good evening,
below please find the reports of the last few days.

Best regards, now from Hyderabad,
Alexandra, Caye, Thomas, Jürgen and Frank

At a bridge we make a short stop. In a bend a gravel road branches off the paved mountain road and nestles in the steep slope. Do we really have to go up there? With a little queasy feeling the team enters the waiting Tata Jeep. The driver welcomes all friendly and off we go.
In the first and second gear the jeep climbs up a small path to the top. Narrow serpentines force the driver to switch into the first gear and the horn is blaring each time a blind bend approaches. Again and again, there are traces of boulders on the way and the V-shaped grooves in the lane open unobstructed views of the valley. Now and then we are holding our breath… what if…?
Then the jeep suddenly stops – there is oncoming traffic. After a short horning and waving it is clear who will drive where and how. Inch by inch, the vehicles are brought into position and ultimately they are driving past each other. Phew!

Daily reports
Nov. 18, 2014 Drive from Delhi to Guptakashi
The first night in Delhi is short, for a few of the group there is almost no rest. After a cold shower (in the hotel, hot water is available only during limited hours in the morning) they get off at 04.30am.
In the night, Alexandra had been waiting with Venu for the truck with the ordered blankets to arrive: 1200 large double blankets, packed in 40 huge bales. The arrival of the truck had been repeatedly delayed and when it arrived it turned out that the second truck was too small for the onward transport to Uttarakhand. Shortly before the rest of the team appeared still a bit sleepy at the hotel entrance for departure, the owner of the truck company and the drivers could be convinced to continue the journey to Uttarakhand with the big truck.
Together with Venu who completes the team the long drive north to Guptakashi could start.
The city is located 1.319 m high in the district of Rudraprayag, in the so-called Garwhal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. From there it is only a few kilometres to the city of Kedarnath located on the mountain of the same name, with its famous Kedarnath temple. In June 2013 one of the worst natural disasters in India had occurred in this area. Within three days there had been four times the amount of rain of a normal monsoon. As a consequence, also the 3.800 m high Chorabart glacier was melting and the usually small Mandakini River, one of the headwaters of the Ganges, became a deadly torrent. Up to 10.000 people were killed and more than 100.000 people had to be evacuated by the Indian military from the valleys that had been cut off the outside world. Numerous landslides had destroyed roads, and the flood swept away bridged and entire villages … (see Wikipedia, „2013 North India floods“).
Early in the morning Venu asks the driver to stop. The taxi stops in front of a roadside stand where Alexandra and Venu had already had breakfast during their exploration tour on Saturday and found the food to be good. Everybody is hungry and makes himself or herself comfortable in the sun though it is still cool, but the hot food makes them feel well. For Thomas this is the first real Indian breakfast with stuffed Aloo Parantha and pickles (pancakes stuffed with potatoes and hot pickled fruit as dip). Then the journey continues, the Indian traffic and the landscape make the trip entertaining.
Upon reaching the city of Devaprayag in the late afternoon first traces of the natural disaster can be seen. After the ‘sporty’ ride across the Indian state road they continue on a small mountain road towards their goal. There are always unpaved sections where the road is patched up with gravel. In passing we catch glimpse of remnants of bridges and roads leading nowhere. At some places the road gets so narrow that we can see from the side window over umpteen meters down into a riverbed – and of course, there are no crash barriers. Countless lanes of rock falls and landslides can be seen on the mountain slopes. The night is falling and the mountains are glowing in the light of the sunset – a beautiful sight.
After nearly 14 hours and 450 km driving we reach Guptakashi. It is now pitch dark, cold and the place seems already deserted. In the headlight of the car Venu and Alexandra detect Mr. Nagi and Manju. Both have been waiting for the team and now show Jürgen, Thomas, Caye, Frank, Alexandra, Venu and the driver their rooms. Cold running water, a toilet with broken flushing and beds – everybody is happy.
During dinner the expected arrival of the blankets the following day and the route are discussed. It seems to be impossible for the big truck with the blankets to drive up here…

Nov. 19, 2014 Arrival of the blankets - visit to two villages
At sunrise all are back on their feet and the first hot Chai is much appreciated after the cold and starry night. All had been freezing or at least complaining about cold feet, therefore, the sleeping bags are worth gold. A walk on the hotel roof reveals a wonderful panorama. At the horizon we can see the Chaukhamba massif in the rising sun. Its more than 7,000 meters high peaks are covered with snow. Welcome to the Himalayas!
After the cold night the thoughts are quickly back to the truck with the warm blankets. Our original plan of reloading the blankets on small pick-ups in Devaprayag is soon abandoned following a phone call of our contact persons. A local driver will accompany the truck driver. This way, the trip across the partly dangerous defective roads is made possible and the truck owner has already agreed to this plan. Shortly after the team is driving in a good mood in the direction of Devaprayag, after all the ride will be documented with the camera.
One hour later they have already reached the truck. After a short introduction, the convoy starts. Jürgen and Alexandra are trying to capture the scene with photos and video camera. Again and again, the truck drives along the narrow road with less than a meter from the precipice, in several places the road is broken and there is a free view down to the river…
Faster than expected both vehicles are back in Guptakashi. The truck is manoeuvred backwards to the stairs of the lodging and the tarp is opened. All together help balance the 40 bales upstairs into a free guestroom for storage. It is hard work to carry the blankets upstairs and store them. A few Indians are watching the action from a distance. Later, before leaving for a debriefing it turns out how much respect the group has earned by this action. Normally, workers do such work for tourists and wealthy Indians. 15 bales are directly reloaded on a pick-up.
After a chai the group starts with two vehicles, accompanied by Mr. Nagy, our contact person, on a motorcycle on a one and a half hours drive on small roads to the first village. The sun is already low when Mr. Nagi signals us to stop. A group of people is sitting on the roadside friendly and reservedly looking at the newcomers. After a first Namasté the ice is broken. A bale of blankets and a sack of wool caps are unloaded. Together with his niece Manju who is accompanying us, Mr. Nagi has prepared a list for each village. During their first meeting Alexandra had defined the criteria for who is to receive a blanket. In addition to families hit by last year’s disaster and not having received any help, there are mainly orphans, disabled and elderly persons on the list.
Quickly everything is prepared and the roles allocated to each one. While Mr. Nagi is calling the names of the list, Thomas, Caye and Frank are handing over blankets and caps, Jürgen is filming and Alexandra taking photos. After the last name has been called, a group picture is taken and it is time to say goodbye. Time is short, unfortunately, because it is already getting dark. Another drive over the small road with hairpin bends follows, which remind us of the European Alps. In the last light the second distribution of this day is carried out. As in the first village, people are incredibly grateful and very humble.
The remaining cargo is stored in another place in a vacant store. Here the distribution will continue the next day.
The return drive to Guptakashi takes place in the darkness of the night and all vehicles and passengers arrive safely shortly after 8pm. The place is again already deserted. The early onset of darkness and the rapid drop in temperature after sunset make the resident’s retreat in their homes. Since this time dinner has been ordered in advance, shortly after the inevitable rice with vegetables and Rotis is served. A short time later, all fall wearily into bed, full of new impressions. Without heating it is not very comfortable in the cold rooms.

Nov. 20, 2014 Distribution of blankets and caps to needy people in three villages
Thursday is the big day. More than half of the 1.200 blankets will have to be distributed today since on Saturday we will return to Delhi. So, shortly before 6am it is again time to get up. Venu knocks on the door. A cheerful “Good morning” makes everybody crawl out of his or her sleeping bag. This night was more comfortable than the first one as the group *tried” some of the blankets. Also the morning bucket shower is much better - a pint of hot water from the kettle makes a big difference…
Without breakfast they start at 7am with the car, the again fully loaded truck and Mr. Nagi on his motorcycle to the first station for the distribution of blankets and caps.
Based on the experience from the previous day regarding calling and lining up of people that caused a great hustle, Venu suggests handling it this time differently. Manju and Mr. Nagi will hand out tickets. Everyone with a ticket can pick up a blanket and a cap at the *issuing place”. Soon the distribution is going on and bales after bale as well as hundreds of caps are handed over. People from six villages have come to the “issuing place” and some elderly people had walked two hours to happily get their blanket and cap.
It is already noon as the rush ebbs away and finally a breakfast is on the agenda. A writhing trail leads over small switchbacks up the steep mountain and after a quarter of an hour we reach the village of Mr. Nagi. Mr. Nagi’s family warmly welcomes the visitors and the fresh cooked food with Chapatis and pickles tastes particularly good this time. The mountain panorama on the horizon is like a postcard motif. The warm sun dispels the icy cold of the night. The living conditions here on about 1.800 m altitude, especially in winter, would be hardly bearable for people like us who are used to heating and hot water…
After breakfast caps and blankets are quickly distributed to the people still waiting. Some are rushing from the car where Mr. Nagi and Manju are handing over the tickets to the issuing place. A short time later, we proceed with both vehicles to a further issuing point. Also here, people have come on foot partly from very far. While distributing, the further program is discussed.
It is already late and originally distribution in four more villages was planned.
The villages are very high up and can only be reached by jeep or mules. The taxi hired since Delhi cannot drive on these roads.
On a bridge we make a short stop. From the paved mountain road a gravel road branches in the bend and nestles in the steep slope. How to get up there? With a little queasy feeling the team enters the waiting Tata jeep. The driver friendly welcomes all and off we go.
In the first and second gear the jeep climbs up a narrow path to the top. Narrow serpentines force the driver to switch into the first gear and the horn is blaring each time a blind bend approaches. Again and again, there are traces of boulders on the way and the V-shaped grooves in the lane open unobstructed views of the valley. Now and then we are holding our breath… what if…?
Then the jeep suddenly stops – there is oncoming traffic. After a short horning and waving it is clear who will drive where and how. Inch by inch, the vehicles are brought into position and eventually they are driving past each other. Phew!
The sun is low on the horizon as we reach the first village on these heights. Distribution must now go very fast as the way down the hills is only passable in daylight, otherwise we will have to stay overnight which is not really an exciting idea without warm sleeping bags, toothbrush, etc.
The village mayor welcomes the team and together with Mr. Nagi the people are informed. Venu translates the short speech into English. Then the distribution begins. With a megaphone, the mayor calls the people on the list. The blankets and caps are distributed in record speed. Bale after bale are transferred from the truck to the issuing place. The taxi driver and some villagers ensure the supply. The rapid distribution makes Thomas, Caye and Frank feel warm :-) Photographed and filmed by Alexandra and Jürgen this is the fastest distribution action. There is no time left to look at the breath-taking scenery at sunset. Mr. Nagi urges us to leave. On our return drive to the paved side road, there is still another village where the remaining blankets should be distributed. We reach the next village at dusk. Mr. Nagi counts the number of people on the list, then the corresponding number of blankets and caps is handed over to the mayor for distribution.
As in many other places, Alexandra meanwhile buys peanuts and cookies on a road stall (the “shops” are adapted to the size of the villages) and distributes them to the children. We drive back in the dusk along the challenging paths back to the mountain road and all breathe through as we reach the bridge with the left-behind vehicle. Compared to the prospect of spending the night without sleeping bags, etc. in a village at about 2.000 m altitude, the cold rooms with toilet (!) in Guptakashi seem like a luxury hotel…
The remaining one and a half hours return drive would not be worth mentioning if we had not seen a big cat in the headlight crossing the road. Thomas and Caye had discovered the animal and after joint consultation, we agree that it was a cougar. Venu had already told us about bears. But at least now all understand why people in the dark here walk only in groups.
On arrival in Guptakashi the city is as always deserted. Only at a food stall next to the hostel „Neel Kamel“ there is activity. The dinner is already being prepared and tastes even better after this hard day.

Nov. 21, 2014 Visit to further villages near the Kedarnath temple
After the usual cold shower the day begins with a chai. Again we start early by taxi and truck, loaded with the remaining bales of blankets and caps. Our journey this time goes in the opposite direction along the Mandakini River towards Kedarnath, the famous pilgrimage area in the Himalayas with its Shiva temple. Here the team is close to where the disaster in 2013 occurred.
In a bend before some street stalls, Mr. Nagi stops his motorcycle and signals the following vehicles to stop. Everybody gets out and looks around. There is no one to see and no village in sight. Mr. Nagi explains that the village is accessible only on foot. A few men come along and help unload the heavy bales with blankets. Two men each start carrying a bale on the small track from the road up the mountain. One of the carriers wraps a strap around the bale and disappears fleet-footed up the mountain with the load on his back…
The small road is steep and narrow and for Venu it is hard to walk. The owners of the animal put him on a mule holding him from both sides. The animal starts moving and Venu disappears on his first ride.
Then follows an exhausting stretch of way with everybody breathing heavily as they reach the place and the small temple. The residents have already gathered in the temple court. Here too the distribution starts shortly after our arrival according to the prepared list. Everything is going smoothly and finally it is already time to leave. Alexandra walks around the place searching something. While taking pictures she had put her silver thermos on a flat roof.
All start searching but without success. The villagers ask what’s going on and Venu explains that they are looking for the bottle. Immediately, they also start looking for the missing bottle, also in vain. It is already lunchtime and the group has not had breakfast yet. Alexandra sits down on a chair and declares that she will not leave the place without the thermos. The group has some valuables in their luggage like computers, camera, money, etc. and so far there has never been any problem in this respect.
The villagers are standing together in groups discussing loudly. After about a quarter of an hour Venu translates that one of the villagers is suspected of being mentally confused taking along everything she finds. Someone is sent to her hut to check. After some time the news comes: bottle found! The thermos is handed over to Mr. Nagi who passes it on beaming to Alexandra. The walk back to the car can start.
After a short drive the car stops and all follow Manju down the hill to her family's house. Food is already ready for them, again typical Indian food with dal, vegetables and Rotis. Manju’s family is very cordial. During lunch Alexandra asks about the family situation. The team learns that the sister in law of Manju has lost two brothers aged 18 and 20 years in the natural disaster. The two were working in the valley.
Right after lunch blankets are distributed to some residents of Manju’s village. Frank sees two old men wiping tears from their eyes after having received blankets and caps. After taking leave from the family the group walks on a small footpath through the hillside, past small cow and buffalo stables to a small school. In no time the kids are equipped with caps and some pretty pictures are shot.
Meanwhile, it is already late afternoon and all are clambering up the steep trail to the car. Some more blankets are still in the store in Guptakashi, Mr. Nagi and Manju will reliably distribute them to the other needy people on the list.
In the evening all meet for the end of this action in the usual „restaurant“ for dinner. Kheer, an Indian sweet dish like rice pudding is served to all as a small reward. Mr. Nagi and Manju are happy about the positive feedback they get from the team on their work. They are given a set of clothes. In the past days it had gradually become apparent under what modest conditions they themselves live though both had never asked for anything for themselves…

Nov. 22, 2014 Return to Delhi
After the morning chai all climb for the last time on the roof of the hotel for a farewell photo. The snow-capped mountains in the background are illuminated by the morning sun and offer an unforgettable backdrop.
At 9am the return drive towards Delhi starts. As on the outward journey, the car is crowded the Indian way with seven persons and their luggage. 15 hours later and after several stops the team reaches the hotel in Delhi. In retrospect, it is hard to imagine that the 450 km under these road conditions could have been overcome faster.
The rooms with warm water and a comfortable temperature transform the accommodation for the night into a “spa hotel“.

Nov. 23, 2014 Drive to Hyderabad
Early in the morning all are already up and the day starts with an extensive common breakfast with stuffed Paranta, Poori Baji and Chai .
Unfortunately, Caye is not fit. She has caught a cold and does not feel like eating the spicy Indian breakfast.
As they return to their rooms, some mothers with children are already waiting outside the hotel. They are earning their livelihood also as rag pickers in this area. They also receive one blanket per family and caps for all.
Some small errands are to be done as well as the journal entries with photos for the website.
The Internet was working fine at night and after a few days of digital fasting all team members were busy into the night with reading e-mails, etc.
Now it’s early morning and despite receiving wireless no Internet connection is possible. The answer at the reception is: „Internet not working.“
Well then, we just have to wait until Hyderabad… shame.
In the early afternoon we go by taxi to the train station of Old Delhi. From here the train to Hyderabad will leave for a ride, according to the timetable of 1.660 km in 22 h, corresponding to an average speed of no less than 75 km/h.





Back to Delhi and return home - further reports and photos online

Submitted by frank on Sun, 11/30/2014 - 4:35pm

Good evening,

Below you will find the daily reports of the second part of the trip. During uploading of these lines, Thomas, Jürgen, Caye and Frank are already driving by car to Bamberg. Alexandra will land later in Nuremberg and be picked up by Frank. This is the end of this year’s November journey. The next weeks will focus on the auxiliary action for Moldova.

Kind regards
Alexandra, Caye, Thomas, Jürgen, Frank

Daily reports 2nd part - Well drilling

Nov. 24, 20143 Arrival in Hyderabad
A train ride in India is always a special experience. As the train departs, Venu, Thomas, Jürgen, Caye, Alexandra and Frank make themselves comfortable in the compartment. The long-distance trains „Sleeper Class AC“ are quite comfortable for Indian conditions. There are two staff members per wagon who care for the welfare of the passengers. Each compartment consists of two opposing benches for three persons each and two fixed beds below the ceiling. Folding down the backrests at night makes two further beds so that all passengers can sleep. Also in the hallway, there are two folding seats convertible to beds and above them a further fixed bed. Some trains also have curtains to protect the compartments from view. There are no doors. In our train there are no curtains and the team quickly gets in contact with other passengers.
Before the train departs, many petty dealers are walking through the train loudly touting their goods. The selection ranges from playing cards to chips, chocolate, tea, and padlocks.
As soon as the train starts moving, everybody takes their seats and there is time to look at the other passengers.
Many things from our luggage attract the attention of two Indian gentlemen sitting in the same compartment. For example, our sleeping bags are checked, touched and admired. And of course the small laptop on which the daily reports are done and which after departure is immediately connected to the outlet of the compartment for loading. Venu tells them about the past few days in the Himalayas and about the purpose of the trip. The ice is quickly broken and the two look very friendly at the team, exchange the beds so it is more comfortable for our group and slip closely together on one of the benches.
The evening on the train is used for selecting photos for the homepage, screening the footage and writing the reports. In between we get a warm dinner with soup as a starter – a comfortable and enjoyable way of traveling. Caye soon disappears in her sleeping bag, as her cold unfortunately has not improved…
With nightfall, in each compartment the beds are rebuilt. The two wagon attendants distribute freshly washed sheets packed in paper, to cover blankets and pillows. Gradually, calm is restored in the train, except for the noise of the running train and the numerous “lumberjacks” who have loudly started their work…
Early in the morning life slowly comes back in the train. Everybody has slept more or less. The wagon attendants distribute tea bags with sugar and milk powder, plastic cups and small thermos with hot water. Then we get Indian breakfast with hot vegetable bags (samosas), toast, butter and jam. The landscape passes at the windows; also at night the train was driving quite fast for Indian conditions, certainly more than 100 km/h.
The destination is reached in time (!) and we have to call off. When we get on the platform and read „Secunderabad“ we are a bit confused. This is the twin city of Hyderabad, separated by the Hussain Lake. On the eastern shore it has already grown into Hyderabad, therefore, it is often no longer considered as an independent city, but as part of Hyderabad. On June 2nd, 2014 Hyderabad was assigned to the newly founded state of Telangana, which was taken out of the state of Andhra Pradesh. For a transitional period of ten years, Hyderabad is acting as a joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In the city is also the headquarter of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hyderabad (see Wikipedia).
By taxi we drive from the station to the hotel, which Venu had selected in advance. After checking in at the hotel, we have chai together in the hotel restaurant. Venu, who is spending the night in a nearby leper colony to avoid costs for the group informs about the plan for the next day. The colony to be visited is about three hours drive north. The first day of the visit we will get an overview of the living conditions. Furthermore, the wellbore is to be prepared and organized. Departure the next morning is scheduled for 6.30am. Venu leaves and the team complete the daily reports. The Internet is fast, therefore, also the photos from the Himalayas can be uploaded on the website.

Nov. 25, 2014 1st drive to the colony
The night in the clean hotel with running warm water in both rooms is short but very relaxing. In the hotel foyer Venu is waiting with Meena. She is the daughter of the president of the „Association of People Affected by Leprosy“ of India (founded in 2005) and lives with her parents in Hyderabad, also in a leper colony. Meena is going to accompany the team the next three days, together with Venu. She speaks very well English and will assist in the translation of the local language Telegu and act as project manager on site after the departure of the group. This is the plan.
With a taxi seating seven the group of eight persons starts to drive to the village „Vandrikal“. Even without any luggage they are jammed in the taxi with Thomas, Jürgen and Frank squeezed on the rear seat. At one of the mandatory stops for the visit of a „bathroom“ they have breakfast. The drive continues to Kamareddy, the last major town (approx. 80’000 inhabitants) before leaving the main road.
Here they buy water and fruit for the team as well as small gifts for the children of the colony. The last 40 minutes they drive on bad asphalt roads and finally 25 minutes on „lanes“ across a parched landscape. The sun burns. In contrast to the cold northern Indian regions the temperature falls in December and January only to about 10°C. To the right and the left a flat landscape passes with small rocky fields and some shrubs and trees.
We see many animals: monkeys, chicken, goats, cows, and water buffalos, with some of them participating in the road traffic. After being shaken and jolted the group nearly three hours later crawls out of the car at the destination. Many villagers have already gathered.
The village mayor tells the moving stories of the people and explains the living conditions and difficulties.
Based on the great support of the wife of a meanwhile deceased English physician, the village was founded almost forty years ago. Originally, this area was forested and the country virtually uninhabited. It was doubtless due to these circumstances that the inhabitants of the village at that time the government gave them lot of land for their use. After clearing the forest and building stone huts, the colony could move in. Today, about 34 families live in the village, many already as the second or third generation. Therefore, there are a number of young men and women without any impairment caused by leprosy. They are mostly working as day labourers on neighbouring fields or in the city where they earn the equivalent of 2 to 3 Euros a day, thus contributing to the family income. Otherwise, the village lives completely on its own from the small pensions of the leprosy victims and from the harvest of their gardening.

As Venu had told us in advance, the main problem of the residents is the lack of water. There are a few hand pumps in the village for everyday use. However, for agriculture only recently five wells were drilled and financed by the government. This is not enough to sufficiently irrigate all fields that result in much of the country lying idle. Outside the rainy season no cultivation is possible.
Upon inquiry of Alexandra the village mayor calculates all revenue and expenditure of the families. After deduction of all costs a family has approx. 1000 Rupees per month available for living – for food. The team is deeply moved as the village mayor tells them that all people here have been waiting for almost 20 years for the drilling of wells. They say that after all these sufferings God has heard them and has sent the team of FriendCircle WorldHelp.

With an extensive walk around the village this first visit ends. Time is short, as we want to see and possibly commission a well construction company in Kamareddy still today. After a warm farewell the first part of our return drive starts at dusk.
At our arrival in Kamareddy the company owner is already waiting for the team. The conditions are quickly agreed and the cost estimate checked. Then comes the most important question: „Can work start tomorrow?“
The owner makes a phone call and then confirms: “Yes.” All are happy and the order is placed. The long drive back to the hotel in Hyderabad can start....

Nov. 25, 2014 Well drilling part 1
On Nov. 29, we start even earlier from the hotel than the day before. We intend to film the arrival of the truck of the well drilling company. After the usual stopover for breakfast and a stop in Kamareddy for the purchase of fruit, the village is reached. Here, all residents are already eagerly awaiting the start of the work.
As the truck with the drilling equipment reaches the village, everybody rushes to the field to the place where the drilling will take place. Recently, the villagers had had the visit of a dowser who had defined the place. The adjacent field belong to a widow and a disabled man. Provided the drilling will be successful, her children will be farming the fields. The village community had suggested these people since they are hard up.
While the truck and the equipment are being prepared for the drilling, a traditional puja (Hindu ceremony) is taking place.
The drilling starts with a lot of noise and dust and the spectators are withdrawing to watch the work. The team is skilled with the handling of the drilling equipment. Pipe after pipe is added as extension of the drill head. When at 15m depths water is gushing out at pulling back the drill head, jubilation breaks out among the villagers. Meanwhile the drilling continues and the helpers of the company regularly remove with a rake the stone material ejected from the well. Deeper and deeper the drill head enters into the ground and extensions are continually added.
But no further water flows out of the hole and gradually it becomes clear – it was only the cooling water! The staff of the drilling company continues to work tirelessly, two of them are preparing food for the seven workers besides the accompanying truck on a gas stove they brought along.
After an estimated further 50 m another stop, but still no water. The foreman explains that it makes little sense to drill further. The black rock layer that they now reached might be quite thick, Venu translates for the team.
After a short deliberation, another marked spot for the second drilling test is selected. While the truck is moved to the second well drilling place, the team walks to the nearby village for lunch.
In the meeting house two residents have spread a tarp on the floor and set up an Indian lunch with rice, mixed vegetables, dal and bread (Rotis). After all have sat down on the ground each visitor is given a plate with food. No chance to find spoons or forks on the “table”, therefore, all begin to eat the Indian way with their fingers. The lovingly prepared food tastes fine, however, not everybody is used to the sitting position...
With fresh forces we go back after dinner to the drilling site. Venu had stayed there and receives the team with a worried face. After only 15 meters, the drilling company had stopped work as loose rock was continually falling from above and the experts judged the work on this place to be too difficult.
What next? A new place has to be chosen. Alexandra however insists on calling a professional geologist. She does not want to have a further drilling done without the advice of an expert. While the drilling company is making the truck ready to start, phone calls are made in the village. After several calls Meena and Venu find a new geologist in Hyderabad and after calling he is willing to come to the colony early the next day to check the ground.
The drive is organized and it is agreed with the drilling company to be available the next day. More than one hour later, everything is organized and the return drive can start with falling night.
The villagers and the team are in a depressed mood as the team departs. Everybody is hoping that the next day will be successful.
In order to reduce travel time for possible further visits, Alexandra and Venu ask the owner of the drilling company in Kamareddy about other hotels nearby.
He gives a recommendation and a short time later the taxi reaches the hotel together with him. Alexandra, Caye and Jürgen check the rooms and are satisfied. This could be an alternative for the next trip. At least one success today...
There is nothing special to report about the return drive to Hyderabad. After a small dinner all go to bed a bit sad.

Nov. 27, 2014 Well drilling part 2
Just after his arrival in the colony, the geologist starts inspecting the site, accompanied by some staff members, villagers and the team. After he knows the dimensions of the arable land, he starts work with his helpers. Several places are identified and tested with an electronic device he has brought along. For each place this takes about one hour.
In the fourth place, the geologist is finally satisfied and recommends to start drilling. The drilling company is immediately contacted and asked to come to the colony. Unfortunately, they are working at that time at another order so it takes almost two hours until the truck arrives in the village. They quickly start work and the friends walk into the village to finally fill their empty stomachs. Meanwhile it is already past 4pm.
They have to wait a bit for the food to be prepared. Then, while eating finally comes the releasing news from Venu – they have found water!
As they return to the drill hole it is quiet – too quiet. The staff of the drilling company is sitting on and under the truck pottering about. Nothing works anymore, the team is told. First, they discharge diesel from the tank of the traction motor and fill it with a hose into the tank of the generator. When they restart, there is only a click – the battery is empty. The “well maintained” Indian technique is on strike. While the team is suspiciously watching the bridging experiments with a cable and a shovel handle, Alexandra decides about the further procedure. Meena, Frank and Thomas will go with the taxi driver back to Kamareddy to buy the pump. It is high time since the shop owner wants to close his shop at 8pm. Shortly after 8pm they reach the shop. Lights are still on – phew!
After a thorough check of two offers and comparison of the technical data, negotiation starts. It is a tough negotiation but after a phone call of the shop owner with the pump manufacturer an agreement is found. A deposit is paid and the group is heading back to the colony.
Here, the drilling company has meanwhile repaired the technical defect and procured a new battery. The drilling has already progressed and the returnees at their arrival are informed – water, lots of water! All are happy and tense and many villagers and neighbours stand around the drill hole. A fire is burning and illuminating the scenery together with the headlights of the drilling company. Again and again water comes out of the hole and the staff of the drilling company is working tirelessly. Shortly before midnight, the drilling is finally completed, support tubes are inserted into the upper part of the hole and the hole is closed. The foreman calculates the price and after cross-examination with the cost estimate the invoice is paid.
The “trek” happily returns to the village, where the remaining residents are already waiting under the only solar-powered lantern on the village square.
A concluding discussion follows as well as a dance interlude and some speeches, then the team finally takes up their return, together with Meena...

Nov. 28, 2014 Return to Delhi - finale
After a very short night the team meets for breakfast in the hotel. Venu, Meena as well as her parents are already there. All group members are warmly welcomed and presented. During breakfast, Meena’s father expresses his gratitude for the efforts of the friends. He had regularly received reports from Venu on the other trips and is very happy about this first personal meeting. Mr. Narsappa reports of the founding of the Association for leprosy-affected people in India and its objectives.
The team learns that it was only in 2005 that the association for the representation of the needs of leprosy-affected people was realized. All too soon it is time to depart to the airport of Hyderabad. The luggage is stowed and Caye, Jürgen, Thomas, Frank and Alexandra get into the taxi. Meena has tears in her eyes and thanks again and again for having been given the opportunity to help the friends at work. Also Meena’s tears move her parents and the family is waving until the car it disappears in the morning rush-hour traffic.
The check-in at the airport is quickly done and the team is looking forward to a pleasant return journey after the exertions of the last few days. However, when looking at the information screen on their way to the gate, their flight is missing at the foreseen departure time...
They inquire with the airline employees – the flight is postponed. At the same time, Alexandra’s mobile is ringing with Venu informing them by SMS that the flight has been postponed.
Well, this is not really a problem, though it results in a loss of three hours sleep...
Back in the hotel in Delhi there is dinner on the program. Tomorrow is the last day before their return flight and everybody wants to be fit.

Nov. 28, 2914 Shopping and farewell
A whopping nine hours of sleep – something they have not had for several days! Therefore, in the morning all gather well recovered for breakfast in the hotel.
Besides the distribution of blankets and a few remaining caps to shoe cleaners, rag picker children and elderly people today is „tuck- tuck“ time (= motor rickshaw), writing the journal and shopping.
While Jürgen, Caye and Thomas set off with Alexandra to do some shopping, Frank stays in the hotel room and uploads the selected photos on the website.
The time spent together in India is coming to an end and a final dinner rounds the day off...

Nov. 30, 2014 Return flight to Germany
Early in the morning they drive from the hotel to the airport. The return flight is again via Istanbul. From there Thomas, Jürgen, Caye and Frank will fly to Munich, Alexandra to Nuremberg. If everything goes well, the whole team will be home again on Sunday evening.

Thank you for your encouraging comments and for sharing the thrills we experienced. We are happy that also this time everything went well and successfully.



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