India and Nepal

Visit of the school projects in north India and direct help after the earthquake in Nepal

Link to the photo gallery by clicking on the large photo or here

Thur, Sept. 10, 2015 - 10:00am, report by Katrin, uploaded by Frank

Final report - Lapelang

Roofs protect the victims of earthquake from rain
Solar cells provide the residents with electricity and light

Back in Kathmandu we have to interrupt our work since the day after our return is Saturday and here this is a day off like with us on Sunday. Afterwards, two days of strike have been announced. In Nepal strike means general strike. If a party is not satisfied with any political results, nothing works anymore: There are no buses, private cars are not allowed to drive and many shops are closed. As in Nepal there is just a constitutional amendment being prepared, by which the various regions will be re-defined, (actually in order to remove disadvantages of several sections of the population), there is enough reason to strike because the parties cannot find an agreement.
Two days later we finally can resume work and purchase the steel roof panels for the remote village. In a steel shop we check the prices but cannot reach a satisfactory discount. In Nepal prices are usually not as overcharged as in India. However, based on the quantity of roof panels for 55 families on stake, a quantity discount should be possible! In the first shop we learn that the prices of the manufacturing company after the earthquake when everybody needed roof panels, had been lowered by the government, and at the same time the wages of the employees were reduced so that there is little room left for a discount, only 1 percent. All our attempts to negotiate a better price fail and we are about to believe that the profit margin is probably really not so great.
Still we do not want to give up and continue to believe that the desired price is feasible. Therefore we look for another shop of building materials. In a slightly larger store we are lucky to be granted 2% on the panels of the required quality. We agree on the purchase of 55 bunches of 8 pieces each for the equivalent of about 24 € per bunch of roof plates to cover the roof of the hut of one family. In addition, a van for the transport will be organized. As soon as it arrives, the panels as well as the previously purchased solar cells will be loaded. However, we have to wait for another half an hour because of power failure which makes that the printer cannot print the invoice which is absolutely necessary for the billing at home...
In the meantime, we change our plans:  As for the next day there will be another strike in Kathmandu we will already set off in the evening instead of the next morning. This way we want to avoid the picket lines. We start at 7pm the already known 170 km way via Sunkhani, where in June the medical camp of FriendCircle WorldHelp took place, to Lapelang. From our first visit to this remote village we already know that it is not accessible by car. This is one reason that after the earthquake the people there have received less auxiliary goods than the people in well accessible villages. To reach the people in this village, an arduous two hours walk over the mountains is necessary. Our guide Mingmar was informed by one of our patients who had been treated by Michael in June and lives in Lapelang that the villagers here are more vulnerable than anywhere else.

Originally, we had planned to stay overnight in a hotel, but as we arrive, it is already too late. We therefore continue our drive all through the night and only stop in Charikot to sleep at least for an hour. I must admit that this is somewhat difficult on a truck. After the last section we drink at the roadside a little Chai for refreshment. The driver and his helpers unload the roofs and set off for their way back. It is 9am and we have to wait two hours for the villagers coming down the mountain to pick up their roofs. We rest and have breakfast consisting of instant noodle soup from the packet.

Soon the first inhabitants arrive and we meet the man with whom we stayed last time. He is the mayor of the town. At our last visit he had informed everybody about our coming, so that the people could gather with him. On this occasion it became clear that the people vey very urgently need the rooftops to protect their makeshift shelters against wind and weather especially for the coming winter. Up to now the huts are covered with plastic sheeting which already hardly withstands the monsoon rains. Until people will have saved up enough money to afford proper stone or wood houses, it will certainly take years.
When all 55 families have arrived, we learn that they belong to a „low caste“, called „Thami“. In Nepal there are many different groups of population which mean also a division into castes, like in India. It is often unusual to help such people. All the more these families express their great joy about the vital gift they receive from us. We are all deeply touched by their grateful words and gestures and want to take this occasion to pass these on to all friends at home. Only through your help and support such actions are made possible. The recipients inter alia assure us that they will appreciate this support throughout their lives and never forget it.

Now the distribution of roofs begins. The mayor has prepared a list which names those who have already received roofs from other donations and others who have not. This to ensure that finally all get the same thing. Accordingly, each family receives one or half a bunch of roof panels. The colorful, mostly red dressed women sit on their roofs waiting for the end of the distribution while the men distribute the material. Then, the roof panels are rolled up, tied up and carried by the villagers on their backs up the mountain. Some of the material is transported to another place on the road from where the road over the hills to the highest situated houses is shorter.

During the distribution a young man approaches us telling us that in Lapelang which is divided into different villages there is another area where 50 families are in great need of roofs. These residents are also disadvantaged as they belong to a lower caste. We promise to pass on this information in order to think over at home whether a further assistance with roofs will be possible at one of our next trips. To stay in touch, we exchange phone numbers.
The distribution of the solar cells is also discussed at length. It soon becomes clear that one cell will be fixed at a house at the bottom of the mountain, the other one on top of the mountain. In this way, all residents can recharge their small lamps and phones to keep in contact with their relatives living far away.
We now also walk the well-known way first on a dirt road, then over a huge landslide and later on dirt tracks up and down. This time we are lucky with the weather as it is not raining. We are all very tired, since we have hardly slept last night in the van, and fall exhausted asleep in a guest hut. The next day Katrin is a bit sick, perhaps it was the water as we filled our bottles from sources on our way. While Mingmar, early in the morning, is mounting the solar cell, Katrin can get some sleep.

After fortifying ourselves with a Nepalese breakfast, we set out and follow the tortuous trail up to a hut on the mountain where the second solar cell will be mounted. As Katrin is still not so fit, all walk first a bit slowly, but soon after Katrin has recovered. The people we meet are all very nice and open and the landscape is beautiful. The many green and the peace and quiet are relaxing.
On the way we see a lot of huts that are covered only with plastic sheeting and need proper roofs. Some of the plastic sheets are covered with branches for protection. Some people have stored our roofs in order to mount them in the next few days. Others have already improved their homes with our roofs. We stop everywhere and my companions chat in Nepalese. All are very happy about the unexpected support. An old woman who lives alone says: „My blessing is always working. You will always be blessed.“ Especially the old people here are very impressive. From our point of view they have been living a life full of privation, yet so close to nature they seem all very satisfied.

Soon we have reached the hut where the second solar cell is to be installed to give the residents on the upper part of the mountain access to electricity. We are looking for a suitable place for the battery and the solar cell, then both are connected. As at the previous place, the children are highly fascinated by the electrical work and watch Mingmar attentively. Fortunately, our friend has the necessary skills to properly install everything. Also in the hut of this family there is now a light that also after nightfall at around 7pm enables them to work, e.g. the children to do their homework.
Since it is now too late to head for the bus we pitch our night camp in the old, partially destroyed house in a ‘non-hazardous’ room. At night it‘s raining cats and dogs but this does not bother us. If it’s raining at night, we stand a good chance that at daytime the weather will be good again.
Early in the morning we set off, strengthened with tea and noodle soup to cross the crest of the mountain and reach the nearest bus stop. In fact, from here the way to the road is shorter. The hike leads us steeply up on beaten tracks through the woods and on the other side just as steep and tortuous down again.  Our home gym training does not help and we keep the memory of a nice soreness :-)
On the road we are waiting for the next bus. We are lucky and get a ride on a jeep which is also regularly driving people to Kathmandu and is slightly more expensive but much more comfortable. Six hours later we are back in Kathmandu and can recover.
We got the satisfying feeling to have been able to make the losses of people due to the earthquake a little more bearable. Besides, the meeting with these hospitable people has a long-lasting effect. Grateful for the many enriching experiences and encounters I think of a Nepalese proverb that says: „You will not change Nepal, it is Nepal that will change you."
Katrin, September 2015


Tue, Sept. 1st, 2015 - 10:00am, published by Frank

Report from Nepal

Dear friends,

In Kathmandu I met Mingmar (our mountain guide from our first trip to Nepal) and Bishal (another helper). Together we went by public bus in direction to Lapelang, about 7 hours away, located behind Sunkhani. In Charikot we briefly met Raj (also a helper last time) in the bank where he is now working.
Since the bus does not run until Lapelang, (located very remote high up in the hills), we had to walk a further 2.5 hours.
It was a real adventure as itwas raining and at the end we had leeches on our feet. In Lapelang we could sleep in the house of family. The next morning, about 20 villagers arrived so that we would discuss about their situation. Some of them have received roofs, but not all. Many are from lower ‚castes‘ and therefore generally disadvantaged. We calculated to be able to buy corrugated iron roofs for 55 families. They were very happy and we took a few pictures of their makeshift homes without roofs. Unfortunately, it was again raining like cats and dogs and we had to stop shooting. We will anyway come up again when the roofs will be delivered.
The last few days the rain caught us badly. Later, we walked back down the mountains (20 kg with tents etc. plus my luggage of 15 kg...).
Next time we will leave most of our luggage in Kathmandu. In the evening we visited Sunkhani, where in May the medical camp had been installed. We stayed with acquaintances of Bishal in a very narrow hut. It’s really crazy how people live here: improvised, with very little space, yet they are satisfied. Before the earthquake most had not much larger homes. The next morning we took the bus to Kathmandu. This time, we had to wait a longer time for the bus because of landslides.
Landslides are presently quite intense due to the heavy rain and the holes in the ground caused by the earthquakes. Today we are resting. It is Saturday and the shops are closed anyway.
Tomorrow we will buy the rooftops. Then we will hire a van and drive up again the day after. People will come and pick up the roofs themselves. Unbelievable, how they can carry the roofs 2 hours up the mountain! However, later we saw that cars can drive a little closer to the village. We probably took the wrong bus...
The wife of a family where we first stayed overnight is suffering from a skin growth. Since the family is very poor, we agreed to pay for the surgery. She is now in Kathmandu, where she gets treatment in a hospital.
In Sunkhani (the location of the medical camp whichFriendCircle WorldHelp carried out in May 2015) people were very happy to see us again. We visited the hut where tea is sold and were invited.
An old woman said: „Since you had been here and Michael treated all, nobody had to go to the doctor. Your medicine has made everybody healthy! “


Tue, Aug 25, 2015 -09:30am, published by Frank

Report about Ronja – Proceeding to Hyderabad - back to Delhi and soup kitchen

Hetauda, Nepal

Visiting Ronja in the home
After the visits to school children in Chakia and Chota Phool we go to see Ronja, our „foundling“ whom we had picked up in the rocky wasteland during our last stay in Nepal, in her new home. After our friend Ramavarai had initially found a small orphanage on the Indian side, where Ronja could stay a few days, the Indian police after being informed on Ronja’s fate decided that the girl had to return to Nepal though Ronja obviously looked rather of Indian than Nepalese origin.
All’s well that ends well: Ronja has now found a new home in Hetauda in Nepal. When Thomas and Katrin visited the home, they had the firm impression that Ronja is going well, though she still hardly speaks. She has even gained a few kilos and enjoyed the chips we had brought. We are all quite happy about the good change in fortune of Ronja...


Pipelines conveying well water to the fields of several families.
Plaster protects the houses from moisture and decay.

After the visits to the villages around Bhubaneswar have been completed, we undertake a further travel by night train to Hyderabad. Once more we are early in the morning and take first a rest in the hotel. Then we start together with our friend Meena by taxi to the small town of Kamareddy at about 3 hours distance. Near this town there is the remote leprosy village Vandrikal located in the countryside, where a well was drilled last year to irrigate the fields and has been supplying since abundant water.
This time it is planned to drill a well for drinking water supply and also and to make available to the owners of the adjacent fields plastic pipes for the distribution of water. Some of you might remember that last year in April we tried to drill a second well for the irrigation of fields which failed due to the low ground water level.
After the people had waited so long for water, there have recently been heavy rainfalls (which incidentally also cooled down the temperature and made it a bit more comfortable for us). What on one hand was a blessing turned out to be unfavorable for the people as due to the moistened soil the hydrologist could again not carry out measurements to find the best site for the wellbore.
However, the good news is that the laying of pipes from the well to various field plots could be started. We meet with some residents of the village at a shop for building materials. To protect us from the monsoon rains a few umbrellas are quickly bought so that we will not have to sit during hours on the return drive in wet clothes. With Venu and Meena the quantity and quality of plastic pipes are discussed. The price is negotiated and we reach an early agreement.
We pay for pipes and accessories and get the receipt. Usually, people here write in Telugu, the local language, which is quite different from Hindi but upon our request the invoice is made out in English to make it easier for the German tax office – though the various Indian writings look very beautiful.
Since the roads to the village are presently difficult to traverse, we agree to have the pipes delivered as soon as the roads are slightly drier. Due to the rainy weather, farmers cannot immediately being with the laying therefore, we cannot document the start of work this time. But Meena promises to send us photos. We feel relieved not to have to have to take once more the weary, muddy and unpaved road to the village and are heading home.
The next day we have to get up very early since the colony „Jammi Gunta“ which we will visit is also located approx.. 240 km away and it will take us ca. 3 hours to reach it. Since the road to the very far remote village is unpaved and completely muddied by the rain we cannot continue by car. One of the residents comes to pick us up by his tractor and we drive on this bumpy vehicle along cotton fields to the village.
Also here, a drinking water well is urgently needed. But this can as well not be realized due to the weather conditions. Because the soil is so moist, the hydrologist cannot carry out his measurements to assess at which point the water probability is high enough to tackle the costly drilling.
Therefore, we deal with a further request of the villagers. All have gathered around a few plastic chairs in a semicircle, and the chairman of the village explains their desire. Before, people had small huts but seven years ago with the support of the government they got new houses. These look pretty, but since they are not plastered they are not sufficiently sealed. In order to be properly protected against moisture and decay, the walls should be plastered inside and outside.
But since this is very expensive and they are not able to finance this with their few begged money, they ask us to enable them to do the inside plastering. This would not only keep the moisture out and increase hygiene by avoiding insects to enter the houses but the plaster of the ceiling would as well help avoid that the ceiling crumbles down gradually. We assess the situation and see that there are already damp patches as a result of the rain and that in fact the sand is trickling from the ceiling.
Based on our available budget it becomes clear that during this visit plastering material for half of the houses can be bought. With a lottery system and two children drawing lots, it is decided which houses will be the first to get plastering. We notice with satisfaction that among the beneficiaries there are many old people heavily marked by leprosy.

The sand needed for plastering is not available in the shops, but it is extracted by workers on the riverside. After clearing some more little things we enter again the tractor to drive to a cement dealer  after the residents had bid us farewell with much gratitude and ‘Namaste’ greeting.
With the cement trader we can negotiate a good price and we agree that the cement will be delivered to the colony as soon as the rain has stopped. Meena will accompany the construction work which will start as soon as it is dry and will send us photos. Then we are on our way home and fall into our beds very late, tired, but happy.


Soup kitchen for about 40 poor children and some people in need
After our arrival in the capital, we are looking forward to carry out our popular ‚soup kitchen‘ for some of the many needy people living under the bridges of Delhi. Many of them have come from the poor regions of Rajasthan, where they cannot find a source of income. Most of the year they are therefore living on the streets of Delhi.
We drive by taxi to the known location and call the children who are selling roses on the streets to help secure the livelihood of their families. Many children come running more than ever before. Normally, there are also more adults but today Katrin is at once surrounded by some 20 children.
We go to one of the open street kitchens which manufacture parathas (pancakes stuffed with potatoes and vegetables). Next to it there is a kiosk with drinks and biscuits. A few parents have joined the children who are now sitting down in a row on a low wall, patiently waiting.  First, we distribute bottles of juice which is a special pleasure for them and by the vitamins is also quite useful. They enjoy the mango and apple juice, some have got tetrapacks which after emptying they laughingly pop under their little feet.
While the children get one by one their food put on the ground before them, Thomas takes pictures and the children obviously have pleasure.
After handing out the plates with food, each one gets a packet of biscuits. Then, delighted and beckoning, children and parents say goodbye. A girl gives Katrin a small bag with three red roses...


Fri, Aug 21st, 2015 - 10:30am, published by Frank

Report from Bhubaneswar – village „Bapuji“ and „Ram Krishna“ colony

New roofs replace the old leaky roof panels
Support of a fatherless family 

Suspension of afternoon classes

On Aug. 8, Thomas, Katrin and Venu start from Patna by night train to Bhubaneshwar, in southern direction. The distance of about 1000 km takes approx. one day. As we arrive in the morning we first drink a hot tea at the station to wake up. At this very moment it happens; an aluminum roof panel above us comes off and falls down with a huge noise, a few centimeters next to Katrin. However, not even the cup in her hand got dusty. How lucky we were! The corresponding safety safety regulations here should maybe be revised… wink.

The following day we visit the leper colony „Bapuji“ (this refers to Mahatma Gandhi) in Jatni, a small town located about an hour from Bhubaneswar . Here,  FriendCircle WorldHelp had started to install new roofing on the huts. The 20-year-old roofs are leaking, which represents a major problem in the rainy season and would in time destroy the entire houses. The residents of the colony who live by begging cannot afford new roofs.
Therefore, we buy from a dealer for cement corrugated plates the last batch of plates for 5 houses at a price of ca. 30’000 Indian Rupees, equivalent to 450 €. The plates are immediately delivery to the colony and unloaded. The construction will start as soon as the rainy season is over. In the meantime the plates will be stored in a common room. We can see that the houses that have already been newly roofed make a good impression. The residents are very happy with the finished roofs.
Furthermore, FriendCircle WorldHelp has been granting the boy Krishna and his fatherless family for years a monthly support so that the boy can go to school instead of having to work for the family upkeep.

Then we drive to the leprosy village  „Ram Krishna“ in Bhubaneswar, where FriendCircle WorldHelp had built toilets last year. Also here the rooftops which during our inspection last year proved to be fit, are now in a desolate state. The holes were covered by makeshift plastic sheeting. We had a close look at the situation and documented the damage with photos. A man heavily ravaged by leprosy shows us his hut with where in the back the entire roof is dilapidated. It is only a matter of time until it will fall off by itself.

In our discussion with the residents Venu, our Indian friend, suggests to tackle first the repair of the roofs of the most needy and vulnerable persons who are most in need of assistance in order to reduce costs. This applies to the widows and the elderly persons. The other residents showed solidarity and agreed with this solution, which we really appreciated. Work could start at a next visit or before the next rainy season. 


Thur, Aug. 18, 2015 – 4:30 pm, published by Frank

Report from the colonies Chakia and Chota Phool in north India

Chakia colony:
School supplies, hygiene items and new shoes allow children to attend school
Review of school success and tutoring lessons

After their arrival in Delhi, Thomas and Katrin spend the first day to change money and get a SIM card for Thomas as well as clothing. The next day they travel by night train to Motihari in Bihar. The leprosy villages they intend to visit are relatively nearby and it is not far to Nepal where they intend to see Ronja, the girl we found during the last stay in Nepal.

First station of our journey is the leprosy colony Chakia in the village of the same name. Since a few years FriendCircle WorldHelp has been paying tutoring lessons for around 24 children. Previously, they had been excluded from attending school due to the stigma of their leprosy affected parents. Only after the friends had intervened they could convince teachers that these children are not affected by the disease. Since then FriendCircle WorldHelp regularly looks to it that the children get school supplies and hygiene items to ensure their decent appearance at school which is a prerequisite for attending school. In addition, a tutor is teaching the children in the afternoon to make up for what they missed and further promote the students.

On the way to the village Katrin and Thomas together with their Indian friends stop at a stationary shop and order the delivery of the required notebooks and writing material for the next four months. Then they also purchase hygiene items such as soaps, toothbrushes, etc.  To purchase these items which are so very natural for us is very difficult or even impossible for the parents who due to their leprosy related disabilities, lack of education and the stigmas mainly live on begging. With this support we facilitate the children the integration into society and provide them a better perspective for the future.

As we reach the village, the children and the young tutor have already gathered in the common room. With the help of Venu, our Indian friend, we check their progress. There is a certain exam atmosphere.

Students who are waiting for their turn are sitting over their notebooks repeating what they have learned or writing letters or numbers into their notebooks. The kindergarten children in the front row are writing on small slates. One student after another comes forward to be examined in English or math; some are reciting a poem or singing a song. We are satisfied with the learning level and can see that the children are making efforts and go to school regularly. We praise them and give each one a small pencil case and a cloth bag to carry the school supplies.

Finally we take the children to a shoe shop to buy each one a pair of shoes since it is not welcome at school when the children come barefoot. The children are delighted about this rare gift and proudly take their shoeboxes home.

Chota Phool colony:
Canopies in front of the small rooms create an additional room.

Assessment of school success and tuition classes.

The next day we visit the leprosy village Chota Phool („Little Flower“) near the city of Areraj. As the day before we buy on our way out school supplies and hygiene items for the 37 children of the colony. In a second shop we wonder since the store is empty and being renovated. We get to know that there has been a fire and the shop burned down, but during the renovation the owner has stored the goods at home.

During the last two visits the residents of the colony received canopies for the roofing of the forecourt of their U-shaped little concrete houses which are arranged around a courtyard. Now they can also during the monsoon season sit outside and cook and have something like an extra room in addition to their small dark apartment. We take pictures of this newly created space and the residents in order to document this successful action.

Then the children gather sitting on a plane, to show us their progress. On this occasion we get to know the new teacher, who is the daughter of the former tutor Sanju. Sanju has started a new job in the city which is better paid, and has passed on the tutoring to her daughter Paval who seems quite qualified and competent.

We are pleased with the progress of most students, but it turns out that there are a few ones who do not regularly attend the afternoon classes. Every afternoon there are some 2-3 children missing. In order to avoid that this might have a contagious effect on the other children, we take consistent measures. In long discussions between Venu, the regional manager Ramavarai, the teacher and some of the parents present we first express our displeasure that the parents concerned do not sufficiently support our efforts by not sending their children regularly to school. Since most of the parents have also never attended school, some of them do not really understand how important the regular school attendance of their children is for their future. We, therefore, inform them that we will reduce our support should in the future not all children attend the afternoon classes. We also postpone the foreseen assistance with clothing to a next visit.
The parents feel affected and we have the impression that with this procedure we will achieve the desired effect, i.e. that the parent will contribute to the success of this work. They should not get the impression that our support can be taken for granted but that we expect a responsible use of our donations.

We are happy to see that the children malnourished are now in a better condition. This shows the success of the medicine made available by FriendCircle WorldHelp for deworming and vitamin supply.

Further reports will follow...


Sat, Aug. 1st, 2015 - 9:35pm, posted by Frank

Katrin and Thomas underway to India and Nepal

Good evening,

since today Katrin and Thomas are underway for FriendCircle Worldhelp. First, they will fly to Delhi, India. They will spend a few days to look after the soup kitchen in Delhi and then proceed to the colonies Chakia and Chota Phool where leprosy affected people are living. FriendCircle WorldHelp supports the schooling of the children of these families. From there they will go further to Birgunj in Nepal, since this place is near the colonies. In Birgunj Thomas and Katrin intend to see the little girl "Ronja" in a children’s home. During the trip to Nepal she had been found in a stone desert. The journey is planned to continue further south to Bhubaneshwar to another colony of leprosy affected people. By domestic flight they will go to South India to the State of Telagana to visit other villages. Also here, the focus will be on the availability of water and a possible well drilling, as already during the last visit to the colony near Kamareddy. While Thomas will then return home, Katrin will travel to Nepal and visit the places where we had been during the trip in May. In her luggage she will bring along some tents, camping mats and sleeping bags, which were donated in May by many helpful people in Bamberg. In early September also Katrin will then return home.

Looking forward to your visiting our journal where we will again keep you informed by reports and photos.



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Chakia colony: In India a normal class room. Students sitting on the ground, holding their notebooks on their legs.
It is amazing to see the progress of the students. Before, no child of this colony attended school.
At every visit we purchase necessary school material or clothing.
The school children of the Chakia colony in the school building constructed by FriendCircle WorldHelp three years ago.
Shopping with children of the Chakia colony.
The canopies of the huts in the Chota Phool colony were also financed by FriendCircle WorldHelp. This way, the inside of the huts remains dry during the rainy season and the residents can use the additional space under the canopies.
Chota Phool colony
It is a pleasure to see the children learn with great endeavor.
Distributing small gifts to the residents
Back in the village, the material is unloaded.


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