Soup kitchen and school projetcs

Journey from 29.03 till 10.04.2015

Report from India - Delhi, Chakia, Chota Phool

Submitted by frank on Mon, 04/06/2015 - 8:07am

Good morning,

Wishing you all a Happy Easter!

Below you will find the first report of Katrin, Marika and Katja. The three have been in India since one week and are visiting the school projects and will organize the drilling of another well.

Kind regards,
Frank, Alexandra, Michael, Maria, Peter, Erni, Christian

Stay in India of Katrin, Marika and Katja, March 29 to April 10, 2015

Soup kitchen for street children

In view of the short duration of their stay Katrin, Marika and Katja are spending their first day in India with organizing the well-known soup kitchen for the street children under the bridges of Delhi. By taxi we drive to specific places, greet the children who remember us from previous visits and take them to a nearby food stall. There, they are allowed to eat as many servings of Aloo Parantha, pancakes stuffed with potatoes, as they want. In addition, they get mango juice and biscuits. Also their parents are welcome and are enjoying the meal. In this way, they can use the money they earn by selling flowers between the cars for other important items. As we leave we promise to be back once more next week.
The following day we leave by night train to Patna, the capital of Bihar. There we take a taxi and drive three hours to Muzzafarpur, where we will sojourn during the next three days.


New clothes; school supplies and hygiene items enable the children to attend school
Review of school success and tutoring

As next stage of their journey, the friends visit the leprosy colony Chakia in the state of Bihar. Katja is not well since the train ride, therefore, she stays at the hotel for one day to take a rest.
In Chakia FriendCircle WorldHelp at previous visits stood up for the children affected by the stigma of their parents suffering from leprosy so that they can attend state school. Twice a year a team is visiting the village to provide the necessary support to the children.
First, they purchase school supplies for the children (notebooks for Hindi, maths and English, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, etc.). Hygiene items such as soap toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, etc. ensure the children a neat appearance at school which is a criterion for being accepted at school. In addition, the children receive a new item of clothing. For their parents, it is impossible to buy all this, since based on their disability and lack of education they are compelled to live on begging with an income that just covers the bare essentials. For the children, the new dress is something special, like a Christmas gift.
Every afternoon a tutor hired by FriendCircle WorldHelp comes to the village to additionally teach and support the children. Posters were purchased for the classroom, illustrating different subjects of teaching such as numbers, the human body or important English words, to facilitate learning. With the support of Venu, our Indian friend, the children present their progress. Depending on the class they are attending, they can recite the alphabet in Hindi and English, the days of the week or the months in English, or numbers. Some show their skills in multiplication or calculating. The children attending the kindergarten are sitting in the first row in front of us and are eagerly writing down with chalk the Hindi and English letters on small blackboards. Afterwards they are wiping off the letters again with leaves of a tree.
We are satisfied with the progress. The attendance list shown by the teacher also looks good. We praise the children and they are happy.
We ask about the mother of one of the children who seemed very malnourished a year ago and whom we had therefore supplied with dietary supplements. As we meet her, we are satisfied, since both the mother whose husband is unfortunately addicted to alcohol and can therefore not take good care for the family, as well as the child make a good impression. The mother is happy about our sympathy and that we are satisfied to see the child now looking healthy.
Finally, the children receive grapes and oranges from a passing merchant. For these poor children this is something special because in India fruit is relatively expensive and the extra vitamins are important for the children who are still growing.

Chota Phool

Porches in front of the rooms provide a covered kitchen;
School supplies and hygiene items for schooling;
Review of the success of the school and tutoring lessons

At the next stop Katrin, Marika and Katja visit the leper colony of Chota Phool, which is about two hours away. Approx. 100 people live there, including 39 school children.
In this leprosy village with its houses built in U-shaped concrete, the residents received during our last visit part of the construction material for canopies for their small apartments. The rooms are very small and dark. By the construction of canopies in the courtyard they get an extra space where they can cook without being disturbed by the rain during the monsoon season. This time the canopies that have already been complete are reviewed and the material for the second half of canopies is purchased: iron rods, bricks, cement, and sand. Furthermore, two external workers are hired and paid to carry out the difficult part of the work. The simple work is done by the men of the colony.
The material had been ordered by our Indian employees the day before and was already partly delivered. This way, we can get an idea of the construction work. Holes for the iron bars were already dug. Together with the bricks these will be the supporting pillars for the cement corrugated roofing. We can see the foremen measuring the distances for the walls with the help of directional lacings. Of course, all children are around watching the activities.
Also in this village the school children are given the necessary school supplies and hygiene basic equipment to enable them to attend school. We review the progress of the children inviting every child to present his knowledge. Some say the alphabet in English, some in Hindi, others are reciting English poems or tables. Our impression that some children make better progress than others is confirmed. The teacher explains that the good students will be promoted to the next grade, while the others are given the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge.
Then we meet the boy who suffered from acute leprosy last time and whom we had advised to regularly take his medication. We are glad to see that he is healed! With the help of the teacher he has adhered to our recommendations. Only a slight numbness in two fingers is left. He is obviously happy to see how much we care about his welfare. We realize that just the feeling that someone cares helps a lot and makes people take better care of themselves.
Some of the children have light spots on the skin suggesting a vitamin deficiency. This is not surprising since fresh vegetables and fruit are expensive and therefore not often found on the menu of the children. We decide to buy vitamins in the drugstore to counteract the vitamin deficiency and to prevent malnutrition.
While we are talking to the dedicated tutor, an unknown lady comes to us. She introduces herself as a teacher of another nearby school and wishes to thank us for our work. Apparently she comes from Nepal, but has been living here for a long time already and has got to know that the friends of FriendCircle WorldHelp enable stigmatized children of the leprosy colony to attend school. She expresses her gratitude for our helping the disadvantaged people and not discriminating between people since everyone is equal. We are very pleased to see that also here there are people who share our views and make the effort to come to us and talk to us about this. The two teachers exchange their phone numbers to assist each other when necessary.

As we take leave we promise the residents to be back in summer. They thank us very much for the help we are giving to the stigmatized and disadvantages people in this poor state, and we promise to pass on their thanks to the friends at home.


Reports Bapuji colony and well drilling near Hyderabad online

Submitted by frank on Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:03pm

Below you will find the recent reports from India, visit to the Bapuji colony and the 2nd part, well drilling near Hyderabad. Meanwhile, Katrin and Marika have safely returned back to Germany. Katja will spend a few more days in India before she will fly back alone.
Enjoy reading; more photos will follow in the gallery.

Best regards,

Bubaneshwar, Bapuji village
New roofs replace the old leaky roof panels
Tutoring and school support show visible results!

From Patna, the capital of Bihar, Katja, Katrin and Marika start in the morning of April 2 for a train ride of 21 hours to cover the distance of 1000 km to Bhubaneshwar, the capital of the state of Orissa. Since there were no other train tickets available, they have to change in Kolkata (the former Calcutta). The incoming train is late, therefore the time to change is scarce. The two tracks are quite far apart, the way unmanageable for strangers, so our friends are infinitely grateful to be accompanied by a young Indian man who helps in a hurry to reach the desired train. As already noted, quite often Indian trains are half a kilometer long and the desired compartment may be at the farthest end. To reach it within 5 minutes at a temperature of 35°C represents for many a major sporting achievement.
A special feature of the non air-conditioned but cheaper trains is that the windows are open all the time with fresh air blowing into the train. The compartments are usually well filled with more people than were given tickets and we quickly feel as part of the Indian community. However, after a long journey we are grateful for a shower and a hotel room.
The next morning the frieds visit the village Bapuji, located an hour from Bhubaneshwar. The residents welcome them and the village children come running and touch the feet of the guests as a sign of respect. The small „musical group“ of the community greets the visitors with rhythms using different drums. Some boys are dancing enthusiastically. Afterwards, the children show us different performances. Some sing the national anthem, others dance a traditional dance. Sophisticated movements are shown accompanied by beautiful music. We are pleased and invited to dance to the next song.
Then the children show us what they have learned at school. Based on the children’s answers to a number of questions regarding the subjects Hindi, English and arithmetic the representatives of FriendCircle WorldHelp can see that the support of the school children is worth. The children are very excited to be able to show their knowledge, and even the little ones are eager to recite English poems, which they accompany by moving their hands accordingly. The friends express their pleasure that the children are learning well which proves that the support by FriendCircle WorldHelp is an investment that yields fruit. After all, education is almost the most important thing in order to give the children a perspective for their future life. Mini, the tutor, thanks us on behalf of all school children and is also very grateful that with this meaningful job we enabled her and her family to earn an income. Katja, Katrin and Marika express their joy over the fact that Mini knows so well how to motivate and discipline the children. They can see that Mini is very happy about being praised. The sweets brought along by the friends are now being distributed to the delight of the children and young people.
Also the boy Krishna, whose broken arm had been operated during one of the first visits with the support of FriendCircle WorldHelp, shows good progress. This shows us that the monthly assistance granted to his family is worth. The 12-year-old buy has no father and had to go to work himself to feed the family. Since this prevented him from going to school, FriendCircle WorldHelp offered his mother a small compensation so Kirshna can attend school. Krishna is very happy. He dreams of opening up later a small shop to ensure himself and his mother a life without poverty.
Then the friends go to the market to do some shopping, together with the tutor Mini. First, they buy school material to provide the school children from kindergarten to the 12th grade with books, notebooks and pens. Hygiene items are bought in another store: soap, dental hygiene supplies, laundry soap, combs. Both underlines the importance of schooling for the future of the children. When the items are distributed in the village, each child properly says „thank you“.
Another objective of our visit to Bapuji is to replace the leaking roofs of the residents by new ones. This work had already been started in September by Michael, Hans and Christian. Now another third of the work is being completed. In a shop for building materials various sizes of cement corrugated sheets are purchased with a value of approx. 1000 Euro and delivered by the shop to the leper colony.
The next day we can examine the construction work. The old, tattered roof panels that had been in use for 20 years, are removed and the new panels are hoisted to the roof and fixed by the villagers with hooks. Since the shanties are not large, a whole row of shanties can be completed in this way on one day. The total of cement panels bought this time is sufficient for 10-11 houses.
As we part, the people express their thanks since they can now live under tight roofs again which is of vital importance especially during the monsoon season in order to prevent diseases. The friends promise to come back in August to complete the work.

Drilling a well to enable villagers to do farming

In the morning, Karin, Katja, Marika and Venu take the train from Bhubaneshwar and arrive 22 hours later in Hyderabad the capital of the last year newly founded state of „Telangana“. The train ride went smoothly with only a slight delay so that the check-in at the hotel can take place in the early evening.
The friends are pleased about the early arrival since they will continue the next morning early at 7.00am already. The leprosy village they plan to visit is three hours away very far out of the way. The next morning Meena, our Indian friend who is supervising the project in this village, joins our group. On our way we are having breakfast in an Indian roadhouse: masala dosa, large pancakes made of rice flour with different sauces and of course Chai, the Indian spiced tea.
On our drive on the dirt road, approaching the village from the nearest town the group can already see that water is a rare commodity in this area. The landscape is sparsely forested and only the irrigated fields are green. Venu tells us that the residents have been waiting for 20 years for someone to drill a well for them, after they had thankfully received this remote area from the government in order to build a leper village. In the village there are wells for drinking water supply though at times there is only little water.
As usual, the friends are warmly welcomed by the villagers, this time with wonderfully fragrant flowers. As it is very hot already, the visitors are taken to a shadowy place with chairs. The representatives of FriendCircle WorldHelp greet the people with the traditional Indian „Namaste“, which they respectfully reciprocate.

Soon after the hydrologist arrives, a „water engineer“, who will help with his technical equipment to find a suitable point for the well drilling. While he starts his measurements that will take several hours, Katja, Katrin and Marika take a taxi to a nearby place where FriendCircle WorldHelp had last time financed the drilling of a well. The people cultivating the fields around tell the friends that the water is flowing abundantly, even more than expected! Katrin, Marika, Katja and Venu are very pleased about this good news. The water that is left after irrigating the nearby fields can be used by the farmers of the adjacent fields. The people show the group the irrigated fields and the fruits of their labor: onions, tomatoes and eggplants grow lush and full which is quite surprising in view of the prevailing drought, and which means a first great step for the people towards permanently escaping poverty or at least no longer suffering from hunger.
Then the team gets a phone call informing them that the hydrologist was successful and found a place where water is expected at a depth of 70 feet (21 m) with a 60% probability. The friends meet the engineer at another place in a nearby field which he had already marked at their last stay to check once more the probability of finding water before drilling starts. His measurements confirm the results of a few months ago.
Now the vehicle with the drilling equipment starts work. A kind of drilling rig is set up and a tube fixed on it. On its lower end, the drilling device is mounted. As usual, prior to the work a religious ceremony called ‘puja’ is held. For this, Marika, Katja and Katrin sprinkle yellow-red powder on the spot, light incense sticks and open a coconut .. The drilling starts with a lot of dust and noise. It will take about 1.5 hours, therefore, the friends sit down under a tree to escape the scorching sun. Here also sits a mother on a blanket with her two small children. This area will also benefit from the water.
Pipe after pipe is put into the ground, but after reaching a depth of approx. 15 meters Katrin, Katja and Marika are told that unfortunately there is no water since not even damp earth is delivered. They decide to try the second place identified by the hydrologist this morning. The drilling vehicle loads its pipes and moves, together with the spectators, to the other place.
Another family who owns the adjacent fields has already gathered here. An intensive prayer of the farmer family shows how important water is to nourish the people.
As before, the drilling produces again lot of dirt, dust and noise. While Katrin is talking to Venu and Meena in the shade of a tree, Katja and Marika are resting. Even at a temperature of 40°C the stay in the countryside, far away from the next town, is very peaceful.
After some time unfortunately also here we get sad news: Although the drilling was done far deeper than calculated, there is no water. This is probably due to the fact that in the last rainy season not much rain fell in this area and therefore the underground water reservoirs are poorly filled. A mood of disappointment spreads among those present since as a consequence they will have to wait for the next visit of Friendcircle Worldhelp to have a new try. Hopefully, this will turn out successful after a humid rainy season!
Back in the village, the friends once more take a seat on the chairs outdoor, as the village chief wants to express them his feelings. He thanks all supporters of FriendCircle WorldHelp for their efforts and donations and that we have done everything possible to provide the residents with water which is so crucial for their food supply. Unfortunately we were not successful this time simply because the drilling was not successful. He hopes and asks the representatives of FriendCircle WorldHelp to come back soon, for there is nobody else who would help them in their search of water.
The surrounding villagers take actively part in what he says and support his request for another visit of the friends by applauding. Besides, a woman mentions that there is another problem: There are no toilets which is a big problem, especially for the women for safety reasons and also because of hygiene. The friends confirm to include this subject in their considerations. An elderly woman then says: “The wells are more important than the toilets, because if you have nothing to eat, you do not have to go to the toilet!” This makes us very much concerned...
Then an elderly woman starts a long prayer, and all join in. The following warm hugs by the women very much move our friends. How connected one can feel with people one barely knows and how much gratitude is extended to us though this time it was not even possible to satisfy a basic human need – we experience all this during these visits.

On our way home Venu explains to Katrin, Katja and Marika once more how important the visits of FriendCircle WorldHelp are for these people affected by leprosy but healed: People not affected do not want to have anything to do with them, would neither touch them nor eat or drink anything together with them. The visitors from the West do not know this stigma and are therefore completely without prejudice since they know that there is no risk of infection with healed persons. Here we can see what a difference education and knowledge make. The friends are glad to see that they make the people in the leprosy colony happy not only with material support but already by their visit and sympathy. This connection with those simple and humble persons and the mutual joy is one of the great experiences of this trip.
MANY THANKS to all friends and supporters at home!!!


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