First steps of a long journey

First steps of a long journey

      On the 10th of March 2014 our hopes finally came true. The first Olive Ridley sea-turtles of this season hatched in our hatchery in Maravanthe, Kundapura. 

      Nearly two months after their mother came ashore to lay her eggs, seventeen little babies made their way through the eggshell out of the nest. With the support of the Forest Department, our Home Based Project team released them a few meters before the sea to give them a  chance to imprint on their natal beach, and guarded them as they crawled straight into the ocean. But these were just the first steps of a long journey full of threats.

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       Little is known about the first years of sea-turtles. Once they reach the ocean, they get into a so-called swim-frenzy; swimming against the waves until they arrive in the open sea. They spend their first years in a variety of foraging habitats, threatened essentially by pollution and deep-sea fishing. Many feed on garbage, mistaking it with food or get caught in fishnets and die. The survivors travel long distances from their feeding to their breeding grounds. After mating the females come back to their natal beach and the circle of life starts again.

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     We wish the baby sea-turtles good luck!  

Waste Management Survey in Kundapura

Waste Management Survey in Kundapura

    

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       On the 11th of March, our Home Based Project team decided to tackle the growing concern of improper waste management systems in Kundapura. Waste mismanagement was leading to debris in the ocean, causing harm to marine life, and littering the roads of the areas.

      

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      The team, in order to draw the attention of the Municipality Authorities, met and consulted with Kodi Bearys College of Management, the NSS wing, FSL-India volunteers and ward counsellors to find some solutions to bring an end to the mismanagement of waste in the areas concerned. After meeting with the Municipality President, permission was given to undertake a community-based random sample survey of 251 households in order to gain a better understanding of the situation.

     

      In the end, 72% of the households agreed to pay Rs. 30 each month to have a Municipality Waste Disposal System

“Smart Class”

“Smart Class”

     In November 2013, the Samsung Electronics Employees Volunteering Programme of Samsung Electronics Ltd. (South Korea), in collaboration with Better World Organisation (South Korea) and FSL-India built the Government High School in Keeranallur, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu a “Smart Class”. This new building came fully equipped with desks, chairs and 20 new laptops.

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     Due to the new “Smart Class” building, students have taken a special interest in their computer classes, and now several use their free time to learn more about computers. 

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Volunteer’s voice

Volunteer’s voice

      Dorit Schuler, a long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany has been working at Need Base India in Bangalore since August 2013. Her project is at “Rainbow Home”, a home for abandoned and abused girls. She writes to us about her life as a volunteer… 

      “Every day I am walking down the street to “Rainbow Home”, Vidyaranyapura, B’lore. In the distance I can see the girls waving: “Good afternoon, Miss!” As I am entering the school yard little Asha grabs my hand and smiles at me. She is one of the youngest girls here. She speaks Telugu, I am speaking English and few words of Kannada, so we cannot talk – nevertheless we can communicate in some way and have great fun together.

      I am in India for five months now. I adjusted well to culture, climate and food and I am more than happy to have the chance to stay here for another six months.

     I am working in a home for abandoned, abused and needy girls. My organization “Need Base India” is providing these children with care, protection, love and affection and empowers them through education. Our vision is to stand for the ‘Child Rights’ and guarantee that every child gets a ‘Happy Childhood’.

      In the morning I am in office connecting “Need Base India” with big companies and raising funds. In the afternoon I spend my time in Rainbow Home playing games, doing sports or arts and giving English spoken classes. Working for “Need Base India” gives great pleasure to me. Children and staff welcomed me warmly to “Rainbow Home” family. All in one it could hardly be better!”

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Annelie’s experience so far

Annelie’s experience so far

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      Annelie, a long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany has been teaching at our Model Village Project since August 2013. With three more months to go, she writes to us about her experiences so far.

    “First of all living with a Indian family is the most exciting way to get to know to the Indian culture. Of course it depends on the family, their background and their surrounding but it will be your once in a lifetime chance to experience another country like that.

      You will get to know each other and you will share your knowledge. The headline is: intercultural learning and intercultural exchange. It will be totally different than discovering a country as a tourist.

       In my host family is a pleasant and amicable atmosphere. I felt comfortable from the very first moment. I understood immediately that my family is highly interested in me, my country, my culture and my language. My host father is motivated to learn some expressions in my language and he is already able to say good night in my mother tongue. Furthermore we spend time together in the kitchen. Like we are interested in the Indian food once we come to India, my family wants to taste the German dishes as well. I already cooked a few times for them and they were very happy about it. But the biggest smile appears on their faces when my mother sends some German sweets to us!

      Although we just have limited time together (because at work and outgoing on the weekends) we enjoy it and always try to make the best out of it. We play chess together, watch Indian daily soaps and English movies and we talk about our work and the activities on the weekends.

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My host mother is very caring. Everyday she is treating me like a second child, cooks for me, accompanies me to the doctor, goes shopping with me and introduces me to her friends. It is nice to feel accepted and included into their everyday life.

     Now since my room mate left I started to go to a dance school two times a week which is a good opportunity to meet some new people and just have fun. In the beginning everybody was shy to speak with me and even for me it was not easy to go there alone but now we make fun with each other and can freely talk. Besides my host family and my project, the danceschool is another big and important part for me in India. I enjoy having a hobby especially since I am not able to continue the hobbies here which I normally have in Germany.”

World Water Day

World Water Day

      World Water Day falls on the 22nd of March annually to raise awareness on the importance of water conservation. From the 17th of March to the 21st of March, members of our Chennai office carried out a series of programmes at schools oriented around water conservation.

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      “Conserve Water Week” took place at Government High School in Thenneri and Keeranallur, Panchayat Union Primary School in Uthukadu and Ayyimicheri and Panchayat Union Middle School in Melottivakkam. On the last day of “Conserve Water Week”, the day before World Water Day, our Chennai team performed a skit on the importance of water conservation at Melottivakkam Community Hall for the general public. It successfully caught the attention of many, and members of the audience had many questions and concerns on water conservation during the final session. In addition, all the children present made a resolution to plant at least one tree each, and use water consciously. 

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Get-together in Pondicherry

Get-together in Pondicherry

    Another get-together (GTG) took place this month for a different batch of long-term volunteers (LTV). From the 13th of March to the 14th of March, five FSL-India staff members and nine LTVs got together in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu to talk about their experiences so far, have one on one conversations with their coordinators, and get motivated for their future work at their projects. The GTG attendees also had a chance to visit Anbalayam, an orphanage, where they conducted an educational painting activity.

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Monthly get-together in Senapur

Monthly get-together in Senapur

    Every month, each batch of our long-term volunteers (LTV) have a get-together (GTG) in order to take part in activities, talk about their experiences, and resolve any issues relating to their projects/ stay in India. This month, from the 13th of March to the 14th of March, ten LTVs and four FSL-India staff members met at Green Woods Resort in Senapur, Kundapura for their GTG. They also had a chance to visit one of our Home Based Project’s (HBP) tent schools in Senapur.

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Diana and Lisa’s experiences

Diana and Lisa’s experiences

    Following is another testimonial written by long-term volunteers (LTV) Diana and Lisa who are volunteering at St. Albans, a day care center for special children, located in Parangipettai, Tamil Nadu. They have been volunteering there since August 2013 and will continue to do so until June 2014.

    “Today is the 1st January, so we both wish you a Happy New Year. “We both” means Diana and Lisa. We are volunteers from Germany and work in a Christian project called St. Albans which was founded by the religious order “Daughters of the Heart of Saint Mary”, in 2004. It is a health center which is divided into a hospital and a school for disabled children with whom we are working with.

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  Our Project St Albans is located in the rural town Parangipettai and has recently shifted into a new building which was built to enlarge the facilities of the center and so to be able to admit more children for treatment.

    We have been here for 11 months on the coast side of Tamil Nadu. Of course the first days were quite exciting for us. We struggled with the typical things which are part of the kind of culture shock you go through when you come from a contrasting country like Germany. Suddenly we saw goats on motorbikes, streets full of traffic and cows, music everywhere you go and much more. So many new impressions but now after four months we can say, we got used to it.

     Actually we are involved in the project and are now able to work more independently. We help to pick up the children in the morning, learned how to practice the physiotherapy exercises with the children, give them their food in the afternoon and teach them in writing, numbers, painting and more.  In our project we are contributing to the treatment of 14 disabled children. Of course it is challenging to deal with children who are disabled on different levels but we learned a lot of patience and a lot about disabilities in general so that we got more self-confidence related to the work with the children.

LTV-Special Children Teaching-December 2013-2    Unlike many other volunteers who live in a host family or in their project, we live together with the nuns of our project in a separate house. For us it means to live very close to the Christian religion, every Tuesday and Sunday is mass, every Thursday the priest is invited for dinner in our house.

    So it is obvious that during Christmas time our whole project was quite busy. We planned a Christmas program, so there was a lot of work to do. We both prepared with the staff a Christmas dance and a drama with the children and the sisters organized the program for several days with the intention to make this day a special one.

    Now we are here for 5 months and are quite excited what challenges and experiences we are able to gain in the next few months. But already now we can say that the time we spent here in India taught us more than anything else.

Yours,

Lisa and Diana”

Simona writes…

Simona writes…

Simona Skandro, a long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany has been volunteering at Aruloli Home for Girls, an orphanage in the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu. She has been volunteering since September 2013, and will be completing her term in July 2014. Following is an account of her time spent so far.  

      “After finishing my school in Germany I decided to go abroad, far away. India sounded interesting to me whenever I heard of it. And I admit that despite having already spent 6 months here I am still fascinated by the things I see:

    The traffic that is SO chaotic, but rarely leads to accidents!

    The animals in the streets: dogs, cats, pigs, chicken, goats and -of course- cows! They seem to have a relaxing life here…

    The tiny shops of 4 sqm that sell more than 1000 things!

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    The numerous temples and impressing monuments, and of course the people: women in colorful saris and men in skirts, many walking barefoot! What I like about South Indians is their honesty, relaxed attitude, their tolerance towards animals, their family values and their love for children. And the culture! It is amazing how little Tamils are influenced by the Western lifestyle. They keep on eating with the hand, wearing Indian clothes, listening to Tamil songs and watching Tamil movies. 

    I enjoy many aspects of Indian culture, but above all I enjoy my project. I work in Aruloli Home for Girls, an Christian institution that offers shelter to orphan girls and those whose parents cannot afford to take care of them. Here they are supposed to study in order to have the possibility to go to college later. My task is to spend time with them whenever they are at home, which means before and after school, on the weekend and during holidays. Primarily, I am there to teach them English and help them with their studies. Apart from this, I show them exercises, plait their hair for school, help them to tidy up and wash their clothes and pray and attend mass with them. On weekends or during holidays we use the time to paint and draw, play games together, go out to the ground, sing English songs or play on my flute.

    My voluntary service is organized by FSL India. After arriving from Germany, it provided us an “Orientation week” that prepared us for our upcoming time. Besides, there were two more seminars during the year that helped us to exchange experiences, problems and ideas with each other. My FSL-Coordinator contacts me regularly and meets me every month in my project. I am happy to be with FSL, because it helps me to understand the Indian culture and mentality better and it supports me whenever there are conflicts or misunderstandings.”At the same time, Aruloli Home became a second family to me, because I don’t only work but also live here. I feel very comfortable, because not only the girls, but also the nun sisters with whom I stay and work are very affectionate.”