From day one it has been an amazing ride. Unfortunately, it is soon to be over: only 20 days left.
We came in October as FSL India Volunteers after we both finished college in Denmark. Stine is 19-years-old and I, Catharina, is 18-years-old. It was our first trip to Asia so we had no idea what to expect. Therefore, we had packed our backpack with positivity and open-minds.
Since then we have experienced more than we ever imagined. The past two months we have been working at a small orphanage run by a NGO called “Karunya” in Hospet. There are 23 children within the age group of 5 to 12 – Six girls and seventeen boys. We care for them in the morning before school and in the afternoon when they are back from school. We contribute to the daily household: washing the children’s clothes and cooking with the two women who work at the orphanage. Furthermore, we help the children with their English homework. Despite the daily routines we have time to play and interact with the children. We try to focus on each and every child as an individual. They are often seen as one unit and referred as the HIV children even though only seven of them suffer from the decease. But don’t worry they are being treated, and we hardly notice them being sick.
Spending so much time at the orphanage made us realize what was needed. Due to lack of space (only 30 square meters) the children sleep side by side on the floor with old blankets. Therefore, we started our own pillow project. With help from our host family and neighbors we produced 23 small pillows with white covers -one for each child. The exciting part of the project was, when the children spend a whole day decorating their own personal pillow. The project was simple and easy but sometimes even simplicity brings happiness.
We have learned about both positive and negative parts of the Indian culture. As strangers we have been invited into people’s homes and into their lives. Something we wouldn’t have experienced as backpackers. Not only have we gained knowledge about the culture and society but also the people; at the end, we’re not that different. They have included us in the daily life of the orphanage, and we have come very close to the children. The worst thing about leaving India is we have to say goodbye to our new 23 best friends.
Hello people of FSL India!!!
My name is Eduard, from The Netherlands. I’ve been in FSL India 5 years ago, working at Chaithanya Special School in Kundapura. I’ve lived in Kundapura for 6 months with a host family; the host family is not taking volunteers anymore, so you wouldn’t know them. This is the third time in India. After the first time in India, working for FSL India, I was just a little boy, just turned 18 that time. I fell in love with India and especially with Kundapura! I had such a great time being there, I met so many nice people. Sometimes I didn’t go to my project just to wander through the streets of Kundapura, meeting people drinking chai (tea) with them. Even if they didn’t speak English at all, just try to speak Kannada and they loved it straight away. Having conversations with the locals, was the best thing of India. That’s why I always come back, I made good friends. I love these guys so much. If I speak of them at home I call them my Indian uncles. The people are so nice in India, but still I prefer South Indians way above North Indians. Maybe you find the same I don’t know, that’s up to you.
I also found out that FSL India has become very big now. When we came there it was just a small office in Kundapura, Karnataka on a compound next to a family house. I saw the second office later, which was even bigger and now there is a whole BIG house on Post Office road, full of FSL India. The strange thing this time I met a girl in Amritsar, Punjab and she was going to work for FSL India as well but then in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh. I understand FSL India has become very big in India, which is great for them.
I had such a nice time, made friends for life and joked around with the locals. I hope you all find the same kind of thing in India working for FSL. Be open, have fun and speak the local language. Enjoy India and you will just like me fall in love. I hope you have a nice time and maybe we meet in India, because in this strange country everything is possible. But sometimes it takes a little bit longer than normal.
With love and kind regards
King Eduard, from Netherlands
Do not hesitate to go to India! One of my Indian friends said: “This country teaches you two things: Tolerance and patience.” I can only agree and I think everyone should learn more about these two things.Wherever you are, it will help you.
Coming to India as volunteer of FSL India, even only for three months, was one of the best things I have done so far in my life. I have had numerous adventures and gained a lot of new friends – and siblings because the children at my project call me “Akka”, the local word for “sister”.
My project was more than my project. ACCEPT society the local partner organisation of FSL India, a hospital with an orphanage for HIV positive children, was my home and the children were my new family. Christianity plays a big role at ACCEPT and it was very interesting to get to know other points of view. The first weeks, I had to adjust a little bit. No matter how much you consider yourself as flexible and tolerant, you will need some time to decide how far you can and want to adjust. Living at the project was not always easy: little privacy and little freedom to go out and problems to keep work and free time separate. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to be with the children in the morning and in the evening – the best time of the day, in my opinion. We were laughing, singing, dancing, talking, reading, drawing… I felt like the reward for a hard working day because this is definitely not that kind of project where volunteers are often sitting around.
Working at ACCEPT was hard work, but the hard work that paid off. A committed volunteer will be thankful to find work here, where he/she can make a small change. Our main priority was the children. Their fast development and capability to catch up things very quickly allowed us to see these small changes. We stared a teaching module, taking small individuals English classes with every single child, documenting their progress, weaknesses and strengths. These classes were some of the richest experiences because it was a special chance to get to know the children. Not only the children but also the staff was nice and friendly people. It took us some more time to become closer but finally, saying “Goodbye” to certain people did not work without any tears.
There are so many more things I could talk about, like the nice ground of my project which looks like a small paradise and the nice food. All in all, I just want to say that if you really want to help and work hard and get close relationships to wonderful people, ACCEPT society is the right place to be. It motivates me to do my best to come back as soon as possible.
It is a fact that Sea Turtles are one of the most endangered species in the world today. Commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat, and climate changes are the threats for Sea Turtles extinction which ultimately affect their ability to fulfill vital functions in ocean ecosystems.
Across the coastal area of Kundapur, Sea Turtle population was under constant threat from fishing and egg predation by locals. Three species of the protected Sea Turtles are nesting on India’s West Coast and all of them are endangered species. FSL India under Home Based Project has initiated Sea Turtle conservation program in a geographical stretch of 60 kilo metres in Kundapur. Since its inception, FSL India along with Long-Term Volunteers from various countries has been conducting surveys, awareness campaigns in schools and villages, harbours and fishing communities, building hatcheries and information centres, and facilitate promotional activities.
The Home Based Protect Team along with the International Volunteers found the 4th nesting habitat of Sea Turtles at Kanchugodu village on 21st November 2011. Kanchugodu village is located in Kundapur Taluk, Udupi District. A total of 110 eggs were found in the nesting habitat. On receiving information from one Mr. Mani Kharvi of Kanchugodu, the team later safely relocated the eggs to Marvante Hatchery Center. Work Camp volunteers such as Cuzi, Lina, Valina, Marena, Herbe, Thalia, Celine and the Long Term Volunteer Julia and Vinus joined and participated in the relocation of process. The volunteers were extremely happy to see the Sea Turtle eggs.
Mr. C. Doreswamy, the Joint Director of FSL India and Miss Manjula the coordinator of Home Based Project participated in a two-day workshop on Sea Turtle conservation in Chennai on 12th and 13th November 2011. The workshop was hosted by Turtle Action Group (TAG), a national level network organisation. It was an annual event where many organisations working for Sea Turtle conservation participated. Delegates from about 80 organisations across the country, representatives of different states and wild life and forest department officials participated and deliberated on issues pertaining to Sea Turtle conservation. The TAG workshop was organised with a view to building a strong network and enhance communication between different organisations and address issues and problems collectively that are encountered in Sea Turtle conservation.
One of the prime objectives of the workshop was to get to know each other and share experiences and best practices of Sea Turtle conservation. On behalf of the organisation, Mr. C. Doreswamy and Miss Manjula shared with the participants the approaches and strategies of FSL India in Sea Turtle conservation. It was appreciated by other organisation. Dr. Kartik Shanker, Mr. Naveen and Miss. Arati took sessions on data collection system and proposal writing. Mrs. Banumati who is an expert in puppetry facilitated a session on how puppet show can be used as an effective strategy to create awareness on the importance of Sea Turtle conservation. The session on puppet show was very interesting as the participants got to know more about puppet show which will help create awareness among children and the local community. The participants also visited Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT). The strategies used by MCBT also can be replicated for Sea Turtle conservation.
It is a fact that increasing commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat and climate change has become the cause of concerns for Sea Turtles conservation which leads to reduction of their ability to fulfill vital functions in ocean ecosystems. FSL India’s participation in the national level forum is another stepping stone and effort for Sea Turtle conservation and promotion of sustainable eco-system.
“Where open defecation remains prevalent, the policy focus needs to be on education to encourage people to build and use a latrine”. Open defecation is a major contributory factor to the high incidence of diarrhea in India, which causes 46% of childhood deaths. But still in the country there are vast majority of people who do not use toilets and resort to open defecation. Here is a case study of a family which suffered due to open defection and later availed improved sanitation overcame health and environmental sanitation.
Place : Irunkattukottai, Chennai
Name of the Beneficiary : Arokyamary and her family
Concept of the Case Study : Promotion of Improved Sanitation
Background of the beneficiary family:
The beneficiary Mrs. Arokyamary is twenty-five years old. She was born and brought up in a small village called Irunkattukottai. She married and blessed with two children who are studying in the local primary school. Mrs. Arokyamary runs a petty shop near her house. Her monthly income would range somewhere between 2000 to 2200.
Mrs. Arokyamary has been is living in this village for more than 25 years. The family did not have the toilet at home. As her old mother also leaves there, it was difficult for the family to ease out themselves. It was indeed great problem for the family. Mrs. Arokyamary and the members of her family suffered without a toilet. For women it is all the more difficult to resort to open defecation because of the distance and many a times the fear of snakes, scorpion and insects especially in rainy season. It could have been increasingly important for the family to have its sanitation facility.
Solution for the Beneficiary:
Hyundai Motor India proposed to build 205 toilets at Irunkattukottai which has been the Model Village Project implemented by FSL India. Out of total 205 toilets, Mrs. Arokyamary was allotted a toilet with the help of Hyundai Motor India for which the family expressed the gratitude.
Response from Mrs. Arokyamary:
I am extremely happy and grateful to Hyundai Motor India and FSL India for the gift of improved sanitation facility. Prior to construction of toilet, we had no option that to resort to open defection. My aging mother used to find difficult to ease her out. Now our problem has been solved.
On december 5th the world celebrated International Volunteer Day, from FSL India we want to thank all the volunteers that have worked with us through our 10 years. We thank you all for volunteering with us or anywhere. Volunteering can make the difference. Lets keep working for a better world!
LTV get together is a regular monthly event in the Long Term Volunteering program facilitated by FSL India. The international volunteers placed in various projects, gather once a month to share their experience and learning with one another. One of the principal factors of placing international volunteers and project assignments through voluntary service is to give an international dimension to development interventions in India. In this backdrop monthly get together facilitates a process whereby the volunteers express their views and learn by sharing with one another.
The one-day get together for the month of October was organized on 17th November 2011. It was organised at Break Through in Bangalore, a national level organisation which is pioneer in conducting corporate and management training. All together 17 volunteers representing countries such as Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Korea, Austria and Denmark participated in the monthly get together. Six staff from FSL India also participated.
The one-day event was facilitated by Break Through training team with lots of simulation and fun games. The volunteers while participating in the sessions enjoyed every bit of moment. Sessions were conducted with lots of fun and frolic. Practically every session was conducted with a simulation game. After an activity or game was over, the volunteers were engaged in collective deliberation, analysis and application of learning back at project was the process adopted to facilitate get together exercise. Input and feedback from the facilitators, opinion sharing and specific learning outcome that could be applied back at work formed the basis of the one-day program. Simulation game such as name juggling, man-bear-gun, bottle and rag, low-rope walk and spotting, robot race, trolley walk, blindfold and search were organised and analysed its practical application for personal and professional enrichment. Systematic planning and coordination, team work, risk analysis and conflict management, needs identification and prioritisations were the major learning outcomes of the activity based sessions conducted by Break Through team.
The volunteers had the opportunity to meet and interact with each other. They could share their experience gained in the project. It was also an occasion to receive and give feedback on the projects that the volunteers are associated with. As the volunteers work on a range of education, health, socio-cultural and economic development and environmental issues; they made a brief assessment of the progress, challenges encountered, and the changes brought about in the project. One-to-one talk with coordinators were also organised for the volunteers.
Looking back to your expectations and goals, would you like to comment on your overall experience here?
I feel like I have fulfilled all of the expectations that I had before coming to India. I knew I wanted to know more about the Indian culture and I wanted to work with children who are in need. I enjoy a lot working with children because I know they are the future of a country, if the society is not investing in education, there will not be improvements on sciences, health discoveries to end epidemics and other issues. For me, education is the basis of society’s development and I was very happy I could help in some way to improve these children´s quality of life. If I know that the children were able to get more opportunities in their lives because of tent school then that would have been the greatest achievements of all, for me and for the project.
Claudia Yvonne Liñan Segura, Mexico
For me it was a wonderful time and I really enjoyed being in India not just as a tourist but as someone who works with the Indians.
Viktoria Kwasniok, Germany
Regarding Orphan Children teaching – it’s a wonderful project! Not very easy, but with all the more possibilities to put a lot of time into it and to gain a lot of experience.
Franz Koenig, Austria