Monthly Archives: March 2014

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.”

 

Solar Panel Installation in Senapur

Solar Panel Installation in Senapur

      On the 9th of December, 2013, our Home Based Project’s Tent School team decided to provide solar panels to migrant families in Senapur who reside in tents.

      Because these migrant families did not have electricity supply in their homes, come sunset, their children were unable to study or play inside. The smoke released from the candles and kerosene oil lamps would cause discomfort, thus preventing them from having a source of light indoors. The Tent School team visited SELCO Solar, who kindly donated 50% of the cost of their solar panel units, whilst the other 50% was covered by the Tent School team. 

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LTV orientation in March

LTV orientation in March

LTV-Orinentation group picture-March-KPR      From the 3rd of March to the 8th of March, our office in Kundapura hosted an orientation for a new batch of long-term volunteers (LTV). Hailing from Italy and France were four volunteers whose orientation was facilitated by seven FSL-India staff members.

      Prior to beginning work at the projects, volunteers attend a week long orientation upon arriving in India in order to understand their projects, roles and responsibilities as a volunteer, the Indian ways of life and much more. The orientation sessions provide volunteers with useful information and are a great way to begin their integration into the country. 

Senapur health-check up for tent school children and parents

Senapur health-check up for tent school children and parents

On the 6th of February 2014, our Home Based Project’s Tent School team took Senapur’s tent school children and their parents to the Nada Guddeangadi Primary Health Center in Kundapura for a health check-up. Two volunteers, Ms. Bona and Ms. Gabriella, joined a tent school teacher, Mrs. Geetha, and a coordinator, Ms. Manjula, to assist the children and their parents. Seven children and two parents received check-ups, tests, preventative injections, medicine and helpful advice from Dr. Chikmary.

Tent school children often do not have access to nutritional food, and face malnutrition, anemia etc. In order to eradicate this problem, our Tent School team provide them with fruits, nuts, jaggery, green grams and built a bio-intensive garden so that they can grow and consume nutritional fruits and vegetables and enhance their nutritional health management.

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Monthly GTG in Bangalore

Monthly GTG in Bangalore

      

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       Another batch of long-term volunteers (LTV) came together in Bangalore for their monthly get-together (GTG). GTGs are a chance for volunteers and their coordinators to meet, exchange their experiences, have fun and relax. Attending the GTG were six FSL-India staff members and 11 international volunteers.

     The GTG took place on the 13th and 14th of February, and volunteers took part in several different activities such as team-work and personal development activities. They also had the opportunity to attend a cultural performance by the children at Need Base India.  

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LTV orientation in Bangalore

LTV orientation in Bangalore

      From the 3rd of February to the 7th of February, our main office in Bangalore hosted its monthly orientation week for newly arrived long-term volunteers (LTV). In total, 11 of our staff members and six international volunteers from Sweden, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany, took part of this orientation.

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     The week long orientation takes place to help integrate volunteers into India and their projects. They are given important information on various different topics such as Indian lifestyle and culture, safety, practical information, Hindu philosophy, details of their volunteering projects and more. Volunteers also had a chance to visit the Bull Temple, take a yoga class and give presentations on their country to school children. 

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Sea-turtle nesting relocation and hatchery management

Sea-turtle nesting relocation and hatchery management

      Twice this season (on the 30th of December, 2013 and the 13th of January 2014) turtle eggs were found in the Kundapura region. 102 turtle eggs were found in December in Marvanthe, and 81 turtle eggs were found in January in Nagoor. Our local sea-turtle expert, Mr. Daasi Kharvi, found them on both occasions.

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      Upon receiving the news, both times, the sea-turtle eggs were found and relocated to hatcheries in Marvanthe. The first batch of eggs has hatched as of the 21st of February, and the second batched of eggs hatched just last week! 


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Hyundai HYSCO camp

Hyundai HYSCO camp

      FSL-India, in collaboration with Better World, South Korea, and Hyundai HYSCO, South Korea conducted its third camp as a CSR initiative from the 17th of February to the 22nd of February. Attending the camp were 15 volunteers from South Korea and two national volunteers. The camp was held in Sengadu and Pollivakkam of the Thiruvallur district, and Kunnathur and Puduper of the Kancheepuram district.P1360396

      The aim of the camp was to demonstrate to the communities different efficient technologies with the use of available resources. Some examples were:

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Making sanitizer with Eucalyptus leaves and lemon

Using tetra packs to createroofing to use as shelter

Recharging worn out cell-phone batteries through solar energy and converting it to electrical energy, thus providing a solution to frequent power cuts

Mixing vegetable extracts with spoiled milk to make paint for children to use 

 

 

 

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Monthly get-together at Kodachadri Hills

Monthly get-together at Kodachadri Hills

      February month’s long-term volunteers get-together (GTG) took place at Kodachadri Hills, in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. Facilitating the GTG were five staff members of our Kundapura office. Attending were 11 international volunteers, hailing from five different countries.

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  Included in the various activities planned was hiking to Kodachadri peak, watching the sunset, discussions and energizers.

      During GTGs, volunteers also get a chance to have one-on-one discussions with their coordinators which is a great way to share experiences and solve any issues. 

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India – You should come see it on your own…

India – You should come see it on your own…

      Antonia Hauser, one of our long-term volunteers from Germany, volunteered for four months at the Paramedical Educational Trust in Tamil Nadu. The organisation believes in “Health for the Rural Mass in India.” Antonia conducted awareness programmes for community members on the topics of health and hygiene and taught school children English and environmental studies. Following is her reflection of her stay in India. 

      “When I planned my trip to India, I was talking to many people, reading and hearing a lot of different opinions and trying to figure out how it will be. I was very eager to get information, how the country, the culture, the people would be, especially from volunteers that already returned, but every time it was not satisfying and I felt like I did not get enough information.

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Now, after finishing my voluntary service and looking back to this experience, I can at least understand why no one was able to give me an exact answer to all my questions: India is just too big, too different, and too difficult to wrap it into some sentences. I see myself like a white sheet that got colored and cut from India and all the things I experienced here. And it is not my duty to analyze this sheet. I will just keep it very safely in my mind and look at it whenever I feel.

      As a resume, I have to say it was not the work only that defined my stay. it was much more: living in an Indian family and getting to know their culture, but also experience love and care, even if we will only have some short time together; learning to cook various Indian dishes and waking up with the smell of fresh cut flowers and the voices of vegetable selling farmers on the streets; talking to people in the bus, on the cycle, at the market without knowing any Tamil sentence, but still understanding their interest and happiness to have you here; making new friends all over the world and traveling together to make the experience “India”; be annoyed but also feel very alive while roaming through the Indian cities and watch the people on the streets. And also giving – knowledge, love, interest, information, work, time, a listening ear and many, many smiles.

     

 

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 I learned various things here: from simple Tamil words and reading to work in an NGO, fundraising and starting new programs. From cooking Indian to going by the bus, taking care of yourself in the Indian traffic and how to behave in this culture. I learned about myself, how and what I can do; I learned to wear sari and lungi and about people’s feelings, thoughts and the old traditions in India. All in all it was not only an experience for me, but also for my host family, my friends and my family at home.

     

     I am happy that nobody tried to tell me exactly how India would be. I think it is just not possible and any attempts will make it more difficult for the other. And this way I had the chance to fill the sheet “India” on my own. It has some dark spots and maybe cuts – but I love it and I am sure I will look at it many times and even maybe repaint it in some years. I am very happy that I made the decision to come and work here, but like any other thing: you should come and see it in your own…”