Monthly Archives: April 2014

An Inspiring Story from Senthamangalam

An Inspiring Story from Senthamangalam

Manoj, a beneficiary of the 11th and 12th Happy Move Camp, gives a personal account of his experiences and shares the actions he’s taken based on what he learned. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“I am Manoj, studying 5th Standard in Panchayat Union Primary School in Senthamangalam, Kancheepuram District. During August 2013 (11th Happy Move Camp 2013), the Anna (brother) and Akka (sister) from Korea came to our school and took many activities such as renovat[ing] the toilets, hand wash platform etc… We all were so excited.  After they left, [in] October 2013, one Anna from FSL-India came to our school and formed [the] Children’s Parliament in our school to monitor and keep the school premises [and] toilets clean and neat. I became [a] member of the Environment Committee of the Children’s Parliament. FSL-India Anna came to our school often and started insisting on green and clean environment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain, [in] January 2014 (12th Happy Move Camp 2014), Korean Anna and Akka again came to my school for camp… This time, [a] few of them came to my house and planted a tree with [a] tree guard in the open space. They all identified me and told me to water the plant daily. Being [a] member of [the] Environment Committee, I [was] so inspired and decided to grow the garden at my home. I discussed with my thaththa (grandfather); he also encouraged me and helped me to promote [a] kitchen garden two months ago.

Now there are brinjal, green chilli, water melon, cluster beans etc. grown in my garden. I feel very proud to say that this is the garden created by me and it is my own plants…! Now I am moving to another school for my higher class… I [will] tell my new friends to grow plants [in] their homes…!”

Education/Environment/Renovation/Children workcamp in Kundapura

Education/Environment/Renovation/Children workcamp in Kundapura

      A second workcamp (WC) took place in Kundapura, Karnataka in the month of February. Its theme was Education/Environment/Renovation/Children. Attending this WC were seven international volunteers, one national volunteer and two WC team leaders.

SONY DSC
      Volunteers worked at a government school and constructed hand washing sinks, painted two classrooms and taught students basic English, Maths, sports and environmental issues such as pollution and conservation. Over a 100 children benefited from the activities of this WC.

SONY DSC

      Volunteers also had the chance to spend time with an Indian family to understand the culture, beliefs and values. They took part in a south Indian cooking session and visited local attractions.

Sea-turtle conservation and environment workcamp in Kundapura

Sea-turtle conservation and environment workcamp in Kundapura

           A sea turtle conservation/environment themed workcamp (WC) took place in Kundapura, Karnataka in the month of February 2014. Attending were two international volunteers, one national volunteer and one team leader.

Second painting- Group
        Participants built a sea-turtle information center in Kodi beach and raised awareness to the fishermen community on the importance of sea-turtle conservation. Volunteers also put on a puppet-show in Berary Primary School for 60 children, spreading the same idea of sea-turtle conservation. As part of the inter-cultural activities, volunteers interacted with local families, went on a boat ride in the backwaters, visited temples and more.

Indian family visit

Social/Children/Culture workcamp in Jodhpur

Social/Children/Culture workcamp in Jodhpur

      In February 2014, four international volunteers from South Korea and the Netherlands joined two workcamp (WC) team leaders in Jodhpur, Rajasthan for a Social/Children/Culture themed WC. Almost 80 school children benefited from the activities of this WC.

DSC04767

     All participants worked in the Samaj Shishu Shiksan Sansthan School; doing renovation and painting, as well as teaching basic English and Maths and carrying out sports activities and educational games. 

     Volunteers also put on an environmental awareness programme focused on health, hygiene and solid waste management. They also had a chance to learn about Indian culture by interacting with the local community and visiting a carpet factory, palaces and temples.

DSC05234DSC04798

Get-together in Mysore

Get-together in Mysore

      April month’s long-term volunteer’s (LTV) get-together (GTG) took place on the 15th and 16th of the month in Mysore, Karnataka. Five international volunteers attended the GTG which was facilitated by four FSL-India staff members.

LTV-GTG-Apr2014-3

      In addition to exchanging experiences and relaxing, participants also had one-on-one talks with their coordinators and attended a discussion with a host family on the topic of inter-cultural learning. Some of the points discussed were male preference in Indian families, the Indian marriage system and Indian festivals. 

LTV-GTG-Apr2014-1

World Water Day – 2014

World Water Day – 2014

       World Water Day has been observed on the 22nd of March since 1993 since the United Nations General Assembly declared it so. To commemorate this day, and spread awareness on the importance of water, FSL-India joined hands with the Water Literacy Foundation and took part in an awareness raising rally.
     

waterday1

     The Water Literacy Foundation, one of our local partners, works towards rain water harvesting systems and FSL-India has been placing volunteers there for the last three years. Joining FSL-India staff members were also three long-term volunteers (LTV). In addition, around 300 other participants took part in the rally, riding their bicycles from Freedom Park to Vijayanagar. 

waterday2

April Orientation

April Orientation

     From the 7th of April to the 11th of April, our Bangalore office saw the arrival of 11 new long-term volunteers (LTV) from Italy, France, Germany and the Czech Repubic.

LTV-Orientation-Apr2014-4
     The week long orientation for them was facilitated by 13 FSL-India staff members and included topics such as voluntarism roles and responsibilities, Indian pedagogy, India and Social Concerns, and a newly added session; A Reflection on Peace.

LTV-Orientation-Apr2014-3
      This batch of volunteers showed a lot of enthusiasm in learning about India and their projects. In addition to the sessions conducted at our office premises, volunteers also visited a local teaching project, had an international cooking night and visited the Bull Temple.

LTV-Orientation-Apr2014-1

Solveig’s experiences so far…

Solveig’s experiences so far…

     Solveig Freiling, a long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany has been working at Nallurpala School in Mysore, Karnataka since August 2013. With four months to go, she writes to us about her experiences and insights so far. 

      “I was brought up in a very creative family in Germany. My Mother is an artist and my father is a musician. So since I was small, I was in contact with all different kinds of arts. I think that, especially nowadays in Germany, everyone will learn through the new creative ways of teaching. I remember that we did so much in school following this aspect and form of learning. We used to do so many group projects where we made posters with models for certain topics. It is so much easier to learn something this way. For my final exams I learned exactly the same way. I drew some pictures and wrote my notes beside it, so I could easily remember them.

     So when I came to my school in India, I was completely confused. The teachers will only teach through just writing something on the board and the children have to copy and repeat it several times. The problem with this method is that the children can’t find, for example, the right answer to the question in exams. Because as soon as the question is slightly different than what they have learned before, they can’t express it in a different context.

     Maybe they learn quicker with this “repeating and copy” method but they don’t really understand the meaning of it. I see this in exams here. The children just  sit there and they haven’t got a clue what to write. They don’t have their own ideas so everyone tries to copy things from their neighbour until the teacher comes in and says: “Okay you can use all your material!’”. I really couldn’t understand the reason to do exams this way. They don’t have to change the exams. They have to, more importantly, change their way of teaching.

     But of course that’s not easy if you only learned that way and it is more work to teach in a different, creative way. You have to prepare more; you need more material and more time and patience. All teachers in my school have their own private lives and salary is too low that they can put more effort into their work. But maybe if the children get used to these other ways, it would be easier for teachers to give a lessons this way. We volunteers are not here to change everything but maybe after two, three, four volunteers work in a project, things will change a little bit. Maybe we are just here to give some ideas, ideas we got through our education in our countries.

     When I first came to my project I wanted to change everything. I wanted to put all my effort into that project, but I am not a real teacher and not all things I learned from Germany were useful in that Indian school. I had to think in small steps. First of all I had to get used to the children and they had to get used to me. I became friends with the teachers, even though they did some things (like beating) which I didn’t like.

     I also had to find a way of teaching which suits me and them. I used a lot of posters with pictures, painting/drawing tasks and memory games. I wanted to teach in a way we all would have fun, because the other lessons are more exhausting for them. I remember the first weeks where they didn’t have any concentration and they couldn’t listen to me. I was only an English speaking ma’am without a stick, so why should they listen to me? I had to earn respect in a different way.

Solvige 1

     The situation improved daily. I can’t say that their English got better, but their interest to learn something new grew day by day. They understood the importance of English and they loved to paint and draw. I was very astonished by their talents. They are very creative if you let them!

     I started to teach every class the song called “In the jungle” with a little dance performance. They were so good and they learned it very quick! I was so proud that I thought about doing projects with every class. I asked my mother in Germany to ask for some money for material. I did a big shopping tour in Mysore and used all my package left-overs from parcels I have got.

    I explained to my students where the money is from and they were very thankful! So I started with the project work. 4th Standard prepared animal masks and colored them. We practiced the “In the jungle song” and did a small animal performance to it. 5th Standard painted a big picture of the world map. First they didn’t know what it was! They asked me if it is Germany, so I explained that this is the whole world with India, Germany, USA… I also showed them all the places where all the volunteers, which came to their school where from. Everyone made a small paper boat with their names and they could decide 

to which ocean they want to stick it. After that was finished we put some glitter onto the picture. The students loved glitter and used the leftovers for their faces. 6th Standard built small model of Taj Mahal and painted it afterwards. We used all my parcel-material and newspaper to build it. 7th Standard prepared some jokes and dances for a circus presentation. They also made some masks. Clown masks for boys and glitter masks for girls. Three very talented boys also painted a picture with a huge circus tent on it.

     We needed two weeks for this projects and it was not easy to handle all the children and their wishes. But I had so much fun with them and, even though I felt so exhausted after just one day, I was still so proud of my students! 

       We were busy until the big day came, where all classes presented their projects. That day when we did Saraswathi Pooja before the exam will start. I was so excited and nervous, but everything went well and everyone was happy. 4th Standard did so well, they sang the song without my help and I played the guitar to it. The children wore the masks even after it was over and also on the next day. I was really happy and also the teachers were very happy with the work of the children.

     Even the teachers started to paint and draw within these two weeks. They started to ask me for material to do something themselves. That made me very proud and happy.

    I was very skeptical, if it would all work out how I wanted it to. But I learned something very important in India. Don’t worry and just see what will happen.”

Solvige 2

Kitchen Garden in Pappankuzhi

Kitchen Garden in Pappankuzhi

       During the months of July and August, 2013, FSL-India had collaborated with Better World Korea, Hyundai Motors India and Hyundai Motor Company Korea for the 11th Happy Move Camp in Pappankuzhi, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu.

    Photo0114

       A kitchen garden had been promoted then and on the 22nd of April, 2014, a field office of our Chennai team went to visit it. To their great pleasure, the field officer found the small 10 ft x 4 ft kitchen garden extremely well maintained. The banana, curry leaves and drumstick trees were flourishing in the kitchen garden. In addition, the fence was fully covered beautifully with the climber of broad beans to make the kitchen garden very green and shadowy.

This is all thanks to the contribution of the local community in pooling in their efforts to take care of the kitchen garden! Photo0113

Get-together in Kundapur

Get-together in Kundapur

      Once again, the month of April saw another long-term volunteers (LTV) get-together (GTG) in Kundapura. Attending the GTG on the 16th of April 2014 were seven LTVs and three of our Kundapura staff members. GTGs are not only a chance for participants to discuss and share their project experiences, but also an opportunity to explore a new place, as the location for each batch of LTVs varies monthly.

      These participants had a chance to visit a Shiva Temple, the backwaters, a fishermen’s community called Kodi and more!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Low cost shelter house

Low cost shelter house

      During the 12th Happy Move Camp (HMC) held in January 2014, our Chennai Team identified Mrs. Perundevi and Mr. Duraisamy, agricultural labourers in Thenneri, Kancheepuram District, as in need of proper shelter. Due to a large family, low income and bad weather conditions, their hut house was beginning to deteriorate and could no longer provide shelter to them and their four children.

Their old hut that was beginning to deteriorate

Their old hut that was beginning to deteriorate

      From the 16th to the 27th of January, 2014, FSL-India, Better World Korea, Hyundai Motors India and Hyundai Motor Company Korea collaborated to construct a home for this tribal family. Ganga Gowri, their 10 year old daughter, states, “I could not imagine that [would] be studying and sleeping in [a] house with [a] proper roof. Hereafter, I need not worry about safeguarding my books [from getting] wet during the rainy days!” 

Their new home!

Their new home!

Insa returns to India

Insa returns to India

      Insa Lautzas, an ex long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany volunteered at Seon Ashram Trust from September 2012 to August 2013. She returned to her project during the month of March, 2014 and writes about her experiences of her visit back.

      “From September 2012 to August 2013 I did a 1 Year Volunteer-Service at “Seon Ashram Trust”. This is a place for people who have no one to stay with. Most of them are mentally ill, old aged , physically challenged, widows or orphans.
   

Insa with patient at Seon ashram

        There I made many experiences, impressions, friends and lots of memories. For me it was not easy to come back to my “previous life” in Germany. There were so many stories in my head, which I´ve permanently remembered.  Suddenly I have noticed all the things which I had done differently during the last months. Before coming to India, my plan was to study protestant theology. This has never changed, so I started my studies at the University in Kiel.
      Quickly the first semester came to an end and I had holidays: My chance to visit Seon Ashram Trust!  I spontaneously took this chance and booked the flight to India!

Holi in Seon Ashram with students.

 

I have been missing so many people, I have been thinking and worrying about this place so many times… 

      Now, after only 6 months, I am there again and I am enjoying my 1 month visit a lot. It feels like I haven´t been away. I am very happy to see everyone again. Of course some things are different than before, but not much.
Seon Ashram Trust is not an easy place for volunteers. I am sad to see the conditions and all the problems…                Sometimes I am desperate, because I cannot change some things, which really should be improved. But when you get to know the inmates and the work (which is really useful and needed here) – than you can feel so much at home!
   

 Holi in Seon Ashram with inmates and students.       

      I have a lot of fun spending my time with all the people. I take care of the disabled  children, do activities with the adults and give attention to the inmates. I have many plans but won´t be able to do them all during my short stay. I feel attached and close to this place very much, so I am sure that I will be back soon!

       I also wish to keep in touch with FSL-India. Good luck for your future and especially for the Seon Ashram Trust– Volunteers.”

Children’s Parliament in Kancheepuram District

Children’s Parliament in Kancheepuram District

    Photo-0007. 

      During the month of March, 2014, a Children’s Parliament was formed in the Panchayat Union Primary and Middle Schools to monitor and follow-up the activities of the 12th Happy Move Camp (HMC). The 8 villages that the Children’s Parliament is to monitor are Ayyamicheri, Thiruvankaranai, Uthukadu, Echoor, Senthamangalam, Thenneri, Shingadivakkam and Melottivakkam in the Kancheepuram District of Tamil Nadu.

 

 

 

IMG_20140326_143423

 

Four committees were formed to monitor:

  1. Environment committee
  2. Water and Sanitation Committee
  3. Health and Hygiene Committee
  4. Nutrition Committee

 

 

 

 

      The Children’s Parliament will not only cultivate the habit of keeping oneself healthy and hygienic, but also motivate other children and community members to do so as well. 

 

IMG_0376