Hi all, greetings from FSL India’s Centre for Experiential Living (CEL), Kundapur!
On the 17th and 18th of July, a monthly get-together (GTG) took place in Yercaud, Tamil Nadu. Eight volunteers and four FSL-India staff members attended this GTG.
Participants visited Mundakabati village and planted saplings in a playground. They also interacted with the inhabitants. Volunteers also had a chance to have one-on-one talks with their coordinators.
Following is a testimonial about long-term volunteer (LTV) Nadine from Germany, who has been volunteering at Gnanodaya High School in Chennai. Rubini, her coordinator, writes to us about Nadine’s experiences.
“I don’t know how to start the article because I have lot to say about this volunteer Nadine. She is the most amazing volunteer that I have met in my career. Nadine did lot of good work in the project. She was working with orphan children in Chennai; she came to India for 4 month from January to April 2014. When I had spoke to her at end of her volunteering service, I really impressed by our conversation.
The first thing she said that when volunteers got the chance to go abroad, she decided to come to India after seeing very beautiful pictures on the Internet. Then she applied to come to India for 4 months. Nadine was very happy to travel to country where there were lots of tourist places. The first day she joined the project, Nadine felt that she had to start her traveling from the coming weekend onward. Then second day, Nadine planned her journey for 4 months to where and all she can go. After working with orphan children for the first three days, Nadine decided not to go traveling. She decided instead to work with orphan children for the rest of her time in India.
Nadine had complications with the children because she didn’t know the local language and the children couldn’t speak English. Then Nadine took the initiative to learn the local language. After learning basic Tamil, Nadine started to teach English to the children. There are around 126 children in Gnanodaya, but she focused on 6th, 7th & 8th grade children and taught them English, Maths and Environmental Education. She not only focused on Education, but also made all the children to have fun in the evening once they all returned from classes. She had a really nice time with the children in the project.
After three months, Nadine was so happy to see the result of her work in the project. Almost 50 children were able to communicate in English with her, and not only that… Around 80 children broke out of their shyness and took steps to speak with international people. Along with Nadine, there was another volunteer who helped Nadine to achieve her goals. Nadine is now feeling that without any help, the children can form sentences in English and speak with people. Nadine felt that she attained her objectives in the project.”
The Orientation of the 13th Happy Move Camp (scheduled between 20th – 31st July 2014) was conducted for Graduate Engineering Trainees (GETs) of Hyundai on the 8th of July in the training centre of Hyundai Motors India, Irungattukottai, Sriperumbudur Taluk, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu. Three members of our Chennai team facilitated the orientation for 18 participants with the coordination of Mr. Sridhar from Hyundai.
During the session, the Chennai team introduced the vision, mission and projects of FSL-India, then introduced the Happy Move Camp:
– The schedule of the 13th HMC
– Roles and responsibilities of being a volunteer
– Field services during the camp
– Intercultural activities such as the Indo-Korean Forum, Indo-Korean Workshop, special events, historical places to visit etc.
Both counterparts, Korean and Indian, are looking forward to working towards benefiting the community.
Margaux, a long-term volunteer (LTV) writes to us again about an awareness raising activity on sanitation she has been carrying out for children in the Kanchipuram District of Tamil Nadu.
“On 17th June 2014, I (Ms. Margaux, LTV volunteer working in Water and Sanitation with FSL-India) continued my journey towards promoting good hygienic methods towards achieving better sanitary conditions among children in Panchayat Union Primary School in Thenneri, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu.
I found that puppetry is a good medium to get the attention of children which make them attentive to the issue addressed. On this finding, we conducted a puppetry show for the children belonging to the 8-9 years age group in Thenneri. It is a kind of fairy tale telling to the children through puppets. I drew the characters of the tale and made the puppets by sticking the pictures drawn on the stick.
It is the story of the kingdom in which the people fell ill all of a sudden and the reason for their illness was anonymous. The princess Stella asked the wise Horseman of the kingdom to roam through the kingdom to find out the cause of the disease and how to cure it. He travelled across many lands and seas, finally found that the water which was supplied for drinking purpose from the pond caused the illness. He met the magician on the way back and the magician made the soap out of magic and asked the horseman to give to the people for use. He further insisted the horseman when and how it had to be used like before eating food and cooking; after going to the toilet etc. Then the horseman met the doctor who insisted that the water has to be boiled before drinking; he also explained how the water is getting polluted such as through open defecation etc. Finally the horseman came back to meet the people and insisted the personal hygiene methods to keep away from diseases. He left the message that “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”.
I am really excited to convey the message through puppets by acting out as the puppets behind the screen. Of course, FSL-India Chennai Team helped me with Tamil voice over. I am very happy to make the children to be attentive to hear the fairy tale story through the puppets. I believe that they carry the message and not only follow the personal hygiene themselves but also spread among their friends as well.”
On the 10th of June, 2014, the Home Based Project (HBP) team carried out an appropriate technologies demonstration in Senapur and Marvante (Kundapura). 23 children gathered for the demonstration.This activity was inspired by a demonstration that previously took place in our HYSCO camp in Tamil Nadu.
The HBP team members carried out three demonstrations:
Using tetra-packs to make mats
By cutting and ironing out 145 tetra-packs, HBP team members, along with the children created 12 floor mats.
Using spoiled milk to make paint
Spoiled milk, lemon juice and beetroot juice were added together before being filtered to create natural paint for children to use
Using eucalyptus oil to make natural hand sanitizer
Adding cooking oil and lemon juice to eucalyptus leaves, storing it for five days before filtering out the liquid, participants produced natural hand sanitizer
From the 26th of May to the 28th of May, representatives of Better World Organisation, Hyundai Motor Company (Korea) and FSL-India visited the shortlisted villages for the 13th Happy Move Camp (HMC) in Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu. The three day schedule included (i) The delegates meeting with FSL-India and Hyundai Motor India for logistics of selection of villages; (ii) A visit to the nine villages that were shortlisted by the FSL-India Chennai team; (iii) A final meeting between the partners to finalise the schedule, events, accommodation etc. The six villages selected during this pre-visit were Alapakkam, Karur, Nallur, Kuthirambakkam, Neykuppan and Melottivakkam.
The 13th HMC is scheduled to take place from the 20th of July to the 31st of July. There will be 120 Korean volunteers, 18 Graduate Engineering Trainees and 12 university students participating in the HMC. Participants will be undertaking renovation and educational activities in the six villages.
On the 28th and 29th of May, our Chennai team, along with Margaux, a long-term volunteer (LTV), conducted a workshop on Home Remedies for Diseases in the villages of Thenneri and Echoor in Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu.
The aim of the workshop was to show participants how diseases or illnesses such as cholera, malaria and the common cold can be cured by natural resources that are available at home. The session began with an informative video on cholera, malaria and the common cold – how it spreads and what steps to take to tackle it. After that, the facilitators actually demonstrated to the participants how to make home-made solutions from resources such as ginger, neem leaves, lemon, onions and black pepper.
The Tent School project started with the aim of providing basic education for migrant children by enhancing their skills and motivating them.
On the 8th of May 2014, the four members of the Tent School team (two FSL-India staff members and two international volunteers) began teaching basic computer literacy at the tent schools in Senapur and Marvante, Kundapura. Ten children from Senapur and twelve children from Marvante benefited from the computer literacy lessons.
The children were very curious and immensely inspired and happy to be operating the computers. They were keen on learning more, and the Tent School team is happy to say that they will be continuing the computer literacy lessons.
Ruth Achterwinter is a long-term volunteer from Germany. She has been volunteering at the Rural Education and Development Society since August 2013. Following is an account of her perspective on India and the work that she does.
“It may seem strange to you, but I have lived here for 9 months and I still can’t decide how to feel about India. On the one hand, it twirls you up, bounces you around, spits you out but somehow you still come to love all its colours, varieties and of course, people. One thing I learned is not to make decisions too lightly. If you really want to get to know this huge, and in many ways contradictive country, you have to spend time here. Travelling for two or three weeks won’t let you into the deeper layers of the Indian society.
See my project for example: I work for an NGO in a really small town in Tamil Nadu. We encourage women from rural and poor backgrounds to form ‘self-help groups’. The groups not only give them security of a union, but also the space to discuss financial or general issues of the village. My NGO then connects them to a bank for the poor where they can lend micro-credits and use the money to buy things such as cows. This way they can start their own small businesses and learn how to be self-responsible, and in the end, independent.
Another volunteer and I built up the self-defense classes for girls in local schools. We teach these girls about their rights and how to react in case of. sexual harassment or domestic violence. Seeing these girls, how eager they are to learn and how willing to contribute their opinion on a new topic, I realized how important education is, which we often tend to take for granted in western Europe. I felt like my work as a volunteer is really valuable to those children. While travelling through India as a tourist you might meet some people, you’ll enjoy the food, you’ll get to visit the Taj Mahal and other incredible buildings. You see the life of Indians. What you lack is actually living it. To be part of a culture so diverse and yet intense. To wear your own Chudidars and Sarees (Indian traditional clothing). To have people you can call ‘Amma’ (Mom) and ‘Appa’ (Dad), to be yourself called ‘Akka’ (older sister). To have your first conversation with an Indian grandma in the local language (which will probably be about food, haha). To find yourself laughing because you’re finally able to understand the cultural jokes in those Bollywood movies… the list is endless.
After 9 months in India I can honestly tell that here are things I won’t ever get used to and some that I will miss incredibly after my return to Germany. What I am sure of is that India is becoming more and more of a home to me and that the people I live and work with have become family to me. In the end, even though I cannot say I love or hate India, I am very happy about my decision to come here. It’s more than a trip. It’s a life-changing experience.“
The Home Based Project (HBP) team of FSL-India conducted a summer camp in four tent schools in Brahmavar, Yedthadi, Maravanthe and Senapur from the 21st of April to the 7th of May. A total of 52 children participated in this summer camp. The camp was organized to create interaction between regular school going children and tent school children. The tent school team organized various recreational activities for children such as drawing, painting, outdoor games, cleaning the tent school surrounding, balloon balancing game, group bonding games, running race, mask making, Origami, paper craft, bottle game, making musical instruments from plastic bottles and more.
International volunteers, namely Ms. Katharina, Ms. Annalie, Mr. Renko, Mr. Benedict and tent school teachers Mrs. Geetha and Ms. Shalini greatly contributed their time, thoughts and effort in organizing the summer camp. All volunteers, tent school teachers and children enjoyed the tent school summer camp with children. It was also a nice time to build rapport with the children and build their confidence through involving them in various activities.
From the 3rd of March to the 23rd of March, we had two volunteers from the United States participate in a Construction/Environment/Tibetan Culture themed workcamp in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. Even though it was a small group, our two team leaders aided the two international volunteers to achieve satisfaction and fulfilment that they sought through volunteerism.They actively took part in various activities including painting a school wall and black board, and educational drawing at Dharamkot Government Primary School.
The two motivated volunteers conducted sessions on health and hygiene awareness to the school children, and almost 40 children benefited from this activity. The volunteers also cleaned an open field located in McLeodganj along with the staff from a local NGO called Waste Warriors, with an aim to promote awareness among the local community in keeping their surroundings clean.
As part of their inter-cultural learning, the volunteers had the opportunity to interact with Tibetan monks. They also took part in a Tibetan cooking session. Although the volunteers were busy doing all of these activities, they had just enough spare time at the end of their stay to take part in a site seeing excursion to a Hindu temple, Baghsu waterfalls, Dalai Lama Temple, the Tibet Museum, and the Tibetan Children’s Village community. The volunteers also did a presentation about their country traditions and cultural aspects for the school children.
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.
“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.
Again, [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…!”