Hi all, greetings from FSL India’s Centre for Experiential Living (CEL), Kundapur!
Margaux, a long-term volunteer (LTV) working in Tamil Nadu writes to us about her experience during World Environment Day.
“I am Ms. Margaux from France, volunteering in the Model Village Project (MVP). On 5th June, the day began as “World Environment Day“. We (I and the FSL-India Chennai team) planned a puppetry session for the primary school children of the age group between 8 10 years in Panchayat Union Primary School, Thenneri, Kancheepuram District.
We focused on the hazards of plastic polluting our environment and insisting the importance of throwing out our waste in a garbage bin. We made our puppets with old socks, papers, wool and wooden sticks.
The story was about the Journey of a Plastic Bag which was carried away by the wind. During its travel it meets a snake, a turtle and a young girl. All these characters share their sadness with the plastic bag and tell him how the environment gets destroyed, causes of health problems due to pollution, water pollution etc. Then they all worry how their next generation is going to survive in the polluted environment peacefully and healthily. At the end, the plastic bag understands the importance of segregating waste and recycling. It meets the village chief, headmaster of the school to spread this message to the villagers and school children.
It was really a great experience to hide behind the screen and express the dialogues through shaking the puppets on the screen. As I could not speak the local language Tamil very fluently, one of the FSL-India Team members gave me the voice behind the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and can visualize the attention as well as the enjoyment of the children being behind the screen.”
World Environment Day is observed every year on the 5th of June to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature. The first World Environment Day was observed in 1973.
Every year FSL-India, in collaboration with different departmental and community stake holders, celebrates World Environment Day. This year FSL-India’s Home Based Project team in Kundapura organized a series of sessions on the theme of “Healthy Environment and Good Health”. The event was organized at K. Jagannatha Rao Government High School in Koni, Kundapura and 96 school children and teachers benefited from these sessions.
The five stake holders that collaborated with FSL-India to celebrate World Environment Day were:
Taluk Education Resource Center Kundapur
Primary Health Center Basrur
Village Panchayath Koni
K. Jagannatha Rao Government High School Koni
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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…”
In the month of January, our work camp team leader, Deepak Poojary, led a sea-turtle conservation and environment themed work camp in Kundapura. Joining the team were three international volunteers from South Korea and one national volunteer.
Their activities included an awareness raising programme on sea-turtle conservation for school children and the fishermen community, as well as building a Turtle Information Centre. Volunteers also had the chance to visit local temples and go on a boat trip.
In the month of January 2014, work camp team leader, Manjunath, led a bilateral camp for six volunteers from South Korea. The theme of this work camp was education, environment and children. The volunteers worked in a government school in Bangalore, teaching around 80 children about environment related issues such as pollution and conservation, as well as basic Engish schools, educational drawing and wall painting.
The volunteers also had the opportunity to interact with a local family and learn about Indian culture, take part in a South Indian cooking class, visit a Hindu temple, the Mysore Palace and a zoo.
Volunteers from Environment Education and Eco Club projects jointly organised sumer camp for the students of local public high school in Kundapur. It has started on 20th April 2009, inaugurated by the school Eco Club teacher. Sessions were on environment pollution situation, recycling system, energy and climate change. Also with this theoretical sessions volunteers took children for Nature walk with one of the resource person called Dr. Malli. Mural painting, cleaning garden, mangrove plantation tour, pot painting and lots of games, craft and music were also part of the program. It was very well organised by the team of volunteers and appreciated by the School teachers.
Participants: Isla, Jessica, Lucas, Stephan with FSL India staffs Austin, Deepa and Sanjum.
Thanks to our motivated volunteers.