On 13 October 2018 we welcomed Rimil Topno as our new “weltwaerts” volunteer in Berlin. Within the framework of the South-North component of the German weltwaerts program, it was possible to get Rimil, who had been working in Ranchi and Chaibasa for our partner organization Sarjom, to Germany with the support from the German-Indian Cooperation (DIZ). Here, he will be active for the Indian Forum for one year, especially in and around Berlin. First, however, he will attend a 3-months German course.
At the annual meeting 2018, a new or slightly changed executive board has been elected. Have a look at the About us page, who is holding which post now.
After a longer break, we are happy to present our newly designed website to you today. Many categories are still empty at the moment, but within the next weeks, the pages will slowly be filled with content and many smaller details will still change. So please be patient, but feel free to have a look around already.
On Saturday, 9 September 2017 we participated once again in the annual harvest festival in Alt-Marzahn, Berlin. Many people there visited our booth. Aside from turning the fortune wheel, they had the opportunity to acquire traditional handicrafts from India for a small donation, and to try some Indian food cooked by us.
Parallel to the student and teacher group to Chaibasa in 2002, a mixed group went to Delhi. Three students, Jana Sommerfeld, Christina Lüdtke and Sebastian Keller, as well as two teachers , Edith Daling and Andrea Schubert, participated in the journey. They wanted to spent three weeks with the students and teachers of the Springdales School, learn together and get to know the customs and practices of the respective country. All members of the group lived in guest families. This enabled them to have a look into the daily life of the of the upper middle classes in Delhi. In tours to Agra, Mussorie and Haridwar they got to know people and sights outside of Delhi, too.
Motivated by their experiences, Jana Sommerfeld and Sebastian Keller became two of the founding members of the Indian Forum.
In autumn 2002 the first students journey to Chaibasa was organized by the Ecumenical Forum Berlin Marzahn and was financially supported by the Evangelical church development service (EED) and by the “Nord-Süd-Brücken” foundation (North-South bridges). The experiences collected during this journey finally lead to the foundation of the Indian Forum. A short field report by Roman Bansen follows:
After a rather strenuous journey, we started our tour in the former capital of the British crown colony of India, in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Instantly we got to know the extreme discrepancies and contrasts of this city, that on the hand produced all four Nobel prize winners of India and still has some of the Victorian glamour of the British rule, but on the other hand is overcrowded with waste, dirt and pure poverty almost everywhere you look. For example we watched a family with several children in the alley bordering our hostel, vegetating beneath a few wooden boards and having to live from leftover food and dirty water.
After a few days we went on to Chaibasa, where several hundred very enthusiastic and cheerful people welcomed us on the following day. Apparently endless dancing and singing, just out of pure delight about our coming, really plucked our heartstrings.
After we had settled in in the guesthouse, the oldest building on the compound, built by the first German missionaries in the mid 19th century, and after the general interest in us had seized at least a bit, we started to put our program into practice, which included visits to multiple congregations, which were partly pleasantly isolated far in the mountains, from where we enjoyed wonderful sunsets and sunrises.
Furthermore we had brought two computers with us and purchased five more on a tour to Ranchi. They were installed in a computer room, that had been especially equipped the preceding days, and first introductions were given to the computers.
Several times we visited the single classes and schools on the compounds and spoke with the students. Helping with the rice harvest in terms of having a look how it works, was also part of the programme, as well as the participation in the church services in the church that is located on the School Compound.
After leaving Chaibasa and therefore also leaving our newly obtained friends there, our journey went on to Khunti first and from there on to Ranchi, where we spent a few more days in the Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC). Finally we went on by plane to Delhi. After another day of sight seeing there we went home to Germany.
Some time before the arrival of the Chaibasa group, another group from the Gandhi School in Berlin Marzahn, consisting of five students and one teacher, visited the Springdales School in Delhi. Alexander Nitschke and Sebastian Keller accompanied and took care of them. Both were already in India when the group arrived and did stay there afterwards, just to take care of the next group, mentioned above.
Students of the Springdales School in Delhi on the school yard
On the fringes of the Ecumenical Church Congress 2003 in Berlin, the teacher Kiran Horo and the representative of the school committee of the Lutheran High School Chaibasa, the Lutheran bishop Hansda, did also visit the Mahatma Gandhi School in Berlin Marzahn. Students took care of the other guests of this church congress too, the Anglican bishop Terom and the Catholic archbishop cardinal Toppo.
The Indian guests in Berlin
In early November 2003, Mr. Buntrock, Mrs. Küstermann and four former students visited Chaibasa again. Among them was, once again, Alexander Nitschke, from whose travel reports some shorter extracts follow (translated into English by Roman Bansen):
The whole school and all inhabitants of the church compound were afoot to see us. As simple, usual people from Germany we felt quite honoured and flattered by all this furore. The best of it was the honest joy as well as the curiosity, that could be seen in countless faces of the children. As four of us had already visited Chaibasa in the year before, there was also the meeting with the friends from the previous year. We were especially impressed by the enormous improvements, that some of them had made in their English skills. The essential motivation for them was mainly the personal contact, that had been made with the visitors in the year before. Insofar the success of partnerships are probably to be found especially in the small and often personal things.
Again we visited the classes in the four different schools, that are located on the church compound of Chaibasa. The youngest seemed to be very interested in us white people and asked many questions, e.g. what we eat in Germany and how we celebrate christmas. Our accommodation was part of the old missionaries house from the late nineteenth century. In this “guest house” we were usually in private, but at all mealtimes different women were cooking for us.
Some trips we made from Chaibasa, visisted other schools, other church communities and enjoyed the wonderful, somehow romantic nature with its fields and hills during all the tours. The quality of the streets is absolutely uncomparable to the European standards. Every few meters there is pothole beside pothole.
In Chaibasa itself we examined the work on the computers, that were installed by our group here the year before. Meanwhile many students use the computers for learning. This means at lot of theory for them at first, but like everywhere in the world it’s the younger, who learn fast, especially in terms of technology. Two of the eight computers we brought to Khunti, a place about 50 kilometres away from Chaibasa, so that interested students here could learn how to work with computer technology. When we inaugurated the small PC room, many small faces beamed all over with curiosity. To ensure the work with the computers, a young man named Pawan Toppno, an expert on this field, cares for the whole project on location on behalf of us since last year. The new school building is under construction for some time now, but the progress is very slow, as there is a lack of money, just as everywhere else. That this construction is really necessary we already realized last year, when we visited the overcrowded class rooms in the old building, which is in danger of collapsing. Unforgettable times we had with the students on the compound, e.g. when we played soccer or cricket together on the school yard or just horsed around, without understanding just the slightest bit of the other’s language.
In spring 2005 four members of the Indian Forum went to India. During their visit to Chaibasa the met little Nitish again. Unceremoniously Sebastian Keller decided to pay for Nitish’s school money, for his school uniform, his books etc. So Nitish became the first child of the sponsorship program, that had been founded with that.