After a long and intense preparation period, the time had finally come in February 2020 for a group from the Tagore School Berlin to visit their partner school in Shantiniketan, in the Indian state of West Bengal, accompanied and supervised by Sebastian Keller from the Indian Forum.
It was a journey full of interesting experiences and exciting adventures. At the same time, it was also a time of intense and productive exchange.
To provide those who were not there with a better impression of the trip, the India working group of the Tagore School has compiled a detailed report, enriched with numerous photos. Please note that the report is only available in German language.
You can find the pdf file under the following link:
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our association’s official founding, we conducted a long planned members trip to India in November 2018. Seven new and old members visited different places in this amazing country, with a focus on our project area in the state of Jharkhand.
Member of the Indian Forum and participant of the travel group Christian Schumacher wrote the following short travel report for us (translated by Roman Bansen):
A travel group of the Indian Forum set off for India in autumn 2018. Our first destination was Ranchi, where we were warmly welcomed by Mukut Bodra and Alex Nitschke. Mukut and Alex live there; they know the language and can introduce us to the lives and problems of our partners in India in detail. The YMCA Ranchi, one of the local partners of the Indian Forum and Sarjom, arranged a trip to a slum school. There, we saw a lot of misery, but also encouraging approaches of help for the slum dwellers.
The next day we went to Gowindpur, where we visited a farm school and got insights into rice harvesting – it is a strenuous activity. After visiting a Martha kindergarten (run by the Gossner Church in Ranchi, founding and construction took place according to concepts which are widely applied in Germany), we went on to Chaibasa, where we actually wanted to inaugurate “our” kindergarten. But our Indian partners had not finished the work yet. So we helped on the construction site for two days. Despite a lack of equipment, this was very successful (the kindergarten was inaugurated a few months later).
We also met all the students from the sponsorship program that we could reach, who have been supported by the Indian Forum for years. A large group of children and young people came together. We were made familiar with some of their tragic fates, but also played and ate together and had a lot of fun.
back from Chaibasa, we went on to Chennai under the excellent planning, implementation and guidance of Sebastian Keller. From there we visited the coastal town of Puducherry, went by train to Madurai, and then saw Hyderabad and Delhi. At all stations we saw the touristically important temples, churches and points of interest. Everything was well prepared.
It was exhausting, but beautiful and unforgettable. When we were sitting in the plane back to Berlin, it was clear to us: The trip had been worthwhile in every respect. We are motivated to continue the support for our partners in India.
In an interim report on the Slum Centres project, which has been started in October 2019, our Indian partners – the YMCA Ranchi and Sarjom – have sent up-to-date information on the progress of the renovation of the centres. By now, 2 of the 3 centres have been renovated:
Slum Centre “Kadru Phooltoli”
Before the work began, all teaching materials, equipment and 16 sewing machines had to be temporarily removed from the centre. During the entire repair work the students went to another, former slum centre for their courses. A total of 12 workers were involved in the various phases of the work. First, the old roof sheets were removed and replaced with the new GI steel sheets. This took about four days.
Then the new cement flooring was produced, for which the former floor had to be broken up and the rubble removed. Necessary repairs to the walls, windows and doors were carried out before the walls were covered with a new fine cement plaster with a smooth surface. Finally, the painting work was carried out inside and outside and two new black boards were installed in the room. Just before Christmas, the work in Kadru Phooltoli was eventually completed.
Slum Centre “Jagannathpur Centre”
Like the work in Kadru Phooltoli, the repair work in the Jagannathpur Centre also began with the removal of the old roof panels. The asbestos plates, which had not been changed for 40 years, already had several cracks. Within four to five days the roofing panels were replaced with GI steel sheets and the new roof was installed.
The regular lessons for the children could be continued during the working period, because the neighbouring community of the North Western GEL Church provided their rooms for the pre-school. On January 24, 2020, the Jagannathpur Centre was reopened and the children resumed their pre-school education at the centre, now in a new and attractive surrounding.
Basti has once again taken countless photos on his long travels through India and we have selected the most beautiful ones for the new calendar 2020. Month after month the diversity of India shows on these beautiful A3 wall calendars.
If you are interested, we would be pleased to receive a donation of 10 € (shipping within Germany for an additional 4 €). To order, simply write us an e-mail or a message on Facebook. Please do not forget the quantity and postal address. Of course, in many cases a personal delivery or pickup is possible. We would be happy if you support our projects in India by acquiring the calendars.
Thanks to a generous donation of the Berlin-based association Die Kappe e.V., educational umbrella organisation for the Creativity School Centre Berlin, we were able to start the new Project ‘Slum Centres’ in cooperation with the YMCA Ranchi in 2019. The goal is to support educational work in the urban slums of Ranchi. The so called slum centres have been operated by the YMCA in the social hot spots of the growing city for many years. Especially children from poor families are being enabled to receive an education this way.
Together with SARJOM, our Indian partner organisation, the YMCA Ranchi wants to increase the quality of the educational centres within this joint project. They will prepare the preschool children for school in playful and creative ways. This does particularly encompass large-scale repair works of the centres, which are currently in a bad state of repair, as well as their redesign in a way appropriate for the children.
A year goes by so fast. Yesterday Rimil, participant in the South-North exchange of the weltwärts programme, successfully completed his volunteer service with us and returned to his home country India.
We would like to thank Rimil very much for his volunteer work and his support of the Indian Forum here on site in Berlin, and we look forward to a further close cooperation with him.
At this year’s harvest festival in mid September in Alt-Marzahn, Berlin, the Indian Forum once again had an own booth. Despite the bad weather, many visitors came for a stroll over the festival grounds and stopped by to try an Indian Chai or acquire small souvenirs from India.
This time the people’s generosity was pleasantly high and our association was able to earn around 200 € in donations.
In mid January, the new Martha Kindergarten in Chaibasa has finally been finished and inaugurated with about 150 guests.
The last weeks before the opening have seen a lot of stressful work, in order to finish as much as possible on time. For this purpose, several members of our partner organisation SARJOM, the current ‘weltwaerts’ volunteers, as well as one ex-volunteer had come from Ranchi.
The kindergarten committee in Chaibasa decided relative spontaneous that a “small” opening ceremony with the members of the congregation could be held on Sunday. A “big” inauguration is planned for March, when a partner group from the Lichtenberg-Oberspree church district will be on visit in Chaibasa, amongst them also the kindergarten initiator Helga Ottow. The goal is to finish all remaining works until then.
The first children are coming to kindergarten regularly since 15th January 2019, and the business has officially started. A big relief not only for the parents, but also for the kindergarten teachers which, due to several delays, had already waited for quite some time to start their practical work.