2002 – Chaibasa –

2002 – Chaibasa –
Teacher Andreas at the blackboard

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.

Taking part in the rice harvest

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.

The new computer room

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.

2003 – Berlin –

2003 – Berlin –

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

2005 – Berlin –

2005 – Berlin –
The Indian visitors present a gift to the principal of the Gandhi School

In summer 2005, five youths and teachers of the LHSC visited Berlin. Our Indian friends were accommodated in guest families. They learned a lot about culture, lifestyle and school in Germany. So they enriched the lessons by discussions and with a PowerPoint presentation on Mahatma Gandhi.

Together with students from the Gandhi School and representatives of the Ecumencial Forum Berlin Marzahn, they went on a trip to the German ‘Bundestag’ (the parliament), where they spoke about the situation of the Adivasi in India with Sebatian Edathy, the chairman of the German Indian parliamentary group.

On a visit at a composting plant

During an event in the Indian Embassy, they presented the partnership relations of the Lutheran Schools to the Mahatma Gandhi School, together with representatives of the Indian Forum.

The visits to a composting plant and to social projects made a special impression on them. Here in Germany they decided to get active themselves, and so they founded the organization ‘Reyad Umbul’ after their return to India.

2008 – Berlin –

2008 – Berlin –
Merrily at a canoe tour on the Griebnitz lake

After a three year break, we finally managed to get a group of Indian students, teachers and priests to Berlin again in 2008. So there were six Indian friends staying in Berlin Marzahn from the 29th of May to the 21st of June 2008 as guests of the Tagore School, the church district, the Ecumenical Forum and of course the Indian Forum: three (former) students of the Lutheran Compound Chaibasa, two priests and one teacher, three women and three men.

During the week their accommodation was the ‘Haus Pro Social’ at the Blumberger Damm in Northern Biesdorf. On the weekends the guests stayed in different families.

Chanting at church service

Besides many days at the Tagore School, a bunch of trips and tours was also on the plan of course. Amongst other things, the sewage works in Wassmannsdorf has been visited, the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, the German parliament and the Chorin monastery. A two day trip to the Spreewald (Spree forest), including visits at the Sorbs and at an open pit mine for brown coal, could also be realized. In addition the group got to know Berlin from all of its good and bad sites.

But above all, there was enough time for interpersonal contacts. Every minute of ‘free time’ apart from the tight program was used for meeting old and new friends and on the weekends private trips were organized, for example to the International Aviation and Space Exhibition, to Martin Luther town Wittenberg or to do a canoe tour.

2011 – Berlin –

2011 – Berlin –

In September 2011 a school delegaton from Shantiniketan, West-Bengal, Indien visited the Tagore School in Berlin Marzahn. Besides actively accompanying this partnership journey, the Indian Forum had alvo invited an Indian primary school teacher, Mrs Gargi Ghosh.

Gargi Ghosh at the great school festival.

While the official visitors from the Shantiniketan school, which had been founded by Rabindranath Tagore himself, went on with their own programme at the Tagore School in Marzahn, Mrs Ghosh spent most of her time in primary schools in the same district.

During one week each, she teached Indian dances, songs and poems of Tagore to students of the Peter Pan Primary School and the “Unter dem Regenbogen” Primary School. Sebastian Keller accompanied and assisted Mrs Ghosh during her entire stay.

Highlight of the visit was the final ceremony at the Tagore School on 23rd September 2011, during which trees were planted and the primary school students presented their dances and songs.


2002 – Delhi –

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.