travelogue

Phloona means to blossom out

Eindrücke von der Baustelle Phoolna ("Aufblühen" auf deutsch) im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesich-Indischen Grenze am Samstag, 21.02.2015

The latest pictures of the construction site, which will be completed by June! So are six apartments meant to serve as accommodation for new, qualified teachers, and a common room, the Community Hall, which is now still under construction. In our meetings was discussed intensively, which could be the next project with “basehabitat”.

The students of „basehabitat“/Art University Linz

Eindrücke von der Baustelle Phoolna ("Aufblühen" auf deutsch) im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesich-Indischen Grenze am Mittwoch,18.02.2015

I would also like to specially dedicate a post to the students, of their dynamism and colorfulness they bring into the life of the village and also into the everyday work.

The workers the students work together with in Little Flower, are entirely young men who were unemployed and children of leprous parents in the border region between India and Nepal. Alcohol and drugs, smuggling transactions at the border are very difficult factors influencing the village, unemployment and lack of prospects – as we know that in all regions of the world – the most fertile ground for slipping into crime and violence. –

THE WOMEN from Little Flower

im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesisch-Indischen Grenze am Dienstag, 17.02.2015

On the occasion of International Women’s Day I want to send you a photo greeting of the women from Little Flower … so-called eye cookies, as our photographer Wonge Bergmann calls them!

Spinning and weaving – the thread of life

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There is always a lot going on here

The colorfulness and the hustle and bustle in the Khadi is an attraction in the village, and everyone likes to drop by! For me, there is always a must-attend event with the spinners – who then laugh a lot when my tricky spinning wheel always turns in the wrong direction –

Lots of humor is served at work and the cheerful “Klak – clack!”

The very little ones in Little Flower

im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesisch-Indischen Grenze am Freitag, 20.02.2015

The village kindergarten is in a good mood.  .. with a good sense of humor and a noise level that you have to get a grip on first!

For Malti this duty is not difficult, she herself is a mother of two sons of secondary school age and has the necessary humor and love for the little ones to bring out the forenoon in exciting shape!

She is very pleased with the crayons we brought from Salzburg, and yes even about the toothpaste, because hygiene is part of the early education.

review building practical in february 2014

One month later… Unbelievable how fast time is passing. I have the feeling as if I just came back, but it’s already been one month now. And we are thinking when to go to India the next time. But actually the deal is done: If they are finished with the to-do-list we left them we will come again.

But at first I would like to resume the impression from last February and March. It was a really intense and diversified stay!

When we arrived, Franz had been there already for more than a month and had started with the bamboo work. Therefore he could introduce us to the work on the construction site easily. Sebastian and me were showing the “newbies” around the village and tried to explain the story behind Little Flower to them. Now being here this was a lot easier than at university where we only talked theoretically about the hospital, the school and the village in general. Everybody was interested and curious and they didn’t understand why we didn’t start work immediately – we decided it would be better to really arrive at first. But it made me really happy to see how eager they were to start to work.

Well we started on Saturday. Thirst getting to know the team, discover how well or how at all to communicated with each other. And then we started to work. The first days we needed to organise ourselves and to find teams who could work together well, but then they really were good teams. One was working on the rafter, one on the roof with the pillars and the purlins and another one inside plastering the walls and designing the windows. Of course there were thousands of small tasks, which also had to be done, but those three were our main focus at first.

Slowly we got into a routine: At 7.30 we met for a morning circle, to talk about what has to be done and who will do it, around 10 am we had a chai-time and at 12 o’clock there was a lunch break with one hour to rest and then we worked until 4.30 pm and after the daily work was done we had a meeting with tea and snack (Samosa or Pakauda … mjam!). Then the evenings were free and we could do whatever we felt like: take a rest, go for a walk, go shopping into the city or visit a family. Every now and then I would give Hindi-lessons, with help from Laxman, one of the workers, who was have a blast listening to us. After dinner which was always served at 7 pm, we often sat at the fire place reflecting the days work and then we went to bed pretty early because we knew that we would have to get up around 6h to get breakfast.

But we also took some time for trips: Once we went to Varanasi for a weekend, the holiest city of India. It was also the first time for me and those ghats really are impressive: Every evening we walked along the water and the smooth light combined with the sound of the water tapping against the stairs creates a mystic atmosphere. And another time we went to Laxmanoa to have a picnic together with all the workers. We cooked great food and did some acrobatics and also relaxed of course. That was a really great Sunday.

We also were invited to a wedding, for which we all bought Saris and which was really exotic. So much glitter and glamour and lights and music, a gorgeous bride and a long queue of people behind the bridegroom when he arrived. Everything was completely chaotic and somehow it still worked well to follow all those rituals.

Also our “Richtfest” was awesome: a colourful mixture of Austrian tradition with Indian flavour. We had a “tree” which was actually bamboo and they brought ribbons out of flowers to hang on the now finished roof. And then they made us help them with lifting the tree and while we were helping them from below suddenly a bucket full of colours was emptied on our heads. When everybody was coloured we met for a “Völkerball” competition on the field and then we played tug-of-war and it was an amazing afternoon.

Time passed really fast and for me it was really beautiful to see how friendships came into being. Our guys are so warm hearted and open, you will just have to like them. Therefore saying goodbye was even tougher at the end of the five weeks we spent together. But in the evening before the departure we had a really nice celebration with food and huge sound system. And sitting together beside the fireplace until dawn was breaking…

I didn’t tell anybody that I had changed my flight ticket to surprise them. So the day of the departure I took some pillows into my backpack and brought it to the bus, telling the driver I would need to add something later on so he should not put it on the roof of the vehicle yet. As soon as everybody sat in the car – I was saying them goodbye secretly in the morning – and the driver started the engine, I approached Kabita to ask her, if it was fine for me to stay another two weeks. I think at first she didn’t take me seriously but when I said I am honest, she said she was as well. So I unloaded my luggage while everybody was staring at me in disbelief. Suddenly Abdul burst into laughter and hugged me. But then he was like: you will leave with Motilal on the bike later, right? And when I denied he and the others finally were really happy. And I was glad that I took the decision to stay some more days. I really wanted to prepare the time we wouldn’t be there as good as possible.

And that’s what I did during the next days: I was drawing plans, printing pictures, was discussing plans with them, took field measurements of the building, wrote manuals in English, which I translated with Laxman into Hindi. The to-do-list Sebastian made with me before he left, I revised with the workers, translated it as well and made a timetable together with them according to the single steps of procedure. Again and again I asked if there is anything, which needs explanation and what they will need to be able to continue properly also when they are working alone.

And all of the sudden the two weeks were over. I think time has never passed this fast in my whole life. Somehow I still had the feeling I wasn’t able to cover every detail and every question, but over all I had a good impression. And knowing that I will come back as soon as the work on the to-do-list will be done, made it even easier to say goodbye.

I left via Nepal where I spent five great days with Costanza and Maria and suddenly I was back home. Well “suddenly”!? The travel was a torture because we were stranded in Delhi for 24h. The reason: Our first plane left late from Kathmandu and we missed our connection flight. Well it’s past now.

And now watching the construction work from Austria and to see how good and autonomous they work, and especially how fast it is going, it is… indescribable. I could laugh, shout out loud and cry because I am so happy, every time Motilal uploads new pictures on facebook. We are in touch frequently: every Saturday I meet Motilal on Skype to talk about the work and the progress which we can see on the pictures and Mondays we have a video conference with everybody, which also students from the practical join, which motivates us all a lot every time.

I have a good impression, the progress on the construction site is good, the guys are motivated and here in Austria we are planning our next journey to see them all again! =)

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The boys from Little Flower

I want to share a few stories which are close to my heart, to share my experiences with the children from the village. I really admire them and their vitality is a spark that has to overleap.

I got to know to a few children more closely. Some boys – Nassim, Ramjam, Dinesh and Jitu – are always with us and help us, get us things we need and take care of us. Their stories I know a little bit better. Ramjan for example is 14 years old and as Kabita said he was one of the cheekiest boys from the whole village before we came. At the beginning he didn’t speak a word of English, but now he is fluent in the every day needs. This is really impressive I think. We were invited to his family’s house for the celebration of his sisters twins birthday, Sikender and Sandu (or something like that). She is 21 and her children just became 5 years and she has also got another son named Allahdin. Ramjan has got four sisters. They all live with his parents. Which means that there are 10 people in two rooms on 30m^2. His parents live in one room which is 10m^2. The children live in the other rooms with two beds, one small one for Ramjan and a bigger one for all the others and then there also live the four goats of the Family. In summer they all sleep outside, because inside it’s getting too hot.

Furthermore there is Badal. He is the son from the sister of Kamal, one of our workers. I think he is five years old and is very sprightly. He speaks a few words of English and when he doesn’t know something he just keeps going in Hindi fully convinced that you have to understand what he is saying. If you don’t he is first very surprised and then tries to notify himself with hands and feet. He is a small cat burglar and climbs everything you can imagine. He is the boss of a small gang who are running through the village the whole day and turning everything inside out. His energy is impressive and his smile can warm your heart.

I started playing Volleyball after work with the boys from the village. It is very informative and I learn a lot. I have the feeling, if you spend time with them and show them respect it has a great impact on them. They are really happy every time I come and if I am not there a quarter past four some one comes to ask for me where I have been and if I don’t want to play today.

I really like them a lot by now and I think I will miss them the most in the village. Wassim, Nassims brother who always looks so serious, Nassim himself who has to comment on everything and who displays the macho, Shiv the best volleyball player, Abdul the drummer, Akash our best worker on site and who is so willing to learn anything that is new to him, Ashish the tall shy boy, who opens up when he is dancing and performs a show that is unbelievable and then last but not least Rohit, who told me he wanted to become a photographer and who was really happy when I borrowed him my camera so he could take some pictures – which are really nice by the way – apart from that he is caring and courteous – I was invited to his and his family’s place many times for tea and biscuits – and there are many more… some whose name I just can’t remember because my ear is not used to Hindi but whose face I will never forget!

And there are so much more stories to tell and so many more children to support. And of course there are all the girls from the village who I didn’t even talk about yet. I wish them all the best for the future and I hope that they will all go their own path!

The students and their work

It was great to see all students so busy at the construction site. Benedikt, Sebastian brother is supporting them during Christmas holidays. Justin from the States was a workshop participant and is still there. He is wonderful in his relaxed and steady work he is doing. Sebastian is the organizer and keeps the overview, Felix is the big communicator among all workers and motivates the young. Iris supports much also in the background of organization, accounts, photographs, keeping the Blog updated. Kunal is also a workshop participant who stayed back and is supporting wonderfully in many different ways and departments. You are a great team! Thank you very much for your work! 

Claudia Vilanek

collecting plastic with the children

 

19th of March 2012

This weekend we had a competition with the youngsters, who would collect the most garbage in Little Flower. It was a colorful images, all the Children running around in the village looking for plastic – and they could find a lot: 38 bags were collected by 19 teams.

The team of Nassim Ansar with 6,5 bags was for sure the winner. They were very happy with the new football. Kabita will take care that once in a month the garbage will be collected and Malti will take care of the execution.

We want to raise the awareness for how important the collecting and separting of the waste is.

 

construction site – cob

short summary, 25th of October 2012

We have arrived 3 days ago in the village and are now settled in. All of a sudden many people arrived here and now we are really an international team. Right now we are 6 people from Austria, 3 from India, 1 American, 1 girl from Sweden and another girl from Paris, so all together we are 12 people.

Today we started working with clay. We did an example wall 1,5m x 0,3m x 0,5m with clay, straw and water, we introduced the workshop participants from Sourabh to our project and our workers from the village are about to finished the pillars for the new pipeline.

 

review:

22.10.  When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the inhabitants of the village. We went to see the site and went to bed quite early – a 24h train ride is quite exhausting.

 

23.10. The next day was a holiday luckily, right now it’s Puja, so  we could sleep in. Then there arrived a lot of people: First of all Tanvi from the south arrived, then Justin from Denver and even later in the evening Kunal from Rajasthan joined us. We were at the Puja tent from our bamboo supplier Sunil at that moment. From the rooftop of his houses we could see all over Raxaul while the sun was setting. Still we went to bed early because we wanted to start work at 7am the next day.

 

24.10. then we got up at 6am so we could start at 7. Michael and Felix went to the site right away, me and Sebastian showed the village to the workshop participants and explained the whole situation to them. After that we got a introduction to everything by Jomo: the construction site, the bamboo, the container and the accountings. Since our head was quite filled afterwards we shoveld it free again at the site with physical work. We filled the pillars our workers layed out of bricks before with concrete. Like every day work was finished at 4pm at the site – we had an other meeting with Jomo. After that we had dinner and joined our neighbours and listened to them while they were playing music – an accordion, a drum and some were singing a nice lullaby.

 

25.10. Getting up, having breakfast and going to the site where we started mixing the clay. ‘dance on it” Sourabh said. Michael, Tanvi and Justin enjoyed dancing in the mud. Then we did a human chain and transported the mixture to our wall. After that we had a team meeting – we should get to know each other and the workshop participants should learn about our project, which we explained to them intensively. And it was already lunchtime. Right now Jomo, Sebastian and me are working on the bamboo order – which is not so easy. Probably two of us will have to go to Nagaland which might be interesting anyway. In the meanwhile our wall is being raised to 55cm – which makes half of a truck. The other half will be used for the pizza oven on our rooftop.

Tonight there will be a huge dinner: We and all our workers from the village, young boys who are really motivated. Maya was quite shocked when we told her that she had to cook for so many people. I’m looking forward to it: it’s a nice birthday present a nice way to say good bye to Jomo, who is leaving tomorrow.

 

by(e) Iris

 

 

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