This year we flew again to India to spend Evelin’s Remembrance Day on February 21st with our foster children and all girls at the Deenabandhu Home.
Visit at the Don Bosco Home for Street Children
When we arrived in Hyderabad at the airport, we were welcomed with garlands and flowers by four boys, the director of the Don Bosco Home for Street Children and the director of the Churches Council for Child and Youth Care from Bangalore. It was a joyful surprise.
The next day we visited first the very large, interesting and extensive Salar Young Museum. Thereafter we drove to the Home. Most of the boys, who had been there last year, remembered us and welcomed us enthusiastically. All of them had grown during this year and all wanted to tell us about their progress. The brass band played for us and we liked to listen to their extended repertory. We remained a long time in the yard and talked with the boys who had many questions for us.
The Home is well run, the children are happy there and well taken care of. We toured the individual training rooms, many renovated, modernized and newly equipped since last year. Especially the department of Desktop Publishing had been expanded.
We also met two young students from Germany, who spent a year of practical training in the Home and who got along well with the boys.
In the late afternoon, the brass band played again for us and the boys performed various dances. Thereafter we exchanged gifts and a few more thoughts. After a wonderful and hearty reunion we returned to the hotel in the evening.
Visit at the Deenabandhu Home for Girls
We flew from Hyderabad to Vijayawada where we were expected by the principal, a representative of CCCYC and our four foster girls, here with garlands and a fruit basket. The children had also made a welcome banner which the four girls proudly opened up in front of us. The reunion was so hearty, as if old friends greeted each other.
We drove right away to the Deenabandhu Home in Machilipatnam. The principals, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, had put a lot of effort into welcoming us very affectionately. They had made a huge poster from a photo from our last visit, the children carried welcome signs and the smallest ones sang and danced for us. To cover the way from the gate to the main building took a long time because all children wanted to greet us individually and all had questions and stories for us. Our foster children and many girls handed us presents which they had lovingly chosen or made. It got already dark, when we finally were able to distribute our gifts. The joy was big for everyone and we could enjoy the happy faces and the warm affection.
Our four foster children are very lovely girls, bright and interested in school, want to learn English and all would like to visit us. Mahitha, the youngest one (9), is always laughing, a quite
happy child and did not want to leave “Mom’s” side. Siva and Mani K., who are in training to become a health consultant respectively a registered nurse, are also very determined and thankful that
they are receiving this education.
Our foster children showed us their beds and closets and how they had decorated them with the photos they had received from us. Since the nights are so wonderfully warm there, we sat together for a long time in front of the main building, answered questions, talked and took more pictures.
The next day we travelled to the Bhavani Island in the Krishna river near Vijayawada, to celebrate Evelin’s Remembrance Day. The day was very beautiful, already on the ship the upper deck was decorated in memory of Evelin and there was much talked, sung and recited about Evelin.
There is more to read under “Evelin’s Remembrance Day 2014”.
On February 22nd, the parents of our foster children were invited by the principal of the Home. So we met the parents personally who were able to come. They are happy that their children get a chance for education. We had very pleasant and warm conversations in mutual understanding. We talked with the parents on this sociable afternoon until the early evening.
In addition, Sangeetha, whom we got to like very much at our last year’s visit, came with her husband, whom she had married in the meantime, to see us again. She was pregnant and invited us to their traditional celebration after the fifth month of pregnancy.
On this afternoon we still drove to the parents of our foster child Anitha, who live in a village close to Vijayawada. It was a hearty welcome by the whole family. Anitha was proud, that we were able to meet her parents and her family.
The next day started again with chatting with the children in front of the home until the bus came to take us to the beach in Machilipatnam. At the beach time passed quickly and cheerfully with games, bathing, drawing in the sand and shooting photos. We also had brought sweets for everyone – a welcome snack.
The next day, February 24th, we first bought the traditional gifts for Sangeetha and her husband. They live with two of his brothers and their families in a house and have only one room for themselves. There is in both villages – of Anitha and Sangeetha – water available only out of a well. To this traditional festivities of the fifth month of pregnancy come all relatives and everyone from the village. One brings a flower arrangement for the hair, fruit, especially bananas, sweets and bracelets, i.e., bangles. At the end a priest blesses the mother and the baby. Here too it was a warmhearted welcome with food that was served outdoors. However, we saw to it not to choose anything too spicy. We met not only Sangeetha’s and her husband’s parents, but also many, many relatives.
Back at the Home, the preparations for the very special cultural event were in full swing. The decorations were already arranged on the stage, similar to the ship. The girls were dressed up and made up according to their roles and were already waiting for us. Some showed off their new dresses. One of the older girls looked radiant in a traditional dress and the last preparations for her traditional dance were just completed.
Each class had rehearsed a dance and a song. We were asked to choose the best performance, which was very hard since they all were good and took part with heart and soul. Besides the main prize, at the end all received a small prize.
A few girls performed afterwards a fashion show with festive dresses up to funny costumes.
After the performances, we still sat together, admired the costumes and the respective performance. All went to bed proud and encouraged.
The next day in the morning, the girls showed us their bedroom and their beds, then we walked around through the rooms of the Home and on the big compound.
Afterwards we drove with the principal and the Outreach Team to a slum in Machilipatnam. The Outreach Team was founded by the girls themselves on their own initiative, i.e., by ten 16- to 19-year old girls. Following the values and the nature of Evelin, they wanted to pass on what they had learned and experienced. Mrs. Mani supports them and tries to appeal to local political and social organizations to participate in this work. The girls buy from their pocket money shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. and they talk with the children and their mothers about hygiene and other topics. They also sing with the children and converse with them. On this day they also performed a little sketch about a sick girl, who after fruitless attempts with a healer and a shaman finally consults a doctor and gets well.
The next day it was time to say good-bye. It was difficult for us to leave our foster children, all children and everyone in the Deenabandhu Home. The farewell was full of plaintiveness, but we knew that we would see each other again.
Mrs. Mani performs wonders: The girls are separated in groups and each group has a task in the Home. The girls rotate. They learn reading aloud to others, singing, dancing, etc. There are regular debates between groups or individual girls about certain important topics. The girls are being raised to learn self-reliance, order, thinking along, empathy, patience, tolerance, etc. Who needs academic assistance, gets it. I am certain that this does not happen everywhere. Mrs. Mani also uses volunteers and she has a wide network of people whom she consults for the good of the children. Just then she had engaged a young tutor who practiced English with the girls, including diction and presentation of their owned small essays. We acted here as well as the jury.
There is so much to tell. The conclusion of this trip: The children are thinking so positively and zealously. Therefore they soak up education and new things – it is the best that one can give them.