March 31, 2009


Now, being back in Germany many, many memories of India come to my mind all the time.
It has been a great experience and I am glad that I could stay for such a long time, but also do so many different things.

Over the whole time I have not only taught many thing to the students, but also learned a lot and I am sure this six months will have a big influence on my life, a very positive influence.
From the very first minute I left, I started missing the people and could not believe that I would really leave India until I finally landed in London. Over here in Europe, in Germany, many things seem to be very strange and different and I have to say that I miss the Indian way of life. At the beginning many things in this south asian country annoyed me a little, but by the time I got used to it and now, being back in Germany, I really appreciate them and would like to go back to India as soon as possible. I think part of my heart is still over there and I have left with tears in my eyes and a crying heart.

Although it was not always easy, I have had a great time and want to thank everybody who helped to make this very special and wonderful experience possible.

Final days in Navsari and India

After leaving the blindschool I had a few days left in Navsari until my final departure for Germany. There were many things to organize and on the other hand I tried to spend as much time with the children as possible.

Although I had to be in Mumbai on Sunday 22nd I had my farewell in the school on Saturday already due to holiday on Sundays. All the students from both schools and the workshop came and all teachers and most off the staff were present in the prayer hall; even all trustees were there. We had many speeches, all honouring my stay and me. Again I got flowers and some presents as well.
After everybody had finished it was my turn to say a few words. Although I knew signlanguage and even some Gujarati, I did make it in English, to be able to say everything to its full extend. I revised the whole time I had been there and called back many memories and experiences I had made. After finishing I was told to say somthing in Gujarati and sign language as well and thus made everybody happy with a few words each.

It was a very nice farewell ceremony and everybody wished me a good journey. I think I have never been honoured so much as on this day and still feel quite astonished and happy, but also a little proud of it. These speeches were something very special and have a big meaning to me.

Sunday afternoon we finally left for Mumbai, stayed at a friends place for a few hours and then I set of for Germany, flying all night and reaching it 13,5 hours later.
But before we left the school all the students and most of the staff gathered in long lines at the entrance of the school to say good bye to me. It was very moving to see them all standing there and again I had to shake everybodys hand and many of the kids thanked me for staying with them. Touching every single kid again I felt worse the further I went and soon could not stop the tears running down my face.

Farewell in the blindschool

On Sunday 15th I went to the blindschool again to spend some last time with the people there and finally have my farewell.
Although it was quite hot already I enjoyed staying with the kids and staff and practice all the songs again and play a few games. Because it was my final time with everybody my classes were a bit more relaxed but we did also good practice, because the kids were very motivated. Thus we did have a lot of fun and beside singing enjoyed taking and watching photos.

On Wednesday it was finally time to say goodbye and I felt very sad to leave this beautiful place. But before going we had a nice gathering in the hall. The students sang a few prayers, also wishing me good health and luck and praying for a soon return. After a speech of the staff and a student in which they thanked me for coming, spending time with them and teaching them so many things, it was my turn to say something. Because my Gujarati was still not very fluent I had prepared a nice letter in English for the school and then managed to get somoeone in Navsari to translate it for me. Thus I could read it in English first and then in Gujarati, which was quite a surprise for most of the people.
Finally all of us revised all the songs I had taught them and although we had never sung all of them all together it worked quite well. This final music made a good memory for everyone.

It was quite hard to leave the school. Everybody wanted to shake my hand and have a few words with me and would not let me go. Thus I had to shake hands again and again and the students could not stop saying “haudscho” which literally means “come again” but is ususally used as “bye”.

I felt very sorry to leave everybody behind, not knowing when I would meet them again. But I will always keep the time I spend in Dang in the blindschool in good memory and the people over there have got a big place in my heart.

March 12, 2009


On March 10th and 11th people all over India celebrated one of the biggest Hindu festivals, “Holi”. Beside religious procedures old and young throw water bombs and colors at each other and enjoy to totally get messed up.
Due to the fact that the holidays were close to the weekend many students went home and thus there were only few people in the school.
Unfortunately the first 1 ½ days nothing happened, except for a few water bombs that were thrown at us. But because the kids kept telling me that they were celebrating “Holi” soon and seemed to be absolutely excited about it, I was quite eager to see what it was actually about.
Later Wednesday afternoon I finally got my price and ended up totally soaked and covered in colors. Forgetting everything we just threw water and powder or even colored water at each other and enjoyed it for one to two hours.

March 10, 2009

“A little trip around India”

After the group had left I went with Martyn (Chair of Mamta Welfare Trust in U.K. which sent me over to India and sponsored me), a friend of him and his nephew to several places around India.
We basically traveled to several villages and cities to meet some of hi Indian friends and spend some time with them. Most of the time we stayed in Kosamba, a small village in Gujarat with a Muslim family. It was very nice and peaceful there and gave me the chance to see a bit more of Indian culture, because I had basically lived and spend time with Hindus before.
Besides staying there we met some people in Jambusar and Baroda and did a little bit of sightseeing as well. Thus we got a tour round a boarding school run by Muslim’s, visited a school for deaf to learn English where I met some of my Indian friends again and went to a Gujarati museum which did have, unfortunately, besides some Indian art, loads of European as well. Back in Kosamba we got the chance to see a bit of an inauguration ceremony of a new temple and got special blessings from a very important saint.

The biggest cultural highlight though was our “short” trip to Agra and Delhi. After a whole night and day of traveling we finally reached our primary destination in the evening and set of the next morning to see the world famous Taj Mahal. Although I had seen it on photos many times it was amazing to actually stand in front of it. Fortunately we had a guide with us who could explain all the history and architecture etc. and thus made it possible for us to really understand why it is and deserves to be one of the 7 world wonders.
After spending several hours in and around the tomb we went to see Agra Ford, which was nearby, to then set off for Delhi again. On the way we stopped again and had a look at Sikandara, another tomb of a Mugal king. We spent the night in Delhi and tried to see as many things as possible the next day. Thus we saw ancient places like Qutub Minar, India
Gate, the Bhai Temple, Birla Temple, the Indira Gandhi museum and Mahatma Gandhi museum (both were the places where they were assassinated) and then finally went on a night train back to Gujarat again.
All the places we went to were very interesting and fascinating. But unfortunately, due to a lack of time we could only spend little time at each place and all the traveling was quite exhausting and tiring.

March 8, 2009

Indiability ‘09

On the morning of February 11th I set off for Bombay to pick up the second youth group from England, the Indiabilitygroup ’09. Because we arrive late in the night in Navsari we had a welcoming ceremony the next morning. Like for the group in October all the deaf kids and some disabled gathered in lines and welcomed us (including me) with drums and flower garlands and roli (the red dot and rice on the forehead).
After having been in India for nearly five months I knew well how things in school worked and thus my job this time was a totally different one than in autumn. I did a lot of organizing for the group, showed them around and guided and tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Due to a lack of language knowledge I did also have to translate all the time. Although the group was much bigger (10 girls and 5 boys and 4 staff), they did basically the same activities as the last group, which was mainly working with the kids in all three schools. Being in Navsari we split into two groups and worked in both schools parallel. While the others played a lot of games, did sport activities and arts and crafts. My job was basically to translate explain and take photos and videos.
Like the last group we went to the blindschool for a few days and spend a very good time with the kids there. Basic activities were, like in Navsari, sports and games, arts and crafts and even a bit of music. I think all of us enjoyed it and learned a lot and the kids and staff did have a nice change for a few days from their normal school routine.
Again it was very good that I knew a bit of Gujarati and had worked with the kids a lot. Thus they trusted me and it was easier to communicate with them or help some members of the group to get in touch with the students.
After coming back we did spend more time in the schools in Navsari, went to Dandi, went with the mobile ambulance to some nearby villages and visited some hospitals. While going for shopping in Navsari I could test my Gujarati and bargaining skills. One day we had to go to Surat and visit a little school for disabled girls. Through the press conference afterwards we were all in the newspaper the other day and I had to give interviews for two TV channels.Due to some relatives of some group members we got invited to a wedding again which was a nice cultural addition.
After two weeks the Indiability group ’09 left again with a nice farewell and many tears.

For me it was nice to have some change and some company from Europe. But it was also very exhausting to have so many people around and to organize all the time. I think I’ve never done so much translations at a time (Gujarati and ISL), but although it was a bit too much sometimes, I did actually quite enjoy it.