March 2017 April 2017 Impressions of our visit on the occasion of the inauguration of our hall Our St. Anthony‘s school is not so small any more. So much has changed since our trip to Darjeeling a year ago. We were a small group of 9 people on the long journey to India to participate in the inauguration of the new hall. Financing the extension of the school with a new hall was not easy, and it will take some time to cover the cost of this project. But we felt really proud when we got our first view of the new school building. And being there for the first event in the new hall, which has a capacity of 250 people, was an amazing experience. Once again you can sense how the enthusiasm and resolve of our school director Rohit (Andy) Pradhan motivated all the people involved in this construction project: The construction workers, who worked long hours in tough weather conditions with only very basic construction tools, made sure that the shining blue roof was finished on time. The carpenter, who just the day before, finished the letters “St. Laurentius Hall “on the green painted wall. The name originates in a parish in Northern Germany that donated the proceeds from a church social. The teachers and students, who have been preparing for the three-hour inauguration ceremony since the start of the new school year in March. They did extra rehearsals in the afternoons, and even including Easter Monday. The girls demonstrated their dance skills accompanied by traditional Nepalese music and Bollywood hits. Parents and guests applauded the boys for their interpretation of Michal Jackson’s hit “Beat It “, and the nursery school kids for their fashion show. The 3 year old kids recited nursery rhymes. We were invited up on stage to receive Khaddas (white scarfs), a sign of gratitude and best wishes. Our school director didn’t forget to ask the construction workers on stage and to thank them for their magnificent work. A speech from our side should not be left out. What progress took place over the last 8 years? Our group was diverse and represents well how our project is supported. Andrea, Eva and Regina could meet their godchildren. Michael and Lukas represented the St Laurentius parish from Süsel. Sabine supported our work by organizing activities with pupils of a grammar school in Stuttgart. Nathy from Ireland collected donations from his circle of friends and family members. It is just marvellous to celebrate this successful model in such a magnificent atmosphere. On one hand, there are people in Germany and other countries giving donations for building up St. Anthony‘s school. On the other hand, there is the team in Darjeeling with our school director Rohit Pradhan who motivates the others and gives families an opportunity for a good school education, and a foundation to help them escape the vicious cycle of poverty. The day after the ceremony we visited families that might participate in our godchild program. By going to their homes we can verify their needs. Home is often one small room with bed and kitchenette for all family members. It is difficult to imagine their life under a tin roof during winter time. This is a very emotional experience. Nathy, said it was hard to believe that the children who performed on stage full of self-confidence the day before came from such deprived homes. We hope that we can extend our school to a 10th grade class giving a school-leaving qualification to the children. This will be a great foundation for their future life. Many thanks for your support. Please keep your support for our school. Stephanie Lücking (1. Vorsitzende) P.S. Many thanks for the chairs you have sent with us to Darjeeling. Everybody had a seat during the ceremony. St. Anthony´s newsletter Dear members, godparents, friends and supporters of Help Darjeeling Dortmund e.V., The 2017 school year at St. Anthony´s School in Darjeeling (India) was marked by the absolute highlight of the inauguration of the school auditorium, as well as a long period of political upheaval, fear, hope and waiting. The school principal Rohit Pradhan (Andy) made a huge effort at the beginning of the school year, when all the students and teachers were still enjoying their long break, to organise the construction of the school assembly hall. The construction of the hall was completed in April, with support from 9 workers from Germany and a friend of ours from Ireland. The biggest challenge when building the hall was the construction of the roof. We found it incredible that such a large structure was built without any machinery or cranes. March 2017 marked the beginning of our 8th school year since the opening of the school. We welcomed 120 children in 9 classes (4 Kindergarten classes and classes 1 through 5), 9 teachers, one sports teacher, one science teacher and three teachers’ aids. Due to another generous donation, we were able to introduce the snack and milk project in the school. Every day, the children were given a cup of milk and some fruit, nuts or an egg. As well as day to day schoolwork and activities, the children had to practice from the start of the school year for their three hour opening ceremony show. In April of this year, we celebrated the opening of St. Lawrence Hall, together with school principal and project coordinator Rohit Andrew Pradhan, our colleagues, the pupils and their parents, the construction workers who built the hall and many other guests. The girls showed their excellent talent with their dance routines to traditional music and Bollywood hits. The boys received rapturous applause after dancing to Michael Jackson´s ‘Beat It’. The older Kindergarten kids showed off their runway skills in a fashion show, and the younger children recited poetry. Our principal invited the team of construction workers to the ceremony, and he thanked them for their hard work. He also asked us to come on stage. We gave a speech and thanked everybody who had given their time to the project, and who work tirelessly to make the school such a wonderful part of the community that has become like a home to 120 children. All the parents and guests then came onto the stage and gave us Khaddas (white scarves) – a symbol of gratitude and good wishes. I would like to pass these good wishes on to you all: A warm thank you to the members and godparents. They are the basis of our finances that pay our teachers´ salaries, the school uniforms, school books etc. A warm thank you for all the donations which go towards the construction of our school, furnishing the classrooms, and providing extracurricular activities like environment week, celebrations and sports events. A warm thank you for your active support with bazaars and information desks at congregational meetings. Some very creative people sew, knit and make handmade crafts so we can sell our own goods and help fund our association. A warm thank you for your all your kind words, emails and continued enthusiasm which encourage us to pursue our work. Aside from the daily running of the school, our group of teachers organised monthly competitions (dancing, singing, quizzes, drawing etc.), the weekly clean-up around the school grounds, and participated in sports contests, festivities and environmental week. The singing contest and the mother´s day celebration in May, which are usually cancelled due to the heavy rain during the summer, were able to take place this year in the school hall and were enjoyed by pupils and teachers alike. Some of our pupils had great success at a Taekwando contest in May and brought home well-deserved medals. However, two months after our visit, we experienced a very low point in our work and project. The movement for an autonomous state and the political upheaval associated with it, as well as a general strike that went on for 104 days, brought public life in the region to a standstill. Shops, banks, schools were closed, all labour in the Darjeeling tea gardens came to a halt, public transport was not available, and there were daily demonstrations and protests. 12 people tragically lost their lives during the riots. A large majority of the population are supportive of this movement, but only time will tell if the long period of deprivation results in the desired change to Gorkhaland (the name of the desired new state). As a result of this disruption, our school had to close and the pupils could not sit their half year exams. At the end of September when talks with the central government were promised, the strike came to an end and schools could finally open again. The school council, teachers and pupils all had to put in a lot of work to get back into the school routine. Since the school reopened, we have heard that the pupils have resettled in school and are focused on learning again. In November, there was a Children´s Day celebration held in the school, and a Taekwando contest in which our pupils won 4 gold and 2 silver medals. Due to the disruption of the school year, winter break will start later than usual and classes will be held on Saturdays. Exams will be held at the end of the school year as normal so the pupils don’t lose a whole school year. There are also further extensions being added to the building; additional toilets and another classroom are needed for the next school year. We hope that our school will continue to give our pupils the opportunity to learn in a peaceful and happy environment, participate in a variety of contests, celebrate special occasions and enjoy school life. Nepal: Opening the Shree Patle Lower Secondary School in Bung After making many preparations last year and getting past some bureaucratic hurdles, our partners in Nepal made huge progress in spring of this year building a new lower secondary school in Bung. The laying of the corner stone took place in February, and from there the construction of the first part of the building commenced. By mid-June, three classrooms had been built. Development was then halted for the summer months due to the rainy season. In October, smaller construction jobs inside the school were done. After the harvest, the second phase of construction will begin. Ganga Khadka, one of our partners who is organising the building of the school, hopes that the second part of construction will be completed in spring 2018. We are travelling to Bung with a small group next spring to celebrate the opening of the school. More information and photos of both projects can be found on our homepage www.darjeelinghilfe.de. We would like to emphasise that all members of the association board work on an entirely honorary basis and that all trips to Darjeeling or Nepal are financed privately. All donations are used only for funding the development of the school. Receipts for donations above €50 are sent to you automatically as usual. The financial authorities accept scanned documents sent via email. This means we can save on mailing costs, however those who don’t have email or wish for a paper document are welcome to ask for one. We cordially thank you for your confidence and support, and wish you a merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year. With kindest regards
Taekwondo Team
Class 5
Class 4
Class 3
Upper Kindergarden
Class 2
Lower Kindergarden
Nursery
Playgroup
Class 1