Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 2008

Khamaghani Dear Readers,
We hope that everybody reading this are doing well and are enjoying the festive season.
We all here are alright, we all from this part of the world with you all the very best for the coming New year and Christmas.

Family:- Mumy is doing better everyday, One morning mumy woke up and started to chew something from her mouth and pretended from her hand that she is eating something, without wasting time , Mukta gave mumy a little cookie, mumy held’s it with shaking hand and started to chew it, we waited for one day and consulted the doctor if we can remove it because we think that mumy can eat from her mouth, Now we have come one more step above in the level that Mumy can chew and swallow. We have a acupressure therapist coming to give pressure on the certain points related to brain, and a Physiotherapist,
Mumy can walk a little bit with our support, can nod her head with yes  or no 
Her Diabetes is under control ,neurology will take some time to recover, psychiatrist is keeping a close eye on her case.
We thank from bottom of our hearts to everybody for praying and for standing next to our family in our bad times. Thank you sooo much all our dear family friends.
Mukta’s blood pressure went low and she had to be under observation of doctor at our home, she is doing better now and is recommended to rest from work and duties.
Grand ma has been early to bed and late to raise, it is cold and she doesn’t like to come out of bed  .
Ayush’s school timing has changed from 7.30am to 12.00pm and now 10.30 am till 3.00pm
We have arranged a tutor for him to help him with homework and extra coaching for his school from 4.00pm till 6.00pm

Durag Niwas Guest House:-Out of 11 rooms we have given quite a number of rooms to long term guest, after the Mumbai attacks many people canceled their reservations and many guest even after reserving didn’t turn up, slowly the tourist season is picking and more people have started to come. Nice guest have come recently and it is soo much for to work for them. I found a very interesting quote that I found at one of the shops in Agra, I am using it at the guest house also.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption on our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not and outsider on our business. He is a part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him, He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
By Mahatma Gandhi

Since we all are ,specially Mukta soo much involved with mumy ‘s health that sometimes we think that guest may not be happy with our service because someone need to keep an eye over the staff serving the guest, But touch wood all our guest have been very understanding and have taken good memories and best of our services from Jodhpur.

Sambhali Trust:-

Sambhali Graduates from year 2007-2009

Marriage season is nearly over and girls have started to come more regularly, Ms. Elisa from Germany, volunteering with us is doing a great job and recently one of the guest at the guest house Ms. Carolina wished to Join the Sambhali Jodhpur Project as volunteer for a month, Both the ladies have done interesting world projects and are teaching English to the girls. We are happy with the results more from them is available on their reports.

Doors after doors opening for the Sambhali Trust Presentation in Linz, Austria fro June 2009.
After speaking with Ms. Ernestine of Sozial Initiative on the Presentation matter as I was unaware of how it shall be put together etc, it sounded easy for me to say but to obtain at least a final draft for the presentation would have been a very difficult job, as I have never done anything like this before. One morning one guest arrived at the guest house who wished to stay longer and I got into conversation with her, yes I am talking about Ms. Corinne from UK, For more please read the report.
Similarly we recived an email from Jaipur from MS. Pinky from the UK who wished to volunteer with us for two months , without loosing the opportunity we accepted her request and now Ms. Pinky has joined us and will start helping with the reports from today. First impression available soon.

A 10 minutes documentary on the girls will be shown on the presentation in Austria therefore we requested our friend Ms.Catherine Vibert from the cat vibe production in the USA to help us with the documentary, Catherine happily accepted our request, we are soo excited about the presentation and our volunteers are working very hard for the purpose.

The New Batch and Older batch are doing wonderful and are working hard on their work everyday, the older batch has started to work and concentrate more on their sewing skills as this would be the step towards their self sustainability from June 2009 when they will graduate.
Some of the graduates will be put to get married by their families after some time of their graduating from us. Therefore some days of the week the girls become emotionally down and are low in energy, they are sad to leave the project and than when they will be married (arranged) than their families, they will have to go and live with man they don’t know.

The Sambhali Trust as a follow up of the Jodhpur Project wants to help them with micro finance which will help them open their sewing centers (one center among 5-6 sambhali graduated girls) where they can stitch clothes on order, this will bring them economical stability and will keep all the girls connected even after they leave the project, this will also give us chance to keep connected to them as the Sambhali Trust will keep an eye over the progress of the sewing centers.

Rajput Cultural Adventures:-
Have heard back from some of out Guest who have returned safe back at their homes from the India Trip with us. We have one more 14 day (short trip) of Rajasthan in January-Februry 2009 with our friend Ms. Nigama and her 8 other Friends, our guest are from Switzerland and we have some guest on the trip almost our ages, it would be interesting to work with soo young people on a tour because we have never had youngsters on our groups, we look forward to our new adventure and experience.
Thank you soo much for taking your time in reading this email, take care and all the best
Warmest Regards
Govind S.Rathore,Family and Friends.

First Impression Report from Ms.Carolina from Sweden ,Ms.Elisa from Germany and Ms.Corinne from the UK.

First Impression – Carolina Pinasco, Dec-Jan, Stockholm/Sweden

I arrived in Jodhpur by chance because some guy in Delhi sold us a ticket.

Durag Niwas Guesthouse was recommended by an English guy describing the place as “peaceful and calm”. Something not very common in Northern India.

As soon as I entered the Guesthouse I said to my friend “For the first time since arriving in India I feel peace, I want to stay here!”

We were supposed to stay for two nights, and my friend left, but I decided to stay for a week. I was desperately looking for an Ashram when the owner, Govind, commented something about Sambhali Trust and introduced me to a German volunteer that was teaching English. She invited me to join her during the next class and since that moment I felt I should join her for a while. Not only because the feeling of helping these nice students to learn English, but for the very special climate you can feel in the Guesthouse.

A kid, a small crazy dog, many nice employees and a very nice couple, Govind and Mukta, compose what we could call a supporting family. Besides, good Indian food, nice singing of Birds and a Courtyard are the perfect ingredients to rest and find peace of mind.

About the Project I should say that it’s really challenging the fact of teaching a new language to students that are really interested in getting new knowledge. Girls are always thankful about the lesson and you can notice how much they appreciate the teaching of English. Some of them, more advanced, have such a good level of English, fact that motivates you to still teaching and improving. On the other side, some of them are less advanced in the learning, but still you can feel how much effort do they make in order to improve.

It’s important to highlight how good other Guests feel about the Guesthouse. Everyone is satisfied about the accommodation and find this place peaceful and relaxed. Also, it is really amazing the way other tourists get interested in the Project attending to the lessons and being part of the teaching. Such was the case of some French girls that got involved in the teaching for a couple of days.

I would say, that is the perfect place to relax and combine some good actions in an optimal environment.

All of what these described before made me decide to join the Project for a month.

Final Impression:-

One month was time enough to understand how Sambhali Project works. I have to say that there is a different environment in this place. Not only because of the nice couple, Govind and Mukta, but for all the people and pets that are part of this wonderful Guest house.
Everything is given to have a peaceful rest. That’s maybe why all guests arrive to the house and they usually decide to stay longer.
2 dogs, Ayush a 3-year old clever kid, and a couple of birds, are the perfect scenario to spend your time in this place and not even notice about it.
As soon as Govind told me about the Sambhali Project, I knew that it was going to be a good experience. It is difficult to have a bad time in such an amazing place.
But, my expectations were overcome. When I helped Elisa teaching for the first time I suddenly knew that I should stay longer. And as the week was passing I decided to stay for a while. It was funny that while I was thinking about the idea of staying Elisa told me one that…it would be so nice if you could stay longer.
Teaching is one of my favorite activities, teaching English is even more enjoyable and teaching English for these “untouchable” girls was really my challenge.
What better made me feel was their thankful words after every lesson given, lots of words of thanking.
The girls are really focused in learning and you can notice the effort they make to improve their knowledge.
The first thing we did at the beginning was dividing the class in 2 groups. Beginners and advanced lessons.
For some reason I was more dedicated in the less advanced group. I really found it hard to teach English to girls that maybe were not able to learn even in their own language.
The challenge was even bigger but then the satisfaction of watching how the girls improve their level is a deep sensation I cant describe.
I was really attracted to a 14 year old girl, Ravina.. When she arrived she didn’t even know how to say her name in English. Completely shy and introverted, for some reason, I decided to focus on her. Tamana, the Hindi teacher told me she didn’t know how to read in her own language, that’s why I made all my efforts to make Ravina learn English and be integrated to the class.
Finally, after a month, Ravina smiles, she can answer questions in English and she is not embarrassed to go to the white board and do the exercises. She was my challenge and so, all the girls of the beginner’s course.
On the other hand, the advanced course is easier to teach. The girls are pretty able to have a conversation and tell you about their lives. In same cases they are older and more developed and used to communicate with other foreigners.
With this girls, the relation is different because you can share more experiences and feelings, thoughts and ideas.
It is always easier and you always have the impression that they learn faster. Also, the girls are really motivated and enjoy the lessons. Apart from the English lessons the girls take sewing classes that prepare them to face the world and develop by themselves. One of the aims of the project is that the girls could ever make their own clothes and open their shop or they could work in a shop/
Some days the girls were learning how to dance, they have a special teacher, Govinds cousin, that comes to the guest house and spend hours teaching them.
They seem to be excited with the idea of dancing and preparing a show.
In general the girls always look pretty happy and it seems as if they enjoy their lives,
I was impressed by the way they help each other, show feelings for their friends and support.
If you ask something to someone that cant answer, immediately all the other girls manage to help her.
I should say that Govind and his wife Mukta are very nice people and generate good energy between the girls and the guests.
In my opinion, the project is growing and for sure it will be improving more and more.
If I had to suggest something I would say that it good be good to follow a structure in the English teaching. Maybe following a book makes the teaching easier especially for the girls.
But, apart from this, that is a small detail, in my opinion, I think the project is moving forward and what is being done is really useful for the girls.
So, according to my experience, Sambhali Project overcomes my expectations and I take with me a huge learning.

First Impression – Elisa Fiedler, Nov-Jan, Berlin/Germany

I arrived in Delhi on the 5th of November and took the bus from Delhi to Jodhpur. This was the most horrible bus trip I ever had. The bus was broken down in the middle of nowhere, it was night and I had to change the bus twice. Finally, on the 6th of November I arrived in Jodhpur and after this exhausting bus trip I felt safe for the first time in India.

After a really nice welcoming by Govind and the other volunteers I spoke with Govind about my role as a volunteer and ask all my questions. Talking from face to face was really good and helpful even if knew the most things from the email conversation. The rest of the day was relaxed and I just enjoyed the calmness of the Guesthouse.

A few days later I took the bus to Setrawa, a little village in the Desert 110 km west of Jodhpur. When I get out of the car I was surrounded by the girls of the school who just finished their lesson and welcomed me now. All the girls were asking questions and wanted to know everything about me. Was so nice to see that they are really interested in me and the English of some girls was even quite good. After a little bit small talk with the girls, Helen and Griselda, the two other volunteers, showed me the classrooms, living room and all the other stuff.

The following two weeks I helped Helen and Griselda with the English classes and time went by so fast. These two weeks were really great and a completely new experience for me but after these two weeks I decided to go back to Jodhpur. The main reason for it was, that the two volunteers form the Jodhpur Project left earlier, so I grab my stuff and went back.

Now I’m in Jodhpur since 4 weeks and for me it’s the best thing which could happen to me. The girls are so cute and lovely. They really want to learn English.

But to be honest, the first lessons were a little bit difficult because it took a while till I was really into this teaching thing especially alone with 18 girls aged between 13 and 21 who really like to chat but Tamanna, the sewing-class teacher, was a great help and translated everything in Hindi.

After two weeks alone in the Project a new Guest arrived at the Guesthouse. Her Name is Carolina and she is from Argentina. Govind spoke with her about the Project and she decided to stay longer and work as volunteer too. This was perfect because from now on we could share the work and the lessons. We decided to divide the class into two groups, Advanced and Less Advanced, because the level of the girls is so different and now we can focus on the strengths and weaknesses of every girl. With the Less Advanced we started very basic, e.g. the ABC, Numbers and Animals whereas the Advanced learn the whole English Grammar.

As is said, this Project is the best thing which could happen to me. I like to work with the girls, I love the Guesthouse and Govind and his whole family is a great host whose help me in any way. I enjoy this time so much and look forward for the next weeks.

Final Impression:-

After two weeks in Setrawa and six weeks in Jodhpur I have to say, that this was the best what I could do at this moment. I gained so many experiences and made a lot of friends. I met Carolina from Argentina and we worked together. Besides Govind and his family made me feel like home. I never felt homesick or lonely; it’s a really nice and calm place to stay. More than just a Guesthouse.

The girls are still lovely and wonderful and sometimes I have the feeling that we really gave them something, more than just knowledge. Of course, it was often difficult especially when you know that some girls can hardly read and write. It’s a pity, that we weren’t able to teach them how to do it. I mean it’s totally obvious, that you can’t change everything and create a better world in two months of volunteering but on the other hand there are these moments when you start to realize how hard and unfair live can be and this makes me feel sad. Even though with this moments I had a great time and a lot of fun with the girls. This project and the girls gave me so much. Now, I know that I want to be a teacher, I learned a lot about Indian culture and last but not least I learned to appreciate my comfortable live more.

I can really recommend this project without any doubts to everyone who is interested in volunteering.

Corinne Rose Volunteer Sambhali Project
20 December 2008

First Impressions
No sooner had I arrived at the guest house, I was greeted by Govind and offered some chai. He asked me how long I was thinking of staying and how I knew about the guest house. I said I had read about the Sambhali project on the website and would be interested in getting involved if I could help in anyway. Over the next couple of days, Govind and his wife, Mukta both made me feel very comfortable in the guest house and explained about the arrangements for people who stay long-term. I felt immediately that the guest-house had a very relaxed atmosphere, the people working here are very warm and friendly and so I could tell that it was going to be a lovely place to stay for any length of time.

Govind suggested that I could get involved with helping him prepare a presentation for a Business Womens’ Group in Austria in June 2009. I felt it would be something I could get involved in very quickly and would enjoy the creative element of thinking through the presentation and the 10 min film that would be included. During the following couple of days I read through all the reports and the information about the Trust on the web-site and I started to understand what the project meant to the volunteers and to the girls attending the project themselves. There are some very harrowing stories that show what these young girls have already been through in their lives before coming to Sambhali and the friendships they have formed since being here.

I have been to the classroom a couple of times and have watched the girls practise a dance to the Wedding Song. The music is beautiful and the girls have been practising hard and with such grace. Unfortunately, one of the girls burst into tears during the practice, because the song reminded her that she was going to get married in a year’s time. It was because marriage to her meant that she was getting married to a boy that she has only seen in a photograph, would be leaving to go and stay with a strange family and not be able to see her friends or family for 3 months, added to which she would be missing all the friends she has made at Sambhali. I learnt that she would not have been able to cry at home and this was an outlet for her emotions. All the other girls went with her into the other room to support her, showing the closeness and understanding that girls have for each other.

Today I went to one of the girl’s family house on the outskirts of Jodhpur to take some photos for the presentation of the family circumstances and her life at home. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she was living in a modern house that had only been built seven years ago, as I understand it with the money that her father had left when he died. Now she and her five sisters and mother live in 2 rooms, whilst the bathroom and area for cooking chapatis is on the roof terrace. One of her sisters teaches and earns 800 rupees a month which she spends on educating her 3 younger sisters by sending them to school. Her mother earns 7000 rupees a month cleaning in an office and this is the money that the family live on for food, bills, clothes etc. Starting to get to know the girls is the great part of being involved in the project and I am looking forward to the next few weeks to understand more of the lives of the girls attending Sambhali and how they can have a better future.

First Impressions

Pinky Shah, Jodhpur Volunteer (19 December 2008 – 19 February 2009)

I had been travelling from Jaipur on the train which, not surprisingly, arrived late at around 11pm (even though it had departed Jaipur on time!). There was someone waiting for me at the station, despite the late hour, and I was taken immediately to the Guest House where I would be based for the next two months. When I arrived at the guest house I was very impressed; it was one of the nicer ones that I have been to in all of my travels. I was made to feel very welcome by Govind and some of the other volunteers and guests who were still awake. I was able to talk to Govind and the other volunteers (Caroline and Elisa) a little bit about the project and I also managed to get a little late dinner and cup of tea! This was much appreciated!

The following morning, I went upstairs with one of the volunteers to where the girls of the project meet every day (well, Monday to Saturday). At first, the girls were very shy – though this lasted only about a minute or so! They started asking Elisa about me. Elisa just told them to talk to me! They all came over at once to say hello and introduce themselves and find out a bit more about me. I was very impressed with their English speaking. They all seemed very lovely and I knew immediately that I would enjoy working with them. Then I also met with another volunteer, Corrine, who had arrived a few days earlier. I found it really useful to be able to talk to her and the other volunteers about the Trust from their point of view.

At the moment, I do not really have much direct interaction with the girls, as I am working on the annual report. Through my research for the annual report, I am also finding out more about the Trust and the girls and it has all been very positive so far. Nonetheless, I have managed to sit in on a few classes and have spoken a lot with their full time teacher, Tamanna. Tamanna is very nice and helpful; she explained a little bit more about the girls and her involvement with them. She teaches the girls different sewing techniques, helps them make items of clothing, and many other things – she is very talented! She also has a pastoral role and this is obvious in the fact that the girls go to her with problems they can’t always talk about with their families.

Since my time here, all systems have been go! There is always something happening that is usually promoting the Trust and improving the opportunities for the girls. A documentary has been filmed, newspaper reporters have come to interview the girls, the girls themselves have been involved in two different fashion projects, and they are currently practicing a dance routine for an upcoming trade show in which they may get a chance to perform. And these are just a few things that have happened in the 10 days that I have been here. All the while, these girls were also getting on with their English and sewing classes! There are also many more things in the pipeline.

Overall, this Trust is actively working towards the betterment of these girls and I am very glad that I am able to be a part of it. I hope that I will have more direct interaction with the girls once the annual report is completed and thereby contribute more directly to their lives. In the meantime, I am enjoying the hospitality of Govind, his family and his staff, all of whom make sure that we volunteers have everything that we need and are comfortable. The girls also always have a big smile and hello whenever they see me. I am very honored that they call me Pinky didi (big sister).

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