Summer camp at Sristi Village

During the long Indian summer holidays a group of almost 40 children from one of the 40 SOS children’s villages in India came to visit Sristi Village. Their SOS village is located in a village near Pondicherry. The SOS villages were founded by the Austrian Hermann Gmeiner who established these homes for children who were left orphans after the Second World War. Today there are villages in over 133 countries.

The children arrived at Monday, 11th May and stayed for 5 days. Because they were too many to stay at our hut on the land they rented a big room in Kunamangalam Village where they slept, cooked and spent the hot hours during midday.

In the mornings they helped on the land while our community member Angeli prepared their breakfast. We were happy how the children involved with our work and the community members.

When there was not work for them on the land or the weather was too hot, they played volleyball with our volunteers, stayed in the rented room to improve their chess skills and conducted a Cricket tournament.

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On Monday, three of the boys and one of our community members, Shekila, had their birthdays so we celebrated it with cake and good food. It was a nice evening and we had a lot of fun.

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On the last evening, there was a party at Sristi Village where we made a bonfire, listened to music, danced and all in all had a very good time.

We are very grateful for the work, help and commitment, the children showed in the five days they spend with our community. It was a great time for us all and I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!

At the same time, three volunteers from Germany, Sonja, Franzi and Lea who are in India for eleven months and used their free time during their projects’ holidays to help working at our land supported our team for three weeks. We were really happy about their help during the camp with the 40 children and with there 2 weeks worth work on our land where they worked under Thatha’s instruction.

For us it was also a good experience to organise everything because the Sristi founder and director Karthik is in Europe for six weeks, extending our overseas network, meeting friends and supporters and spreading the knowledge of the Sristi Foundation and especially the Sristi Village. We are happy to say that after few problems at the beginning, everything worked out very well!

Our long way towards a Cow

It was after our very successful presentation organised by Unlimited Tamil Nadu on 7th March that we first saw the possibility of purchasing a cow and making our dream of starting a dairy farm at Sristi Village! The CEO of Gram Suchana, Kumar Ramachandra was interested in donating 100.000 Rupies, so we were supposed to give him a concept of what to do with the money. We choose to present our idea of buying cows to increase the level of self-sustainability of our society (since we need milk, to drink our chai! :D) and give our people a new opportunity to learn new skills, this time in the care of animals.

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From this moment onwards we started to look for cows. They shouldn’t be too expensive since we had only a limited budget and wanted to get as many cows as possible, but they also shouldn’t be to old and so on.

All our members tried to help to find cows, we asked all our connections but still, it was a hard job to do.

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But in the end, we were successful! Now, our Sristi Foundation is the home of two beautiful cows, Nisha and her baby daughter Lakshmi.

How to change a life

Many people think (and since they don’t get any chance to prove it otherwise the government seems to think it, too) that intellectually disabled people are good for nothing and that therefore they are not worth the effort. But these people don’t experience what we see. They don’t know how a simple task, a small employment can change the behaviour, even the life of people with intellectual disabilities. Maybe they don’t really care and would never take the time to experience.

But luckily, there are also other people. People who care, People who even try and do their best so that the lives of our community members can be changed. We surly work for that and it is the change in behaviour, the happy smile on their faces, the sheer naturalness with which our members start to do their daily tasks that proves, that we are doing a good thing, maybe even the right thing.

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Today we want to introduce one of our members to you whose changes in behaviour and in attitude have been simply astonishing.

First, there is Sugumar. Sugumar came to us a few months back, one of our volunteers referred him to us. He has a mild intellectual disability, which made it hard for his family to take care of him. They were unsupportive and not understanding the challenges and barriers Sugumar was facing. Their “problems” ended with Sugumar’s running away from home. After that his very own problems and challenges began. He stayed on the street for 15 years. He had nobody, was starving because he didn’t have anything to eat and even ended up in prison. His life seemed to be in a spiral downwards and nobody was willing to help him.

That was, until he came to us. We couldn’t do much for him, just give him a place to stay, a place where he was and is accepted as he is, where he lives together with people who face the same challenges. In our community everyone is there for the others and helps where he or she can. But there are also some rules. It took some time, some discussions for Sugumar to accept this but when he did and when he finally decided that he really wanted to become a part of the Sristi Village, everything changed.

His behaviour, his attitude, his life. He is now one of the happiest persons living in our community. He is always helping on the field, willing to learn more skills and eager to make everything right. He is not only caring for himself but is there for others when they need help, always supporting.

We are really happy he is accepting us as his family!