Monday, February 7, 2011
Videshi hands doing Swadeshi works
Here are two volunteers who have come all the way from Germany
with lots of enthusiasm for a noble cause, working for Makkala
Mane in Jayanagar under the ICDE-India project for a period of one year.
Philipp Thomsen and George Salamon are the two volunteers from Germany
who came to India in August 2010 and will return back to their home town
this year in the month of July. They can be seen either painting the walls
or cleaning the floors of the Makkala Mane and are staying as paid guests in a nearby area.
Express caught these volunteers and had a candid tete-a-tete. Here are the
What motivated you to come all the way here?
In Germany it’s compulsory for every student, be it boy / girl, to do
either military service or social service for 12 months after completing
school. Besides this, working abroad gives us a unique opportunity to
explore different cultures and acquire new experiences.
Is one year sufficient to learn?
Though one year is not enough to make a big difference, still it is enough
to bring about some minor changes. The cultural differences between Germany
and India are vast. But we feel happy as we are doing something for the society.
What have you learnt during your stay here?
After coming into India we realized there was a big difference. The living
conditions in India are entirely different from our home town. There are
quite lot of things here which we have not fully understood yet. It might
be the culture, language and other differences. But after coming here we
have come across many interesting issues, gaining insight to the Indian
way of life.
During our six month stay we have learned how to deal with the cunning
auto drivers, how to ignore persistent street vendors, several things
like that. Needless to say, not being able to converse in Kannada is a
big barrier to get ourselves fully involved in the Indian way of life.
That’s the reason we are daily attending Kannada language class to
acquire some basic conversation skills.
What made you to take up painting the walls?
The walls were dirty and with the paint peeling off at places it
looked ugly too. It had not been painted for a long time. We
collected money from our friends and relatives back home in Germany
and took up the painting work. It gives a great feeling that we
have done something worthwhile.
Any message to convey?
Interestingly some of the Indians we met remarked, ‘We don’t have
time to waste like you!’. But for us life is not merely about
career and earning lots of money. Life also means discovering something,
learning other cultures, helping each other - which develops one’s
personality and makes him a matured individual. Learning other cultures
promotes one’s understanding of life and to respect other people of the world.
Though we see several problems here like poverty and unemployment,
most of the people here are satisfied with their present income
and status. They don’t want change as they are quite happy with what they have.
Only a few people are eager to build the carrier of their choice and continue
to study even if placed in good jobs. But at the end of the day we should all
work collectively for the betterment of this world.
Begining day experience?
In the beginning our motivation and expectation levels were quite
high to work for the project as we prepared ourselves. But slowly
we realized the difficulties as we got involved in the project. Our
motivation level also started waning off after some time. But we
stood up, planned with determination and accordingly now we are
able to manage the things.
Your observations about India & Mysore in particular?
Mysore is a famous tourist spot as we see large number of foreigners
visiting the city. And for us, visiting India was rare opportunity
in our life – stepping out of our routine German life and exploring
this marvelous culture. We are slowly beginning to understand your
culture, but need some more time to know it better. Unfortunately
there is not much work for us do here as volunteers. Due to the
children’s long school hours, we only have about 3 hours time to
interact with them, during which we organize some teaching, simple
activities, games and so on. But we enjoy every day coming here to
the children’s home, spending some time with these children.
Language is a big barrier for foreigners. But what is interesting
is that most foreigners make an effort to communicate in the local
language by attending language classes and learn to speak in Kannada.
Besides gaining new skills of communication, practical knowledge
and work experience, these volunteers become aware of the importance
of being socially involved. When they begin to interact with the
locals in their native language they can bring about a change and
improve the awareness level of the society by exchanging their own
view of life and way of living back home.
About Makkala Mane
Makkale Mane, run by the Mysore Chapter of the Foundation for
Restoring Human Dignity (FORHD), is giving shelter and education
for the destitute children who have lost their parents, as well
to children whose parents are imprisoned and there is nobody to
look after them. It has dedicated itself for the service to humanity in general
and in particular to the cause of upholding human dignity wherever
there is violation or threat of violation of dignity of persons
as human beings. Children in distress, women subjected to
violence and persons held in custody etc., are the target
groups of this service organization. Under its auspices Makkale
Mane was started in September 2004 at # 1795, K Block, Udayaravi
Road, Kuvempunagar, Mysore. [Ph: 0821 – 2463000 or 97401-63329].
Former Police Chief L. Revannasiddaiah is currently the President
of FORHD. It is now being looked after by former Deputy
Commissioner of Police Rangappa, Chairman of FORHD, Mysore
Chapter, Warden Shambaiah and cook Mayamma.