November 20, 2019 I think will be remembered as a BIG day in Janwaar. Certainly the kids and I will remember – for me, I feel, it was the most important day since I’ve arrived in Janwaar five years ago!
The kids broke their silence and spoke up in front of the village community at our Villa Janwaar. They demanded their safe space and freedom to grow, they demanded to stop discrimination – let it be gender or caste – and they spoke up against dishonesty and jealousy in the village. WOW: It was very emotional – for many of us.
Asha Gond felt deeply touched when Shanti A was speaking out for all the girls – they were raising the questions why are girls only good enough to get married and do the homework? I could see Brijendra‘s father struggling (he was sitting right next to me) when his son openly admitted that Adivasi are equal for him and that girls should have the same rights as boys. And everyone was smiling when Ajeet told about his struggle to control his temper – while his father was nodding proudly his head. Anil Kumar told the villagers how his Prakriti experience has made him understand what learning is all about – and that learning is all about understanding. He was demanding to let the kids grow and move forward instead of constantly holding them back. And almost everyone was surprised when Arun Kumar Janwaar told the community that he had made quite some mistakes in the last year – but he understood that theses mistakes helped him to grow!
The Villa was packed – and yet it was dead silence when the kids spoke. Everyone had followed an invitation which we handed out two days before the event – and the event itself was the absolute highlight of the 5-day-workshop I held with the Open School Project kids! It really made me feel proud of them – the way they had written and worked on their talks was impressive. I could feel that they wanted to speak out and that we are on the right track! And with the help of Shanti and Arjun – it truly became remarkable!
Super well done – that’s all I can say to everyone who was involved. A BIG day in Janwaar – a day people will remember!
Here are the talks of the kids.
Asha’s key message:
Problems are part of our lives!
Life is very beautiful, and life is also too much trouble sometimes. Both beauty and trouble, are part of life. I have felt both and it wasn’t always easy.
Often when I went down to the skatepark I felt very sad because people were talking very bad to me. Like: “Look how is a girl walking around?” “Talks with boys, acts like a boy.” “What kind of people are her family, who let her go like this?”
But I tried to ignore it and I just went through. It was often painful. And other times I heard good things about me – from the same people. So sadness and happiness were very close to each other. And then I learned…. . . .
The way you look at things and speak about them can make a big difference on how you see life. If you choose happiness – and not sadness – then life is really very beautiful.
So I will always try to see the happy part and express it!
I’m a skateboarder. When I started skateboarding, and I really wanted to do it, I heard a lot of bad things from many people in my village. The said: “You are a girl, stay at home!” “Do house chores and do not skateboard with the boys!” “Do not talk to the foreign visitors who are coming here!” “Stay away from the boys’!”
I was asking myself: Why all this?
Is it only because I am a girl?
How can this be?
All these things could not stop me. I faced those problems and paid attention to my work. I focused and went “my” way!
Sometimes I think I should stop skateboarding. But I never did because I knew after problems I’ll always will get something good out of it!
If a rickshaw man drives a rickshaw throughout the day. And if he saves half of that money for his child’s school fees, one day, his child will do well and starts a good job. Then that man does not need to drive a rickshaw any more – because now his son has started earning money! His same son for whom the rickshawala used to pay half of his money for school fees. If the same rickshawala would have spent all this money for alcohol – he would be driving his rickshaw even today.
So I ask all our parents in our village: Please give us children the freedom to learn and to grow.
Here is a video of Asha’s rehearsal:
Brijendra’s key message:
All are equal for me!
When Ulrike came to our village, she gave some children a chance to go to Delhi, I am one of them.
When I did not go to Delhi, I did not consider the children of tribals as equal to me. Neither did I interacted with them. I didn’t stay with them because they didn’t mean anything to me. And we saw and did the same things as the older people of Yadav were doing. When I and Ajeet went to Delhi with Arun Asha and Anil, there was a feeling of discrimination in us but gradually we stopped discriminating. Now I know that they are also human and we are also human. Now there is no feeling of discrimination inside us.
In Delhi, I saw that girls and boys are equal. And people there allow girls to go out to study. But in the village, we allow girls to study but do not allow them to go outside and their studies stop after class 8 itself. But a girl from our village goes to Delhi and studies. She is named Asha and is the first girl in our village who is running an NGO. Because she has studied in Delhi. And she wants to improve the village. But the people of the village do not understand that girls and boys are equal. And this is wrong because girls have life too. They should also be allowed to go out and study.
The rest of the girls in our village, like Priyanka Yadav, Priyanka Adivasi, Durgha, Neha and Rekha etc. They should also get a chance to go out and study.
Here is a video od Brijendra’s rehearsal 🙂
Anil’s key message:
How a “no” turned into something exciting!
When I got the chance to study in Delhi, I clearly said no at first. I didn’t want to go to Delhi to study.
Then Ulrike told me the difference between Delhi study and what I was going to learn there. I took me a few days to think and understand. But then I made my decision – I wanted to go to Delhi and I stopped worrying about my studies here back home.
I know that some people don’t know what we are doing in Delhi. I would like to tell you. Our parents have been visiting us – they know as well!
We are learning many things, we are learning to help each other, we are learning to work as a team. We learn how to work on a computer, we learn psychology, English, math and we improve our Hindi reading and writing.
Learning has become my favorite hobby, I have fun when I learn. The way we are learning in Delhi is new for me. It is so different from what I know and have experienced here in Janwaar and Panna. Nothing is impossible if you start doing. Everything is impossible, if you don’t do. Here in Janwaar – all I have learnt is that people are holding us kids back. In Delhi people always want to keep us moving.
The way teachers make us understand and the way they explain us things is high quality. And every teacher is happy.
Learning new things is really exciting for me. And learning in Delhi has made me realize that learning is a lot about understanding! Only when I understand – I can apply it and I can make my village a better place!
Ajeet’s key message:
My struggle not to fight!
Back in Janwaar people used to bother me and they gave me all kind of names. I used to get angry, very angry. I was fighting, shouting and crying! Since I am in Delhi I’ve started to ask myself: Why are people in my village teasing me and why do I get so angry? I found this very difficult to handle. I was very hard for me to control my temper!
I give you one example: When Ulrike talked to my about my anger I wasn’t able to listen. I used to shut down, walk away and cry. And then I used to think, if I only could listen and apply what Ulrike was saying, it would be so much better for me. But I could not control myself, and I got even more angry.
Now I am living in Delhi with Anil, Asha, Arun, and Brijendra. And yes, I used to fight with them as well. I used to tell them, take off your shoes when you come home! But they did not ! I used to get very angry over that. Again it was very difficult to control. One day Delhi’s didi and bhaiya told me, if this anger comes up then go and sit in a corner and think, why did you fight with them. Is that fight beneficial for you or not? I started doing this and I started to feel that I can calm down when I step away … and that I will feel better if I stay calm.
Now, if people are teasing me, I do not pay attention to these people any more. I learned to control my fight with everyone. If I fight with a friend, I apologize and start speaking again and befriend him. This is how I got over my fight! My studies in Delhi helped me and I learned how bad it is to fight. I understood anger and fight can ruin a man.
Your dear friend,
Arun’s key message:
Mistakes Help Me to Grow !
When I went to Delhi to study, I couldn’t focus. I was trying to focus but I could not. I made mistakes. I often made the same mistakes. Meaning – I did NOT learn. I was never wearing my safety gear when I went skateboarding. So when I got hurt I could not do my homework. I couldn’t write, because my right hand was hurt. I used to lie sometimes about my homework, so when it became too much, Ulrike and Bharti Didi decided that I will stay back in Janwaar.
When I was back in Janwaar I always felt lonely. I started to walk around with other kids. I was reflecting on why I was making the same mistakes over and over again. Then I realised that I need to change, and take responsibility for helping my village to move forward.
One and a half months later, I was ready to go back to Delhi. I had to talk with Ulrike and Bharti Didi, but I could not make the call. I was afraid to talk with them. I thought they would still be angry with me, because of the mistakes I had made. That’s why I didn’t call them until the day that the other kids were going back to Delhi. Ulrike said that I should come to Delhi, and we would talk about it there.
All these mistakes helped me to grow as a person. I have learnt many things, such as to communicate better by speaking honestly and openly. Also I will always wear safety gear while skateboarding, and I will not tell lies.
It was a great day for Janwaar and everyone in the Villa felt it!