A hard start. Again.

After my last entry, it’s been very silent on this blog. Every time I thought of writing something, it just felt plain wrong, as if after Darshini’s death nothing else counts any more and writing something new would somehow diminish her tragedy. I think of her every day, yet I try not to talk about her – I am hurting and it makes me cry too easily.

Lots of things have happened since, good and bad both. A browse through the last two years: Jess (one of the people who started our NGO in 2005) came back to Varanasi to head the pre-school; Dan (her husband) followed after a view months and teaches Maths & History at school now; last summer a student of ours drowned in the Ganga; Sven and me got a son; our school got demolished; and: Vishwas is back. That’s indeed a gleam of hope, and I’ll write about it in another post. Writing these few lines was a hard enough start.


Damini 3_4Her name was Darshini and she died at the age of 15. Having been raised on the street by an abusive father and an alcoholic mother, being not even 6 years old she was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings. After being sentenced to six months in jail (the police apparently needed a scapegoat for some crime they couldn’t pin on anyone), the father came back to his family being tortured and even more violent than before. He took his wife, Darshini* and her little brother Aadesh* and they escaped into the jungles of East Uttar Pradesh, where Darshini’s tribe originally belongs to. This half-year long stay in the wildness took a great toll on Darshini and Aadesh. They came back as traumatized, completely mistrusting and scared children that almost behaved like cornered animals. That’s when they got admission to our hostel, just around the time when I started working at Jeevan-School, around five years ago. Continue reading…

Missing (Vermisst)

IMG_0904It has been almost three months that the little one on this photo and his twin brother has been forced to leave the Hostel (our boarding home), because their parents didn’t want to bring them back after having them at home for a day. You may ask: Why did they refuse to bring them back? The answer: Not because they’d rather raise their kids themselves or had the feeling they weren’t safe with us! Rather, because they were angry with us because we had involved the police after the father attempted to take his 15 year old girl (who also stays with us) forcefully out of the hostel. He wanted to sell her off and get her married. We were able to prevent that after the girl told the police that instead of getting married she would rather stay with us and study.

With the twins, though, there was no legal step we could take to keep them with us and the parents took their revenge by taking the two of them – they knew I would be hurt. So I helplessly watched them carry the toddlers, who didn’t want to go with their parents, away. Continue reading…

Birthday at the Hostel (Geburtstag im Hostel)

s5sven 010In general, we do not know the birthdays of our students, since their parents are illiterate and have no concrete knowledge of counting years or months. But in order to be admitted to school and, later on, to get any legal documents, they will need an official birthdate.

Therefore, whenever a child joins the hostel, we give him a birthdate – and a reason to celebrate their birthdays. In order to keep the effort to organize a party and buy gifts to a minimum, we do not celebrate every single birthday, but have collective parties twice a year. Those being born in January-July celebrate in August, and those being born August to December get their party in January. Continue reading…