Is Bihar poor or rich

Street life, people affected by leprosy in Bihar

Fri 14.04.2017 - 22: 30, written by Alexandra, published by Frank

More photos to finish off

While some last impressions of the tour to India in March 2017 appear here, Katrin and Ludmila are already on their journey through Nepal again.
A handicraft workshop for young men and women from the "Untouchables" caste is currently being built there.
THANK YOU for the great support of ALL of our friends and a thousand thanks for ALL of your lovely comments and likes on Facebook. These are VERY encouraging to our teams !!! It is good to know that your thoughts are there ... !!!

Thursday April 6th, 2017 - April 19th: 30, written by Alexandra, published by Frank

Disaster measurement in numbers - a slightly different view

In times when natural disasters, wars and famines are the "order of the day" and people flee into the unknown without knowing whether they will ever see their loved ones again alive, one or the other reader may ask the legitimate question: "Why is one of the main focal points of the work of FriendCircle WorldHelp is the support for leprosy sufferers? And why help eg in India? "
Anticipating we want to say that there cannot be enough helping hands all over the world. The little things in life often help alleviate a problem.
At the beginning of the work of FriendCircle WorldHelp - about 10 years ago - when Michael and Alexandra were still alone on the way to the state of Maharashtra, India, a motto soon crystallized: "In search of poverty". It quickly became clear that not everything that appears "poor" with Western eyes can really be described as poverty.
Rather, what we observed represented serious differences in people's lives. Situations and circumstances that, at second glance, appeared to be no less worth living in than the patterns we are used to. Our "studies" only required to adjust the perspective, to understand that life in other countries can be attractive and interesting, with many learning opportunities for the observer.
Nevertheless, we were naturally moved by the many moments that soften a human heart and freeze the movement of the eyes for a short time:
At 4 a.m., an 8-year-old girl in rags searches a standing train for food waste because she is hungry.
A 13-year-old boy with both legs missing to his hips "sits" on a roller board and moves forward with his hands.
Children sniff the eagle owl in order to be able to forget their empty stomachs and the lack of love through the intoxication.
Someone is begging on the side of the road without arms - only the head can show that something is needed.
People in leprosy villages cry because they are perceived as human beings and not seen as lepers.

The daily horror reports chase each other. In the spotlight of the press, the trouble spots of the world appear as if they were shooting stars on a clear summer night, which one after the other briefly appear and then pass again just as quickly.
The severity of disasters is measured in numbers. The more people give up their lives, the more they flee from one place to another, the more extensive the problem is, the greater the priority is to take care of it. In the short term, governments and aid organizations then focus their support on the place the world is looking at with the help of the media. If the spotlight turns elsewhere, the problem seems superficially solved.

What might a street child who wanders through India's streets, homeless and without perspective, think about this classification?
What did the mutilated man, referred to as a leper, in over eight hundred leprosy villages in India?
Nothing. Because he doesn't know anything about it. He also doesn't know that he will never be taken into account in this type of classification.
At least that remains for him. Not knowing and in the end the hope that a miracle might happen one day.

Wed 05.04.2017 - 21: 30, written by Alexandra, published by Frank

What happened to Ashok?

In November 2016 our team visited a leprosy village called Bhairoganj for the second time. It was then that the text was written: "Death came much too early". We were deeply touched by the fate of the 28-year-old, whose young wife left three small children behind when she died giving birth to the fourth. (Report 11/2016)
When Susanne and Alexandra visit the same village in March of this year, we get to know another Ashok. The man who was sitting in front of us in November with his head shaved with tears now looks us in the eye with a new courage to live. Ramavaraj, the Indian friend who handles the colony's affairs for FriendCircle WorldHelp and accompanies the work, reports that Ashok would call him every day and ask if he was doing everything right.
Ashok's life has received new hope and perspectives that are worth carrying on. During a tour, the men proudly show us the new iron doors that have been installed so that animals and thieves cannot steal the few belongings. The windows through which the wildcats entered at night have also been completed for almost all rooms.
Ramavaraj and Venu had suggested recycling the wood from the old doors, which would make the windows cheaper. The proposal was professionally implemented by a carpenter who receives around 6 euros per day for his work.
The hand pump for the well, which was installed by the team last summer, is still working perfectly.
While the construction of a kind of above-ground sewer system (gutter system) is being started in our presence, Susanne distributes sweets she has brought to everyone. The little ones as well as the big ones are thrilled!
In the end we are all a bit of a child ... - THANKS to ALL friends at home who enjoy the little things in life with us, which can be so much bigger in people's hearts.
(Sequel follows…)

In the leper village of Bhairoganj.

Ashok (third from left) has gained new courage to face life. One perspective is the new garbage collection station that he will set up with the other young men in the photo.

Young and old are happy about the sweets that Susanne has brought with her.

The sweets are carefully put away in the shirt.

In the end we are all a bit of a child… - THANKS to ALL friends at home who enjoy the little things in life with us, which can be so much bigger in people's hearts….

Mon 13.03.2017 - 21: 30, written by Alexandra, published by Frank

Street Life - Delhi

Since February 28th our next team (Susanne and Alexandra) is on the way to India. Delhi is the first destination of the trip. Temperatures are moderate, warm during the day. Susanne still has clothes from the last trip in Nepal and so we take the first day slowly with small errands.
In the crowd of Pahar Ganj, the market streets opposite the New Delhi train station, children speak to us. “Paisa?” - “Change?”.
Paisa is India's change from ancient times. At that time 100 paisas made up one rupee (= approx. One and a half cents). While the currency no longer exists, the term has mutated into a request that means to the other party: "give me money".

While compassionate tourists generously reach into their pockets at the beginning, overcoming the first shock in order to possibly soothe a kind of long-cherished “guilty conscience” at the same time as this act, the recipient seems less impressed by what he gets.
Rather, indifference and dullness are evident in his facial expressions and one again hears a busy "paisa", which should mean: "give me more".
In the meantime, other children have watched this spectacle and also want to participate in the “success of the day” by pushing the giver and, if necessary, pulling the tourist's shirt to increase the chance of being seen.
Any sensible person will get an uncomfortable feeling here at the latest and the urge to escape this unpleasant situation as quickly as possible.

Such and similar experiences form points of contact worldwide between people who have never managed to get away from the street as their home and the rest of our civilized society.

Not only the "ordinary" tourist decides to keep his distance after such experiences. India's population also seems to be satisfied with the fact that the annoying “beggar clientele” is part of the cityscape and cannot be avoided.
If it comes too close to you so that you might be afraid that a hungry child might steal something, you chase it away with a stick.
If possible, one would also like to have nothing to do with the topics that often affect this area, which also exist in the vast land of contrasts: child trafficking, child prostitution, physical and psychological abuse, drug use and more.
Karma, fate comes into play. "As you sow, so you will reap.", One could say, to draw a comparison to what is known in the West. In the local understanding, it means that the result of previous actions led to the current situation in life. If you are rich, you have earned this wealth with good deeds in your last life or in future lives. Being poor is also the result of previous actions.
A justified but very simplified view of life, which inevitably leads to the maintenance of that opaque, insurmountable wall that separates people.
The philosophy of FriendCircle WorldHelp is to question common patterns.
The first step in this subject inevitably leads to the question: “Does it make sense or are we even entitled to continue without adequate questioning of norms that have emerged and established in culture and society over a certain period of time?

The answer, which is obvious to us, leads us into the everyday situations of those who otherwise utter "Paisa", "Paisa" almost like small, trained machines.

After a short conversation with hands and feet, we sit in a cafe, where our small and large companions can enthusiastically place their orders. Fine dining until you are full “to the top”. Then fresh fruit juice.
As if we had never been strangers, the mothers nestle close to Susanne while the children put the rice into their mouths spoon by spoon. Smiles spread across the previously sad and dissatisfied looking faces.
The smallest of the group does not eat, although the mother repeatedly urges it to.
“What's wrong?” We ask. “Problem,” says the mother, pointing to the girl's mouth. When prompted, the child opens his mouth. There is a large, white area on the tongue that looks like "burned" to a layperson.
"Have you already been to the doctor?" Asks Alexandra. “No, no money!” Is the simple answer.
(The restaurant owner is so friendly and translates.) “Okay, where's the next doctor?” “Just a few doors down,” explains the friendly gentleman at the cash register.

Together we walk to the small “open” practice, where about 12 to 15 other people are already waiting on wobbly wooden benches to get their turn. The small room is around five square meters in size and is closed in the evening with a kind of garage door and at the end of which the white-haired doctor sits gracefully at an old wooden desk.
Directly in front of the table are the benches on the left and right, for which people are patiently waiting. Behind the doctor you can see a door that is lovingly draped with a curtain with a floral pattern. Every now and then a man who looks just as old as the doctor himself stretches his head through the curtain with high concentration, passes on information to the doctor or receives instructions from him.
As soon as a patient is finished, the man briefly explains the medicine he has selected and how to take it.
Quickly one after the other in the queue of waiting people slide forward, although it does not seem to get shorter at the back because new patients keep pushing in.
Everyone, at least everyone who understands Hindi, follows the diagnosis and treatment of their predecessors. A phenomenon that is common in India and that we had seen many times on our travels.
The use of the various vials that she is now holding in her hands is also explained in detail to the mother of our little patient. "What does it do?" Asks Alexandra when we are allowed to leave. "120 rupees (= 1.74 €)" is our answer. We pay and go.

To establish relationships with those people who are burdened by the prejudices of the society around them requires opening up to a previously unknown area of ​​life and facing the fact that all answers will be followed by new questions:
"Did the mother not take her child to the doctor out of ignorance?"
"Was this apparently small amount really missing?"
"Could the doctor have sent her away if we hadn't accompanied her?"
"Perhaps the doctor would not have asked anything if he had seen the mother's situation?" (We have also seen this behavior several times).
"Or was it shame to wait on the bench next to the other, better-off patients?"
We don't know, and we probably won't find out either.

Many nice encounters follow over the course of the next day. In the shoe store, in various clothing stores, in the grocery store, where basic groceries are bought for at least a week for the seven families who have been with us since then.

We want to know more and together with Venu and some of the street children we take a taxi to their place of residence. “Have you ever driven a car?” We ask. “No, how?” Is the direct answer.
A few corners further on the roadside, the rest of our friends have already arrived with the rickshaw that we had paid for and that the rest of the team had pushed themselves into.
"Here, this is our home." On the wall of a sidewalk under dusty plastic sheeting, objects pile up about a meter high, initially invisible to us.
“What's underneath?” We ask. The women in the group pull out more plastic sheets, plastic boxes and other "worthless" material from under the mountain.

"Where do you cook?", Alexandra wants to know. We are led around the corner about four meters further. Again a pile of things, protected with plastic sheeting. On closer inspection, there are sacks underneath and in them, first of all, old, unsightly pieces of fabric and, underneath, the new clothes that we had bought with the families in the shops shortly before.

We are concerned. At least we expected some kind of bamboo poles with a roof as a shelter. "Here we cook". A hand points to a small fire hole in the sidewalk, next to which there are two or three metal pots.
After further exploring, we learn that there is a public shower a few meters away. A wash costs ten cents and the clothes are also cleaned by hand.
A large water tank, which the government regularly fills, is right next to the cooking area. Probably one of the reasons why the families have set up camp here.

The day is drawing to a close. When we say goodbye, big brown children's eyes look at us gratefully and confidently.
We do not know what thoughts are in the minds of the little beings at this moment. But the expression on their faces, covered with dust and dirt, is different from yesterday when we “got to know” them.
As complex as the situation of a life on the street may seem when viewed from our world, it is easy to break through the almost insurmountable at first if one does not look at the beggar's robe but at the people behind it.
Differences can be discovered millions of times in our world. Differences that are real and yet divide; the terms, such as karma, fate or whatever one may call it, become a kind of justification for the given social and individual situation.
In the end, however, in our opinion at least, it is humanity and compassion that make life more beautiful and richer on both sides.