News from the villages (February - March 2013)

By: Martin Kämpchen
22.04.2013 News

Professor Ronald Kurt of the Sociology Department of the University of Bochum and eleven male and female students visited Santiniketan from the middle to the end of March with a view to studying the work of village development in Ghosaldanga, Bishnubati and in der RSV Santal School. On a daily basis they cycled to the villages with the purpose of observation and discussion; of particular interest to them was the nutrition programme in the village of Rindanga, which is being supervised by Sanyasi Lohar from the village of Bushnubati. Professor Kurt also taped a video with Boro Baski and Sanyasi Lohar as its protagonists

Volunteer work in the villages
Marie Herbst, a student of orthopaedagogy, arrived with the group from Bochum to work as a volunteer in Ghosaldanga until the middle of April. She was actively involved in the RSV School and the paediatric clinic of Dr. Monika Golembiewski in Makhrampur.

On 23rd February Jacob Dörr, who after his A-levels in Frankfurt did voluntary work in the villages for a period of about six months, was sent off with a splendid farewell celebration in Bishnubati. During his voluntary service he lived with Sanyasi Lohar, his wife Sandhya and their family in the village of Bishnubati and was involved in activities in many areas of village life (see his report). Due to his enthusiasm and his relaxed and friendly manner he was very popular in Bishnubati und Ghosaldanga and with the children at the RSV School. In addition to his work he accompanied a group of children to Santiniketan every Sunday to visit the Tagore museums and gardens and other sights of the University. Each visit was rounded off with a generous snack in Martin Kämpchen's house. At his farewell celebration Jacob promised to advocate the interests of the villages when he went back to Germany and to return there soon.

Judith Drexler und Hannah Beckmann, both voluntary workers from Hamburg who had lived and worked in Ghosaldanga for three months, had already left before Jakob Dörr. In addition to teaching  English at  the school and evening coaching classes they accompanied other projects such as an expedition with the schoolgirls to Kolkata and the Ganges Delta (see the report which they wrote jointly).

Renovation of the Boys' Hostel
The newly built Girls' Hostel  is already being well used;  the next task is to renovate the Boys' Hostel. Both hostels are situated in the grounds of the RSV School. The old building is in danger of collapsing, the walls have to be supported from the outside, the floor is uneven and there are cracks in it. Thankfully the Schoeck Family Trust (Baden-Baden) has volunteered to finance the building of a new hostel for boys. In April the old building will be torn down and a new one erected on its foundations. Snehadri S. Chakraborty provided the plans and the quotation for the work.

Dr. Boro Baski's lecture at the Visva-Bharati University
On 23rd. February Dr. Boro Baski held a lecture in Bengali about his translation of Rabindranath Tagore's drama raktakarabi (Red Oleander) into Santali. Boro had been commissioned to translate the work by the Tagore Centre of the University of Jadavpur, Kolkata.  The lecture was held in the 'Study Circle', the highest academic forum of the University of Santiniketan, and was extremely well received.

New evening classes in neighbouring villages
When the Ghosaldanga village association Adibasi Seva Sangha celebrated its 25th jubilee in 2011 the decision was taken to extend the work of development to other villages in the area. After a period of intensive preparation the Sangha opened three evening coaching classes in March in the three neighbouring villages Panchabanpur, Bautijol and Bandlodanga. Two evening coaching classes are receiving financial support from the Rotary Club of Baden-Baden under its president Mr. Jürgen Hoeren, one from the Visva-Bharati University. It is the first time that the village association has received financial support from the University, for which it is very grateful. On March 22nd Prof. Dr. Tapati Mukherjee, the directress of the Rabindra-Bhavan, visited the village Bautijol, where she handed over a cheque during a ceremony to celebrate the occasion. Gobinda Baski from Bishnubati is the coordinator of the work at the evening classes.

Santal Spring Festival
On March 24th this year's Santal Spring Festival, Baha Parab, took place. In addition to the programmes which occur annually such as dance, various and separate competitions for men, women and children and nocturnal theatre performances,  Pintu Ghosh showed an acrobatic programme performed by the inhabitants of the girls' hostel of the RSV school, which had been initiated by the German voluntary worker Miss Aliki Habigt. Gokul Hansda put on a music programme which originated in the project led by Ludwig Pesch of Amersterdam. This programme was instigated for the conservation of traditional Santal musical instruments and is being continued at present (see