René's travel journal about Tamil Nadu (India)

02.01.2015

The “Club of Engineers and Friends e.V. (CEF)” in cooperation with the association “Future for People in South India (ZMS)” is committed to sponsorships with pupils and students in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In October, CEF project manager René Plewa travelled to India together with 11 representatives of the ZMS to gain an impression of life and needs on the ground. In his travel diary René shares his experiences with us.

Wednesday, 22. 10.

After a 16-hour flight from Munich via Dubai, we land in Trivandrum on India’s south-west coast at 8.30 am. At the airport we are welcomed by the future patron of our projects, Father Jagan. Together we drive to Nagercoil, the place of residence and work of Reverend Jeremias, the current patron of our projects.

After lunch we will meet students sponsored by the CEF and discuss possible ideas for a path to self-employment after graduation.

Afterwards we drive to the Assisi school in the centre of Nagercoils, which is supported by the ZMS.

Thursday, 23. 10.

At the beginning of the day we discuss the current projects and the financing system with Pastor Jeremias. After lunch we drive to Enayam Puthenthurai, the home village of the priests Jeremias, Jagan and Dunston (a priest friend and further supporter of the current projects) to visit the local kindergarten.

Afterwards we go to St. Helens High School to inspect the new sanitary facilities sponsored by the ZMS.

Verwundert stelle ich fest, dass dieser ohne Licht, ohne Tische, mit wenig Spielzeug und nur einigen Plastikstühlen ausgestattet ist – hier ist in Zukunft unsere Hilfe gefordert.

Friday, 24. 10.

Friday is a more relaxed day. After breakfast, Father Dunston welcomes us in his parsonage, which is located at the Chittar Dam. After a boat trip on the lake we continue to the waterfall Tiruparapu and took the opportunity to swim there.

Saturday, 25. 10.

On Saturday we will meet again the CEF-funded students to allocate their study support. In the afternoon some participants of the travel group and I visit the Hindu temple in Suchindram.

Derzeit ermöglichen die CEF-Spenden insgesamt 93 Studenten eine gute Ausbildung und damit mehr Berufsperspektiven.

Sunday, 26. 10.

On Sunday we meet with a group of more than 300 godchildren of the ZMS to present them with the gifts of their godparents. We imported the gifts of the godparents from Germany with our luggage, so that our travel group arrived together with over 100 kg of gifts. To care for the many children who wait so well is like a marathon, because for almost every single child we have an individual present, usually in the form of toys and money. In the late afternoon, Father Jeremiah leads us to “relax” via the nearby Way of the Cross up to the mountain near Nagercoil. On the way of the cross I lose 5 litres of water… Exhausted from the day we discuss in the evening in the group the procedure for giving presents and how the strains for the children and helpers can be reduced in the future.

Monday, 27. 10.

On Monday we drive to Enayam Puthenthurai to inspect two new houses (ZMS project) and another one under construction. We also visit the St. Joseph High School in Ramenthurai, where we play volleyball and football with the children. Then follows a deeply moving meeting with the seniors of Enayam Puthenthurai. The story of a visually impaired mother, one girl blind and deaf and the other blind and mentally handicapped, leaves its mark on me. But there is not much time to digest, as the inauguration of two more houses in Mulloorthurai and a short visit to St. Lawrence Primary School are on the agenda. In the late afternoon, in the coastal town of Muttom, we can admire the sunset over the sea and the illuminated church for the church dedication festival. The eventful day ends at Father Dominik’s orphanage with dinner and games with the children.

Tuesday, 28. 10.

In the morning I drive with a part of the group to Kanyakumari, the southernmost place of the Indian mainland, to visit the Gandhi monument. On the way back along the coast we pass the destroyed bridge of Manakudy, still a depressing testimony of the 2004 tsunami, after which we open a new kindergarten and a new school in Araguvilai, run by Reverend Jagan. The children thank us with an acrobatic performance. In the evening we attend Holy Mass with Father Jagan in Araguvilai and enrich the service with two songs we rehearsed: “Que Sera” and “Thank you for this good morning”. The group “forces” me to accompany their vocals, so that after more than 10 years I play the keyboard again. Afterwards Father Jagan tastes us with local specialities on his roof terrace.

Wednesday, 29. 10.

The last day of our stay begins with a walk over the historic aqueduct of Mathoor. In the nearby village of Puthenkadai, Father Dunston welcomes us for a tour of the school there. We record the dilapidated toilet facilities as a further point for the future promotion by the ZMS. In the afternoon I spend the last hours of my free time shopping in Nagercoil.

Mit neuen Projektideen im Gepäck, begeistert von der Schönheit des Landes, der Herzlichkeit der Menschen, aber auch betroffen von dem argen Elend und den harten Lebensgeschichten der Menschen, geht es um Mitternacht zum Flughafen Trivandrum.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the situation on site and our activities as CEF. If you would like to support the CEF with a donation or as a new club member, please contact me or visit the cef-help.org website.

René Plewa

CEF-Project Manager

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