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Welcomed as friends

Since 2005, DACHSER has partnered with NGO terre des hommes to protect children’s rights, promote education, and preserve natural resources. As part of a youth exchange program, five DACHSER trainees recently visited project villages in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and share their experiences. They visited Amoli and Hirdaypur villages in Varanasi, near the holy Hindu city, and witnessed self-confidence there.



India Itinerary

We saw what a difference eleven years of project work can make there. The contrast with other places we had visited was striking: no plastic waste floating on the village fish pond, solar-powered street lighting, and a biomass composting plant to supply energy. Organic chickpeas are growing in the fields and the village youth have planted their own tiny vegetable gardens. The girls from the village staged a kho kho match for our entertainment. The boys stood in as referees and were the targets of more than one heated argument contesting their decisions.

The villagers grow organic chickpeas—without pesticides or over-priced seeds

This self-confidence shown by the girls is anything but a given. When the project was launched, girls were rarely allowed to leave the house, let alone play sports. It was plain to see that DACHSER’s investment in Uttar Pradesh is more about building self-confidence than bricks and mortar. We witnessed the changes this makes possible day after day—in private and public schools, after-school tutoring facilities, and the vocational training center in Amoli Village, built with the support of DACHSER.

Fabric painting is one of the skills taught to girls in the training center

In this center, girls are taught to sew, embroider, make jewelry, and prepare cosmetics: skills that will allow them to earn their own income. The women pay part of the money they earn into a joint account that they were able to set up with the help of a terre des hommes partner organization. Those who need it can then obtain a microloan.

Buanti Devi, who heads the women’s group we met with a few days earlier in Kushinagar, proudly told us: “We were submissive in the past because we had no other options. Now the men are scared of us when we demand better access to schooling and adequate nutrition, or the government-sanctioned right to paid work.” What better proof that the efforts of DACHSER and terre des hommes have borne fruit. These women have fought hard to defend their rights and better their situation. And this illustrates the whole point of helping people to help themselves.

The journey goes on - five young women and man from Delhi and the Uttar Pradesh villages just landed in Germany to visit their new friends in Europe. We will keep you posted.

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