Over the last few month Janwaar Castle was really blessed. Not only are the kids doing great – they bring a smile on my face when ever I see them – also our “closer environment” is doing good to us. By feeding our Facebook and Web page more or less frequently with our latest news and with the help of the incredible pics by Vicky Roy, my photographer friend in Delhi, Janwaar Castle managed to become interesting for media and volunteers. We’ve had a short article in the Sunday edition of the Times of India (October 18, 2015), India’s largest newspaper, a journalist from Bombay, Shail Desal, was here for four days and his article will appear this weekend in scroll.in . Shail is running his own social project “Project Play” and he came with tons of soccer equipment in his luggage. So now the kids have footballs to play with and football shirts to wear. I myself just finished an article on the “Making of Janwaar Castle” for an Indian skateboarding magazine (SKATE A WAY, to be published in Jan. 2016) and two journalist from Deutsche Welle visited the skatepark; they are planning a short film on “transformation” and will be back early next year for shooting. All this without any press kit and without any “PR” work! It just happened.
Our new website also attracted new volunteers. Anveer Metha a skateboarder from Goa connected with me and two weeks later he was in Janwaar. He stayed for five weeks and is seriously thinking of coming back in January or February to help Janwaar get solar powered. Being an engineer this would be a great support for me – the idea is that he writes his master thesis or even his PhD on this. Let’s see.
His first days were kind of intense. The day he arrived we’ve had a first aid emergency with one of our dogs, Kallu, who decided to stay with us. He got terribly bitten by a wild animal in the jungle, just after having recovered from a crocodile bite in summer this year. And two days after Anveer’s arrival our workshop with the villagers started. He helped me a lot on that.
Anveer quickly became a role model for our skateboarding boys – even though he had to admit that teaching the kids skateboarding was beyond his reach … in many ways the kids were much better than him 🙂 Actually three weeks after Anveer’s arrival one of the kids asked me when the skateboarding champion I’ve promised them will arrive and teach them. We both had to smile 🙂 Nevertheless Anveer could show the kids some cool tricks and I assume they’ve had a lot of fun together.
Anveer also had the pleasure to assemble nine skateboards which finally made their way over five month to Janwaar. Skate-aid in Münster, Germany, is luckily supporting with used boards and equipment – a tremendous help! Even though the boards are used, they are much much better than anything you can get in India. This package was shipped to Delhi in May and we’ve had declared it already “lost” when suddenly M2, a friend of mine, called in October and said a huge parcel from Germany had arrived. Lucky us 🙂 So we practiced our “Indian way” of sending parcels from Delhi to Khajuraho and had the boards with us in less than 24 hours. And on a beautiful Sunday morning in October it was up to Anveer to assemble the “new arrivals” – it was then when we decided that these skateboards would become “personalized” skateboards, meaning each skateboard would belong to one child.
A new era begun. The decision who of the kids will get his/her own skateboard is mainly in the hands of the principal in the government school. He is telling us who is most at school and these kids will now receive their own skateboard. Our rule “No school, no skateboarding!” has tremendously increased attendance at school. And you should see the smiles in their faces when they get THEIR boards. Their eyes are on fire and they couldn’t be more proud 🙂 Lovely.
Shortly after Anveer had left Anna and Philipp arrived. This was just a few days ago. The young German couple is planning to stay until the end of March and to work continuously with the children. Anna has studied ergonomics and spent quite some time in India. She has been working with girls in a home in Gaizabad, close to Delhi. Philipp has studied sports and is a good skateboarder – he can definitely uplift the kids to their next level in skateboarding. Let’s see how all of this will work out.
Anna and Philipp have planned their trip a few month ago – they also found us on the Web. Before they’ve left Germany they’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign on betterplace.org to finance various activities for and with the kids. Their campaign is still running – you can go here 🙂 With this money we are able to provide fruits to the kids twice a week, we can buy three more tablets and the spare parts we need for the boards. That’s the first plan. What else we will do time will tell.
For now their time has just started …
Anna and Philipp carried 30 kg extra luggage – skate-aid in Germany had sent extra 8 boards and spare parts with them … more boards for the happy kids in Janwaar Castle!