The book is emotional and motivational. It tells how Asha. a young tribal girl in Janwaar, Madhya Pradesh, India, has become a voice for all the girls in her village and in India. It is a true story and based upon my work over 8 years with Asha in Janwaar.
Publication Date: December 10, 2023
Price: 25 Euros plus shipping
What The Book Came Out To Be …
My original idea was to write a book for young readers (14-19) and package the adventures of Asha and her two friends, Anil and Arun, into stories. Stories in which these three main characters interact and share their feelings, achievements, challenges since the skatepark was built in their small village called Janwaar.
All based on real stories. Stories about the World Skateboarding Championships, or how they explore the jungles in their neighbourhoods and find their way around in the city-jungle of Delhi. How they started to run their own company and how they felt about their first travels within India and abroad. Or how it is to live at the bottom end of India’s society when you are born Adivasi, a tribal kid.
As I was starting to write though, I was drawn more and more into the direction as it came out now: it is was happened to Asha – and I mainly focus on her – because I’ve built a skatepark in her village. It is a documentary enriched with many small stories showing Asha’s transformation from a young and shy Adivasi girl into a self-confident, radiant young woman. From a girl with no rights living at the bottom of India’s social structure to a voice for many girls in India. That’s one part. And the other part is the documentary of my doing in India and thinking how to trigger and drive change. Both parts are very closely intertwined. This interdependence is the path on which Asha and I have moved. And that’s what this book is about.
.. And Who Should Read It
I still feel that the book is absolutely interesting and challenging for YOUNG READERS. They can read Asha’s journey and see how she managed her teenage years – in constant struggles with her parents and community. How she handled conflicts and fights with her peers and how she find her way to finish school and discover what she wants to do in life. And of course all her adventures as a skate- boarder. And on top of this, there is a lot to learn about rural India – it was a completely new chapter in my life.
The book is equally suitable for CHANGEMAKERS. People who are driving change in foreign cultures or work in development aid. The approach I’ve taken in Janwaar was multiple times awarded and I replicated the skatepark model in four different places and inspired many more.
The book is as fitting for those WHO ENABLE OTHERS – coaches, trainers, mentors, tudors and teachers – and SELF-LEARNERS. Also for them the part with the open ended questions across different areas of life at the beginning of each chapter is helpful. The most important thing about these questions are NOT the answers, but the FACT that they are ASKED!
And last but not least this book is written for all of my SUPPORTERS who enabled me to do what I’ve done and who trusted my process. The book is not written in
a chronological order, there are quite some leap in time, but surely you will recognise stories I told you before and you will find new ones, stories you weren’t aware of yet. They show how wide-ranging our activities were and how deep their impact was. And you will learn more about Janwaar and its wild and lovely bunch of people!
And YESSSS, this book is for Asha, Anil and Arun and all the other kids. For their parents and the grandparents. For the entire village. THANK YOU!
Anil, who just turned 18 years old a few month ago, is the little brother of Arun and the youngest in the family. He is the brightest kid in the village and the best in English. Just like Asha he has passed his high school exams. His skateboarding skills are not as good as his brothers’ – yet he does fairly well on the deck. He is willing to learn and understands clearly how important it is to be a voice. Yet he is hesitant: his peers, who hardly have seen a school from the inside, are teasing him when he is focused on his studies and is supporting Asha in the village af- fairs. This is not what a boy in a village does! Anil is also still struggling to step out of his brothers’ long shadow and to speak freely with his parents about what he wants in life and how he can achieve it. His parents never went to school, they can not read and write – yet he is asking them for advice where and what to study. Anil is not living up to his possibilities due to the social fabrics he is living in.
He is obedient and feels deep inside that he should not obey but rather find his own way. When he is in the village his “productivity” goes down to almost zero because he is torn between his dreams and the parents, peers and his brother. Anil has a wonderful smile and a good heart.
On his 18th birthday he has become a director of the Barefoot Skateboarders Organisation, the children’s organisation in Janwaar. He is the one who does the administrative and financial stuff. And every now and then, he communicates with the people who support the organisation.
Arun is the older brother of Anil. He is a good guy. However he has huge problems with his own persona. It almost feels like he is still in puperty, even though he is now 20 years old.
Arun is loud, restless, impatient and cares the most about himself. Sharing was not invented for him. For him life is all about looking good on his skateboard. To be the best skateboarder is all he wants, yet he doesn’t take any advise from anyone to help him on this way. He is very lonely. He is looking up to his idols whom he copies and adores blindly. He wants to be like them. He has won the Indian Championships once and has participated in the World Championships in China.
Arun is the oldest son of his tribal parents. This comes with some obligations, which he is unable to fulfil most of the time. He wears a tough facade, yet his inner self is very sensitive and fragile. He is sometimes dishonest and doesn’t know what he wants – nevertheless he is always playing cool. His opinions are twisting in the wind. He desperately wants to be a leader but he is always standing in his own way. He himself is the biggest hurdle he has to overcome. Many kids in the village look up to him because he is their best skateboarder, yet they are afraid of him because he is shouting and distancing himself from the rest. He is looking for followers, not for people on his eye-level.
Since a few month now, he is teaching skateboarding at Prakriti. He still has to pass one subject for his 12th grade exams.
Asha comes from a tribal family – she is a Gond. Over the years she has become self-confident. She is now 23 years old and a trailblazer for the girls in the village. She escaped an arranged marriage and convinced her parents to set her free – being resilient was her way forward. At times Asha can be very empathetic and thoughtful. She looks pretty and all the boys in the village admire her – often secretly. She knows how to play with this. She has the power to drive change and is leading by example. She is somehow fearless, comfortable in expressing her own opinion respectfully and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. She dropped out of school when she was 14, became a pretty cool skateboarder and with her skate- boarding she became famous all over India. She has won multiple Indian cham- pionships and has participated in the World Championships in China.
With skateboarding her interest in education came back and she finally passed her high school exams. Asha is very authentic. Theoretical learning is not her thing, she needs the practical touch. She is struggling with her background and her new “role” in the village – her life is often like a roller coaster and her emotio- nal state is very unstable. Sometimes she doesn’t know how to overcome the obstacles in her life and then she becomes stubborn and lazy. Then she throws in the towel. And doesn’t get anything done. She hates it when she is in such a mind se
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