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Planet Hope Netherlands Bank: NL94TRIO0390369705 Year IV, No. 7, December 2014

This newsletter reflects the daily life and opinion of the girls living in the Navodaya (New Beginning) girls home in Bangalore, India. All articles are written by the girls themselves. Happy reading!

Durga, Shivaleela, Ashwini , Nithya Shree, Rama, Vijayalakshmi G, Kavya, Rekha, Lis Maria, Kalavathi, Vijayalakshmi S, Vinitha, Pooja Sharma, Roopa, Jennifer, Shilpa, Prema, Pooja G, Gangothri, Catherin and Nikshitha

ECHO India

The Navodaya girls home is an initiative of ECHO India and Planet Hope Netherlands

We wish you Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

The girls of Navodaya

School girls become college girls All the girls of the Navodaya home make good progress at school. Some elder girls already finished their secondary school and went for higher education. Durga, Shivaleela and Ashwini share their experiences.

Durga: “I finished my 12th standard this year and continued for my degree in Bangalore. When I went to college the first day I was very nervous. But when I saw the green environment of my college, I was really excited and felt comfortable to study there. At first I felt alone, but now I have many friends who help me with all the challenges as a student. Besides, my teachers are very nice and helpful. I enjoy my life in college, where they allow us to express our talents in many ways. Not only within the college: they also take us outside to many other inspiring places, what I enjoy very much. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my sponsor family who gave me this great opportunity to study and experience a better life in the future.”

Shivaleela and Ashwini: “Last April we finished our 10th standard. Now we are studying 1st PUC (Pre University College) at the SSR College in Bangalore. The day we entered our new school 3 months ago, we were a bit scared. We did not know the teachers and we had no friends. We thought the students would be different to us, because they wear other clothes like Western style jeans. Now we know the teachers and we even have new friends. We get used to the new environment and our fellow students. Actually the college is great! The teachers are good and they have lots of patience. They help us if we don’t understand the matters and we are allowed to ask questions. At the college we can practice lots of sports and other activities. For example we can play volleyball and throwball, make Rangoli designs and follow cooking classes. We are trying our best to score good marks and to go for higher classes, so we become good women in the world!”

Learning Centre kicks off with Hotel Management course

From street kids to college students In August 2014 the Learning Centre in Bangalore started with the one year Hotel Management course, a cooperation between ECHO India, Planet Hope Netherlands and ROC Mondriaan. The first students, mostly former street children, are now halfway their first year. Naveen and Elsos reflect on their new campus life. Naveen: “When we started our classes, the first few weeks were focused on theory. Now also the practical classes take place in a fully new kitchen, which I like very much.” Elsos: “The classes are very interesting. Besides the regular teachers, Mr. Jan Brouwer of ROC Mondriaan The Hague came to teach us about the hotel industry.” Naveen: “The students organized a celebration program in our campus on Independence Day. We all had different responsibilities for organizing the program together. We made a planning and a demo before the final day, received the guests, cooked, served food and drinks. All the guests enjoyed the program and the staff appreciated us. That made us very happy!” Elsos: “Mr. Jan held an encouraging speech and introduced all the students to the crowd. He told us that “we are important”. That touched me and made me realize that I am important for improving the hotel management industry.” Naveen: “For me it is a golden opportunity to be a student at the Learning Centre. I want to thank Fr. Antony of ECHO for giving me the chance to study, all my lecturers and Mr. Jan who came all the way from The Netherlands to teach us.” Elsos: “Studying for the Hotel Management course is a new step towards my future’s destiny.”

Shivaleela interviews Mr. Jan Brouwer, ROC Mondriaan

„You inspire me”

„It is inspiring to experience your motivation to study” Can you introduce yourself? “My name is Jan Brouwer. I am 60 years old and my profession is manager at the ROC Mondriaan College for hotel management in The Hague. I came to Bangalore to help Fr. Antony of ECHO and Planet Hope Netherlands to realize the hotel management school. I am married with Joke for 34 years and we live in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands. We have two sons and one grandson, named Tygo.” Some girls want to join the hotel management study. What are the qualifications? “It depends on what kind of job you prefer. In a hotel lots of jobs are needed. Like working at the front office to welcome and register the guests. Or housekeeping to keep the rooms in order. Maybe you like to serve in the restaurant, or prepare great food as a cook in the kitchen. Or do you want to become the manager of the hotel? All these jobs are possible with the hotel management course of the Learning Centre. The qualifications depend on the study. First you have to finish at least the 10th standard. But to study for hotel manager, you have to finish 2 nd PUC. It will take 4 years to get the diploma.” What do you think of India? “This is the second time that I visit India. And so far I only saw Bangalore. I like the children, food and the colors in India very much. And I have to tell you that the traffic in the city is an exciting experience. In the Netherlands cars drive straight in lanes. In India there seem to exist no rules. All cars, rickshaws and bikes drive in a chaotic way, trying to use every little empty space! We took a rickshaw today and it was great fun! Most of all it is inspiring for me to experience the motivation of all of you to study, in order to have a good future for you and your family.”

Shivaleela interviews Mrs. Joke, Dutch teacher

Teaching Happy Kids in the slums Why did you come to Bangalore? “I came together with my husband Jan, who supports ECHO with the Learning Centre. Being a teacher in the Netherlands, I decided to teach children in the slums who come to the ECHO Happy Kids program.” What did you do exactly? “I taught the children songs. By singing they learn English in a playful way. Together with the teachers we also organized different activities. We made drawings, paintings and we played games.” What are the skills of a good teacher? “Besides a teaching diploma, a teacher must be able to take care of every individual child. Most important is that the teacher loves to help children to develop themselves.” What do you think of the position of women in India? “I think women are very strong. They carry heavy things, cook, do all the work in the house, work outside and raise the children. In the Netherlands men and women share most responsibilities like cooking and cleaning.” What food do you like in India? “I like chapatti, especially in the morning.” Do you have a message for the girls? “Be strong and safe, dearest girls!”

„I think the women in India are very strong”

Girls deserve more freedom By Vijayalakshmi In India we celebrate Children’s day on November 14 th. Jayaharlal Nehru liked children very much, so his birthday became national children’s day. But I am worried about the future life of girls. Unfortunately girls are less valued in Indian society. Some parents don’t want girl babies and choose for abortion. Often little girls have so much pain in their hearts, because they are not wanted by their parents. Mostly their parents will not allow them to study because once they are married, they have to stay in their husband’s house to take care of his family. So many parents think it is not useful to invest in education of girls. One more reason is that the girl’s family has to give a dowry when she gets married. This costs a lot of money and most poor parents will have to take a loan to pay the future husband’s family. Because the dowry is less at a young age, parents make the girls to marry very soon. And when women are married they often don’t have any freedom. These days also many sexual abuse is happening.

„My mother wants us to study and have a life with more freedom than herself” That is why I am so happy with my mother. Being a single parent, she takes good care of me and my two sisters. My mother wants us to study and to have a life with more freedom than herself. That is why she sent us to Navodaya to join the girls program. Here we have all the opportunities to go for even higher studies, so in the future we can have a more independence life since we will be able to earn our own money. Our caretakers in Navodaya also teach us life skills which will help us to take care of ourselves economically, as well as for our wellbeing and health. Because of my mother and Navodaya my sisters and I will have a good future. During Children’s day I prayed for all the baby girls in India to have the same opportunities!

I love our garden

Protect our nature

By Kala

By Pooja P.

We also have space to play outside now. Everyday Usha and At our new Navodaya girls home we have a big garden. Bavitha, ourI love to do gardening. We plant seeds like Every day housemother andand sister, cucumber, corn chili. We harvest many vegetables organize different and fruits. We have to take well care of the plants and games outside. It is a lot seeds. Daily we give water, except during monsoon of fun for us. I hope I time. My friends and I like to work in the garden. It is will have a house and fun. canfor talk little We garden myand it provides exercise for our bodies. So it is good for ourIthealth. We also have space to play family in the future. is outside now. healthy and theEveryday Usha and Bavitha, our housemother sister, organize different games vegetables and and flowers outside. a lot of fun for us. I hope I will have a house are good It foristhe environment. and little garden for my family in the future. It is healthy

We also have space to play outside now. Everyday and about nature. Bangalore is known as At school Usha we spoke Bavitha, the greenour city, because we have many parks and gardens. I housemother andnature. sister, If I see the flowers, I can dream like to be in the organize different and forget my problems. Nature is very important for our games outside. It is a lot daily life. To get fresh and clean air, we have to bring down of fun for us. I hope I the pollution in our city. There are so many cars and will have a house and rickshaws. there is a lot of dust and bad air in little gardenSometimes for my the city. It causes pain family in the future. It isin our lungs and throat. That is why we haveand to keep healthy the our surroundings clean. First of all to protect ourselves from all kinds of diseases and infections. vegetables and flowers are good for Especially forthe small children and elderly people it can be environment. dangerous. We can destroy our nature very quickly, but it

and the vegetables and flowers are good for the environment.

will take a long time to let it grow again. So therefore it is my dream to live in a clean, healthy and green city.

Interview with Fr. Antony Sebastion, founder and director of ECHO India By Durga, Kavia and Rekha Durga, Kavia and Rekha

„My goal is to protect the children’s rights and dignity” Why did you start ECHO? “In 2000 I started ECHO in small rented rooms. I wanted to help vulnerable children suffering from living without parents, food and housing. Lots of young children were living on the streets, surviving by begging for food or working at the railway stations. The police treated them in a very inhumane way. The children were caught at the railway station or on the streets and pulled to a police station. This scene was very disturbing for me. That is why I started studying Law and joined priesthood to empower the children and protect the children’s rights and dignity.” In the ECHO child programs there is a lot of attention for empowerment. Can you explain? “I believe children can be empowered in three ways: socially, economically and through education.” What is your message for the Navodaya girls? “You have to study well. At Navodaya girls home you have all the opportunities to develop yourselves and to have a good future. You go to the best school in this neighborhood and we will support your higher studies, so you will be able to have a good job and great life perspective. Be aware of these great opportunities that are offered to you, with the help of the Dutch sponsors. Make use of this!”

Welcome to Navodaya Since the girls home moved mid this year, a few new girls came to live in Navodaya. Two of them introduce themselves.


Lis Maria

„I want to become a doctor”

“I am 12 years old and studying in the 6th standard. I have one younger brother and sister at home. My father’s name is Satish. My mother’s name is Lissy. She is a housekeeper and cleans the houses of other people. I am happy to see my parents every Sunday. My best friends at Navodaya are Jennifer and Vijayalakshmi. I am happy to share my feelings with them. When I am sad, they support me. We have many activities in the Navodaya girls home: playing, gardening, craft, creativity. So we can forget all the pain and sorrow we sometimes feel. I like dancing, reading story books, watching movies and playing with the children. I want to become a doctor so that I can help poor people.”

We also have space to play outside now. Everyday Usha and Bavitha, our housemot her and sister, organize different games outside. It is a lot of fun for us. I hope I will have a house and little garden for my family in the future. It “I am 14 years old. Iishave one younger brother. His healthy name is Prajwal andand he lives the with my father and mother. vegetable s and flowers I came to the Navodaya girls home because my parents are good don’t have enough money to take care of me. My for the father is a carpenter. My parents have put a lot of effort to ensure my environm future. They come to visit me every ent.

„My ambition is to help poor people”


I am doing well at studies. I am studying in the 8th standard. From my childhood I am very much interested in arts. My ambition for the future is to help poor children, like sister Jasmin and aunty Usha do for us now.”

Dancing makes me happy My name is Vinitha. My hobby is dancing. I enjoy it very much. Dancing is a natural talent given to me by God. Some people say they cannot dance. Well, I like to tell them: please don’t think so. Just try, hear the music, feel the rhythm and move. You will see that you can dance, because everybody can! There are many types of dances. In India the classical dances are famous. Every state in India has its own special dance. For example, in Tamil Nadu there is the Karagattam dance and in Kerala the Kathakai. Through dancing I can forget my sadness and problems. Sometimes I miss my parents. But than i like to dance, It gives me energy and makes me happy. In the Navodaya home we dance a lot. Miss Bavitha, our caretaker, is a good dancer and teaches us all great. Because of her we could perform perfectly during Independence Day. For weeks we practiced by her guidance and on Independence Day we could show our dancing talents to all the guests. I am proud of all the girls because we were dancing so nicely as a team!

We want to live safely By Rekha Most women are great mothers to their children. A mother helps her child in every need and sacrifices her life to her child and family. Women understand the feelings of others when they are in sorrow. To achieve something in this world, men and women should join together.

„Abuse against women must be stopped!�

You know why I am telling you this? It is because lots of women in India are being abused. Almost every day cases are reported in the news. There is no freedom for women. Most of the time we have to stay in the house for our safety. Being on the street alone is to dangerous. Women and even the small girls are really frightened about this situation. Conclusion: abuse against women must be stopped! Let women achieve something good in their life. Girls are special gifts. They are the blooming flowers. We want the freedom to live safely!

Our sponsor families came to India We are Rama and Ashwini. We are studying in the 1st class of Pre University College (PUC) in S.S.R. college. We are from poor families and the Dutch families of Marian and Lizette are helping us. Marian and Lizette came with their husbands Corné and Arno and their daughters Lotje and Maaike to visit us during their holiday. For months we were waiting for them, so we were very happy and excited to finally meet them. Before we sent emails, but this time we could feel them and chat with them. We spend a lot of time together, like painting, doing craftwork, make-up, singing and dancing. We learned many things from them like how to clean our faces at the end of the day, make flowers from paper and new songs.

„We were very excited to finally meet Marian, Lizette, Lotje and Maaike”

Not all Navodaya girls have a sponsor parent. Do you want to support a girl? Please visit our website or mail us at for more information.

Most special was that the sponsor families painted our bedrooms and the kitchen. They turned our building into a happy home with beautiful pink en blue colors. We also got relax sofa’s. Now we can sit on the veranda and rest or chat a bit with each other. When they left, they bought slippers and blankets for all the girls. That is so great. Lotje and Maaike slept in our room. That was fun! It was a wonderful time to be with the uncles, aunties Marian and Lizette and Lotje and Maaike. We were very sad when they left. We will never forget their presence and we hope they will come once again!

“I want to find a good job and support my parents” Recently Baghia passend the 12th standard succesfully. She left the Navodaya girls home. Her friends Vijalaxmi and Durga interviewed her.

Why did you leave the Navodaya girls home? “My mother found a job at a college. Because of her salary my parents can take care of me. I also have a health problem and my mother wants me to be with her because of that.” What are you doing at your home? “I go to South-East Asian College now, after finished the 12th standard at Navodaya girls home earlier this year. I like to go to this college. I also joined the throwball competition. At home I study a lot and help my mother with cooking.” How do you feel after leaving us? “I still feel very sad and miss you all very much. We lived together for so many years. All of you are sisters to me. I miss aunty Karen, Isra and uncle Paul. If I did not have my health problem I would have stayed at Navodaya.” Will you come back to Navodaya girls home? “Yes, I certainly will because I want to be with my friends.” Why did you come to the girls home 5 years ago? “There were a lot of problems in my family. My parents were not able to take care of me. Now still there are problems but due to my health I have to be at home.” Who pays your college fees now? “My parents and my uncle.” What are your future plans? “I want to become healthy and continue higher studies. I want to find a good job and support my parents. I like to help children like aunty Karen and the donors do.” Do you have a message for us? “Please study well and don’t leave the girls home before you get your diploma. Keep your home clean and be nice to each other. You are one family. I also like to thank all the donors who helped me so that I could finish 12th standard and can go to college now.”

Cooking makes me happy My name is Roopa. I study in the 8th standard at the St. George high school. Before and after school, I like to cook very much.

Cooking is very important in our lives. Aunty Usha, who takes care of all the girls, teaches me how to prepare the meals. She also explains the difference between healthy and non-healthy food. Often I can help her and that makes me happy. When I cook, I forget my problems and difficult feelings. I learned how to make rice, curry, kebab and my favorite dish: biryani. I hope I can learn how to cook many more different dishes in the future.

Special moments in 2014

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