our path in India we have come to meet people whose simplicity deeply moved us.
They became our dear friends, almost our family. We could not ignore their
financial difficulties, sometimes very serious, so we decided to help them.
This is how we have come to support several families in various cities in North
India and assist more people as and when we met them. The main thing
for us is not only that they earn a living, that they live in decent
accommodation, that they be in good health, that their children go to
school and that they receive help in case of emergency, but also
that they be happy to live, to evolve, or even to travel with us.
Click on the pictures above to find out their stories...
You too can support some of them and sponsor a family or a child...
To find out more, do not hesitate to contact us.
Sarod and their two daughters Ravina & Chandravati
We've been knowing Ram
since 1998. He lives in Haridwar in a small straw hut by the Ganges. He
is a young cycle-taxi (rickshaw) driver, very kind and helpful.
When we met him he was earning a bit of money but he was renting his
rickshaw so he had to pay a rent everyday. We bought him a new
cycle-rickshaw so he could save money on the rent. After he got
married, we carried on following how his family got on, and helping him
in difficult times: health issues of the youngest daughter, flood times
etc.. We also gave him a hand so his oldest daughter could start
going to school, and in November 2013 we bought him an auto-rickshaw.
Agra (Uttar Pradesh)
Our story with Salman started beautifully. He too is a cycle-rickshaw driver. We were with a
friend and her child and we wanted to go to Shikendra to see the grave
of King Akbar, around 15 km from Agra. Salman offered his services, but
the distance seemed too much to us so we declined, preferring
to go by auto-rickshaw. He promised that he could do it, so we finally
accepted. However, after 100 metres he stopped his rickshaw and
suggested that we carry on our journey with one of his colleagues for
the same price. We wanted to stay together so we again refused, preferring an auto-rickshaw.
Salman then assured us that he could carry all of us alone, and that he wanted to take us there
himself. He insisted so much that we accepted. And finally, he did it;
he took us all to and back, alone on his cycle-rickshaw. It has to
be said that an empty cycle-rickshaw already weighs quite a lot!
the way Salman told us that he had been head of his family since the
age of 13, and that he had to work to help his mother and his
sister, because his older brother was spending all his income on
alcohol. He spoke very good English although he had learnt it alone by
talking with tourists. We were so impressed by his strong will that we
decided we would help him. The next time we came to India we bought him
a cycle-rickshaw, and along the years he managed to buy a second one,
which he's been renting to a colleague. When he later decided to get an
auto-rickshaw, he managed to finance 75% of it himself and we gave him the remaining
25%. Salman is now married, and he is a great partner on our travels.
We are still following his family and recently helped him with some
Banaras / Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Moti is a rickshaw-wallah. We met him the same year that we met Puja,
in 2005, through a Spanish friend of ours who had bought him his rickshaw because he used to sleep in the
street. He lives in Varanasi but when we met him his family still lived
in the state of Bihar, where he comes from. After the floods that hit
Bihar in the summer of 2008, one of his two sons came to live with him
in Varanasi and a team worked on improving his living conditions so that he could welcome
a child. The boy had never been to school so another association took care of
his schooling. For a few years we funded his accommodation. Since then his wife has come to live with him with their
youngest child. Still today we give him a hand whenever he needs it.
Banaras / Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Ramdhani is Puja's
father, and we have known him since 2005.
Since Puja has been living in her new family in Sarnath,
Ramdhani still lives on his boat on the banks of the Ganges, and we
regularly help him with food, clothes, boat maintenance, etc. Whenever we are in Banaras we also
make sure that he has regular contact with his daughter.
Bénarès / Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
In January 2014 Mrs Johanna Biestervelt-Chevrier gave a violin to the association with the instruction to donate it to an Indian musician. The instrument was of such good quality that we didn't want to give it to a beginner. We had known Sakshi, a student of Sukhdev Mishra, for two years, and for some time we had already been considering asking her to give music classes in the Ramnagar governmental centre for boys. She had been learning violin for 10 years and she was currently starting a PhD at the Banaras Hindu University. She had lost her mother a few years back and had some financial difficulties with her father. She just seemed like the ideal person to receive the violin. On 1st March we all went to Ramnagar with Sakshi to establish her first contact with the boys. At this occasion she tried the violin and we immediately felt the joy and ease with which she played it. After a few days we handed the violin to Sakshi, and she spontaneously suggested she could give the boys free classes for a year, as she had just made such an inaccessible dream come true...
In the end, Sakshi didn't give classes in Ramnagar for a very long time, because a few months after our intervention the Indian government opened its own music class for the boys. Our classes were now pointless! Still Sakshi kept the violin, and she has now completed her PhD in music successfully. Today, Sakshi's future is promising and we are happy for her: since 2016 she has been working as a violin teacher at the Baroda University in Gujarat, and her wedding is planned for May 2017 to a charming young man who earns a good living in Mumbai.
|KALU & LAKSHMI
Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh)
In early 2010, a Belgian friend of ours, Olivier Delhausse met Kalu in the streets of Khajuraho. The boy, then aged 9, invited him to come to his house and introduced him to
his family: his mum, his dad, his little sister Lakshmi (then 5), and his brother Rajju (then 12) who has learning difficulties.
Kalu also had a big sister (16) but she died in an accident, and another big brother (19) who died of a snake bite...
The father is alcoholic and doesn't work, and up until a few months earlier it was the older brother who provided an income for the
family by "catching" tourists. So the parents no longer had a source of income, and they had never had the means to send Kalu and Lakshmi to school.
A few months later in Varanasi, Olivier met Vio (our future Cultural Delegate in India) who was about to marry an Indian,
Vijay from Khajuraho. Taking advantage of this reliable local contact, Olivier told Vio about his wish to send Kalu and Lakshmi to an English-medium school
to provide them with a better future. Vio and Vijay agreed to help Olivier persue his project, and so since July 2010, the children have been going to school. Olivier, with his friend Pascale Moiroud, regularly sends money to Vio who takes care of the accounts and the commucation. As for Vijay, he has become a real uncle for the children and an assistant for their mum! Each year, he enrols the kids in school, sets tuition, buys their school supplies and uniforms... After 4 years in two different, not so great schools, Olivier and Pascale (who are not rolling in money) have agreed to send Kalu and Lakshmi in the best English school in Khajuraho from July 2014, although the tuition fees are higher. It was when Kalu caught tiphoid in August 2014 that we decided to start giving the family a hand to cover the children's medical expenses.
Kalu & Lakshmi
We help people we meet as and when the need arises...