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Abeja Dispatch

Inspirational Auroville, A Photo Journal
June 24, 2000

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Bhavana and one of the development workers have as much fun as the kids!
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Aurelio, a Belgian-Aurovillian, keeps the kids entranced with his stories.
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"True education has to unfold and reveal what is already present in the children. They open themselves in joy just like flowers open themselves to the sun."

-- The Mother

After one week of staying at Auroville, visiting different projects and meeting such inspirational people, I don't know where to begin! Below are some short tidbits about some of the ways that Aurovillians are making a difference in their world.

Fold it this way, and it's a butterfly!

For days the children have been playing, laughing, and creating. Bahvana and her friends have invited kids from 36 poor Tamil villages in the area to
Map
come over and play for a few days, now that school is in. Bahvana is an American-Aurovillian, and a member of the Village Action Group, which reaches out to the local communities to help them develop sustainably and to respect and preserve their native culture. I spent two days playing with different groups as the kids did origami and theater with "development workers" in PEP, the Primary Education Project. The workers are from local villages, too, and are trained to go into schools and to do summer programs like this with the kids.

The government schools are known for being poorly run and the main method of education is rote memorization. So this program is an attempt to help the kids learn to be creative and have fun, while learning. I'm not sure who had more fun - the kids or me and Bhavana - but I'm looking forward to next summer!

Vocabulary

bund -an embankment
rote - to learn by memory, without emphasis on meaning or understanding
water table - the depth below which the ground is saturated by water

It's harvest time!

Minh pulled the motorbike over next to a lake surrounded by lush greenness. "This is one of the tanks," he explained as we walked up on a small hill. "What we're standing on now is the bund that holds the water. India used to be covered with these water-harvesting systems, that were built by the dynasties in the 7th and 8th centuries." Under the British rule, land reforms destroyed the traditional communal style of caring for the canals, tanks, and irrigation systems, and they all fell into disuse and dried up.

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Lourdes Auro Yogi and his student, Sandrish, chat on the road.
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The Thursday cooking team prepares dinner for the whole school.
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Today, Minh (a French-Aurovillian of Vietnamese descent) and others at the Harvest Center are helping the communities re-establish their traditions for the good of the entire area. More tanks mean more water, which will help raise more crops and raise the water table in the area. And that's just one of the many projects they do!

Learning from Mr. Yogi

From the moment I met Lourdes Auro Yogi, I liked him, and it's clear that his students absolutely adore him, too. An Indian-Aurovillian from the nearby town of Poindecherry, Lourdes teaches at New Creation, a community at Auroville as well as a school for local students. The triangular classrooms have solar panels on the roof, but it's the style of learning that is most revolutionary. Lourdes called it "free-progress" learning, where the students select topics and do projects based on their own interests.

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Children with physical handicaps get special attention here at Auroville.
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"The students are usually the first learners from the family, so they don't get any help from their families." Lourdes explained as we toured the classrooms, which are empty for the summer. "So we don't give much homework and we won't punish them." Otherwise, their parents may just keep them home to work! Students also receive free meals, pens and paper, and, for some, room and board.


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for larger view
Surya shows me the reclining chair for the
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Dental care, check-ups, vaccinations, and pre-natal care are all provided to local communities as well as Aurovillians. Western medicine as well as non-traditional natural healers work side by side to give the best care possible, despite the rural setting. Auroville also operates a program for mentally and physically handicapped children from the local area.

Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

Abeja - What I learned from Gandhi
Abeja - The Road to Auroville:
An Experiment in International Community Living

Andrew - Fistful of Bananas
Kavitha - Semester in Nepal
Kavitha - Return to Nepal
Team - Making a Difference - Do As I Say, Not As I Do:
Getting MAD About Nuclear Proliferation


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