"Education against poverty" is our approach, which we currently want to implement with the largest and most extensive project in the history of our association. We are planning our own Vocational Training Centre Bhopal (BBZB), in which Franklin's pupils will be trained in business and technical professions, thus providing them with a secure path out of poverty.
The background: Every year, 100 to 200 students have to leave Franklin's schools and hostels to make room for newly admitted children. To prevent them from falling back into the spiral of hunger, fear and exploitation, they need good vocational training, which in India, however, costs money and is reserved for higher classes. The boys usually only have the option of working as day laborer, the girls have to marry and are exploited by their husbands' families.
In order to avert this fate, the idea of setting up a training centre was born as early as in 2015. Through private contacts we met three architecture students from the University of Weimar in 2017, who had already accompanied various development projects abroad. Hanna Idstein, Anne-Kathrin Müller and Bernardo Villagra were immediately enthusiastic and flew to India the same year to kick off the project with Father Franklin and his friars.
Fortunately, the Order has a suitable plot of land and after many discussions with local architects and construction companies, they went back to Germany to plan the centre architecturally and complete it in a model. In three construction phases, a college was to be built with dormitories, teachers' apartments, a cafeteria, library and lecture halls, which would ultimately offer space for up to 1,000 students. 1.2 million euros had been budgeted for the construction and start-up financing, but in the long term, BBZB was to be financed by tuition fees, as half of the study places were also to be allocated to students from higher classes.
The planning for 2018 is now underway: Funding applications were written, a separate project brochure was produced and the BVMW was won as a cooperation partner. The network of potential supporters expanded and in June 2018 we were able to receive the first major grant of 74,000 euros from the RTL foundation "We help children". This money will be used in a first step to finance the dormitory for the future female students.
In fall 2018, Prior Father Attley gave us the go-ahead for this first phase, so that construction work could begin in spring 2019. But there is still a long way to go until the final completion, which we can only do together with as many supporters as possible. Help us so that with the new BBZB we can release thousands of former street children and orphans over many generations into a secure future without fear and poverty.Donate now for a 3-year training
2. sewing schools
In many places in India women are considered second class. Especially in the lower classes, the birth of a girl is considered a hard blow of fate. Not infrequently, girls are rejected, sold, abused, receive less food and less medical care. Their mortality rate is correspondingly much higher than that of boys.
Daughters are married very early, with the husband's family insisting on high dowry payments and absolute obedience. Unfortunately, there are also frequent dowry killings, in which the young bride dies in an "accident" and makes room for a new marriage with a new dowry. Many young women also choose suicide as a last resort, of their own or someone else's own accord.
The girls Franklin takes in between the ages of 2 and 4 enjoy a carefree childhood and have a much easier time than their peers in this respect. As soon as they have to leave school, however, many of them catch up with their own origins. Many are forced into marriage and exploited by their husbands and their families.
In 2015, IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. built the first sewing school on the school railing of the Pilar Fathers in Shanti Nagar. Our volunteer seamstress Mrs. Heumann flew to India and accompanied the course construction. Since then 30 young women are trained as seamstresses every year. At the end of their training they receive a certificate and their own sewing machine and equipment.
The idea behind it: With their own sewing machine and their manual skills, the young women can take over sewing services for their families or neighbors. This increases their reputation and their value - especially if they can contribute to the income through contract work.
Every year Franklin sends us reports about young women who have found a better, more self-determined life thanks to their sewing training. This ranges from the young woman who ran away from her husband and is now making a good living together with her mother, to an own sewing workshop with which our seamstresses have built their own existence.
Due to the great success, the Pilar Fathers founded three more sewing schools where young women can seize their chance for a better life. However, in order to ensure that these hopeful girls not only receive the handicraft skills but also their own sewing machine, we are constantly dependent on donors. For only 170 Euros you give a young woman the unique opportunity to lead a self-determined life without fear and violence.Donate now for an apprenticeship as a seamstress
3. Suitcase project
The lives of the children that Franklin welcomes into his schools and hostels each year are very different. Some lived on the streets, some were expelled by their families, some were born in the leper colony of the Pilar Fathers, and some were abandoned by relatives. What they all have in common is that they do not own much more than the clothes on their bodies.
Those who have made it and are accepted by the Pilar Fathers receive a basic supply of things they need for their future life. The list includes, for example, a sleeping mat and a blanket, a toothbrush and a comb, a tin plate and a mug, trousers, a schoolbook, writing utensils and much more. So that these things don't fly around or attract covetous glances, each child also receives his or her own lockable metal suitcase to accompany them throughout their school career and beyond.
For the children, this case is usually the first gift or even the first possession in their lives. As it is lockable, they enjoy some privacy, which is a rare and precious commodity in India in general and of course also in the schools of the Pilar Fathers. The suitcases are therefore a gift and necessary tools in one and structure the new everyday life of the children. They give them support and help them to find their way in their new life.
The basic equipment and the suitcase together cost 3,735 rupees, which is equivalent to around 52.38 euros. Since the suitcases are not collected again, Father Franklin needs between 100 and 200 new suitcases every year, so that every child really receives his welcome present.
For this reason, we are constantly dependent on generous donors who would like to contribute a suitcase full of hope for 52 Euro. The handing over of the new suitcases in our schools is one of the most beautiful and happy moments for the children and the Fathers.Donate a suitcase now
4. One Meal a Day
Although the Pilar Fathers focus their Christian charity on the food and education of street children and orphans, they have also been maintaining a classical feeding of the poor in the streets of Calcutta for many years. "One Meal a Day" is the name of the project, which in the spirit of Mother Theresa saves people from starvation every day.
For us from the IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. the support of this project is not without contradictions. We actually want to free people from poverty in a sustainable and safe way, which is not the primary goal of feeding the poor. Nevertheless, we have consciously decided to support "One Meal a Day".
There are several reasons for this: Firstly, a regular feeding of the poor can actually increase the chance of escaping the poverty spiral. Thanks to the project, children in particular suffer less from deficiency symptoms and with a healthy body they have better opportunities to make their way in life. On the other hand, the subjective increase in value is enormous: One has to be aware that a few euros, which may be enough for two hours of parking here, mean the difference between life and death in India.
Of course, it is difficult for us to understand why people starve to death on the streets in a country that has amazing economic growth. It is tempting to place the blame on Indian politics, society or even religious thought. Nevertheless, these objections do not absolve us from the Christian duty to help these people within our means.
Many of our visits to India also took us to the streets of Calcutta, where we participated in the feeding of the poor and distributed food ourselves. The experience of giving so much happiness and joy to an emaciated child with a plate of rice never lets you go. For these people it is not just about food, it is also about the precious realization that there are still people out there who care about them.
It is a thought that we should allow to happen more often in our fast-moving times:
For 5 Euro, Father Franklin can feed a person for a whole month.Secure a child's basic nutrition for a year
5. Water filter PAUL
In a country with 1.3 billion inhabitants and temperatures that regularly exceed the 40-degree mark, there is no public drinking water supply. River water is often heavily contaminated, leaving groundwater as the only reasonably reliable source of water. Thanks to German supporters, Father Franklin equipped his central schools and hostels with deep wells years ago.
But the water quality is poor. Again and again Franklin told us that small children or lepers became seriously ill or died due to contaminated water. In order to boil the water completely, there was no fuel, money for chemical cleaning and other cleaning facilities depended on electricity, which is not steadily available in the facilities of Pilar Fathers.
In 2016 we found a practical solution to this problem. The University of Kassel had developed a portable water filter that was actually designed for disaster relief. The basic idea: if remote regions are cut off after a disaster, this water filter can be brought there on foot if necessary. On site, it purifies the water completely without chemicals or electricity, using gravity alone, and thus produces up to 1,200 liters of drinking water per day. The blue lifesavers were named PAUL (Portable Aqua Unit for Lifesaving).
Initially, Father Franklin was skeptical whether these PAULs could be operated properly by his employees. But the concern was unfounded. All a PAUL needs is an elevated water reservoir from which the water seeps into the water filter and through its highly effective micromembranes. These membranes are so fine-pored that 99.99 % of all bacteria are filtered out. The filter is cleaned by an occasional backwashing and can thus provide good service for up to 10 years.
In the meantime, we have been able to send 10 PAULs to Bhopal, where Franklin had them installed at his schools, kindergartens, leprosy colony, sewing school and many other locations. The access to healthy drinking water is a blessing for the children, but of course, with the success of the project, ideas are growing about where else life-saving PAULs could be used for the benefit of the population.
We have promised him to send more water filters on the journey, as long as we can raise the necessary funds. A PAUL costs around 1,000 euros including transport and the installation of a small lockable shelter.Donate online now
The sinking groundwater level is a huge problem in India, which is becoming increasingly acute. Since the extraction is hardly regulated by law, Western companies in particular are pumping enormous quantities out of the ground, which are then used for the production of export goods. Increasingly hot spells and precipitation due to climate change make it more and more difficult to get hold of the precious water.
Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, own deep wells are the only way to get enough water. Thanks to his German friends, Franklin owns several such wells, two of which alone were financed by the IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. But even though his children are thus provided with a reasonable degree of security, every day Franklin sees the misery to which the lack of water leads. Since there is no public drinking water supply, many people in the surrounding slums are forced to draw their water from stagnant or flowing waters.
Not least because of the worst chemical disaster in human history, which occurred here in the 1980s, the surface waters around Bhopal are heavily contaminated. The uninhibited use of pesticides in agriculture and the lack of sewage systems contribute to the fact that many people have to drink contaminated water.
Franklin would like to have more wells built. But as so often, there is a lack of money. There are enough conceivable locations, not only in the slums of Bhopal, but also in the remote village communities, which are also supported by the Pilar Fathers. Although the water quality of surface waters is somewhat better in the remote and sparsely populated regions, climatic changes are causing more and more streams and rivers to dry up temporarily.
For poor village families, this means long distances to the nearest water source, fewer harvests and dwindling livelihoods. Children in particular are often forced to seek their fortune in the cities, where they are sure to fall into poverty.
With their own well, this fate can be averted. In addition, many of the older wells hardly provide any water and urgently need to be renewed. With a donation of approx. 2,500 Euros, a well can be built that will secure the livelihood of many people for years to come.Donate now for a well
7th Leprosy Ashram
Leprosy is a bacterial infectious disease that can be treated very well with antibiotics. In all countries with good health care, it is therefore almost completely defeated. In India, unfortunately, there is no such care, so that the disease continues to claim countless lives.
The main problem, however, lies less in the course of the disease than in the social ostracism with which every "leper" is punished. Those who fall ill with leprosy are completely isolated from their social environment. They lose their job and must also leave their family immediately, if they want to protect them from discrimination and exclusion. The consequences of this exclusion are obvious: those affected try to hide the disease for as long as possible, which minimizes the chance of recovery and increases the risk of new infections. This isolation is even sadder when one realizes that leprosy is not only curable, but also hardly infectious if a certain amount of hygiene is respected. Leprosy sufferers in India do not go to the doctor, but end up on the streets, where they live from and in the rubbish and perish miserably.
When Father Franklin came to Bhopal in the 1980s, he saw the misery of these people and began to build his own colony for lepers. In the meantime, the colony consists of 50 stone houses in which up to 250 people can live. The colony also has its own wells, fields, gardens and medical care. Entirely in the spirit of Mother Theresa, he not only built the largest leprosy colony in the country here, but also created a place where families can live free of stigmatisation.
For this one must know: in India children of lepers are treated in the same way as the patients themselves. They cannot go to school, are not given any training or jobs. At Franklin, they are accepted into the religious schools and are given the chance of a normal life.
Since the entire colony is financed purely by donations, Franklin regularly prays for the charity and generosity of his supporters. Only if we are willing to share some of our wealth together this place of refuge can survive in the long run and give a future to people who have lost everything.Donate online now
8. Agricultural projects
The Pilar Fathers not only run schools and hostels in Bhopal, but also take care of remote village communities of the Adhivasi, indigenous people of India who suffer severe social discrimination. These people cannot read and write and are helplessly at the mercy of criminal landowners and crop failures.
Both the schools in Bhopal and the indigenous village communities produce most of the food they need themselves. There are fields and plantations, gardens and farm animals, which are tended and nurtured at the various locations. This form of self-sufficiency creates a certain independence but is also not without risks. In 2015, for example, the fire in a field put the nutrition of hundreds of children on the line.
For these and other reasons, we are always trying to improve the food base for these people. The planting of mango, banana and, above all, lychee trees has proved to be particularly effective in this respect. Over the years, thousands of these seedlings have been bought and given away. The first harvests are promising and help the people to feed themselves.
With the right care, a lychee tree reaches a proud age and then yields up to 150 kg of fruit per year, which can be eaten, but also sold at local markets. It takes time until then, but even a five-year-old tree can provide four kilos of the healthy and delicious fruit.
Our goat project, in which pregnant goats are given away to poor village families, also proved to be very successful. Male offspring, the family is allowed to raise and slaughter. Female offspring, however, must be given away to another family from the village. Thus the goat population grows within the village community and feeds more people with healthy milk and meat year after year.
Goats and tree seedlings do not cost much money by our standards, but they have a very long-term, sustainable effect. Thus, an incredible amount can be achieved with little effort.
A major investment includes our current buffalo project, where a water buffalo farm is being built on the Pilar Fathers' land in Shanti Nagar. We are currently planning to purchase an initial 25 animals which, once they have calved, will reliably produce up to 400 litres of buffalo milk per day. The healthy and high-fat milk is to be used to feed the children, and in the long-term to build up our own cheese dairy. The project is supported by the federal government but is still looking for generous supporters.Donate online now
Each year hundreds of students leave Father Franklin's hostels and schools, facing an uncertain future. They often have no choice but to enter into an arranged marriage, where, unfortunately, they are often subjected to oppression and violence. In order to avoid this fate, Franklin, together with German donors, tries to provide as many women as possible with a good professional education.
For many years he has been working successfully with St. Josefs Hospital in Hosangabad, where the young women are trained as nurses. Since the three-year or one-year training costs money, this great dream cannot be fulfilled by all school leavers. Only the best from each year's class can enjoy this great opportunity in life.
The profession of a nurse is one of the few that is open to women from lower classes in India and is relatively fairly paid. In his annual report, Franklin writes us in detail which girls have successfully completed their training and where they have found employment. The earnings from a nurse's job are often enough to help their own family or to build up their own modest fortune.
In 2018 the nurse training took a special turn: The Diocese of Osnabrück, which has also worked with Father Franklin and the Order of Pilar Fathers for years, is the sponsor of the Niels-Stensen Clinics, which offer around 1,500 beds in the Osnabrück district and the Emsland region. Since the facilities in the nursing sector suffer from a considerable shortage of skilled workers, the idea was born to bring former students of Father Franklin, who completed their nurse training in India, to Germany.
In addition to a higher standard of living, the selected young women can look forward to significantly better earning opportunities, which will enable them to provide optimal support for their families back home. However, until this is achieved, the eight selected nurses must first learn the German language. They are currently taking part in a 6-month intensive course to prepare for their new (professional) life in Germany.
This does not only allow women to escape poverty, but also opens up real perspectives for a sustainable better future for the young women and their families. This chance is made possible solely by German donors who want to give away some of their wealth to help a young girl fulfill the dream of her life.Donate now for an apprenticeship as a nurse
10. Buffalo farm
Altogether, the Pilar Fathers provide food for thousands of children and young people in Bhopal alone, who without this help would be threatened by acute hunger. Father Franklin is centrally dependent on donations from Germany for this food. If the money is not forthcoming, the children's daily meals is sparser. To ensure that at least the minimum need is covered in an emergency, the order cultivates its own gardens, fields and fruit plantations near its schools. Stables for poultry or rabbits can also be found in many locations. This form of self-sufficiency creates a little independence, but remains risky if, for example, droughts or fires destroy the harvest.
In order to build up more supply security at this point, IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. has been building its own farm for water buffaloes since 2018. Supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, a stable for initially 25 animals is being built on the school grounds in Shanti Nagar, which can be further expanded depending on the development.
Water buffalos are widespread in Asia and are both frugal and productive domestic animals. An adult buffalo cow produces up to 16 litres of milk per day. Buffalo milk not only tastes delicious, it is also twice as rich in fat as cow's milk and has a much longer shelf life, even in an uncooled state. A complete herd of buffalo would therefore be a valuable mainstay to ensure a healthy diet for the children in the long term.
However, especially in India, water buffaloes are a precious possession that certainly arouses desires. Two specially hired buffalo herders are employed for the protection and, of course, the care of the animals. The herd will be accommodated centrally in a spacious brick stable, which will be ready for occupancy in spring 2019.
The financing also includes the feed supply. As soon as the cows have calved and give milk, part of the production will be sold, so that the project will be self-sustaining. In a further step, there are plans to set up a cheese dairy, as buffalo cheese can be kept for longer and is also easier to sell on local markets.
Until then, we are dependent on every Euro to buy food for the animals. The collected donations will also be used to buy more animals. If you want to give Franklin's children a future strong as a buffalo, please help us.Donate online now
The starting point for this project was Father Franklin's visit to the high school “In der Wüste” in Osnabrück. For years, the partner school has been home to a very successful student company "BidW", which produces, markets and sells its own honey. In 2015, the beekeeping project was even awarded the title of best student company in Germany. Franklin was impressed by the skills of the students and even more by the richness and taste of the honey and so the idea to build a similar company at the Indian partner school was born.
A school beekeeping in India would not only teach basic skills in beekeeping, sales and marketing, but would also contribute directly to the nutrition and financing of the school. Former pupils would also have the opportunity to learn the beekeeping trade and build a professional future.
Right from the start, the pupils of "BidW" have supported the project with a lot of enthusiasm and good ideas. After all, the aim was not only to compile information on beekeeping, but above all on the organisation and the business management processes and learning content and to prepare it for the Indian partners.
In fact, the actual care of possible bee colonies was the most pressing problem for a long time. After all, the beekeeping trade differs considerably between Germany and India simply because of climatic differences. Fortunately, with the "Madhya Pradesh State Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited", a beekeeping institute could be found in Bhopal that contributed the necessary know-how and many important contacts. Father Franklin selected three confidants who visited the institute for a beekeeping course and thus acquired the necessary expertise.
Meanwhile, the IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. took care of the financing and, together with the German high school, collected an outstanding sum of around 10,000 euros as donations. An approved funding application of 19,450 Euros by the BINGO Environmental Foundation provided additional scope to finance a spacious shelter, technical equipment and ten bee colonies.
In autumn 2018, all construction work was completed, and the first ten hives were set up on the specially fenced and secured site. As soon as the first "harvest" will be brought in, a second chapter can be opened with marketing and sales. We hope that the project will become a school in the long run and that many more bees will populate the different schools of the Pilar Fathers. If you would like to support the hard-working insects, you are welcome to donate for further bee colonies.Donate online now
12. Health care
When Franklin came to Bhopal in the 1980s, the region suffered the worst chemical accident in human history. A devastating catastrophe occurred at a chemical plant belonging to the US company UNION CARBIDE, which caused large quantities of poisonous gas to escape and spread through the neighboring slums. Hundreds of thousands of people died miserably, went blind, were crippled and are still suffering the worst long-term effects.
Although the company is partly to blame for the accident due to low safety regulations and high work pressure, adequate reparations were never made. In 1989, the company paid 470 million euros to the Indian state, but the money never reached the people affected. Even today, large areas of the soil and water are contaminated with mercury and carcinogenic chemicals. Despite the manageable costs, no remediation is planned. The consequences of chemical poisoning include blindness, brain damage, paralysis, pulmonary oedema, heart, stomach, kidney and liver disease, infertility and malformations in newborns.
The care of the sick was one of the most urgent tasks of the Pilar Fathers in Bhopal and so over the years a separate infirmary was established, where the people of the surrounding slums are still treated free of charge. However, the supply of medicines and medical staff is difficult and always represents an immense challenge to the order.
If you would like to help to alleviate at least the greatest suffering of the people affected, please support the Pilar Fathers' infirmary in Bhopal with a donation. Your money will directly benefit those who otherwise do not know where to find help.Donate online now