The certified non-profit society Learn for Life, Germany, and its Austrian counterpart (regularly awarded the Austrian Seal of Approval) support the Parivartan Trust in India, who runs the Badi Asha (Big Hope) school and women empowerment project in Varanasi. At the moment, 115 children come to the Kindergarden and school, learn to read and write in Hindi and English, Maths, and acquire basic skills in health care (basic hygiene, nutrition, Biology...), Geography and History.
In the afternoon, we offer them classes in dancing, sewing, Urdu and/or computer skills, they can use the library, let off steam in the park and/or get help with their homework. In order to "buy" them the time to come to school, we provide them with a small breakfast and a nutritious lunch, which is prepared by women of the women empowerment project - very often mothers of the school children who get a fair wage for their work. We use mostly local and organically grown ingredients and make this (as well as the solar plant on the roof top) an example for dealing with our planet in a sustainable way.
In a city and a country, where caste and religious affiliation still are too often the starting points of violent pogroms (mostly against the Muslim minority), we are happy and proud to be able to provide teachers and children from all castes and religions (in our school Hindus and Muslims) a place for joint learning and working. Everybody employed by the project (teachers, administrators, cooks, cleaners...) come from the region of Varanasi, are insured socially and in case of illness, and have the opportunity to have their further education financed by the trust.
At the moment, we're concentrating on the kindergarden and the first five school years and financially and socially support those children who want to pursue their education in continuing schools.
Apart from preparing lunch, the women also produce jams, spreads, mueslis and do some of the preliminary work for the Brown Bread Backery, which markets the finished products in bakeries and organic stores in Varanasi and New Delhi.
For 2016 we envisage a vocational school for the older pupils who want to become bakers or tailors.
This work in India, Austria and Germany is very time-consuming, which is why we have not been able to invest an awful lot of energy into our presence on the internet (blog.learn-for-life.net) and on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Learn-for-Life-School-Official-Page-VARANASI-261154148628/?fref=ts) in the past. We hope to get a grip on this with the help of volunteer community managers in the future. We have, however, been very good in replying to emails for the past 10 years! :)