India | Spring Break 2016

A team of students and faculty from Delaware Valley Friends School visited India over spring break in March 2016. Much like our trip in 2014, the trip was service-focused and we worked with Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) - the Save the Childhood Movement - a non-profit organization based in Delhi and started by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi. We also visited some beautiful and historic places in India, and experienced the festival Holi.

More about BBA: Bachpan Bachpao Andolan - Save the Childhood Foundation) and issues of poverty and child labor.


Images from our 2016 trip to India:

(Choose by day below, then click the play arrow at bottom left to run show, or scroll through using left < and right > arrows.)

Viewing : Day 1 - Mukti Ashrammore
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During spring break, 11 DV Upper School students and 4 faculty and staff members journeyed to India in the culmination of our year-long service project supporting access to education for children in extreme need. Throughout the school year, service committee co-clerks Annie Krysztofiak and Adrianna Mowrer (both 11th grade) steered the school community to raise over $4000 to purchase bicycles so that girls in rural Rajasthan, a very poor region in northwestern India with very low literacy rates and very high rates of child labor, could get to school and not be forced to work or be put in danger of child trafficking.

The DVFS group worked closely with the family of Thomas Hircock β€˜14, who founded a foundation to provide bicycles to girls in need. We were hosted by the organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or BBA, known for its decades-long efforts to stop child slavery and led by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

The DVFS students were profoundly struck by the dedication of the BBA staff and the spirit of the rescued children. After visiting one rescue center in New Delhi and spending most of the week staying at Bal Ashram, the boarding school and rehabilitation center in Rajasthan run by BBA, our students felt like they were part of the BBA family. DV students got to play soccer, learn cricket (providing a lot of laughs to the Indian boys because of how badly we played!), sing songs, and have many, many spontaneous dance parties with the children. Because of the Holi holiday, the spring festival of color, the students were not in lessons while we visited, but we got to know them through several days of celebration and see what life was like for them at the ashram.

The ashram only houses boys due to social and cultural limitations of girls living away from their families, but we did get to interact with girls at the bike ceremony as well as at a morning visit to a school BBA built for the local nomadic Banjara people. These people are so poor that they have to collect salt in the desert to sell for a living, and until recently had no way to educate their children. BBA has worked to build a classroom building for them, and DVFS raised enough money in addition to the bicycles that we were able to fund a second classroom and two bathrooms for the Banjara school!

In addition to spending time with the children, the group learned about the history and culture of India and of Rajasthan, touring the Taj Mahal, visiting palaces built by Mughal emperors in the 1700s, and spending a day touring a fort built by Rajput kings in the 1400s.

Above all, the highlight of the trip for everyone was spending time with the BBA boys. All students commented on the joy and hope the rescued children exhibited, and were struck by how positive they were even after everything that had happened to them. As Adrianna said, β€œIt makes you realize how lucky and privileged we are. We gain humility with everything we see.”

Everyone came home changed and inspired by what they experienced, and are eager to continue to support this important work as well as share their newly discovered dancing skills with the school!

Click here to go to the Service Learning Blog to follow the day-by-day adventures of our students who traveled to India over spring break 2016--->



More about our first trip to India in 2014:


Click here to learn more about our last trip to India in 2014. You can read Elizabeth's reflection on the experience, and see what participating students had to say.



REFLECTIONS FROM INDIA 2016 TRIP PARTICIPANTS:

"Being at Bal Ashram and meeting these remarkable children was a life changing experience. These kids have been through more than we could ever imagine and they still have smiles on their faces. They are excited and grateful to have access to education and to be in a place where they can finally enjoy being kids. It really puts your own life into perspective."

- Anat ('17)

"When it was my turn I handed the bike to the girl and she looked me in the eyes and said thank you, and she got on the bike and started to peddle. In that moment I knew that I changed that girls life. It was the most amazing exchange I have ever had with anyone."

- Annie '17

"We were taken on a tour of the Ashram where we got to see where the boys stayed, went to school and played. On the walls of the dormitory there where names written in chalk in various shapes, sizes and colors. This, for me, was one of the most moving moments of the day because you couldn't help but wonder who those children were and where they are now."

- Adrianna '17

"Seeing the kids and Kailash Satyarthi walking towards us was empowering. You could see their excitement and happiness in their smiles. We also heard the kids chant about having the right to education and liberty. I could feel their bravery and I realized they are the ones who are making the global change in access to education. They are the true activists I admire."

- Robin '16

Delaware Valley Friends School
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