Archive for the ‘Ahmedabad’ Category

Gandhi Ashram

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ahmedabad – January 27, 2010

The most memorable part of our trip to India was the visit to the historic ashram that Gandhi used as his base. The sense of history there is undeniably strong. The care, thoughtfulness and compassion that we associate with Gandhi is still present in the demeanor and good work of the staff and volunteers there today. Simply put, they are angels on earth. Visit the website of their NGO for more information and to volunteer:

Inspiration for the world and our president!

Our visit was divided into two parts: a tour of the slum adjacent to the ashram where they work and a workshop/performance which was attended by a 200 teachers-in-training, children and observers.

Patchwork home, child and face (look closely)

Anjali Desai was our wonderful tour guide through the slum neighborhood (named – Ramapir No Tekro). She was a wealth of information and gave us a sense of life there and the struggle, motivation, inspiration, persistence and patience  that is required to maintain the battle against poverty. Here she details plans for the construction of a women’s center:

Construction for a new women’s center

One of the main sources of income and work in this particular slum is trash collection and recycling:

trash-recycling truck

Sorting trash and recycling

Main trash-recycling sorting center

This work can be dangerous, especially for children. One of the ashrams main missions is to get children to attend school. They have many programs to do this – most of them boil down to dealing with each individual family and child and social work But they also have larger projects like the construction of the newest school in the neighborhood.

One of the school founders

The neighborhood view from the school:

The neighborhood view through a fence

with kids in a classroom

Here are some pictures from Tekro and the people we met on the way:

Bougainvillea covering homes in Tekro

Living at the school was an old man and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, the founder of the Bhoodan Movement, which aimed at persuading land lords to voluntarily denote their excess land for distribution among landless people. This gentleman had participated in the long marches across the country to convince these landowners. The kindness, humility and history in his eyes was touching.

Anjali and Gopal Dada - Vinobaji

Gopal Dada

with Gilad's wife, Joyce

Gandi Ashram Singalong!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

After the tour of the Tekro we were to perform for a group of teachers in training. As we walked in the open courtyard we were serenaded by a huge chorus of young women singing “We Shall Overcome!” It was one of the most moving and inspiring times of my life. After seeing the enormity of the work the ashram was working on, hearing the spiritual made famous by Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement sung with such beautiful fullness was indescribable…

We learned a new song which was definitely apropos!

We Are Happy Today!

When it was time for us to play for them I immediately thought of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” which I dedicated to all of them. We found a section of the song which we repeated and sang bringing us closer together.

And then we followed it up with a few different songs. Here are excerpts from a few:

And we learned another Indian song with some special arm choreography:

Gandhi Ashram-singalong

Here are some pictures of the drummer/teacher who accompanied the chorus, the wonderful teachers-in-training and children in the audience:


smiling teachers-in-training

Gandhi Ashram – More pictures

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Girl and Goat in Ramapir No Tekro

The Ramapir No Tekro slum area has about 150,000 residents. Poverty and education are main themes in the work that Manav Sadhna, the NGO run by the Gandhi Ashram but we were amazed by the beauty we saw around us.

Daycare center

Lunch time!