“But then I think that if we all did our bit, an ocean is just a large body of water made up of tiny drops of water. We can be the ocean these children sail on in their ‘happy memories of school’ boat to a safer shore, to a better place, to a better life.”
The children’s lives
When the teachers explained to me the children don’t like or want school holidays, I knew I was dealing with a very difficult truth here. Their lives in the Slums of Bangalore can get so incredibly hard and harsh that they are actually amazingly happy being in class. Edelweiss is more than just a ‘school’ to these children; it is their ‘sanctuary’.
It is an escape away from the pain of their poverty.
I think when their parents have an asbestos roof over their heads that … Read more »
“ABC’s Edelweiss; a colorful, loud and bustling school, but all in a well-organized harmony. This day with the ABC students has given me a heart-warming feeling. A feeling which increases my confidence that education will make a difference. – Education as the ABC of a bright future!”
Colorful, loud and bustling, India in short: “organized chaos”. It is this dynamic environment that made me decide to move to India for a year. Leaving the overly structured banking life in London to indulge in a country where flexibility is key. A sabbatical year with the objective to devote time to helping others, from supporting education to social entrepreneurship.
Before settling in Chennai, I had the honor to visit the AlphaBet Club Edelweiss School in Bangalore together with Troy, Meena, Danielle and Wouter. What I have experienced there has had a tremendous impact on … Read more »
“I discovered that these school projects are a ray of hope, a beacon of light, and an oasis of happiness in the midst of some of the most extreme living conditions on Earth that I have ever witnessed.”
Giles Bones is an AlphaBet Club (ABC) volunteer in Madrid, and is also member of the ABC Global Content Team, and has been closely associated with ABC since it began in 2006.
How it all began
Back in 2006, around the same time as the AlphaBet Club was born, I coincidentally took my first steps in India, backpacking around the north, and discovered this vast, amazing and eye-opener of a country, with its generous and kind-hearted people, incredible (and at times shocking) sights and smells, and with its rich spicy food. At the same time I discovered the complicated and harsh realities of poverty-stricken developing … Read more »
“I barely spoke for the first 2 hours (those who know me will find this hard to believe). The abstract concept of funding projects for kids living miles away was turning right in front of me into walls, uniforms, notebooks, legs, hands, eyes, laughs, smiles……and it was somehow activating my internal self defense mechanisms, and it was winning.”
Diego Guerra is the operational lead for AlphaBet Club Madrid for the last several years. Diego, along with a few other volunteers from Madrid (Giles, Laura and Troy), recently visited Bangalore to experience first hand ABC projects. Enjoy reading his experience.
Back in March, I landed in Bangalore “international” airport with a bag full of toys, questions and expectations. Days later I left empty handed and with a mixed feeling of sadness and pride…..Let me step back a bit so you can understand: I … Read more »
‘ Wow – that is the only expression suitable to quantify what I saw during my visit to Edelweiss school. If I hadn’t known beforehand, I would never have guessed that the beaming, articulate children I met there were some of the poorest children, not just in India, but it the world.’
Testimonial of Edelweiss School & GD Mara slum visit by: Liz Hemsley - Date: April 2013
“Arriving at this school, located within walking distance of the slum where its pupils and their families live, is much like arriving at any school for 4 and 5 year old children – it is like stepping into a pint-sized wonderland! Colours are bright, songs are just as good for communicating as ordinary speech, and laughter is easy and infectious.
No sooner were we through the door than we were greeted by a chorus … Read more »
Brian van Daal is lead volunteer with ABC for a long time already. He’s responsible for Fundraising Events in Amsterdam and Finance. In 2012 Brian visited our school projects in Bangalore during his holiday. Enjoy reading his experience.
It’s hard to imagine how the families in the slums have to live
After having lived and worked in India in 2007 I was very excited to visit this amazing country again in March 2012. This time my destination was Bangalore. Although I lived in India (Delhi) I’ve never visited Bangalore and knew it only as the IT capital of India. Like all big cities in India it’s crowded, noisy, smelly, has extremely busy traffic, etc…… anyway, some people would call it lively. The main objective of my travels to Bangalore was to visit the AlphaBet Club/Building Blocks pre … Read more »
From volunteering as a DJ at AlphaBet Club [FUN]draising events in Amsterdam, to a month volunteering in Bangalore, we hope all ABCer’s enjoy this testimonial from Oliver Shortman’s on time volunteering in India and thoughts on impact of our projects.
”It’s very easy to be dismissive and cynical about charity in this day and age…”
“Last summer, a good friend of mine approached me to DJ with him at some AlphaBet Club events in Amsterdam. I’d attended a couple of ABC events previously and enjoyed them, but as someone who generally prefers to play 60s and 70s rock music in their DJ sets as opposed to contemporary party tunes, I was a little skeptical and needed a certain amount of persuasion to do it. It’s very easy to be dismissive and cynical about charity in this day and age. It seems that … Read more »
In January, Niels Arnbak visited Troy in Bangalore, and had a chance to see the Edelweiss school:
“When I asked my Facebook friends for tips on where to go in India, Troy invited me to visit the ABC-schools by the slums of Bangalore. So I expected slum schools. I expected schools like I had been involved with in Cambodia: Pupils and teachers with the best of intentions, making the most of it makeshift barracks with dull interiors, often without electricity and equipment, using outdated textbooks to follow a chaotic curriculum. Then I stepped into the Edelweiss school and I soon realized that Troy hadn’t managed my expectations very well.
We were greeted with an explosion of color and joy. The kids were learning English through song and dance videos on big flat-screen TV’s. Every time we entered another classroom the … Read more »
In January 2012 Inge visited Bangalore to join in the celebrations of the 1st anniversary of Edelweiss pre-school in Bangalore. She shared her experience after returning to London:
When I came to Bangalore my intention was to stay for a long weekend, to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Edelweiss school, and visit the slum where the school is located. After 3 days of bright and enthusiastic kids, welcoming teachers, and an impressive trip to the slum, I didn’t want to leave anymore. It’s hard to say what my expectations were, when venturing out to Bangalore. They have definitely been exceeded though, so much so that I know I will be back in that city for sure.
After being part of the Alphabet Club for many years, I finally got to see what our charity really does.. I think I’ve realized … Read more »