Food for Life Vrindavan April 2013 
in this issue

End of School Year Ceremony

Clean Vrindavan

SMS Excursion to Mayapur, West Bengal,

Volunteer Drew M Pearson

The Marketing Movie Making team.

Quote of the month:
"Those who think that devotion to God and kindness to the jivas are mutually different from each other, and perform accordingly in their life, such persons will not be able to follow the devotional culture. Their performance is only a semblance of devotion. "Therefore, all the types of beneficence to others, like kindness, friendliness, forgiveness, charity, respect, etc are included in Bhakti..Charity of medicines, clothes, food, water, etc. shelter during adversities, teaching of academic and spiritual education, etc. are the activities included in the devotional culture ."
Bhaktivinoda Thakura,Sri Tattva-sutram, 35

Our Mission
FFL Vrindavan is dedicated to the poorest of the poor, educating and guiding them in pursuance of a fulfilling life, enabling them to become exemplary members of society. FFL Vrindavan is also dedicated to protecting and developing Vrindavan's natural environment.

Our work includes:

  • Education (kindergarten to 12th grade) for underprivileged girls
  • Food distribution
  • Social development & vocational training
  • Medical assistance
  • Environmental projects
  • Trees for Life
  • Water for life
  • Gifts for life
  • Assistance to elderly & widows
  • Care for abandoned & injured cows
  • Clothes distribution
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Welcome to our April edition of FFLV news. It is 43 deg Celsius today 10 May 2013, our blazing hot summers have begun here in Vrindavan. The persistent heat very thoroughly purifies so much of the harmful pollution on the earths surface. But we have to take special care of our health as well. Our Kiki Nagla school is now closed. And the Vrindavan school is closing tomorrow, 2 weeks earlier due to repair and maintenance work. We will re-open on Monday, 1st July 2013 and look forward to keeping you informed via our next edition. Thank you for your kind invaluable patronage
  • End of School Year Ceremony
  •     End of School Year Ceremony Krishna (click to enlarge)Students of the Kiki Nagla and Vrindavan schools participated in their 2013 annual examination. It began on 9th April and finished on 22nd April. The results were ready and handed out at this Ceremony on 29nd April. All the top and good performers received prizes. Children were seen happy with pink yellow and other coloured report cards. They were excited as this is the biggest and most important annual even for them.
    End of School Year Ceremony Mega (click to enlarge)The Kiki Nagla School top students are Krishna of class 3A, with 94.9%, and Megha, of class 9B with 87.6%. The Vrindavan Sandipani Muni School top student is Poonam of Class 3A, with 99.4%. These students are in the photographs, respectively from top to bottom, with Sandipani Muni Schools founder Rupa Ragunath handing out the awards. Rupa Ragunath also addressed the ceremony with a talk, and emphasised it is great that there are so many children who are good in English, math science and other academic subjects, but their attendance and behaviour are also very important. Each student gets graded with points for their attendance and behaviour. This is so important for society. Often intelligent children with bad behaviour later become a big menace to society as adults. So this emphasis on attendance and behaviour is vital to education.
         The Principles of all 3 schools were in attendance: the primary school, Kiki Nangla & Vrindavan schools. End of School Year Ceremony Poonam (click to enlarge)One sad thing for some children will be that the male children here will be moved to other schools as Sandipani Muni is becoming a totally girls school, to follow the local and ethical norms. The boys of the primary school will remain. Even though the school is closed for summer now, I was told that many children still come every day as they have nothing better to do at home, and some need the lunch.
         This is a clear indication of the value of the Sandipani Muni schools to the society, as we remember how we waited to get away from school when we were children. But we also saw children coming to school to do martial arts, acrobatics, dancing, music lessons, computer lessons, and there is also further teacher training going on.

  • Clean Vrindavan
  •     Pictured here is Partha SarathiClean Vrindavan (click to enlarge) who is the dedicated person of FFL Vrindavan, that is involved on a high level in the project of cleaning the City of Vrindavana. He met with other interested parties on 24 April 2013 to discuss details. FFLV provides a team of 28 people including a tractor driver, a supervisor and a tractor with a trolley trailer. They help clean up seven designated areas in Vrindavan town.
    This is a joint effort between FFLV with two other NGO's. There is an official policy of 3R's – Re-use, Reduce, and Recycle. There are studies that have revealed that only 15% of garbage is real waste.
    There will be public meetings with the community to emphasize a cleaner and more hygienic lifestyle. And the people will be made conscious that polythene (plastic) bags are illegal now in Vrindavan. These bags are one of the biggest problems facing us as they clog the drains, are not bio-degradable. Burning plastic produces poisonous gas in the air and affects our health negatively. Some years ago there were no polythene bags and plastic cups & bottles, and other containers in Vrindavan. People used leaf or clay cups, leaf or steel plates, other steel or metal utensils instead of plastic and cloth or paper bags to carry groceries and water etc. We are happy to be doing this service on behalf of our sponsors, for the community.

  • SMS Excursion to Mayapur, West Bengal
  •      It was inspiring to see Sri Radhika & Radhamadhava a volunteer from Germany walking with the children in an orderly manner in a straight line. It was commendable amongst the crowds to see the children excited yet complying with the order. SMS Excursion to Mayapur, West Bengal (click to enlarge)A total of 18 people, including school children, teachers and staff went on a trip to Mayapur. The children were selected from the 'Special English Class', and the criterion for selection was good behaviour and academic achievement. It was a 10 day trip from March 8-16 2013. The trip was funded by sponsors of FFLV through an internet fundraiser and a volunteer, Ms Malini from Germany.
        For most of the kids it was their first time to Mayapur, and for some it was the first time out of Vrindavan. One lady from the FFLV sewing centre came along with her children, who study in the school. Her husband, the father of the children passed away last year and the school wanted to do something nice for them. This lady worked at the FFLV sewing centre for 6 years, and while she earns enough to support her children, she could never have afforded to take them on a holiday
        The trip was also a chance for staff members to get to know each other on a more personal level, and do some team building while taking a break from the daily routine.
    SMS Excursion to Mayapur, West Bengal (click to enlarge)     The kids loved the different landscape, especially the little lakes with fish in them, which are found abundantly in the area. They also bathed in the Ganges river, took a boat ride to Navadwip, visited many spiritual historical places. An enjoyable shopping trip also was on the agenda, and they bought souvenirs for their families. Bhaktivedanta National School kindly and thankfully provided accommodation during the excursion.
    We were encouraged by the co-operation that the kids showed with each other and with the group leaders.Look forward to giving more kids the chance to go on a fun and educational trip next year.

  • Volunteer Drew M Pearson
  • Volunteer Drew M Pearson (click to enlarge)     Mr Drew M Pearson, a 26 year old Mormon Christian from Los Angeles, California, USA. He first came to The Sandipani School in 2012, for 6 weeks between June and July. He was so deeply affected by the service of volunteering to help the children that he came back for 2 months between February and 18 April 2013.
    Drew said he "usually struggles with anxiety, and takes medication for this. But this anxiety is "at an all- time low when he is with the children." He said "Outsiders looking in, like our parents etc, may think that we are doing a great service by coming and volunteering; when we are serving other people, a lot of times we are the real benefactors of that service." "After leaving in 2012 I was disturbed by thoughts about never being involved with the children again and I had sleepless nights thinking about this. After speaking with Rupa Ragunath FFL Vrindavan President, about the marketing needs of the organisation, he felt it necessary for him to come back with a team for making promotional videos. Now at the end of the second visit, he has the same separation anxiety, when will he come back"?

  • The Marketing Movie Making team.
  •     In this picture are Bart, Linnea, Johnathan & Drew. It was Mr Drew Pearson who asked the others to help with making movies one what goes on in the Sandipani Muni School. They completed making five movies in two months, and said that possibly 2 more can be made from all the extra footage they have.
    The lady Ms Linnea is from Sweden and the others are all from Los Angeles, USA. Drew invited Bart and Johnathan who met Linnea in Goa, and asked her to join them. She was on holiday and decided to follow the movie crew. We saw how Ms Linnea was really smothered with love from the children at the school and also found it really difficult to leave.The Marketing Movie Making team (click to enlarge)Bart says – "Drew first spoke with me, and invited me with so much enthusiasm, I was convinced it will be a fulfilling journey." He said his experience is as good as Drew said it would be. He has been welcomed here more than he could have ever imagined, and seeing the children in the mornings is the best feeling. "When we see kids begging in the street, it feels good to know we are part of the solution. The community members we interacted with were so welcoming and loving even though they did not know us; and this made us feel like wanting to help them achieve a better life". Bart was also seen happily running around with the children during the school break.
        Johnathan said "At times it is frustrating & uncomfortable in this different environment but also it is a great experience learning about a new culture and people. It's cool to see people enjoying life, even though they don't have much material possession. It is humbling to see people don't need a lot, but still having fun."
    Mr Drew Pearson was featured in a previous article. - (Click to go to FFLV official website)

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