Letter from the principal of DRH Lindersvold,
Ms Tina Whittington
I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe in these times of crisis and fundamental life changes. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is in the process of causing a global catastrophe. Day by day we sit and stare open mouthed at the exponential growth in numbers of now more than 1 million people infected. And with the devastating loss of more than 61,000 lives, we sit, and hope, and try to figure out “when will this be over?”.
Unfortunately, there is not an appropriate answer other than we can be sure that the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years to come. It will possibly change the way we move, build, learn and connect – and it will be a time that none of us – even the young ones, will ever forget.
We are they lucky ones
At the same time, whilst processing the situation and how the virus affects our lives, it is also important to keep the perspectives. There is a need to remember that while the whole situation is problematic and causes interruptions and frustrations for us, compared to many others we have possibilities to protect ourselves and limit the effects and spread of the virus.
Our partners and friends that we work with in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and India are facing a very different situation. Still now the numbers of infected stay low in those countries and we hope for this to continue. Despite our hopes we know – and we also get confirmation from our volunteers who came back from India – that lockdown in India and a lockdown in a country in Europe (even those worst hit) look completely different.
How volunteers continue to support
A lockdown for people in India who live on a daily existence of selling some wares to hopefully gain food for the day is a disaster. After their project periods were cut short and the volunteers had to return home prematurely, the three development instructors (volunteers) who were in India raised 870 Euros that they sent to HPP India to support some of the 570 families with whom they worked together to have food for 10 days. This story melts deep into my heart and shows the need for solidarity and for being ready to reach out to others with all that we have.
Two other volunteers who have returned from Malawi after four intensive months, are also supporting the people they have come to know and care for deeply – by continuing to produce training materials for the caregivers at the more than 30 pre-schools they have been working with in northern Malawi. You can see Carlos’ account here.
What about the next teams at DRH Lindersvold?
Some weeks ago, we were still optimistic and hoped that the April team could be postponed for a month or two – but still get started. We have had to reassess this situation as the scope of the pandemic is unfolding. Borders are closed and the unravelling of the pandemic on the African continent uncertain.
At the moment, our partners in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Guinea Bissau and India have no way of knowing how their countries will be affected by the novel coronavirus, nor which measures will be needed to control it, and no way of knowing how secure the funding of their projects will be. Therefore, we will just have to wait and see.
Right now, we are working with two scenarios:
- We start at team in August. The people who were enrolled for the April team join this team. Project destination and project types will be decided depending on what is possible and what is needed.
- We start in October. This will probably be a big team. Again: Project destination and project types will be decided depending on what is possible and what is needed.
Perhaps this is the most realistic scenario.
What does it mean to you and us?
In these precarious times, it means we have a need to stay committed to extending our solidarity and support to marginalised communities who, once again, will bear the brunt of another worldwide crisis. We have re-organised the school and programme to make sure we are ready as soon as we can start teams again.
- The teachers are being employed at some of our cooperation partner care home and we have organised the promotion office to run on a reduced staff basis.
- The 10 months January team who were preparing to leave for projects at the beginning of April have returned home, with a few deciding to stay to work at our sister schools as volunteers. They plan to unite again and fulfil their program as planned as soon as possible.
- We advised all development instructors / volunteers at the projects to return home – which they agreed was the best thing to do with flights around the globe being reduced and cancelled. We secured they all arrived home safely with swift changes of flights and support from the HPP projects where they worked.Myself and their teachers have made personal Skype or WhatsApp meetings with each of those who returned back from projects to hear how they were and to make plans for how to support them in reflecting and analysing their experiences. So, despite the physical distance, we stick close together with them. They plan on finalising their journal period as soon as it is possible.
- At the school we are organised in smaller groups to secure that, even if we have very good systems in place to keep physical distance and to not become infected, then if somebody does show symptoms, we do not have to all go into quarantine. So, courses and common meetings are happening on Skype – and we manage.
Ideas of what you could do whilst being at home…
- Write some words of solidarity to people at the projects and other students at the school or currently at home; tell about what you are doing and how you are dealing with the situation
- Join the World Wide Art competition that we at DRH Lindersvold participate in as an annual highlight – see the attached invitation
- Watch the film: ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ – a fantastic film that takes the necessity of balancing our eco-system into full frame and write a few words about it – here’s the link.
- Write an article for the social media pages of DRH Lindersvold about your thoughts on the state of the world in general – hunger, poverty, global warming, climate change, inequality, racism / or what is going on in your country – and why you put yourself in the frontlines to do something about it
- Watch a lecture from Tariq Ali from 2012 about the European Union. There is much to consider about unity, solidarity, humanism, or lack of it so far from the European Union in this crisis. Tariq Ali is a very good historian and storyteller – you can watch the documentary and consider what you think about what he tells in 2012 – and how the story unravels in 2020. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83PE-h-rnzI
Otherwise I look forward to hearing how you are.
As a final word for now, the world will need all good forces who are willing and able to do whatever is needed. Let’s stay united and get to work as soon as possible.
Stay safe and best wishes!
Tina & the Teacher Council at DRH Lindersvold
INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
Lindersvold is an international learning center that facilitates courses in community development and certification in non-traditional pedagogy. Our Center provides an opportunity to learn about the big issues of our time while preparing to assist community-driven projects in Zambia, Malawi or Mozambique. We believe in combining hands-on training with theoretical knowledge, alongside community living, gives students the best foundation for working with sustainable development and vulnerable youth.
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