Tiny Gurus : Poems for Peace

Tiny Gurus

by Lauri Hoffman Bunting
Founder, Poems for Peace
www.poemsforpeace.org

Tiny urchins of the street
Miniature gurus of love
With little fingers pry away
The hard encasement of my heart

Gentle gazes deeply probe
And tap a warm nectar
Intoxication of the soul

Their essence, the anchor
And the wind that let’s me soar
Tiny gurus of Earth and sky
Teach me how
To walk and fly

Immersed in the moment
Allowing each to roll away
Their presence wipes away the past
Deflects thoughts of future days

My camera clicks incessantly
Visual cues for the memory
Chronicles of a cherished day

Concentrated package
Essence of joy and love
Wrapped in a blanket of charcoal skin
Melting chocolate irises
Rejoice with ink-drop pupils
Arking ebony eyelashes
Point skywards

Click

A stoic look, a frozen face
A camera-ready pose

Click, click

Shattered by a belly-full of giggles,
Pinched cheeks
And a row of glistening ivory

Click

Arms embrace
Guru clusters grow
Radiant eyes pierce through darkness
As stars alight the night sky

Click

Baby gurus swarm around
Eager to see what the camera found
Tiny fingers point as faces appear
Staccato squeals of foreign names
A melody of glee
A soft tap tapping of my heart
Melting boundaries

Little gurus of the street
Teachers of the heart
Why are you filled with such joy?
You’re forced to beg
You’re beaten
Victims of father’s drunken rage
You know not of fluffy quilts,
Fuzzy slippers, bed-time-stories
Ice-cream cones, warm snuggles,
Merry-go-rounds and roasted marshmallows

You trust
You love
You graciously receive
You trust

You are not seekers
But the bearers of truth
You fear not raging wind and rain
You are the keepers of the flame
Tiny gurus of the street
Epitome of love
I’m honored to spend this time with you
A gift from up above

Last spring, Buddha Smile School received an invitation for their students to participate in an international poetry exchange called Poems for Peace founded by Lauri Hoffman Bunting, Idaho, USA. In March, 2009, Lauri visited Buddha’s Smile School and was inspired by the children to write “Tiny Gurus.” The student’s poems may be viewed at www.poemsforpeace.org.

Photos: Marie-Jeanne’s knitting

Marie-Jeanne is a 94 years old French lady who knitted day and night so the kids at BSS could have warm winter jumpers.

Here are a few of them, fitted.

Thanks again Marie-Jeanne.

Thank you Joan Halsall

This is a picture of the sick Bengali refugee woman who was crying when we went to distribute the blankets sponsored by dear Donna Peter. You offered to fund her treatment and I want to tell you that she is now improving, there was infection in her urinary track and that is why she had a very bad pain in her lower abdomen.

Thank you so much. With much love Always!!

Rajan

Thank you Joan Halsall

Thank you Donna Peter

These are pictures of the families and children who received your wonderful gift. They were all very happy to be able to cover them on the cold nights with the warm blankets you gave.

Thank you so much. With much love Always!!

Rajan

Poverty in India: a problem on a huge scale

December 3, 2008: World Bank estimates 456 million people — just over 40 percent of India’s population of 1.2 billion — now live on less than $1.25 per day, a sum recognised as the international poverty line.

Almost half of India’s children are malnourished. 1000 die every day from diahorrea and hundreds of millions have no access to proper sanitation. These figures provide a grim counterpoint to the glitzy high-rises and designer shopping malls that have sprung up throughout the country’s major cities.

Christof Glaser: My Story

Die Vorgeschichte

2005 bat mich eine Kommilitonin, während meiner Indienreise doch mal in Sarnath, einem buddhistischen Pilgerort in einer armen Gegend Nordindiens, eine Schule für kastenlose und unterprivilegierte Kinder zu besuchen. Sie wußte, daß ich Webseiten gestalte, und die Schule benötigte dringend eine, um für Spenden zu werben. Im März 2005 war ich dort und hörte die mitreißende Geschichte von Rajan und ihrer Schule.

Rajan Kaur Saini

heißt die Gründerin von Buddha’s Smile School. Sie und ihr Mann Sukhdev haben eine wirklich bewegte Geschichte hinter sich. Sie ist ausgebildete Montessori-Pädagogin aus Kalkutta, Sukhdev stammt aus Bombay und betreibt direkt neben der Schule ein kleines Restaurant, dessen Küche auch die Schulkinder versorgt. Die beiden haben – ungewöhnlich in Indien – aus Liebe geheiratet. Das mag romantisch klingen, ist aber ein äußerst drastischer Entschluß, auch gegen Gebote der Tradition und Religion: es bedeutet für Rajan, aus ihrer Familie verstoßen zu sein, aber auch, ihrer Religion, dem Hinduismus, zu entsagen: »eine Religion, die Liebe nicht zuläßt, ist nichts für mich,« sagt sie. Zudem gab es keine Mitgift, keine eingerichtete Wohnung, wie es sonst bei indischen Hochzeiten üblich ist und was neuverheirateten Paaren eine wirtschaftliche Basis bietet. Rajan und Sukhdev hatten buchstäblich nichts.

Buddha’s Smile School

Ein Onkel Sukhdevs aus der Nähe von Sarnath ließ sie bei sich wohnen. Rajan arbeitete einige Jahre in der staatlichen Dorfschule, bis sie zunächst einen Kindergarten für die armen Kinder gründete und daraufhin ihre Schule – um »ihren« Kindern aus dem Kindergarten überhaupt den Schulbesuch zu ermöglichen. Der ist in Indien nicht kostenlos, zudem werden die Kinder der untersten Kasten oder Kastenlose von vielen staatlichen Lehrern einer Ausbildung nicht für würdig befunden.

80 Kinder aus den umliegenden Dörfern wurden innerhalb von drei Jahren an der Schule aufgenommen.

Rajans Herzlichkeit und Liebe umfängt jeden Besucher unmittelbar. Es ist unheimlich beeindruckend, mit welch unerschöpflicher Hingabe und Kraft sie ihr Leben diesem Anliegen ihres Herzens widmet.

Ein Jahr später…

…im Februar 2006, waren es nicht mehr 80 Schüler. Die Schule war in nur einem Jahr auf nahezu 200 Kinder angewachsen. Weitere 250 Kinder standen auf der Warteliste.

Schwierigkeiten

Eine Hilfsorganisation konnte die Kosten für die vier Kleinbusse, die die Kinder aus den umliegenden Dörfern zur Schule bringen und wieder heimfahren, nicht mehr übernehmen. Es war ein kalter Winter (d.h. in Nordindien auch mal unter 5°C). Die Kinder kamen dennoch: sie nahmen die Mühe auf sich und liefen zur Buddha’s Smile School nach Sarnath, zum Teil sieben Kilometer quer übers Land, zum Großteil barfuß und nicht sonderlich warm gekleidet. Rajan organisierte, nach einer wärmenden Mahlzeit, Kleidung und Schuhe. Glücklicherweise konnte die Hilfsorganisation nach drei Monaten wieder genug Geld für die Fahrten spenden.

Die Kinder wissen die Liebe und Fürsorge, die sie in der Buddha’s Smile School erhalten, wirklich zu schätzen. Sie wissen, daß ihnen mit der Ausbildung ein besseres Leben ermöglicht wird, als ihre Eltern jemals hatten.

Spenden

sind die einzige Einnahmequelle der Schule: sie ermöglichen Essen, Kleidung, medizinische Versorgung, Unterrichtsmaterial, Baumaßnahmen, Bezahlung der Lehrer und Fahrer.

Spenden lassen sich auf verschiedene Weise übermitteln. Wie steht hier:
http://buddhas-smile-school.org/how-to-help/

Herzlichen Dank im Namen von Rajan und »ihren« Kindern!
Christof Glaser

PS. Im Sommer 2005 begann ich, die Internetseite einzurichten. Noch bevor ich damit fertig wurde, kontaktierte mich John Holman, ein Web-Designer aus Sydney: er hatte von der Schule gehört, wollte ihr eine Webseite erstellen und fand meine Baustelle. Zwei Wochen später war die Seite fertig – und John läßt sie seitdem gedeihen.

BSS Students Write Poems for Peace

Visions of a hope through the hearts and minds of our youth

Last spring, Buddha Smile School received an invitation for their students to participate in an international poetry exchange called Poems for Peace. With great enthusiasm, eleven-year-old Daisy Saini embraced the idea and inspired 14 students from grades 5 and 6 to ponder the meaning of peace and express their thoughts in pictures and poems. Daisy also wrote a peace poem and her enthusiasm was contagious–many of the adults at BSS contributed their musings too.

Poems for Peace is a cross-cultural poetry exchange that aims to strengthen understanding between youth worldwide, enabling curiosity and knowledge to replace prejudice, apathy and fear. Students are asked to consider the meaning of peace, where it abides, how it is created, how it is destroyed and how, as peacemakers, they can contribute to world peace. All poems are posted on the Poems for Peace website, www.poemsforpeace.org.

Poems for Peace loosely describes a poem as any written expression that conveys a heart-felt message, an inner truth. It may appear as a letter, prayer, story, traditional poem or a picture. It’s through these expressions of the heart that one can see beyond the constructs of the mind and appreciate the common thread that unites us all.

So far, Poems for Peace has received poems from India, Nepal, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Israel, Jamaica, Tanzania and The United States. For more information about Poems for Peace or to contribute a poem, please visit www.poemsforpeace.org.

Three poems:

Listen to our Prayers

God, please listen to our words of prayer:
By reading and writing, we become more skillful.
Always do the right things.
Let us make peace shine all over the world.
By Dharam Chand Kumar, 5th Grade, Age 12

My Heart Fills with Peace

When stars and moon get up at night
My heart fills with peace
When butterflies sit upon the flowers
To collect nectar and pollen
When rivers and seas dance
Then my heart fills up with peace.
By Mamta Kumar, 5th grade, age 10

Gandhi’s Teaching

Never see or speak wrong or cause harm to others.
Never pay attention to the negative things in the world.
This is the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi.
Everyone try to practice this valuable lesson,
Which will help everyone to attain peace,
A state of mind with no wars,
Only silence.
By Shiv Kumar Patel, 6th grade, age 11

Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

When Chandra Bhan Prasad visits his ancestral village in these feudal badlands of northern India, he dispenses the following advice to his fellow untouchables: Get rid of your cattle, because the care of animals demands children’s labor. Invest in your children’s education instead of in jewelry or land. Cities are good for Dalit outcastes like us, and so is India’s new capitalism.

Mr. Prasad was born into the Pasi community, once considered untouchable on the ancient Hindu caste order. Today, a chain-smoking, irrepressible didact, he is the rare outcaste columnist in the English language press and a professional provocateur. His latest crusade is to argue that India’s economic liberalization is about to do the unthinkable: destroy the caste system. The last 17 years of new capitalism have already allowed his people, or Dalits, as they call themselves, to “escape hunger and humiliation,” he says, if not residual prejudice.

At a time of tremendous upheaval in India, Mr. Prasad is a lightning rod for one of the country’s most wrenching debates: Has India’s embrace of economic reforms really uplifted those who were consigned for centuries to the bottom of the social ladder? Mr. Prasad, who guesses himself to be in his late 40s because his birthday was never recorded, is an anomaly, often the lone Dalit in Delhi gatherings of high-born intelligentsia.

He has the zeal of an ideological convert: he used to be a Maoist revolutionary who, by his own admission, dressed badly, carried a pistol and recruited his people to kill their upper-caste landlords. He claims to have failed in that mission.

Read the Full Story | NY-Times

My Story by Helga Frech

Located on the outskirts of Varanasi is a small and simple school — Buddha’s Smile School. The space for the students is very restricted, and classrooms are of only 3 walls and a roof.

In a confined area. Less than 200 m2. 220 Untouchables carry of their daily studies. They sit on small benches, and share tables with at least 4 others. The classes are from the 1st grade to 5th grade. They share their classes with at least 20 other students, and as previously mentioned not a lot of space… to even stretch your legs.

When we arrived. The only knowledge we had of the place was: it was a school for beggar children and we expected to be consumed by the masses of children that would see their chance in getting some money, from a couple of tourists.

Fact was, we arrived there with no previous notice, the children were all seated in their classes, and the youngest seated on the outside, having time to play child games. Not a single child, rose from their position, and headed for us. Definitely on the spot you could see they were well behaved.

School passed and off they went home. Grade by grade was aligned, and all well organized they went into the rickshaw’s that would transport them back “Home”.

Not that all the other previous impressions were special, but one did really stand out. This was special. Never do I believe I will see such a thing again. Two children from one of the lower grades were crying. Not because they had fought. But because they did not want leave. I will not refer to the place where they came from as their home. To them it did not feel so. At the place where they live, they were the income generators. The ones that cook, clean care for their parents their brothers and sisters. These kids were the ones that had to serve for their parents. They had to go to streets and beg, they were the ones that were treated as animals. Not in the streets, but in their homes.

The headmaster had countless examples, and just to mention one.

A girl spent half the day at school. She finished her schooling, and went of to begging. Following that she had earned an income to the family. Not much. But enough to buy rice for the family. The day was not over by then. Of course there were the daily home choirs to be done. Cleaning, washing, and caring for the young. By evening she had to cook dinner. Here she boiled the rice she had worked for during the day. By mistake, while carrying the boiled rice, she accidentally dropped the food. This girl did not get a break for the following 2 minutes or more. She was beaten in every way possible, and fists flew from all angles. She was beaten so badly, she did not show for school for some days.This was of the countless examples they had.

What was worth mentioning about this small story is the background information.

In a poor family, life is not that easy. First of all, money comes first, and the parents are willing to do anything for money.

The headmaster told us. Children are not produced, because of love, they are money earners, and the more you have the better. The more people you have to earn the money the easier it becomes. A mother with a young child is very successful. Children at a young age are well off in the begging business. They can easily earn few rupees. Their daily income would be of an avg. of 25 rupees, after having eaten from it. That is what they bring back home.

But father in general is not willing to lift a finger. Life for him is too much. If nobody offers him something, then it is extremely rare for him to search for a job, not mention, if he finds one, there has to be a substantial income. He will be the one that will lie at home, and do zero.

After all who is willing to give a beggar a job, which is willing to give a beggar anything apart from a little money and food, which in Indian society would ever trust a beggar? To him this is reason enough to decide to do nothing at all. His wife will have the same problem; even if they were to look, and find a job they would work long quantities of hours, and get a small income.

It is much easier, to sit, and only lift your hand, and get money, maybe less, but much easier. A day’s of hard labor does not pay off.

So what a hard life! There is much to think about. Therefore the father results in drinking. He will set his need first, drinking and gambling before his children’s stomach. He can not cope with the daily life, and all the problems, and needs.

These were the words of a headmaster with 15 years experience, in dealing with these people.

To make it more understandable:

1st example:

A child beggar, their income can vary from 0-70 rupees a day. That is what I was presented by the few I asked. So to say, in average something like 25 rupees per day. This in a month would result in: 750 rupees, a month.

2nd example:

A skilled weaver in Varanasi will have an income of 50 rupees per day, this in a month is 1500 rupees. Twice as much as what a beggar earns. The not so skilled weavers would earn 800 rupees a month.

Definitely it is much easier to earn money begging. You work as long as you please, you do what you want. Whiles for a weaver he has working hours. People tell me it is only 8 hours daily. But I see many working more than that. It is very hard work for very little money. But then, the father does not have to work, because he has his kids to do it for him. So of course not, they can manage to survive, so no need to stress.

Another small example about how meaningful money is. Not long ago, a father of one of the children at the school, tried to sell his daughter. Only because he was an alcoholic, a gambler, a lazy person, not willing to work. So he saw the chance of earning some quick money, get rid of another mouth to feed, and thereby tried selling his daughter. He did not even care what she would be doing, prostitution, and slavery. Did not matter!

You can say what you want. Poverty of the mind, spiritual poverty. But the fact is. An uneducated person will rarely succeed in becoming wealthier. If the will is there, for a change, it will be a hundred times harder for an uneducated, poor, beggar to change his life for the better.

There is nothing he can contribute with, in society. He does not have the basic knowledge and potential, to make it in society. He can not get a job, at a counter. He can not give to the society something that is needed. That is why they are presented with these low jobs, where working hours are long, money is low and the physical demand level is high. Never will you see an educated person, who made it past 12th grade sweeping floors, or moving garbage on the streets.

That is why education is important.

These 220 kids are not the whole of India. But they will have a much better future than their parents. They are already smarter; they are already able to write their name, read and count. The ones in school now will make sure that their younger brothers and sisters also make it to school, because they know better. They understand it is important. The biggest task this school is faced with, is actually educating the parents, and making them understand that the kids are their responsibility, they can not deny them education, and they should care much more for them.

A small proof of the importance of education:

If you were left in the middle of any major city, village. Poor or rich country. There is no possible way for you ever to reach the level of a beggar.

Why? Because you would be educated. You would know what to do. You would be smart, and aware, and find your possibilities. You would have something somebody needed. You would find a job.

Why? Because of education.

Therefore the poor will always be poor unless educated. You can give work and what ever, for them to earn more money, but the amount is limited. With education they would not beg, they would not do low income generating jobs.

Then you can argue that there are not enough jobs, but the fact is they are capable of changing their life, if given the opportunity. And there are always jobs for educated people.

Now for the first time I do actually get the meaning of education, how important it is just to read write, talk, and count.

I take it for granted. But for these kids it can definitely change their life.

Thank you Buddha´s Smile School.