In northwestern India there is a very young Waldorf school for children of the Bhil people, one of the most populous indigenous tribes in India. Despite the official abolition of the caste system, the local families are still excluded from society and live in extreme poverty. At school, children experience respect and learn to trust in themselves.
The school was established after a moving encounter between a Frenchwoman and Pabu, a member of the Bhil tribe. The story of this ethnic group is stunning and heartbreaking at the same time. Most of the families living here suffer from hunger and live in great poverty; and more than that: they are engaged in a constant struggle for social recognition. In 1949, the exclusion of the so-called 'untouchables' or casteless was prohibited by law, but discrimination persists to this day. Going to a health care facility or attending an educational institution seems impossible. Only few children have the possibility to attend school. But you can certainly say that their survival depends on education. More than that, education is the only possibility for many girls to escape forced marriages at age eleven and to find a better future for themselves.
The idea for the Darbari primary school really materialized in the year 2013, when the already mentioned Frenchwoman Capucine Larmand, asked her former class teacher Jacques Monteaux, Waldorf teacher and teacher trainer, for help. She convinced him, and he took charge of the project, whereupon all people involved in the project established a close connection.
The confidence of the local people and his proven loyalty towards them helped establish a loving family atmosphere. The working and learning unfolds in a productive and inspiring environment and becomes something special due to this exchange. The facility is located in Darbari, in the desert of Thar, close to the city of Jaisalmer. After completing his teacher training, a local class teacher, by the way one of the first teachers ever of the Bhil people, has been teaching 15 first graders, following the official inauguration of the school in 2016. Year after year, the school is supposed to grow by one class, new class teachers are to be found, so that the project can run by itself, without external assistance. The latest achievement of the school is a new water fountain, enabling us to grow biodynamic vegetables for the children. In this manner, we are not only promoting education, but also a normal and healthy everyday life.
Juni / June 2017