India: Sadhana Village is a throbbing non-profit intentional community at the heart of Kolwan valley, 30 kms off Pune City. Apart from the residential care centre for young adults with mental disabilities, caring for 32 people with special needs in four different houses and a women's self help group, there are also two groups of kindergarten children aged 3 to 6 years, since summer 2009.
It is still morning in the valley of Sadhana Village. The water buffaloes with red painted horns and colorful ribbons around the necks are driven to the banks by the shepherds. Women wash their laundry in the river. In the streets motorcycles are driving around carrying up to four people and in the motor rickshaws – covered three wheelers – usually providing space for three people, one can sometimes even spot more than 15 people.
This scene shows the contrast between rural and urban, traditional and technical, which is characteristic for the Kolwan valley. While the social community is located near the Pune metropolis and by car four hours away from Mumbai, the surrounding wooded hills are part of a nature reserve with birds, monkeys and deer.
The Kolwan Valley Region consists of 19 small villages with about 21,000 inhabitants. The people are poor and especially the younger generation moves ever more into the country’s major cities. At the same time, there are many children in the villages, who quit school after a few years due to overcrowded school grades. While 72% of men can read and write, the figure of literate women is only 54%.
Implementing Waldorf Education to the Area
Against this background, the staff of Sadhana Village pursues the long-term goal to bring a Waldorf school into being. The beginning was made with the kindergarten classes and from 2010/11 onwards the school will add a school grade per year. Experienced Waldorf educators from Mumbai and from abroad are training the first teachers in Sadhana. During the courses the teachers get to know the ideas and principles of Waldorf education.
The children attending the kindergarten come from financially very disadvantaged backgrounds. The parents can neither pay a fee nor could their children go to kindergarten, if they would not be picked up each morning by a school bus and then brought back home, because they do not have a car and public transport is not sufficiently developed.
In kindergarten the small, but spirited children play with dolls for the first time in their lives and alongside the traditional singing and dancing, they get to know new games and eurythmy. As their families often cannot offer a healthy and hot meal to their children, donations of Weltwärts program currently enable the initiative to distribute a daily hot meal.
With their Waldorf initiative, Sadhana Village currently accomplishes valuable pioneer work in a rural area. This is due to the fact that India’s Waldorf schools are usually in urban areas.