by Jan Dirk Schouten
With this newsletter we inform you about the progress of Diwa’s Brick Kiln Education project and our donor and awareness raising activities in Netherlands.
It has been a while since the last newsletter was published. A lot has happened in the past year. Four of our board members have become father and/or mother! The activities of Diwa are just going on. The schools are running with the efforts of the ‘parents committee’ and proper guidance by PSTA in Pakistan.
There were some difficulties with whitewashing during the rainy season, but finally the renovation of the schools has finished. Four new classrooms with toilets were constructed and the other schools were renovated. Read the article by Shahlla about the schools.
Late last year we came in contact with a new donor, who wishes to sponsor a new project of Diwa. Together we reflect on how we can use the existing schools even better, so we brought in the idea of a skills training development center, developed together with our partner PSTA in Pakistan. More on this in the article Skills Development Center.
In 'the face behind Diwa' I introduce myself and tell more about my motivations to participate in Stichting Diwa.
Besides the joyful news of new life, there was also sad news. In May the father of Shahlla passed away. As a tribute to her father, this newsletter ends with a passage from his diary, which he wrote during his visit to the Netherlands. For a moment we see ourselves through his eyes.
Progress of the Brick Kiln Education Project
by Shahlla Schouten-Gill
2014 is a step forward for the development of the Brick Kiln Education Project. This year special attention is given to the renovation of the school buildings. Four schools having a very bad building condition were reconstructed and whitewashed. These schools have now completely new buildings with new walls, floors, roofs and toilets. The rest of the schools were whitewashed. These schools are still one classroom schools but with expanded courtyard and toilet with water. The renovated schools give a nice environment to the students as well as to the area.
Brick kiln owners and communities had big role in construction of these schools. The land of the schools belongs to the brick kiln owners but they give permission to build a school on this land. They signed a contract together with the parent committees that these buildings will only be used for education purpose.
The parent committees also took responsibility for maintenance of the buildings. The people are very happy. With the construction of the toilets the girls have more chances to go to school due to more security and privacy.
Primary education project
The students of 10 brick kilns schools started another academic year. The exams were completed by the end of April 2014, and new classes commenced in May 2014.
Educational material books, copies, chalks, attendance registers, stationery, and uniforms have also been distributed in these schools as per need.
Two Refresher Courses for the teachers from the 10 target areas of Gujranwala were held during the summer holidays. Two inter-school exposures were organized after the refresher courses each year, which has equipped these teachers with the best practices and new ideas with practical experiences. As a result of these Refresher Courses, these teachers were equipped with child-centred teaching methodologies and innovative ideas through facilitation and workshops. Sports equipment for games like badminton and cricket, for both boys and girls, were distributed in the 10 target schools. Two leadership trainings were organized for parents committee members. In each training, members from 5 target areas of Gujranwala participated.
The new project, ‘Skills Training for Young adults’
In cooperation with a donor, we started a new project for 2015, Skills Training for boys and girls aged 15 years and older. The newly constructed schools will be used for this training. It will be about learning technical skills, so that the chance of normal work in society increases.
The boys and girls can choose from these courses/programs: electrician, tailor, beautician, hand embroidery and machine embroidery. The courses will be at noon, be given after primary school.
The parent committees inform potential students of the schools and their neighbourhoods about the courses. PSTA, our partner in Pakistan, provides the tools and course material. For each course a professional trainer by PSTA will be appointed.
Participants of all courses will also learn the basics of marketing, finance, accounting and selling/offering their products and skills.
The students will be asked a small contribution (100 rupees per month) for attending the course. The parent committees are responsible for the collection of the contributions.
The face behind Diwa (6)
My name is Jan Dirk Schouten and I am the secretary of Stichting Diwa. In daily life I am an architect. My involvement with Stichting Diwa is due to Shahlla, my wife.
In 2001 I met Shahlla for the first time, at a meeting of Friends, an international student organization in Rotterdam. Then the seeds were sown for a long (too long) friendship that finally caused that I visited Pakistan in 2007. I wanted to know who Shahlla was, what her background was, how she lived and who her family was. That same year I travelled to Pakistan again; this time to marry Shahlla.
In the Netherlands and Pakistan Shahlla studied business administration and development. She then worked in various development organizations in Pakistan. She also talked about her daily life in Pakistan. More and more I began to realize how special it really is that, as a woman, she was given the freedom to study in the Netherlands. I became more interested in Pakistan's backgrounds and obtained more understanding of the everyday life of its people; poverty, parsimony, but also the warm hospitality and the abundant wealth of weddings and funerals. How incredibly important family ties in Pakistan are. The nice side of always being there for each other, but also the dark shadowy sides of it. Pakistanis are less far away from me. I have learned to appreciate Pakistanis as normal, cordial people. At the same time, I see more and more how lifes in the Netherlands and Pakistan differ like night and day.
My relationship with Shahlla, and therefore also with Pakistan, force me to look at myself again. It works as a mirror through which I see myself in a new and different way. I experience this as an enrichment of my life.
Because of the study and the work Shahlla did in Pakistan, the idea arose that we, from the Netherlands, can do something for the people of Pakistan. Along with family initially, and later with friends with an affinity for travel, other cultures and development, we have discussed this and eventually founded Stichting Diwa.
Stichting Diwa has a mission, to promote education for underprivileged Pakistanis and imparting understanding of the Pakistani culture in the Netherlands. Pakistan is one of the countries in the world with the highest rate of illiteracy. Education and information are also forming a connection both sides, with Pakistan and the Netherlands. Dutch and Pakistanis can learn from each other. By meeting Pakistanis, I learned that Pakistan is not only a country, dominated by terrorism and corruption, but also a country with a rich culture of food, music, poetry and friendship. Working for Diwa is also work on myself.
Abu’s Diary 2012, Inayat Gill
(4 augustus 1946- 21 mei 2014)
On 3 February 2012 at half past seven in the morning we began our journey from Rana Colony Gujranwala to the Netherlands. On Lahore airport we were cheated a few times, especially in the waiting hall when we paid 500 rupees only for one cup of tea. Then we went to the air plane, which was a PIA flight and we sat on seats 2 and 3. The pilot was quite expert and had good control on air plane. We did not realize when the plane took off.
During the journey, I was feeling tired and I asked a pill from an air hostess. She gave me a aspirin but I was feeling sick after taking the pill. I think it was an outdated pill. Meanwhile we reached the Netherlands. It was a Friday and there had been very heavy snow fall on that day in the Netherlands. The air plane took quite a lot of time for landing. On Schiphol Airport we could not find our luggage. But with the help of Jan Dirk, our son-in-law, we managed to get our luggage from the airport.
We reached home and there we met our daughter and grandson Gijs. He was 7 days old and even met us very warmly. After a week, Naseem, my wife, and I went to the supermarket with Jan Dirk. I was very surprised to see that majority of the workers were women. You can buy vegetables, make-up, medicines and even electronics in just one shop.
One day we went to an open market in Rotterdam. On the way back home something very strange happened. We stopped at the Erasmus bridge behind other cars. Suddenly I saw that the bridge was opening. One huge boat had to pass under the bridge. After the boat passed, the bridge started to come down and meet again with the road. That was a wonderful experience.
Gijs is now one month old. His face is just a miracle of God. His eyes, nose, lips and round face are so beautiful. Naseem and me are very blessed that we are holding him and talking with him. He looks very deeply at us and thinks: these must be my Nana and Nanoo (grand father and grand mother).
Today is 16 March. We went to the sea at Hoek van Holland. The sea water was controlled very good. The weather was very nice and sunny. There were quite some people on the beach. About 98% of people were walking with their dogs. I saw one mother who was playing with her daughter on the sand. She did not care about others and was playing. I was walking there and did not want to disturb them. Therefore I tried to come out from the sand by crossing a two feet high wall. But I did not succeed and I fell down. People saw me falling and quickly came to me, but meanwhile my wife had helped me to stand up again.
On 8 April was the baptism of Gijs. A week before the pastor had come to our house and discussed the complete programme. He asked us to sing psalm 139, as this is very suitable psalm for baptism. Indeed this is a very beautiful psalm and I also like it very much. The Baptism was on Easter day. The church was quite full with about 250 people. The service started and then it was our turn to sing the psalm. Rosy, a friend of Shahlla, Naseem and I sung together. To sing in front of 250 people is not easy but we managed quite well. The baptism started and Naseem, with the help of Anneke (sister of Jan Dirk), brought Gijs into the church. That moment was very precious and special, when I saw grandmother holding Gijs in her arms and walking into the church.
After the service people were greeting us by shaking hands. Jan Dirk, Shahlla, the mother of Jan Dirk, Naseem and I were standing in the front and people were shaking hands one by one. People very much liked our singing. There was a very long queue. Rosy said who suggested you to sing a Psalm in the church? Now you have to suffer by standing here and shaking hands with 250 people. She was just joking. This was a regard and sincerity from the Dutch people.
After Church the guests were also invited at home for a meal. The living room was full; about 60 people were in the room. Grace (a friend of Shahlla), who has lived 35 years in the Netherlands, and Rosy, who has lived there about 17 years, arrived at our house and they immediately started helping in the kitchen.
I really like one of the habits here. When the meal started the people were standing in a queue and waited for their turn to get the food. Meanwhile they were either drinking wine or just sitting relaxed, drinking slowly while talking to others.
The pastor with his wife and parents also came to our house after the service. I appreciated very much that a pastor on Easter day spare some time to visit us, especially as it is a very busy day for him.
14 April was our 41st wedding anniversary. In the morning when we woke up the table was decorated with a lot of nice things for breakfast. Jan Dirk arranged this especially for us on our anniversary. Later on that day we were invited on the birthday of Jan Dirk’s mother. She became 82 years old. In the afternoon we reached there. A beautiful house with big garden and a lot of apple and pear trees. Her other children and almost all the grandchildren were also there. Everybody met us with warmth and we took beautiful memorable photos together in the garden.
The family is quite religious and after eating it is their habit to sing Christian songs and read the Bible. I like this habit. Once more we had to sing the psalm here.
We received so much love, appreciation and warmth from Dutch people during our visit to the Netherlands. The concept and habits about European people shown in Bollywood films are totally propaganda. My experience is very positive.
Contact details Stichting Diwa:
3024 AL Rotterdam
phone: +31 (0)6 412 846 89
kvk: 244 82441
bank account: 157 078 493
IBAN code: NL79 RABO 0157 0784 93
SWIFT/BIC code: RABONL2U
Stichting Diwa has an ANBI status. Your donations are therefore tax-deductable