"Whatever I do in life, I will remember these kids. When I save enough money for the flight ticket, I will be back.”
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DURING her first visit to India, Franziska von Stenglin was safely cocooned in the air-conditioned surroundings of her home in the Capital’s diplomatic enclave. Her father, Carl Andreas, is the former Minister-Counsellor Head of the political department at the German Embassy in Delhi. Five years later, she is back in India to move among the masses.
All of 19, Franziska is in Delhi to be a part of the Hope Project, an NGO located near the Nizamuddin Dargah. “I lived in Delhi for four years during my father’s tenure here. After completing school in Berlin, I wanted to come back to this fascinating country,” says Franziska. She works in the creche at Hope Project and says the experience is “immensely fulfilling.”
The creche service of the project is run by volunteers and members of the NGO. It is for underprivileged children, most of who are the children of single mothers who often work either as domestic help or in factories.
Founded in 1975 by the Sufi teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Hope Project started by serving milk to the poor and has become a huge project with centres for health, education and vocational training under its umbrella. It also has income generation programmes for women. Franziska remarks, “It takes a long time for the children to even begin to trust you, but once they start to love you, they will place their entire trust in you, which is immensely satisfying for me.”
Her current stint with the children ends this month (she got here in October 2003) after which she will travel to London to study art and design. As she jokes with the kids in a smattering of Hindi, Franziska says, “Whatever I do in life, I will remember these kids. When I save enough money for the flight ticket, I will be back.”
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