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Dec 12, 2018

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12.12.18 Auroville Language Lab GlobalGiving Project Report

Our June report mentioned our two goals: the Women's Group English training, and the Tomatis classroom.

It also mentioned the whole VAT, import taxes, transport costs complications, which we hadn't factored in earlier.

Our mid-Sept report mentioned that I was going to Germany on my way to the Tomatis practitioners conference in Switzerland and that I would find a way to solve the headphone import impasse. I can't really reveal all the details, but let's just say, by a series of miracles, I managed to bring all of the 8 headphones, 2 headsets and 1 distribution panel back with me! It was a huge lesson for me in total surrender, and I was amazed at every step! Tapas and the rest of the team were energetically with me all the way.

On getting back though, the fight against the highway proposed through Auroville took a very big chunk of my time and energy. It was almost full-time engagement with a big group of Aurovilians on the "Highway Task
Force". There has been somewhat positive news on that, and it was quite an experience, but it did mean that there was very little time left to work on the project.

Now that there is a temporary breather, I've gotten back to the project again.

We realized that just as we had zapped the whole issue of VAT etc, we had also zapped the fact that along with the equipment, we also needed the Tomatis software programs! In fact, we needed two programs. The big problem is that the programs cost 2500 Euros each - European price (so 5000 euros!) - with the Indian price we had negotiated some years ago being Euros 1250 each, so Euros 2500! We hadn't bargained for this and once again, it was a huge spanner in the works. The protected program comes on a dongle, and we needed two dongles to run (i) the Global Giving program and (ii) the Tomatis classroom.

We had already sent a letter to all the units of Auroville, and published in the Auroville News and Notes about the start of the programs in December, and even had a first meeting of the women interested (quite a few of whom came with their husbands!). But without the dongles, we couldn't (can't) do anything!

Now, while in Germany, one of my major tasks had been to finish the editing of an English translation of this major book on the Tomatis method, written by our Tomatis friend and colleague in Germany, who is also our supplier (as well as a donor through GG!).  I had sat from morning to late night, every day, over 8 days, at a desk, working non-stop; getting up only for meals (sumptuous healthy meals prepared by his wife). I didn't even go out of the house until the day before I left! It was a marathon, but I was determined to finish. Tapas has sent me off with this major goal in mind! I hadn't negotiated any payment for this work because I was just focussed on getting it done. The authors had suggested that a year's worth of sales of the English edition could come to the Lab as our payment for the work. It has been a pending project on the backburner for a few years while we were building the building...... Well, we decided to ask our friend and supplier, whether he would send us the two dongles we needed, as payment for this work. And guess what? He said Yes!  So this was another miracle too!

So we shall soon be getting the dongles! We've even found someone from Germany who can bring them to us.  We will get them next week!.

We've ordered the two sound cards (Rs.195K approx - $2716 or Euros 2389). (Yes, indeed! It is REALLY crazy that we have tried to offer this outrageously expensive but marvelous Tomatis method here in India). We now need to put together money for an amplifier and a laptop, which we'll do in the next two weeks, and then we'll be ready!  Mano and Raj have been absolute bricks for the equipment research and orders.

So, just in time for Tapas' birthday (25.12.18) and mine (01.01.19), we'll be able to actualize this dream.

It has taken much much longer than expected, and it does mean a complete paradigm shift for us and the Lab..... So it makes sense that we start in the new year!

A special Thank You to Christa and Anya, who made their donations recurring; a very huge thanks to Jane, whose big recurring donation over many months saved us each end of the month, to Diana Brassard who gave another wonderful donation after the last report, and to Sandy for recently remembering us on Giving Tuesday. And a huge, huge thank you to all of you who participated.  Every single amount has helped!

In our next report, we look forward to showing you pictures of it all in action!!!

If any of you have the possibility of making even a $10 recurring monthly donation, that would be great,  because it would help towards the running costs the project; besides which GlobalGiving has a matching campaign on till the end of the year for all recurring donations.

So, we will launch the program in January.

Thank you so much for your patience and not losing faith in us!

Wishing you all happy holidays, whichever tradition you celebrate in!

Sep 13, 2018

Mid-September Update from Auroville Language Lab

Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session

GLOBAL GIVING SEPTEMBER 2018 REPORT

 

Hello everyone!

We have been very busy here at the Lab trying to get everything ready for the Collective Listening Training for Women and Girls and the New Tomatis classroom. Unfortunately we’ve had a few setbacks getting those headphones here from Germany. The VAT cost is rather high, and combined with transport and import costs, the amount required over and above what we raised thanks to all of you, is huge.  Just the VAT part @ 19% is $1210, not counting the rest, which is about an additional 35%!!!!  So we have been trying to find a way we can import them without having to go through that, like we said before. It really does matter a lot, because if we have to alter our order to lose several headphones, it cuts down the number of students we can host in our program.

So we are trying to find a solution, and even though it seems like we have, it is very time-consuming and taking much longer than what we planned.  We can't ask anyone coming from Europe to bring the headphones; we need to find Indian residents only!  We have received only two headphones so far.  The rest are ready and waiting for us in Germany.  We thought we would have everything here by September! 

Mita is actually about to go to Germany on her way to Switzerland to present our research at an international Tomatis practitioners conference - and while she’s there she plans to look into other ways to resolve our headphone situation.

So you see, the VAT and taxes situation has thrown a wrench in our plans, and it’s proving to be a bigger wrench than we first thought.  We are going to have to wait until we can work this out.  Hopefully we can get started by October or November.

Still, in the meantime, we've been working towards creating an active listening group for the women & girls. Many of whom are taking advantage of our free Saturday Tomatis listening sessions for our regular Lab students.  They've been coming very regularly, each Saturday.  We've also had some wonderful Tomatis Language experiments with our own team to prepare the project.  (Photos hopefully attached).

For the conference we have been continuing with some of our Tomatis Research on the frequency patterns and other parameters of different languages. This is similar to some of the research we did before the project.  We've also been studying the best way to configure a Tomatis Classroom.  We are really looking forward to getting these headphones here so we can finally put all of it together and start the group Tomatis listening training work.

Other than that the Lab is doing fine. We have a new teacher, Annabel, who is teaching French and Spanish. We also have a new experimental class called ‘Isogloss’ where students study every language in the world as one language. (All at once).  Of course we are continuing to offer our Tomatis programs. Some of the kids have been showing major progress. And the adult testimonies we are getting really reflect the power of this therapy. It can change a lot. So new things are happening in the Lab, and the past few weeks have been an exciting time. 

We are working very hard to get those headphones here!  We will let you all know the moment we get started.  Of course, if you have any ideas at all for us, which could help us out of the import difficulties, we are all ears! 

Thank you all so much for your patience and your continued support.

All the best,

The Language Lab Team (Mita has just reached Europe!!)

Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
Students getting out of a Tomatis hourly session
The first pair of headphones arrived
The first pair of headphones arrived
Team Tomatis Language Experiment
Team Tomatis Language Experiment
Our Youngest Tomatis Child
Our Youngest Tomatis Child
Team Tomatis Language Experiment
Team Tomatis Language Experiment
Jun 18, 2018

Update from Auroville Language Lab

Hi, all you wonderful people!
First, once again, on behalf of our entire team, a huge "Thank You" for your donation to our project. There were 104 donations, from all over the world, of all different sizes, small to big, and it all counted. Auroville Language Lab actually qualified to become a GlobalGiving partner (we met the goal of $5000 and 40 donors).
On Bonus Day, March 21st, we ranked 11th, with $4151 donations and 54 donors in a single day. We received $238 in Bonuses from GG.
We finished the March Accelerator with $7535 and 94 donors. And as of today, we've raised $7976 from 112 donations.
We even had to increase our goal several times.
It is all thanks to your participation and your incredible generosity. We are deeply grateful and moved!
Now, not only are we a GlobalGiving partner, but we also gained the status of "Effective Non-Profit" and are a "Top-Ranked Project". (Have a look at those three little icons next to our name on our page! (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empowering-women-and-girls-in-auroville-and-bioregion/). We'll also receive a Social Media Mention on GlobalGiving. 
And, thanks to all those late-night webinars and climbing the learning curve using all of GlobalGiving's range of tools, we've also achieved "Superstar" status on the GG Rewards program. This has a host of benefits - have a look at the "Superstar Benefits" jpeg attached.
So you see, your donation didn't just help the project, it opened out a whole load of possibilities for the Lab!
GG also featured us as a "Success Story" in their Learn Section (https://www.globalgiving.org/learn/nonprofits/success-stories/) and also in their June Newsletter, which has gone to their entire worldwide mailing list.
In more good news, we found out that our applications to two regular funding agencies of Auroville - the Foundation for World Education, USA, and Stichting de Zaiier, Holland - which we submitted through the Auroville Project Coordination Group last October, way before GlobalGiving, were both accepted!
This has meant that we can fulfill two goals :
  1. The extended listening training in groups for English for women, as put up on GG, as well as general group programs in all languages, including Tamil. 6 headphones will be reserved for the women and girls groups.
  2. Implement an actual Tomatis classroom! (A group class with teacher and students all connected to the Tomatis machine).
This implies enormous possibilities opening up for us, and a paradigm shift for the Lab... a dream come true! It's quite exciting and scary even > we worked so hard so long towards this goal and now it is finally going to happen!!!!
These last few months have been an extended preparatory period. We did have to spend a lot of time waiting for the monies to actually come through. We needed to be sure about the exact order, to maximize the possibilities.
One thing though, we were so focused on the equipment, we foolishly forgot to include costs of transport and customs duty and taxes! Indian duties and taxes risk being 15% customs duty + 18% GST (Goods and Sales Tax). Or we pay VAT in Germany and then try to find people to bring the stuff over, but that isn't kosher. We need to do this in the proper way. The transport itself will be around 860+60=920 Euros. All costs that we didn't calculate earlier, so it's thrown our plans into a bit of a tizzy. We'll have to modify the order accordingly. We're hoping to finalize early this week. Mano and Raj have found a great site where we can buy the RME sound cards at a much cheaper rate but still under warranty, which will help. Back in 2004, when we first imported our first Tomatis machines, we paid 49% duty! Since our headphones are special, we might be able to find a clause under which they can be imported with less duty.
Businesses deal with this all the time, but for us, it's huge! However, we will find a way - we always do!
We hope to have everything here and launch in September. (Hopefully August, but let's say September to be safe).
Meanwhile, so much else has also happened. We started work on the wastewater treatment plant with a vortex, thanks to our friend Jean-Francois. Tapas's creativity has resulted, as usual, in something beautiful! It's in process... Hoping to add some solar panels on an EMI to our existing system to run the pumps. The idea is to re-use the water in the garden. 
It's been a busy summer for the Lab and Tomatis..... lots of new classes started and it was lovely to see the Lab full. We've had a lovely new person, Puja, join the team as well, and she will teach the women's English classes when the project will start. She's really happy to work in the Lab!  Students have been giving her lovely feedback. Our two French Civic Service volunteers, Remi and Romain, are winding up their time with us... in the last month now.... unfortunately, they will leave before the start of the GG Project! The Tamil classes were also quite a success, with Saravanan and Mano making audio recordings of the lessons and sharing them over WhatsApp with the students. Quite a few people using the mediatheque as well.
As for Tomatis, the whole summer's been busy with kids and adults - for both languages and the listening training. Wonderful feedback there as well. Our first case of a child with Down's Syndrome, a four-year-old kid from North India, and he has started walking up steps, which he couldn't do before... and expressing himself much more... Three other kids with developmental delays have also made remarkable progress... Breakthroughs as well for two of the teenagers with autism. And there's been quite deep work with adults as well. It's really humbling to assist in all these transformations... One day we have to document all of these properly.....
Meanwhile, the building remains as beautiful as ever, thanks to Tapas, and is distinctly cooler in the summer thanks to the lime... We actually have some dataloggers up around the building these days for a short study on the functioning of the lime done by Auroville architect Mona and her assistant Vishnu. We're hoping to be able to do one of the first external shafts of the cooling system, which we've decided to do only in lime, using granite instead of steel... We're planning to make a GlobalGiving microproject for that.... let's see! Many people have expressed how good they feel in our building... Do any "feel good" measures exist?
Foxy's fine and queening over everybody and everything, upstairs at Tomatis and downstairs at the Lab...
Please stay in touch, ask questions, give us your suggestions and your feedback! We want to hear from you!
And once again, a HUGE Thank You for your donation!
Love from Mita, 
For myself, Tapas and the team!
PS: Have a look, in case you haven't already :
It has received 950 views on LinkedIn!
--
Om Namo Bhagavate!
 
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