FRIENDS OF METTUPALAYAM TRUST
Registered Charity No 1054673
C/o David Eldridge
The Coach House, Bainbridge
N Yorks DL8 3EE
Tel 01969 650618
Francis and Rosie Muncaster
Bedale. DL8 2HF
Welcome to this mid-year update on the key developments at our projects in Tamil Nadu. The team there have asked us to send you their heartfelt thanks for making their work possible. We have a number of good news stories to share at this time and it is quite humbling to think that none of them would have happened without your support.
Our Crakehall and Nambikkai schools are both performing well with healthy student numbers and continuity of teaching staff. This is quite remarkable when you realise that we are only able to pay a fraction of the salary of Government school teachers. The support, training and teaching environment provided by Venkat and the project plays a significant part, as well as enabling a beneficial learning environment. Our Crakehall teachers are pictured here in front of a rather special mural map painted by our Friends Jordan and Jen who visited earlier this year.
In Mettupalayam, our Aspire school plans have been affected, as the promised government financial support has not been forthcoming. As a result we have put on hold plans to build a hostel. In the meantime, Venkat has found government accommodation for seven gypsy children, attached to a government school. Three more of the gypsy children have progressed to high school and the others are continuing at Crakehall School on a day basis with the project supplying them a nutritious breakfast. We continue to support this marginalised section of the local community, and this cannot be better illustrated than by the remarkable success of three of our tribal boys, who have just passed their College entrance exams. Chandrasekar and Tamilarason have applied to Engineering College, with Vijayan applying to Art College and Venkat has organised student bank loans for their fees. This is a first for our tribal community and fantastic news. These boys have worked so hard, often late into the night under the lights of the project building before returning to the gypsy village.
On a similar vein, we have a lovely photo of two of our special children from the quarry community, Selvi and Patchyammal, who have just progressed to 7th standard at high school. Eight years ago these girls were still “tied” to the quarry owner, breaking rocks with hammers and making nets to catch rats for food. Wow!
On a sad note, those of you who visit our Facebook page will know that we reported the tragic death of one our Mettupalayam schoolchildren, Meena, who drowned with her mother at a local well, when washing clothes. Inability to swim is a real issue, especially for girls and we are talking to Venkat about ways that we may be able to support swimming teaching through the schools.
Community News and Healthcare
Our very best wishes to Gomathi, our support worker, who is to marry Mohan on 23 August- photo attached of the happy couple. They plan to rent a house in nearby Utherimerur which means that she will be able to remain linked to the project – terrific news, we are delighted. Gomathi has been busy supporting local women, with another 82 families taking out loans to enable the purchase of milk cows.
On the healthcare front, we are pleased to advise that our local doctor, Dr Paramasivam, has commenced extra services for our Mettupalayam village focusing on diabetes and cataracts. We have sent a further 10 patients to Chennai for cataract operations, provided free of charge through collaboration with the local Lions club.
The Mettupalayam Farm
We are waiting for rain before new planting, while the three acres of sugar cane has provided useful income of around 130000Rps- £1500.
Many of you will remember one of our ex-students Mari from the quarry community. At the age of just 16 she has two young daughters and had moved with her husband Masi to live beside the quarry works again, we think lured by the potential for extra income. However, this was not working out and she and her children were not eating well. We are very pleased to report that the family is now living back at our accommodation on the farm and quickly restoring their health through good food. Mari has responsibility for our 300 strong flock of ducks and Masi drives our tractor and tends the milk cows.
We have more UK visitors heading for the project in July and August. Two students from Newcastle will spend a short spell helping in the school and it is brilliant to report that Becky Bell, who spent six months teaching at the project in 2009\10, is returning for three weeks with her parents.
We have reached a stage with the price of stamps, where we think it is prudent to ask that those who can, to receive future newsletters by email. With over 200 envelopes at 50p a time, you can work out the maths and although all admin costs are covered by the trustees’ own donations, we think that, where possible, this money is better invested directly in the project. May I ask therefore that you let me have your email address so that we can take this forward from our next edition. Please send this to email@example.com We will continue to send paper copies to those who specifically request this or do not have email. Please continue to share this newsletter with friends and family and we are always pleased to receive contacts from new Friends. Once again, if you wish to keep regularly up-to-date, you can access the Facebook link via our IRDT website.
Thank you all, once more, for your support. I hope the information in this newsletter is as inspiring to you as it is to us.