November 2015

FRIENDS OF METTUPALAYAM TRUST

Registered Charity No 1054673

c/o Adele Eldridge
The Coach House, Bainbridge
N Yorks DL8 3EE
Tel 01969 650618
E-mail davidweldridge@gmail.com

Francis and Rosie Muncaster
‘The Rowans’
Exelby,
Bedale. DL8 2HF
01677 425961
Email: fmuncaster@hotmail.com

Dear Friends,

1We hope you have had a good summer. The sun and relatively dry weather which we have all enjoyed over the last month or two, has been replicated in Tamil Nadu, which unfortunately is not such good news for water levels and crops. However, there is still time for some November monsoon rains – so your rain-dances, crossed fingers or positive thoughts are all very welcome!
Having recently returned from the project it is really heartening to be able to report back on the lives that are being changed through your support. Our team in Tamil Nadu is amazing and we are so lucky to have Venkat’s two children, Ramya and Anand, both helping their father full time. He says it is their duty (!) but they willingly give their total commitment and complimentary skills in providing service to others. More of this as you read on.

School News

Both our schools are operating well with the new teacher teams beginning to settle in and develop. As flagged up in our last newsletter, we have invested in three desktop computers and these are now installed and being used in the Crakehall school in Mettupalayam. We are very fortunate that Anand is highly skilled in computers and computer technology. He is leading basic computer skills training with the fifth standard students, which will mean that when they graduate to high school they will have a head start We hope you have had a good summer. The sun and relatively dry weather which we have all enjoyed over the last month or two, has been replicated in Tamil Nadu, which unfortunately is not such good news for water levels and crops. Howeverin IT. The computers are also available for use by older village and gypsy students to use to enhance their high school study. With the advance of technology and the increasing opportunities and demands of this area, we hope you agree that this is a sensible use of resources to enhance educational standards.

Another new addition to the curriculum is Yoga classes! We are very pleased that one of our new teachers, Mohana, is a qualified Yoga teacher and Venkat is very supportive of the mind and body benefits that this can give to our students as an integral part of the curriculum. Here you can see one of the regular Monday and Friday classes.

We are also delighted that two good friends of the project, Ian and Lyn Godwin, are planning another month-long trip in the New Year. Now retired from teaching, Ian and Lyn will focus their time on supporting and developing the teacher teams at both Crakehall and Nambikki. Venkat also hopes to use their visit to encourage best practice discussions between the teacher groups at both sites. We know how much the teachers and students enjoy the support, input and fresh ideas that visitors bring. Critical to their success is the Venkatachalam family who provide the connections, advice and translation needed. We have already mentioned Anand, but his sister Ramya is doing amazing work in this area too, particularly in developing art and craft skills into the curriculum. They are an awesome team.

The Quarry families

You may well recall the work the project did in the past to free a group of families who were tied as bonded slaves to a local quarry owner. This group had recently wandered away and was scattered around the local area. One of the children of this group is Selvi, a lovely girl who was a student at our school. She is about 14 and is now heavily pregnant. As soon as Venkat became aware of this, and finding that she was anaemic, he took action to ensure she took proper ante-natal care. We are pleased that the local midwife is now supporting her. Selvi and her husband, Rajah Ghol, plus her father and mother and two other families have returned to the accommodation at our farm buildings and Rajah Ghol is now employed doing odd job work at the farm and the project. We are also ensuring regular nutritious food for mum-to-be Selvi. Here she is attending the local health centre.
We are also delighted to mention that Meena, also from this community, has returned with her husband and child- you may recall that Meena was diagnosed with early stage leprosy, now fully cured thanks to IRDT help!

Healthcare

5We are really fortunate to have a strong bond with our local General Practitioner, Dr Paramassivum, who takes a regular clinic for us at Mettupalayam. He is a highly experienced doctor, is a qualified Ophthalmologist and surgeon, speaks excellent English, is patient, listens well, is good humoured and he is totally committed to the project. What an asset to the community! He is also very gracious in accepting thoughts and ideas from visitors, which we realise cannot be that easy, as we often do not properly understand the customs and differences that exist. Recently, we took over an electronic medical recording system, which has been developed on a charitable basis by a group of doctors in the UK and is already operating in different projects around the developing world. Dr P. was very interested in the potential benefits that it may bring in being able to securely record patient details and then allow reporting and the identification of patterns over the longer term. We are also indebted to Anand who has committed to work with the doctor to enter data and develop the system. There are already more than 100 patient details and consultations on the system. We will keep you advised on progress.
We have also benefitted from UK visitors helping to improve our medical room facilities, which now include a much-improved stock of medicines and better patient examination area. I hope you agree it is looking pretty smart.

Serpakkam

6Our support of the nearby village continues, with weekly provision of fresh vegetables provided to the families at minimal cost. We are in the process of reviewing this initiative, before we decide on how best to move it forward. A full review will take place in January and we are planning to promote a kitchen garden initiative, providing seeds, expertise and encouragement for the villagers to start to grow their own!
Our longer-term aim is that we mirror the health improvements that are now so visible in Mettupalayam. Here we see Anand with UK visitor Ray in Serpakkam surveying and recording various health measures.

UK News

7Whilst we have had a number of volunteers over in India, others have been working hard back at home – raising funds and spreading the good news about the project.
Our Friends Nikki and Chris ran the Great North Run (with photo to prove it!); Hannah and her friends at Path Head fundraisers had an Indian day with all sorts of themed events; Trustee Adele, organised a ceilidh; Karen and Ray hosted a very successful garden party, and Karen has introduced us to Artison, near Masham, who have taken our work to heart, selling Indian fabric and stamps to their clients. These events alone have raised well over £3000!

We are also in the middle of a series of coffee mornings which will bring people together over coffee and cake and raise money at the same time. The Christmas Fairs season is also now upon us, with the first fair this week. Hopefully we may see some of you over the course of the next month or so, and you will have the opportunity of buying from our extensive stock of both Indian and UK made goods.
Our link with local schools remains strong and important. Our trustees Rosie and Francis have recently made visits to Bedale Primary School to talk about connections as varied as the weather in Tamil Nadu and on the theme of Charity itself and have further school visits scheduled. It is always invidious to mention individuals, as so many people contribute in so many ways. To you all, many thanks indeed.

Support for our work comes from many sources, Venkat always talks about the power (and as he sees it the duty) of providing service to others. Thank you all for doing this in one way or another.

Facebook

Just to mention again that we regularly post updates on our dedicated Facebook page which you can access very easily. It isn’t necessary for you to post personal details here if you would rather not, just ‘like’ our page and join in with around 230 others who support us in this way.

Website

Finally, a request for help. Does anyone know someone who would be interested in revamping our FOM website? We have lots of ideas on what we would like…

Any suggestions on this or ideas or requests on any subject, please do get in touch with any of the contacts at the top of this newsletter.

With our thanks for your support without which the project could not exist and our very best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas.

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