newsjune2005-01Friends of Mettupalayam Trust
RegisteredCharity No. 1054673 C/o David Eldridge,
Director FOM
The Coach House, Bainbridge,
North Yorks, DL8 3EE
Tel 01969 650618 E Mail davidweldridge@gmail.com Website address www.irdt.info

Mettupalayam -Tsunami Update June 1st

This brief update is aimed at keeping you in touch with what is happening in Mettupalayam and the IRDT Tsunami area project. The weather currently in Tamil Nadu is hot and dry, 108c. The schools have all been closed for the summer break and have re-opened today. This year 20 children are moving on to higher education from Mettupalayam school, both boys and girls, Hindu and Tribal. The Tamil states secondary education budget has been reduced. So children now have to pay Rs 300 (£ 3.70). Ten of the children’s families have been able to pay this and ten have been sponsored by FOM. It is most uplifting to find that we can achieve continuity in children’s education for such a small financial outlay. Agriculture continues to be a strong feature in the daily life of Mettupalayam. The season has been good. We are still collecting fish from the perculation dam on the farm. Two of the quarry people are being employed as night watchmen on the farm. A detailed report on the farm will be presented in September. We have now managed to provide IRDT with a new 4 wheel drive vehicle. This has always been an aspiration, but since the tsunami it has become essential. Vehicles are of great importance when running rural projects. Venkat can make the journey between Mettupalayam and Palayanabu Pukkum, where the group of  tsunami villages is, in just 90 minutes, saving two hours in both directions. The vehicle is being used for many purposes, emergency trips to hospital, attending meetings, visiting other projects and transporting all manner of important materials. Great efficiency gains have been made. A big thank you goes to Vicky, Pippa and all the children at the Westfield Park School who played a large part in allowing this development to go ahead. We have been lucky that Priya, Aimee and Megan three student doctors have visited the project in March and April. They did their placement in Tamil Nadu and I know the villagers greatly appreciated their friendship. They became involved in delivering large health camp check ups and loved working with the children.The tsunami response work has been very well received and has continued to focus predominantly on the most vulnerable people. Children aged 0-5 , pregnant women and the elderly. We have now run the ‘outreach team’ for 6 months. They continue to meet the basic needs of the 7 villages in the cluster we are focusing on.

We have found that along the Tamil coast there are a variety of fishing communities. Some are financially quite secure. Other areas have received large amounts of aid from larger charities. Our focus has been around an area just outside of a small town called Sadras. The seven villages we have identified as requiring our help number about 700 people per village. They were in a poor social circumstance before the tsunami and have not received much support since then.

We have established that one of the crucial features that is missing in this area is good education for the under 12’s. The current school, which is some 5km from many children has 280 on roll and only four teachers. We have initial permission to build a school for 150 children with 7 teachers. The school will be built on 4 acres of land that we are now negotiating the purchase of. This will cost £10 000. This is more than we had originally thought, but is in line with prices in the area near the East Coast Highway. By buying this land we can establish, in time, a multi-faceted community facility. This might include a community centre and a pharmacy, depending on need. We can practice some simple farming and can keep livestock such as cows and chickens. Having ones own land is very important when developing project foundations as it gives a degree of independence.

There continues to be a local government embargo on building homes. There is a terrific amount of local disagreement regarding need, placement and permission. We continue to have representatives involved in the negotiations about home construction and await developments.

Fundraising continues to be enormously successful. The support of everyone is greatly appreciated. The support of North Yorkshire County Council has been invaluable. There have been nearly 100 schools that have helped us and just as many people making donations. We have raised about £70 000 to date. The land and school will cost approximately £34 000 including the first years running costs. I rather scrambled these figures in the last newsletter and I understand these figures to be more accurate.

newsjune2005-02We have spent around £12 000 on the ‘outreach team’ who have been involved with up to 1000 children and 5000 adults. Most importantly we have built up a local credibility. We have been very careful how we have used our funds as we want to make a lasting impact on the quality of people’s lives. The school will enable the connection to be long lasting.

In August six of us are visiting Mettupalayam and Palayanabu Kuppam (where the school is to be built). I will produce a comprehensive report on Mettupalayam and the tsunami area, hopefully I will be able to share a new two year plan.

I hope this brief update is helpful. Please note the

NEW E-MAIL  ADDRESS. If any schools or supporters would like some pictures for display purposes, or the kitchen, please get in touch! Best wishes David Eldridge Friends of Mettupalayam (Director).