FRIENDS OF METTUPALAYAM TRUST

Registered Charity No 1054673

c/o David 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,

2009 has been a memorable year for FOM and IRDT. So much has been achieved, with our new Crakehall School nearing completion, a volunteer long stay English teacher and a major expansion in our disability work, supported by the Ripon Rowels Rotary Club. This update follows a short visit by our treasurer in October.

Schools update
It is difficult to convey the feelings experienced by visitors to IRDT in seeing the fantastic work done by Venkat and the teachers at our two primary schools. Even regular visitors continue to be moved by the enthusiasm and vitality of the children, the commitment of the teachers and staff and the long term improvements in health and education. This year, we have reached a milestone at both Mettupalayam and Nambikki Schools. Firstly, Mettupalayam School has now been open for 25 years- a fantastic and unusual achievement for a charity project, many of which are much more short term. We have now educated a whole generation of villagers and tribal people and are starting to see their children coming to the school. Indeed, our head teacher at Nambikki School is a former pupil of Mettupalayam!

Secondly we are delighted that we now have our official school licence for Nambikki School and can therefore more confidently plan for the long term. Many children have already benefitted from the new school and of course education lasts a life time. Due to recently enacted Indian Government regulations, we have had to register as an English Medium school, which means that half the lessons are taught in English. This provides even greater opportunities for the children; however, it means that we have to employ better qualified teachers and pay higher wages. The developmental aspect of our young teacher employment is therefore experiencing new challenges; we are however convinced that the benefits will be significant. Most English Medium schools are fee paying, but we intend to continue as a free school for all pupils. Two classes are already financed by secondary schools in the UK and we are always looking for additional support!

It is now appropriate to again thank all Friends at North Yorkshire County Council, particularly the Education Department, all the schools and the many other people who contributed to our Tsunami Appeal and the subsequent appeal for funds to start this second project. Without your support, these children would not receive an education and would remain illiterate and innumerate and in dire poverty.

Our new ‘Crakehall School’, Mettupalayam, is now almost complete and it was very exciting to be there when the roof was laid. In the next newsletter, we will report on the opening ceremony scheduled for the 10th January.

Meantime, our first long stay volunteer for many years, Becky, is now working hard at the school teaching English. Becky, from Cumbria, has taken a gap year before starting university, and after completing a special course, is now working with both children and staff in Mettupalayam. Subject to visa approval, Becky expects to stay at Mettupalayam for 6 months. She is already making very good friends and having a major impact particularly in verbal English skills.

Healthcare
Other visitors during the year included Laura and Emily, trainee doctors from Newcastle University Medical School. As part of their elective, they spent 5 weeks at Mettupalayam, partly shadowing our fantastic Dr Paramasivam, and also organising health camps, training our staff and introducing the children to soap! Amongst several medical conditions observed, one schoolgirl, Sabina, was found to be suffering from very severe tonsillitis. She had been unable to eat properly for some time and we were advised at the local hospital that she was too underweight to have an operation. After providing liquid food supplements and vitamins, Sabina is now to go back to hospital hopefully to have her tonsils removed. This was the second visit by student doctors in recent years, and we very much value the input and expertise that they have brought to the project.

Disability
With greatly appreciated financial support from Ripon Rowels Rotary Club, we have been able to plan a whole year of much increased disability work. This started in July with general disability assessment camps and during my recent visit, I was delighted to be at a Rotary Club meeting, attended by the District Governor, when two disability tricycles and a bicycle were issued. We are arranging another 6 vocational places for disabled young people at APD in Bangalore and several major operations are planned for April/May next year. Venkat gains much local support and encouragement from his Rotary and Lions Club friends.


Women’s Self Help Groups

Our social worker, Gomathi, has recently had a bout of Typhoid fever and been out of action for 2 weeks. I am delighted that she has fully recovered and is back organising and supporting the 150 or so groups that she has helped to form. In her spare time, she has become very attached to the game of Bingo, which Becky took out as a teaching aid. We hope that this will not interfere with her duties in the future!

UK News
We are pleased that financial support has remained strong, despite the ‘credit crunch’; we continue to benefit from the extraordinary fund raising achievements of Friends. Stuart’s Lyke Wake Walk, Emily’s Great North Run and even as I write, Jonathan’s Riviera Marathon have all raised significant and much needed income:- a very big thank you from us all in the UK but particularly from Venkat and all the villagers and children who will benefit. For any future potential fundraisers, we now have our own web page on www.justgiving.com under Friends of Mettupalayam. This makes the organisation and collection of sponsorship money very easy, and we are always happy to advise, publicise and support your efforts.

And finally-
Plans are in hand for Venkat to visit the UK again next year, in September, and we will be arranging for school visits- please let us know if your school would like a visit.
THANK YOU ALL AGAIN FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT- IT REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WE WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS.