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,

It seems incredible that IRDT has just celebrated its 25th year of service to the people in and around Mettupalayam! Starting from a very small base, providing education to a handful of Mettupalayam children, we now have two primary schools with over 200 children attending each day. In addition to providing a free education, we also provide a balanced, nutritious diet and healthcare support and monitoring. A bursary fund helps many students on to further education at secondary and even college level and some support is also provided for children with disabilities at other local schools. We are pleased to be able to provide support for the elderly and those with disabilities, and organize Women’s Self Help Groups, Farmers Groups and provide basic village level healthcare. In addition we have a small farm and in all, employ around 45 full time and many part time workers.

All of this is funded by the generosity of donors, mainly in the UK; however increasing local support is being generated.

The Crakehall School

Having recently returned from another visit to the project, I am delighted to update you on progress. The structure is now almost complete, with only minor works still to be done. The architect/engineer, who gave his time on a pro bono basis, is very pleased with the design and new building construction methods. We will be applying shortly for a licence, to start from the next school year on the 1st June. During our recent visit, a small inauguration ceremony took place, and an opening ceremony will no doubt be held when appropriate. Meantime, despite a nearly complete change of teaching staff over the year, the old school continues to impress with the standards achieved. Becky Bell, who has been teaching English there since October, is now coming towards the end of her voluntary stay, and it is remarkable to see and hear the progress that has taken place. All the trustees and staff in India and here wish to record our appreciation and gratitude to Becky for her magnificent achievements.

The Nambikki School

Now that we have our school licence, we expect the student numbers to grow steadily towards the capacity of 150. Last year we had 4 students going on to secondary school; this year there will be 9.
I am delighted to mention in particular, Nandini, the minus group teacher and also head teacher Thanigai- both have been with the school from the early days following the tsunami. Their contribution and support for the children has been exceptional. The second class room block will be brought into use in the summer and we remain very grateful to Bedale High School and the Caedmon School in Whitby who have given long term support and raise funds each year to pay for two whole classes.

Healthcare

In the last newsletter we mentioned Sabina, the young girl who had severe long term tonsillitis and consequently, malnutrition. Following several months of taking liquid nutritional supplements, she has now had her operation and is back at school, able to eat normally for the first time in several years. Also at school, Becky identified Gopi and his brother Jeeva Nathan, who both have sight difficulties. We are arranging for them to have eye tests and appropriate treatment with our very good Friend Dr Paramasivam.
We are also fortunate in having more visitors at the project at the moment, Jean Welsh who is a very experienced Practice Nurse at a doctor’s surgery near York and her husband Hugo. They have taken time out from a very busy life to go to India for 2 weeks to help us with both healthcare provision and other aspects. I know that Venkat very much appreciates all the help that is given by visitors. The old people’s meals programme, set up by Askrigg School, now provides meals on Sundays and also new clothes each year. This also contributes to improving community health.

Disability

We are now half way through our year of Rotary funding, and it was very exciting at the school inauguration to see lots of disability equipment being given out to both children and adults. At the local market, I also saw the man with leprosy to whom we had supplied a bicycle last October. He insisted on riding it up and down to show us how well he managed, despite having only the stumps of fingers and thumbs! It is very humbling but also gratifying to see such sights- a huge improvement in his lifestyle at such small cost! We continue to be grateful to Samuel, the technical expert, and all at APD for their help and guidance in all disability matters.