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

Mid Year Review – July 2010

Schools update

Following another successful year, 24 children from Crakehall and Nambikki Schools have moved on to Secondary School, being replaced by more than 40 little ones. We continue to employ mainly recently qualified and inexperienced teachers, this being another aspect of our development work. A notable success has been achieved by Tamilarason, a tribal boy who has been studying at Secondary School. I am delighted to say that he has passed his exams with a total of 448 marks out of 500, missing out on being the year’s top student by only 5 marks! His two tribal friends have also passed and all three have now entered Higher Secondary School in Utherimerur, the first tribal students to gain admittance. We have paid fees and expenses of 4000rps each (c£60) with their parents paying the balance of 1500Rps. Further fees will be payable next year and we would hope to find support to enable them to go to college in due course should they so wish. In India, less than 5% of tribal children have any formal education, so this is a significant achievement for them and their families.
The Crakehall School building is now being equipped with tables and chairs and the water supply is also complete apart from the pump. Venkat has widened the recently purchased well which will supply the school’s water-tower and we hope that a grand opening for the school will take place when David and Adele visit later in the month. We are arranging for an official school photograph and will put this on the website in due course.
As I write, we have two recently retired UK teachers in Mettupalayam and they are looking at the possibility of setting up a formal teacher improvement programme. They also would like to build on Becky’s English teaching earlier this year, and help the teachers with their English.

Farm

Sadly, another droughty season has meant that crop yields are well down again. However, a reasonable paddy harvest has been followed by groundnuts, and Venkat recently banked £323 from the groundnuts and a further £420 from the sale of 4 young bullocks. We do of course use much of our own rice for the school and OAP meals after milling in our rice mill.
Community Development
I am delighted to report that Mari and her baby daughter are doing well, and Gomathi has arranged for her to receive the Government Tribal Childbirth Grant of around £100. Her husband, Masi, is a bonded labourer working in a quarry some distance away, and we are trying to arrange payment of his outstanding debt so that he can stay with Mari and work on our farm. At the moment he can only visit occasionally and is getting into trouble from the quarry owner. Bonded labourers are treated little better than slaves and we continue to vigorously oppose this illegal system.

Women’s Self Help Groups

Gomathi will soon have over 200 SHGs operating and as an example of the kind of enterprises that are organised, there are 3 groups who own cows and run dairy units, profitably supplying the milk to a processing company. Initiating and supporting this type of small scale business is essential in changing the economic circumstances of the older, less well educated villagers.

Disability and Healthcare

Our year’s support from Ripon Rowels Rotary Club for the disability programme has now ended and it is good to be able to confirm the excellent work that Siva and the other disability workers have been able to do. A smaller programme will continue for the remainder of the year but we will of course respond to needs as and when possible. Another eye-camp was held recently and a further 5 cataract operations have been successfully completed. We continue to receive excellent support from the Utherimerur Lions and Rotary Clubs.
I am delighted to report that Rajesweri, the young deaf girl, has now been accepted at the Rangammal School for the Deaf, thanks to Tony Allinson of the Sylvia Wright Trust. We have used funds donated by Ashfield Infant School in Workington, to pay for the essential supplies and clothes that she required and also to cover occasional travel expenses so that her parents can visit.

UK News

You may remember Jean and Hugo Welsh who visited in January. They were both very taken with the project and decided to raise funds for us. Jean has just completed a swimathon challenge in the Lake District, swimming 7.5 kms on 4 lakes and tarns, and walking in between. So far, Jean has received over £800 and further donations can be made through www.charitygiving.co.uk on her page “Jean Welsh”. What a marvellous effort! Thanks Jean.

Finally Venkat is coming to the UK on the 10th September and we will be having our usual open day. We will also try to visit as many schools as possible.

On behalf of Venkat, the children and the villagers, may we thank you all again for your wonderful support.