FRIENDS OF METTUPALAYAM TRUST
Registered Charity No 1054673
c/o David Eldridge
The Coach House, Bainbridge
N Yorks DL8 3EE
Tel 01969 650618
Francis and Rosie Muncaster
Bedale. DL8 2HF
How time flies! It doesn’t seem that long since the last newsletter in February but, as always, there is a lot of positive news to report from our friends in India.
A new school year began in June and as readers of our Facebook page will know, we still await the new Government supplied school books. However, as usual, nothing daunts Venkat and he is providing the teachers with daily lesson plans. There has been a significant increase in pupil numbers at the Nambikki School; there are now 105 students, gradually approaching the planned maximum of 150. Venkat has appointed another teacher at Nambikki and we are now using both buildings. Additionally we now have new school desks and chairs for the older children.
At Crakehall School, our head teacher Satish has returned for another year, along with all of last year’s staff. This may well be as a result of the splendid work that Ian and Lynn undertook in teacher training during their 2 months stay earlier this year.
An exciting development is underway which we hope will benefit the children from the quarry community and also some older tribal children. These two groups have either dropped out of formal education, or not started. Venkat’s long term aspiration has always been to remove barriers to education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and from sections of the community not previously included. He is therefore setting up a system to integrate the 9 quarry children aged from 4 to 11 who have had little schooling to date, and a further 16 mixed age tribal children who have indicated that they would like to attend. Initially this will entail a separate class for these children, partly working as a group and partly with the Crakehall classes. Nadhia and her friend Saranya who have just completed their 2 year teacher-training course have been employed to take responsibility for this group. Nadhia comes from a very difficult family situation, and she graduated through our primary school, the state secondary school and teacher training college. A lot of support has been provided to Nadhia and her family over the years and it is marvellous to see such a positive outcome.
Disability & Healthcare
The support system of village based healthcare and community workers is now well established; benefits include claiming disability allowances and pensions. We continue to work closely with both the local Rotary and Lions Clubs-thanks to Utherimerur Rotary Club funding, only last week another disability tricycle was presented to a local man who is now able to take part in a rural employment scheme. With local Lions Club support, there have also been 3 recent village-based health check-up camps, plus both dental and eye clinics and even a farmers’ veterinary camp for livestock! Following the eye clinics, 55 cataract operations have been successfully completed.
Our last newsletter mentioned Rajeshwari who is studying at a special school for the deaf. We have received tremendous support here in the UK for her and her family, and are now able to look at ways to help her parents improve their situation. Neither have been able to work for some time- her father is partially sighted in addition to still being in recovery from a major cancer operation and Rada, her mother is also severely hearing impaired. The family rely on Grandma’s small income from her two cows! Rajeshwari is making really good progress at school, and is enjoying being in a small class of 10 children with similar needs.
Quarry Community & Farm
It is with mixed feelings that Venkat reports that Mari and Masi are expecting another baby, so soon after her first at the age of 14! Gomathi is ensuring that Mari receives regular check-ups and the baby should again be born in the local hospital. Following a reasonable monsoon there has been a good amount of farm work and all the families have been fully employed. Recent crops planted include turmeric, pulses and groundnuts. The community has expanded a little with Sagar and his family returning to live at the small settlement and there are now 9 school age children as mentioned above. Venkat has purchased a new farm trailer seen here being tested by some of the village children!
Later in the year there will be a visit by UK Friends with medical backgrounds and Venkat is already planning a suitable programme for them. It is always encouraging for Venkat and his staff to receive visits which demonstrate the passion and commitment to the project that exists here. Your continuing support and financial help enables Venkat and his staff to make a real difference to the lives, aspirations and expectations of the people in our project areas.
Please will you share this newsletter with friends and family, and contact us if you want additional copies sending out. We are also pleased to receive contacts from new Friends and of course always welcome additional funds!
Thank you again for all your interest and support.