Children Enjoying Sweets And Fruit In Margao

GOA OUTREACH
FOR SLUM & STREET CHILDREN

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Smoke Filled Rooms

, Mapusa, Goa, India
Smoke and flames from cooking inside their homes
Smoke and flames from cooking inside their homes

For anyone who has been down to the slums in the evening or morning, one thing you will notice is the smoke that billows out from their homes. Most of the families rely on wood and stoves made from bricks or stones. It is obviously the cheapest form of cooking as they just spend time collecting the wood, and after making sure it's nice and dry, it is burned to heat water for bathing and for cooking their meals which is often just simple rice and dahl. It is a cheap and easy source of power but is terrible for people's health. When you walk into their houses, you will notice the thick black smoke caked on the walls and ceiling. Looking at the ceiling just terrifies us to think how their lungs must be affected and how much the smoke will affect the development of the children. Every day, their rooms are filled with the smoke for an hour or two as they cook their meals.

We have started to provide help for those who wish to move to the cleaner gas stoves. The main problem with gas though, is the requirement for ID proof which many families do not have, and therefore cannot obtain the large gas bottles from the suppliers. We are able to obtain smaller gas bottles, although not an ideal solution as they need refilling more often, and are not as cheap as the government subsidised bottles. Using the bottled gas will surely have a huge impact on the health of children and parents alike. More and more families are asking for help in obtaining the new stoves which shows that its a popular way of helping, We have provided two in the past week and hope that more families will follow suit.

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Total Of 7 Slum Areas

, Mapusa, Goa, India
Child with Donations of Health Packs and Apples
Child with Donations of Health Packs and Apples

We spent this weekend giving out health packs and fruit to several local slums in Mapusa, in total 7 small areas. On Saturday I was on my own but on Sunday I was happy to have Azadeh (A volunteer who had worked with me before several times) and her friends came out to help. All her friends were originally from India, although now living and working in Dubai enabling them to easily converse with the children which is always a good ice breaker when the kids meet new people.

Azadeh as well as bringing a couple of large bags of donations (baby clothes) she also came to the local market where she bought 200 Apples and 200 Oranges to give out to the children.

As always the children behaved very well and we spent most of the afternoon with them distributing fruit and health packs. We hope that once we have attracted more support it will be possible to provide fruit on a daily basis. The apples cost around 1300 Rs for 100 and the Oranges were 350 for 100, in itself it's not a huge cost but does add up if we give out on a daily basis.

Thank you again to Azadeh and friends for the help and transport, it was a successful weekend and hope to see you next time.

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Check Ups In Margao

, Margao, Goa, India
Standing Outside one of the Childrens Home in Margao
Standing Outside one of the Childrens Home in Margao

A week ago, we took a trip down to Margao to take medicine to one of the girls, who has a severe skin condition, which is one of the symptoms of her degenerative illness. During the ride down, we were caught in a sharp rain storm and arrived in Margao soaked to the bone. To make matters worse, we were told the girl had gone away for a week and it seemed like a wasted journey, but it gave us more time to interact with other families and learn more about their needs.

Today, a week later, it was good to see the sun was out. Hence, we returned to Margao hoping that the girl would be there, so we could distribute the medicines, which would hopefully improve the condition of her skin, reduce the number of lesions and improve her quality of life.

Thankfully, she and her family had arrived back from their trip and we handed over the medicines to her mother and instructed on how and when to apply them. We will continue to check on her and see if we can offer any more help to improve her condition.

As well as following up with the girl, we spent more time talking to the families and arranged the best time to visit to give out this months' health packs and also spoke about two other children who also need help, both of whom are deaf. We are currently in talks with another NGO to help them and hopefully will have more news in a few weeks.

While we were chatting, we were pleased to see a couple of people from a local NGO who came out and played a few games with the children. After talking with the teachers from the NGO, we found out they had just started since the end of the monsoon and they plan to return each day for an hour. Perhaps we will be able to work together in some way to provide a more complete service to this and other slums in the area.

We said our goodbyes and set off to visit one of the other large slum areas in Margao where we help and arranged a time to distribute health packs. Whilst there, we were told of a young boy who had difficulty with his vision, especially in the evenings, with apparent night blindness, resulting in him bumping into things, including traffic on occasions. We requested his mother to take him to the government hospital for an eye test and check up so that we could follow up with any medicine or glasses he may need. On our next trip we will get the results and ask for a suitable solution, which we hope will also improve the quality of his life and make him more confident and active.

It's always great to speak with the parents (and children), sometimes I wish my Hindi was better and I didn't have to rely on a translator so much.

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