All the children have now finished their exams and they have till June to relax and enjoy the 'summer' break from school. Although enjoying this time of year can be quite a challenge as the humidity and heat in Goa rises and keeps rising up until the start of the monsoon. Today (April 11th) the humidity ranged overnight from 68% to 86% and the temperature at the coldest point (6am) is a rather warm 27 degrees!
Some of the families take the school holidays to visit relatives in their village, some going to Karnataka, Maharastra and as far as Utter Pradesh (a 4 day journey). Unfortunately it's not a time to relax for the staff as they have to arrange all the school requirements for the upcoming school year. This year we expect to help around 130 children, hopefully not too many more as it is a huge job with so many kids.
We have started taking the children's measurements for the school uniforms. All the children have tailored uniforms as each school has a unique design and having black trousers / shorts and white shirt would be far too simple, so every year we measure all the children, buy a huge amount of material (just this morning we bought 114 meters of material and that´s just for two of the schools! We have been using the same tailor for years so he knows many of the kids and is great with them.
Over two days last week we managed to measure two thirds of the children, more than 70; and will arrange for a couple more days of measuring hopefully later this week.
As well as the uniforms we have to arrange rain sandals (for the monsoon), umbrellas/raincoats, books, pencil cases and lots more!
Hopefully somewhere in between the madness of getting everything ready for the new school year we will find the time to take the kids on a trip or two. We have managed one already when we took the younger kids on a boat trip, but fingers crossed, we hope that all the kids will get a trip or two over the coming month.
The end of the educational year is upon us and that means the dreaded exams. The first children Robert helped get into school many years ago are progressing up the educational ladder and a few of the children are now taking their 12th Standard (Equivalent to 6th Form). There has been a lot of stress and hours and hours of study. Most of the older boys have been coming early and studying all day at the centre, it´s great to see them put so much effort in, but as the exams got nearer they wanted to come in earlier and stay later, sometimes staying for a full 12 hours! This does seem a little excessive, but they are encouraged to by their teachers.
As well as having eight children doing their final exams before the possibility of going onto further education, we have four in the first year and five taking their GCSE equivalents. Many of them Robert knew and helped into school when they were young. It´s a great feeling to see the kids get so far and become young adults with a chance of a brighter future in front of them. Most of their parents have no education, or if they have, only at a primary level. A higher level of education brings a greater acceptance and acknowledgement of the importance of education. This is a great achievement as when we first started helping the families most were not in education at all and had no desire for it.
It is now the start of April and many of the exams are now over and it´s time to relax and enjoy a stress free month; that is of until the results arrive.
The older children especially have tried so hard this year and we wish them all the greatest success for their results and their future.
Arvind and Madhav got in touch with us this week after celebrating the birthday of Madhav´s daughter, Vriddhi. They had put on a lovely meal for guests and as the event came to a close they realised there was a good proportion of food left over. Wishing the food not to go to waste they contacted us and asked if we would be happy to receive it.
An hour later Arvind and Madhav arrived in Mapusa and handed over 3 large metal containers with vegetable curry, Manchurian sauce and an Indian sweet called Kheer. There were also two large bags of Gopi Manchurian pieces and Pakoras.
Sunday was going to be a busy day so with the help of Arjun, one of the older children, Robert organised some ladles, which were styled from a metal glass and a pan holder - you do have to improvise in this job! We visited around 50 children asking each one to bring a few dishes to put the food into.
There was lots of food and the children all got a lovely free meal. Unfortunately due to the sticky nature of serving the food we did not take any photos, but the food was well received and we would like to thank Arvind, Madhav and family for their kind gesture.
Here are a few photos from our trip to Coco Beach. It was a lovely day and a special thank you to Atri, who planned and sponsered the day. More photos can be found on our facebook page www.facebook.com/GoaOutreach
A recent film called Lion (really worth a watch by the way and based on a true story) has shown what can happen when a child gets onto a train and then doesn´t know where they are. Our small story is thankfully much shorter due to the kind efforts of a few people who were willing to help.
We received a call from a Omanakuttan Namboordiri, who works for Cognizant Technology Solutions. He was just passing through a train station in Kerela when he and a few others happened upon a young girl sitting alone on a concrete bench in the train station.
The young girl was in distress and dressed in her school uniform and had her school ID badge on her. Omanakuttan spoke to her in Hindi and found she was actually from Goa. The young girl had run away from home and taken the train around 450 kms south to Kerela after being scolded (told off) by her father. Omanakuttan who had an internet connection did a quick search online for someone who could help in Goa and found "Goa Outreach".
Omanakuttan was in a hurry as he needed to get to another platform for his connecting train but called up and spoke with Robert and told the story of the young girl.
Robert arranged help with the local Goa Childline and passed on the story and it was great news as Childline were able to locate the father. She is now home, back at school and safe and sound.
We would like to thank Omanakuttan for taking the time to make sure the young girl was okay. Also thank you to the station master in Kerela for looking after the girl before her father arrived to collect her. Finally thank you to Childline who connected all the dots to make sure the young girl arrived safely home.