New Admission Children For 2017

GOA OUTREACH
FOR SLUM & STREET CHILDREN

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Old Bags

, Mapusa, Goa
Some of the old school bags from last year that are going to new homes, thanks to the children
Some of the old school bags from last year that are going to new homes, thanks to the children

Each year we provide all the students with a new school bag at the start of the school year. This is necessary as many bags aren´t made strongly enough in India and have a habit of falling apart within a few months. However, we try and buy smart and spend a little more with the idea that a bag should last a year of normal use. But as well as poor quality control, the bags do have a hard life during the monsoon and then have harsh sunlight for the remainder of the school year.

Bags also have a hard life as the children wash their bags at the river when they get dirty so even the children who try to keep their bag in good order still tend to wear them out by washing them on the washing stone, and we haven´t even mentioned the rats that often take nibbles out of the bags and the other 101 mini disasters that might happen in the slums.

This year we thought it would be a good idea to collect in all of last year´s bags and see how well they have weathered. Each of the children was asked to return last years´ bag, or if they wanted to keep it they could donate 100 rs. In lieu. The idea for this is three fold.

1. The returned bags can be checked over to see if one particular company´s bags have lasted better than another,

2. All bags that can be used again can be washed and given to other needy children who aren´t part of our core group, and

3. We make sure that the children are using their bags and not giving to siblings (or older siblings taking them).

So far this year we have collected 41 old bags and most of them have been in pretty good condition. So we have thrown them into the washing machine and given them a good clean, the best ones have been set aside and will be given out to other children from poor families who are in need.

So far 30 have been given out to children from Chimbel and a few to local children who were extras we couldn´t afford to help this year.

When more bags are returned for restoration they will be re-issued to other children who have a need.

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A Surprise Parcel

, Mapusa, Goa
Clothes donated by Ruby, Aged 9 - THANK YOU!
Clothes donated by Ruby, Aged 9 - THANK YOU!

We were delighted to receive a surprise parcel this week, instead of writing a blog, I thought I would just post the letter which I wrote in return which describes the event quite well I think...

Dear Ruby,

The postman called at my door today and told me there was a parcel waiting for me at the local post office. I was surprised as I wasn´t expecting anything. I jumped on my bike and headed down the road to the local post office and asked if there was a parcel. After a little grumbling from the old man they brought a large cardboard box out for me. I had to sign a few forms and was excited to see what was inside.

As I arrived back to Goa Outreach, I started to open the box and found a beautiful letter from Ruby, Aged 9.

I am delighted to receive the parcel and your letter; it is so nice when people go to so much effort to help others, so thank you very much. I posted a picture today on our Facebook page of three of our girls wearing your donated clothes. I hope you´ll get a chance to look. www.Facebook.com/GoaOutreach

I am sending this letter to my mum in England who will hopefully print it out and send it to you by post.

Thank you so much

Rob

On behalf of the children at Goa Outreach

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A Long Struggle And Finally A Home

, Mapusa, Goa
Grandmother Evicted From The Place She Called Home
Grandmother Evicted From The Place She Called Home

Ishita, one of the Indian Trustees has spent most of the last year visiting a slum in Campal, Panjim. There are around 10 different families living on a spare bit of land which is increasingly being taken over by a large rubbish dump. It is far from an ideal place to live but they have little other choice as the families meagre income quickly goes on food, and sometimes alcohol for the parents which acts as an appetite suppressor.

A Slum child being washed on the footpath next to a busy road
One Child Walking Near Their Home

Most of the families sell balloons and similar small knickknacks to the tourists and most of them send their children to beg, with the exception of one family whose husband makes wooden articles and sells them.

The children when not working can be found playing on the rough land in-between their homes and the huge piles of rotting rubbish, where there is always a strong odour emanating from the rubbish at the other side of the land. The children also often fall sick due to their poor environment and lack of protection from the elements and mosquitoes that plague the area. Many of the families have been living there for years, some as many as 8 years, for most of the year without any roof over their heads. Last year we provided plastic sheeting to each family so they could at least have some protection from the monsoon, but their shelters however basic are illegal structures as they do not own the land.

A couple of the children near the door to thier new home
A couple of the children near the door to thier new home

Ishita has been working hard trying to get the children into school and last year with the help Rob we purchased a few bags, umbrellas and raincoats for the children with the hope that getting the children into education and off the street would help. Ishita continues to visit them and is always there as a helping hand if the need arises.

The families have had many warnings from the police during the last couple of years, but they have not moved.In the last month the police arrived with their lathis (a lathi is a long, heavy bamboo stick used as a weapon), and many constables to evict them. The families ran carrying as many belongings as they could. One of the more entrenched mothers threatened to take her own life by pouring petrol on herself and her children, the police retreated and then again the families returned.

Ishita spoke to the mother a few days later and continued to interact with the families and convinced them to find somewhere else to stay before the police returned. Ishita, along with a friend, Pratha searched around the local area to find small dwellings the families could rent.

A few days later the police arrived again, this time one of the mothers called Ishita who went immediately and spoke to the police. Obviously the police had their job to do and the families wanted to stay so Ishita tried to calm the situation, and requested police to give the families a day to move their belongings away as we had found a new room for them and they just needed enough time. In the end it took a few days for the families to start moving and we are glad to report that one family has now settled into their new room and are delighted to have the basics, a roof to shelter them, water and a more calm and safe environment for the children to be in.

Our thanks go to Pratha, Ishita and the new landlord for their help and understanding.

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Goa Is Very Hot And Humid At The Moment!

, Mapusa, Goa
We provided a bottle of prickly heat powder to over 100 children.
We provided a bottle of prickly heat powder to over 100 children.

As we are now in May, most of the foreign tourists have headed home leaving the ones who remain to the heat and humidity which builds up before the onset of the monsoon. It is a difficult time for anyone who doesn´t have AC on demand which we at the Goa Outreach Centre have, and for all the children and families we help. At least here in the centre we have high ceilings and battery backup but it still becomes unbearable at times. I wonder how the families manage in the slums, the corrugated roofs just a couple of feet above their heads too hot to touch.

This time of year we need to protect from Prickly Heat (Also known as Heat Rash or Miliaria), where skin retains sweat underneath the surface creating a 'prickly' sensation due to excessive heat and humidity. It is a very uncomfortable and common condition this time of year. To ease the suffering we provide all the children with a bottle of Prickly Heat Powder which resembles talcum powder and produces a lovely cooling feeling when applied.

This is a yearly occurrence and if anyone would like to help us with next years´ Prickly heat powder it would be a great help; one bottle costs just one pound, but we hope to have around 130 children for this academic year so will need a total of 130 pounds to supply a bottle to each child.

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