A friend of Goa Outreach called Barkha provides a little study time for around 10 students in Panjim, Barkha is a teacher by profession and works during the day in Mapusa, but in the afternoons she gets chance to help a few extra children with their studies. This small study group was founded by Venu aunty with the help of Abhinandita and Vishal her daughter and son inlaw.
As a little bonus for the children we decided to give each of the children a small gift for Children's Day. Most of the children are the first generation in the families to go to School and to thank them and their parents each child received a wrapped present consisting of education and health items.
The children were well behaved when we visited and were learning a mixture of Hindi and English. As well drawing and colouring for the smaller ones. At the end of the session Barkha handed out the gifts and helped a couple of the children to take a peak inside, although most kept them safe to open later at home. We call this the hording mindset, where through necessity they keep all the items given close to hand and away from other prying eyes. Hopefully we will be able to support them further throughout the year. Thank you to the kids, Barkha and 'Auntie' who helped out on the day.
When the monsoon finishes there is a change in the kind of footwear required by the schools, with most schools wanting the children to wear basic blue and white plimsoles. This makes it a busy time with measuring and ordering shoes.
Robert bought a range of sizes and took trips down to the slums to visit the children with the shoes for them to try and find the perfect fit. Some of the children are positive they know the correct size, but when the shoes are tried on the children often find their feet have shunk 3 or 4 sizes!! But it all adds to the fun.
A couple of the schools were eager for the footwear early so we prioritised a few pairs, but most schools want the children to have the new footwear after the Diwali holidays which are fast approaching. There are a few exceptions to the blue/white rule and three of the children are asked to wear black formal shoes, another, brown plimsoles and a couple of lucky children get to choose what they wear. Everything was a little more organised as the shoes are pretty standard for the most part so it was much easier than it was organising the sandals at the start of the year.
We were very lucky to receive several large bags of clothes and a few large cuddly toys for the children today. A Goan family saw the work we do online and wanted to help by providing the clothes and toys. As with most of our donations this year they were mostly girls clothing. Its great that we get so much for the girls, but we are feeling a little sorry for the boys who have hardly received anything during the past year. Although to be honest the girls are much more interested in fashion in general than the boys.
We will hopefully have a large giving out session in the next couple of weeks once it is all sorted into sizes/ages.
Thanks go out to the family, although they wish to remain anonymous. You know who you are. Thank You
Children's Day is celebrated in India on November 14th. Although many of the children need a little reminder that it is children's day, but we do not go without celebrating and act as a little reminder for the children.
This year Robert was joined by Nicole again who helped earlier in the month to pack the Diwali presents. Nicole was happy to join in. The day started off by organising everything with Robert and Nicole heading to the market to get fruit and lollipops to add to the Children's day presents. Once returned, they started filling the bags with enough items for each area.
Starting at 10:40 we managed to visit 5 areas before our tummies began to grumble. It seemed natural to have a break around 1pm for lunch, and then head back out in the afternoon to work around another five areas. At each area we gave the items out and chatted to the kids and their parents. The children are always so happy to see us and I hope it gave Nicole a good idea about the children we help. Some families had already gone to their villages for Diwali holidays but we still managed to give out to around 140 children taking around 5 hours to visit everyone.
Even though Children's day is about to finish, it is not the end of the celebrations. Students from Goa Institute of Management - team Samarthan are supporting the children with Children's Day gifts through their 'Make A Wish' project. Due to time constraints the party and gifts will be held next Sunday. As you can imagine the children are excited and we will keep you updated in our next blog.
The new website is here, but I expect you already know as you are reading this blog. We now have somewhere official to store all the news and details about the work we do in Goa, India. Goa Outreach is the name and it is also a description of what we do. The outreach work allows us to keep our costs down as we don´t have to pay for buildings, rent or electricity, so more of the money goes directly to where it counts - the Children.
The website has started to take shape, although there is still a lot to do. Unfortunately we never seem to find the time to do it as we are normally doing the outreach work rather than stuck in front of the PC. One section that is doing well and kept up to date is our blog which charts our progress, our ups and downs and allows us to be as transparent as possible so people can understand what we do, who we help and the help we receive.
The Blog is usually updated two or three times a month with the latest news. We include donations and wherever possible include details of those who help and what is done with the donations we receive. So please take a moment to have a look at our latest blogs, and also weave your way through the similar blogs to understand what we do and why. As the website is new we would be so grateful for anyone willing to link to it from their own blog or website. It would go a long way to getting this website established. During the past month we have been given a registered charity Non Profit Grant by Google which will go a long way in helping people find out about our work, with the obvious endeavour to raise funds to support the work we do. It is all quite exciting, but there is a huge demand for the work, more families ask to be included in our education project every week, but it is difficult with our limited resources. A special thank you goes to Raj Gosai who has enabled the majority of the work so far.
Diwali arrived with a bang but now hopefully things will calm down. Several of the families invited us to come and eat with them; it´s a lovely gesture and I would love to say yes to all of them but I had nine invitations on the same night so it´s either let a few down or explode from the amount of food each one feeds you. The families are so kind and it´s hard to say no, in the end we visited 3 families on Diwali night and have another invitation for tonight.
While we were giving out a health pack to one of the older girls, we got involved in a small firework display in the slums, the houses are just a few meters apart and they were setting off fireworks, cracks, roman candles and more. It was a little scary, but they were having fun! I was just imagining getting a phone call a few minutes later asking for me to take someone to hospital, but thankfully the night ended without any injury.
Later on in the evening we were invited for Pooja by a couple of the families. It is just a simple ceremony and then a little food and drink, we then had a full meal with one family. The meal I think was Goat curry with Roti, Rice and Salad. There was the option to have goats head also, but we decided to decline that, not sure if we are quite that adventurous yet, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. As we arrived at the final place, Pooja was going on and they were going round the houses with plates with oil candles on, the coloured lanterns were hanging in front of their doors. It´s a lovely experience. The children requested if we would come back the next day as they would be wearing their new clothes and wanted to take photos wearing them. We had strict instructions to arrive at 11am, so we did just that.
Thank you to all the families who invited us and our apologies that we couldn´t make it round to all of you but we wish all of you a very happy Diwali.
The last few months we have been preparing for our Diwali celebrations. We don't celebrate Diwali in the same way as many of the locals, who build large statues of devils and burn them as well as setting off huge amounts of fireworks. We would rather celebrate by giving the families of the children we help with education, a 'gift bag' of household goodies.
At the start of the October we were a little unsure if we could celebrate, as this year has been an expensive one where education is involved, which to be honest isn't a bad thing, but we have stretched ourselves and supported over three times as many children as last year.
Robert had a hunt round the shops to see what was available with families and home life in mind and came up with a good list of goodies, but while he was costing it up he thought it might be a little too much as we are nearly half way through the year and already starting to think about next years' educational program and the costs involved.
However things became a lot easier after Rhys got in touch and offered to help buy the the items to fill the Diwali presents. Rhys helped us last year at Christmas and has a passion to help the kids, especially when it comes to getting them into and keeping them in school and off the streets. After a few exchanges by Whatsapp and agreeing to share the costs on the list of what we hoped to get, we set about ordering from the local wholesalers "Cash and Carry" in Mapusa. As well as thanking Rhys for arranging the donations we would also like to thank Ivan from Cash and Carry who always tries his best to get us a great deal on the goods we give the children. The goods were collected by bike on a few occasions but the majority was brought by van (50 kg Rice, 50 Kg Dal, 50Kg, Sugar, 50 Litres of oil, 25kgs of beaten rice, 50kg flour as well as 20 large boxes of soaps which we had ordered at the same time to add to our stock. It took 4 people a good ten minutes to unload everything and carry it up two floors to storage. It was tiring work, one of the older boys helped and it´s always good when they realise the effort that goes into the work we do! After a break (standing in front of the fan!!) we checked everything through and left it for a couple of days.
At the end of October we received an email from the lovely Nicole, an American who found our website and wondered if there was anything she could do to help the kids. We quickly replied saying YES!!! - Come and help fill bags, ok we admitted it wasn´t the best job in the world, but it would be a great way to help. You will be surprised how long and tiring it actually is sorting and filling 50 bags with supplies and goodies. Her timing was perfect and gave us that little nudge to get us into gear and sort out the bags.
Each 'Diwali Bag' included Rice, Flour, Sugar, Beaten Rice, Tur dal, Cooking Oil, Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, Tea, Large 'Family' Toothpaste, Toothbrushes and small Toothpaste packs, Mosquito Plug and refill, Biscuits, Face Soap, Utensil soap and Scrubber. Nicole was a great help and after we finished we had a little break and then headed down to the slums to see a few of the children, to wind down.
A week later it was the start of the Diwali holidays and a couple of the families were heading off for celebrations in their villages so the giving of the Diwali bags started a little early. On the 7th of November a third of the bags were given out. The next day, Sunday, most of the remaining ones were given. It is great to see the children' and parents eyes light up when they received their presents. One of the older boys helped on Sunday to give out the bags, as each one weighed around 6kg Robert was glad of the help but it still took a lot of trips to distribute them all.
A big thank you to Rhys and Friends, Nicole and Ivan for their help with the donations and the kids and families for just being a joy to help!