Each one of our educational students have received a School Bag, Books, Rainy Sandals, Rain Protection (Umbrella for the older children and Raincoat for the younger ones), Tailored Uniform, School Fees, Pencil case with Pens, Pencils, Sharpener, Rubber, Colours, Ruler as well as a small health pack of Soap, Toothpaste and Brush and a few other items depending on their standard and school. Here are a few photos of the children receiving their new bags, umbrellas and uniforms.
It has been quite a while since Robert has had to write a letter to one of the schools due to a child being beaten or abused. It’s never the nicest thing to have to follow up with.
Yesterday one of the parents informed Robert that their 7 year old daughter was being abused at school by one of the teachers. This was the second time and the mother showed me the blood stained scalp of her daughter, one of the teachers had apparently hit the child while holding a bunch of keys and one of the keys had broken the skin and made her scalp bleed.
Corporal punishment is still common and entrenched in the educational system even though it is banned. Both the Goa Children’s Act as well as the Right to Education Act state that it is a punishable offence. Sadly the children still see it as normal and often think nothing is wrong with it.
After speaking with the mother, child and a few friends it seems that this was more than just a one off so something had to be done to hopefully curtail future incidents. Robert informed them that he follow it up and would visit the school the next day to try and sort the problem out.
It was decided that the best course of action would be to inform the Head master at the school and give him and the school a chance to resolve the problem themselves before making it more of an issue. Often the offenders need to realise for themselves that it’s not appropriate and there are consequences for their actions. A small nudge would hopefully give the Head and staff a chance to develop a better policy, before needing to take the matter further.
A single page letter that described the events was written and given to the Headmaster the next day. When the Headmaster reached half way down the letter, he said 'excuse me' and took the letter out with him and spoke to the teacher concerned. It all seemed quite promising when after about 10 minutes he came back to the office with all the teachers. A discussion then took place between us, with the final note saying that it shouldn’t happen again.
Robert took a stamped copy of the complaint which will be used in the future if the need arises, but hopefully it won’t be necessary.
At the start of June Robert was in touch with Ishita who has been helping several families who live close to her office in Panjim. The families live in very poor conditions, in what would be best described as the corner of a large open 'field'. The field also doubles as Panjims city’s rubbish dump where hundreds of tons of rubbish are sat decomposing.
As well as the obvious health risks associated with the rubbish, Ishita was worried about how they would cope with the upcoming monsoon as the families live with little protection against the elements. The area where they stay is very basic and they only had a few meters of old plastic sheeting between them to keep them safe and dry from the monsoon which obviously wouldn’t be enough..
With the Monsoon just days away Ishita and Rob arranged for new blue plastic sheeting to be bought and split up between the families, each family receiving around 8m of sheeting each. It is not a lot but would at least ensure that they would have a water tight roof over their heads to keep themselves and their children dry and more comfortable during the monsoon..
Most of the plastic was bought and given out the next day. Each family received a good armful of material and headed to their plot to lay the plastic over the horizontal poles. Their 'houses' mostly consist of 6 upright poles with horizontal poles joining them. After our first visit we realised a couple more needed plastic so we returned the next day to give to the remaining families. Thank you Ishita for your help and tireless effort.
This year has really been a little bit crazy with the amount of preparation and work required to provide the children we help with their educational needs. The main reason being... I just can't say no... This year we were originally aiming to help 100 children with their all their educational needs, but *drum roll please!*, this year we are helping more children than our last two years combined, in total, an amazing 115 children!
Each one of our educational students have received a School Bag, Books, Rainy Sandals, Rain Protection (Umbrella for the older children and Raincoat for the younger ones), Tailored Uniform, School Fees, Pencil case with Pens, Pencils, Sharpener, Rubber, Colours, Ruler as well as a small health pack of Soap, Toothpaste and Brush and a few other items depending on their standard and school. There are still a few little bits that need to be given out, school uniforms being one, as the tailor has had a very busy couple of months; the other are a few sandals due to there being an issue with getting the sandals we ordered come through but we are in a more relaxed state of mind in comparison to the last month of hectic sorting, measuring, buying and running around.
The best thing about all of this is the truly wonderful reactions from the kids, from loud gasps to saying 'wow' to each and every item in their pencil case and the more restrained quiet giggles of excitement as they receive their new bag.
It is always a huge task to provide the children with their educational items and it would not have been possible without the help of -
Paulina : Paulina spent many hours visiting the families with Rob getting their details on file and making sure that the children we are helping are truly in need. She also helped organise and pack the pencil cases before she flew off on her world adventures.
Abi : Abi, a friend of Paulina’s was introduced to us just recently but the extra pair of hands with the educational presents and getting ready for the new school year was a great help.
Budmanthi : Budmanthi is just 14 but as it was the school holidays she offered to help and spent hours helping Rob pack the bags ensuring each bag had the correct items in.
Gopi : Gopi is now going to college and he popped over to study in quiet but after his studies he was happy to give a helping hand
Thank you to all of the above who really did make a difference. We now have 41 children in Primary School, 58 in Secondary school and 16 older students in College all over 26 different schools/colleges.
Well, we better start planning for next year then!