We were lucky to receive a 500 pound donation towards sports gifts for the children from The Herrod Foundation earlier this year. We have been very busy getting ready for the new school year but have managed to buy and distribute the gifts during our quieter moments. The children were asked what sort of equipment they would like most. A budget of around 500 Rs per child (£5) is not a huge amount and we had to find the best deals possible so that all the children could get a nice gift. The majority of the boys chose either a football or cricket bat and ball, whereas the girls preferred a game of badminton. A few of the older children were lucky enough to get Carrom boards. Carrom is a table top game a little like pool; the idea is to get as many pieces "carrom men" into the pockets by flicking the striker disk at them. The board has four pockets, one on each corner of the carrom board with the final piece being the "queen" which is red in colour.
It's a fun game which the whole family can join in. To help the pieces move smoothly talcum powder may be used on the board, or specialised carrom powder.
Some children have yet to return from their holidays so around a quarter of the prizes have still to be distributed, along with the remainder of the school bags needed for the new school year.
A huge thank you to Ugo and The Herrod Foundation; a few photos can be seen in this months´ blog and for even more photos then please visit our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/GoaOutreach
The humidity and heat has really taken its toll this year, it has been quite unbearable for the last month. We handed out prickly heat powder last month and it has helped keep the painful prickly heat at bay, but the heat has been constant with day time temperatures of 34, with a 'real feel' temperature of up to 47 degrees, and night time temperature only dipping to a very warm 27 degrees. It is now nearing the end of May and according to the forecast the heat will continue for another week.
There have been a couple of short showers which helps cool things down for a few hours, but as soon as the sun comes out the temperature rockets back up with an extra dash of humidity.
Many of the children live in small rooms with corrugated iron/asbestos roofs that radiate the heat throughout these small spaces. Some people put palm leaves on their roofs to reduce the heat but it is still unbearable. I think everyone is looking forward to the monsoon this year so that we all can have a good nights' sleep.
This year will be our biggest yet with help given to over 100 children with their school requirements; it really has been so busy but has been made easier with the help of Paulina and Abigail who have lent a hand over the last few months. Paulina especially has been on hand to help with distributing items and collecting all the information from the children, along with house visits to ensure we are helping the kids who really need it. We organised information about most of the children on our list last month and there have been a few minor changes, but we still have over 100 children on our list which is roughly half girls and half boys.
May has been exhausting due to the amount of work combined with the heat and humidity here in Goa, the rains are still to arrive. This makes shopping easier, as items bought stay dry, although it might as well be raining due to the amount of sweat lost, or maybe that´s just me!
Most of the bags were bought early but this month has seen all the books arrive. Each school provides a list of notebooks the children require so we used this list to sorted into piles relating to the standard and school and then bind them together so it´s easier when we get round to putting them into the children´s bags along with their tailored school uniforms.
As I write this, half of the school uniforms have been finished for the two main schools, but it has been quite a chore to find all the material that needs to be bought and one schools material doesn´t seem to be available, so we are waiting and hoping it will be ready in time.
Sandals are given to all the children too; this is another time consuming area as all the children´s feet are measured and the children get the chance to choose the style they like. Unfortunately sizes of the sandals seem to be very dependent on the brand, with size 6 in one brand being smaller than size 4 in another... They do like making life difficult!
Before Paulina left to return to Germany she organised most of the pencil cases, each of the pencil cases had age appropriate items inside and the smaller children also got to choose their favourite colour; the older children had a set colour and style as we got 70 free pencil cases with some of the bags, an unexpected but welcome surprise.
This past week we had nearly all the items ready to be packed into the bags, but as we are dealing with so many we had to have a rather large checklist to make sure that each bag had everything added. Two of the older children gave Robert a hand in filling up the 100+ bags, with each child´s name and standard written on their labels and sorted into standard; we then progressed through each standard and started filling the bags and checking items off the list. The children were a great help and to be honest if they hadn´t offered to help, we probably wouldn´t have started by now, but all of our current 107 children have at least something in their bags, a few lucky ones have all their things ready and packed. The next two weeks we should receive the remaining uniforms, shoes and other final bits so we can give everything out the weekend before the new school year!
We were lucky to have a restricted donation for sports gifts for the children. The donor wanted to provide footballs, cricket bats and associated items so we gave the children the chance to name the item they would like. Obviuously footballs and cricket bats were the most popular but there were also hockey sticks, carrom boards and other requests. This is just a few of the children playing with their new gifts.