Covid 19 Corona

GOA OUTREACH
FOR SLUM & STREET CHILDREN

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Life during lock down

, Mapusa, Goa
Photo is for illustrational purposes only
Photo is for illustrational purposes only

Life is hard for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some have it even worse when it is combined with abuse from a family member.

I got a call one evening from one of the older students I help; she started by simply asking if I knew anywhere a young mother (her elder sister) with children could stay. At first, I thought they needed a place to rent but as the story unfolded the mother was hoping she could stay with me.

The husband’s violence had reached the point where she was afraid to remain any longer at home due to the physical abuse she was under. The young mother who was married when she was just 16 had been kicked in the ribs and beaten with a metal pipe on her legs, she was also afraid about her children as the youngest, a child of just 2 years old had been thrown across the room by the father a few days before. All of this was narrated to Rob after she arrived.

Robert had known the lady for several years but as she got married so early she was never one of his students.

The mother arrived after dark the same evening bringing her young daughter with her. Robert showed her around gave her blankets, food, and a change of clothes. Thankfully her young daughter quickly settled in and was giggling and playing and seemed oblivious to the reason why she had come to stay. Later in the evening the mothers’ sister joined us and stayed.

Most of the evening was spent on the phone with her family while Robert played with the Duplo (Lego) bricks keeping the youngest visitor entertained, it was an easy job, but like most young children, once they like something, they want the same thing again and again and again.

It was so nice to hear her infectious laugh as she giggled as she ran across the room from the red rabbit (soft toy) that kept chasing her or when she clapped her hands as she added another Duplo brick to the tower without them falling over.

While we played, I learnt more about the mother’s story and also that she was in constant pain every time she took a breath due to being kicked. She took a pain killer and her sister applied some gel which lessened the pain.

As we spoke I informed her about the options she has; reporting to the police, leaving or putting up with it, as with most cases she thought that involving the police would make her life worse. It is often the men who try to dominate the situation, so she thought the police wouldn’t be able to protect her. Alternatively, maybe after he gets out of police custody he would return and kill her or her family. It is always a hard choice, but it’s theirs to make.

This has sadly happened many times before with many other wives/mothers, I advised her to the best of my ability, but also asked if she was willing to meet another lady who had 'survived' a similar ordeal and thankfully has been able to break the cycle of abuse, for now at least.

After the first few nights with my new guests the other two children also arrived, they had been staying with their father but they weren't being looked after so the mother arranged for them to join her. We now had 5 visitors staying. As the boys were a little older and had their own thoughts and could decide things for themselves, Rob sat down with them and asked what they would like and where did they want to be. The eldest boy was his fathers' favourite so I just wanted to make sure that he was comfortable here but he said he wanted to be with his mother, which I was glad to hear.

During their stay they had many calls from both sides of the family and it came to the point she felt comfortable to meet up for a talk and return home. She was willing to take her children to the first meet, which I was a little unsure of, as I was worried if it didn't go well they might get caught in the crossfire, but she was sure it would be ok and the good thing was she was strong in herself.

The reunion didn't go as well as expected, but the mother and children were safe, it was a long night as the father got drunk again and decided to cut himself all over (I assume with a razor blade) and then wander around the neighborhood bleeding, but he finally returned late at night and slept without talking but also without harming the mother or children.

It has been a few days now and I have been to visit them and the youngest isn’t as happy as she was here, but she didn’t seem scared of her father, but nothing like she had been during her short stay with us. I hadn’t seen her before interacting with her father so had nothing for comparison. Things seem to be ok for now, but we can only see what the future brings. At least the mother knows she’s always welcome and there is a safe place for her to stay. Also, she knows that there are other women who have been through the same situation she can speak to. There is another family too and I hope to get all three mothers together to talk, each of them at different stages in the same battle, but the important thing is that they know they are not alone….

*Photo is for illustrational purposes only

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The monsoon has arrived

, Mapusa, Goa
Monsoon has arrived
Monsoon has arrived

Usually by now all the children are back at school and most of the 'clutter' (bags, books, pencil cases, sandals umbrellas etc) has all been given out, but due to the lockdown we are far from ready. We still need to source and buy the rainy sandals that the children will wear for school (when school starts) during the monsoon and umbrellas too. The bags are mostly ready with only a handful of children yet to choose, most of these are 'out of station' a few went out of state before the lockdown and haven't returned.

Over the last week we have labeled up 150+ bags, filled their pencil cases and put their uniforms in their bags, today we got their health packs ready to put in their bags (soap, toothpaste, brush, shampoo etc).

As well as preparing for the new school year we have given out over 1000 packs of Maggie Noodles to families over the last week, also kitkats, polos, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste (to use after the kitkats and polos! ?? and a few remaining Milo tins we still had left over. Nearly everything that was given by Nestle has gone now, we have managed to give out around 1.9 Lakhs worth (£2000) of food items in 3 weeks!

Lots more has been going on too, one of the girls also had a badly swollen face last week, it was very painful but after a consultation with the dentist and some antibiotics we managed to get her sorted out, much to her relief.

The dentists haven't been seeing patients for the last couple of months (other than emergancies) and we have a few children fitted with braces that had been waiting for them to be tightened. Now with new proceedures in place we managed to take them (in the pouring rain) yesterday. There was a lot of extra precautions taken due to COVID-19, forms to be filled and special precautions to be taken but everything went well and 7 students were seen over a few hours. A huge thank you to the Orthodontists and staff for their help.

#Monsoon #Goa #COVID19 #Nestle #GoaOutreach

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Bags made from Donated Material and Clothes

, Mapusa, Goa
Bags made from Donated Material and Clothes
Bags made from Donated Material and Clothes

Over the last few weeks we have managed to cut and stitch over 100 Up-cycled Bags (from Jeans, Shirts and spare material) for the upcoming Diwali celebrations.

Diwali is quite a way still but its nice to get them all ready and sorted. This year we have gone with two tone bags, most of which are a mixture of Jean and Shirt material.

A huge thank you to Budhmati and Amina for doing most of the stitching over the last few weeks.

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Giving Out Donated products from Nestle

, Mapusa, Goa
Children receiving their donations from Nestle
Children receiving their donations from Nestle

We are happy to be able to give out so many sets of goodies for the children. As well as the items from Nestle we have been giving monthly supplies including the essentials of toothpaste, soap and shampoo.

The children are in good spirits and play with their friends and neighbours during the lockdown. It is far from social distancing but in their cramp living conditions it would be impossible to stay at safe distances as most paths between the buldings with hundreds living in the rooms are just the width of a floor tile wide. and their rooms are tiny.

Goa has seen a surge in cases and at present Mapusa seems to have been lucky, lets hope it stays that way.

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Thank you for the donations

, Mapusa, Goa
Donations from Nestle
Donations from Nestle

We have now got through most of the donations provided by Nestle. It has been a very busy time here with a lot of time and effort being used to distribute the items as farely as possible.

The majority of it has been given to local children (including all of our children), although we have also given to migrant families waiting for trains and those requesting food supplies.

We really have appreciated the donations from Nestle and also CocaCola who have both made a huge difference to the amount of help we have been able to give during the lockdown.

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