Alindra Naskar founder of the New Life Centre school in Sarberia is always keen to meet the local children as shown in this photograph, which I took when I visited.
Alindra’s school now has over 300 children but there are many more local children who have to endure the government schools which provide little education, as I saw for myself.
I visited a government primary school with Alindra, at the invitation of the Headmaster. There were 4 classes in the school, the first room we entered had Year 1 and Year 2 students, age 6-7. There were no tables or chairs so the children sat on the dirty floor with their book on their lap. They had divided themselves into the 2 year groups but there was no partition or separation, and I wondered how they could concentrate with 2 lessons going on at once?
The room was very shabby and dark and there was an unpleasant odour, yet as usual the children were all smiles, and well turned out. The majority didn’t have school uniform in this class, but they did further up the school.
There are 250 on this government school roll but only 50% attend on a daily basis. Part of the Headmaster’s job is to find out why the children don’t come to school, but when he visits their homes he said that he finds that they are already working.
Thanks to your support, Alindra has been able to improve the lives of some of the local children, but in order to continue expanding, he needs more funds, or sponsorship of individual children, a more sustainable way of providing a secure income, which at present pays 35% of the school’s expenditure.
You could help Alindra do much more than just take this boy’s hand?
Your hand could change his life forever.
The workshop has been training youngsters now for a year. They are much better equipped with tools than they were 12 months ago and they have been able to obtain a few contracts for school desks, school lockers and for some tables for a local conference centre. This helps provide good training opportunities and a small income to help fund the training.
As with all new projects there have been teething problems. When you are living near the breadline there is a temptation to earn a small amount of money instantly rather than spend time training to learn skills which will see you and your family alright in the long term. As a consequence there has been some difficulty obtaining, recruiting and retaining trainees. They can earn a few shillings a day as a bicycle taxi. The situation has been exacerbated by the difficulty in obtaining the electricity which would run the planing machine which would provide a useful service for the local area, and a relevant skill. It would also help fund the training as well as provide a very small income for the trainees. The problem is that a major road improvement nearby has caused disruption to the power and water supply to the area. We hope that this situation will be remedied soon.
2013 is a big year for Paluoc.It has already provided useful training for a small number of trainees. It tends to recruit youngsters with low self esteem who have had relatively little previous education and even less successwith it - often due to circumstances beyond their or their family’s control. They are generally unable to make any significant contribution towards the cost of their training. Paluoc gives them a chance to gain skills and confidence, and hopefully to earn a decent living in the future.
January and February are the most important months for recruitment, it is the start of the year and many youngsters find themselves in the position of being unable to continue with their current training due to lack of funding. That’s where Paluoc comes in.
Paluoc is still very short of training materials with only one woodworking book, a stick of chalk and a homemade blackboard. They are used to making do. They also need timber to practice making various joints that they need to master. Trainees are currently given about K30sh a day so that they get something to eat at lunchtime, that’s about 25p/40c. They need basics like exercise books, pens and pencils, to be able to practice drawing and reading design plans.
The scheme has been launched - it now needs a bit of help to get it through the next phase to help ensure that it is successful in recruiting and training needy youngsters. We hope that by the beginning of March the workshop will be full of the sounds of planing, sawing, hammering and chiselling. That’s the dream of Paul the carpentry teacher and he has worked very hard to get the project to this pivotal point.
The work of the Siriba Vocational Training Project is continuing to provide training for young people in a variety of practical disciplines. But it has so far proved difficult to get the project fully recognised with the local education authority which means that no funding has been forthcoming from the government. It is not fully clear why this is so. Our indications are that for the project to be recognised certain standards have to be achieved by the unit and this is proving difficult because of problems with funding both for ongoing costs and for building costs. For example, whenever instructors cannot attend the unit because of family difficulties or illness there is no one to keep the students constructively occupied. There was a hope that back-up instructors could be employed but there is simply not enough funding to support such a scheme. It may be that the project will have to downsize in order to be properly viable.
We are now in negotiation with the Board of Governors to see what funds we will be required for the next financial year. Fundraising is proving difficult although we are pledging that we can offer them £5000 GBP. We will have to work hard to raise this amount. We have asked the Board of Governors to come up with a sustainable plan for the next financial year because, in the past, their plans have not been financially realistic. (More news from them is expected soon) This may mean a reduction in staffing levels and in the number of courses being offered but this seems to be the only way forward since income from student fees and from product sales has not yet begun to match expectations. Of course, since most of the students are orphans that is not surprising.