One piece of very good news is that, through GlobalGiving, we have been promised a donation that will enable us to complete a rain water harvesting scheme. At present all water has to be carried from a well about a quarter of a mile away. For some uses this may continue necessary but a water harvesting scheme will mean that there will be a plentiful supply of water on site. Two members of our team are making plans to go out to Uganda in January to work with local people to get this scheme up and running.
Our latest report from Siriba VTC came in early June. It is clear that there remains a problem in collecting the small student fees. Of the 82 students who began the academic year only 24 have been able to continue paying. The Principal of the VTC says that there are various reasons why the others have not been able to raise the funds chief among them being that most of them are orphans. This has been a problem that the VTC has faced since the beginning and a solution will need to be found if the VTC is going to become self-sustaining.
Another concern is that one of the original departments, Carpentry, is not attracting many students. The Principal tells us that he is in the process of doing some research in the local community to discover why this is as well as trying to discover what the priorities of the community are.
Earlier in the year Hands Around The World wrote to their Board of Governors to ask them to make plans to be more self-sufficient after the end of this academic year which ends in December. We realised that this would be quite a challenge for them but we felt that it was inappropriate for them to rely completely on external grants for all day to day expenditure. As yet we have not received any proposals from the Board of Governors indicating how they intend to work towards this but we have been informed that a meeting is soon to take place.
When I first visited the New Life Centre School in 2008, I was involved in a building project with a team of Hands Around the World volunteers, (two of whom are shown in the photos). We were there to assist the Indian builders to erect a building which could be used as classrooms in the morning and as a Vocational Training Centre for the women of the village, to sew and embroider after school.
I was there a month and as I watched the building grow, I asked Alindra Naskar, the Principal of the school if he was pleased with what we had achieved in our time there? I was measuring success by the size of the building and how much work we had done.
His answer was so typical of him.
He replied that when we had first arrived the children seemed wary of these strangers from a foreign land, but over the month they had seen us daily and by the end of the month were running to greet us as we walked to work, competing to hold our hands.
This is the success of the project; the children recognised us as friends and appreciated our help and support for their school.
I was struck by how I had measured our achievement in a concrete tangible way, but here we are five and a half years later and our hand held friendship could not be stronger.
Wouldn’t you like to extend your hand to these underprivileged children?
Much progress has been made with the Nursery over the last couple of months - it is now running on a daily basis. There are now around thirty 3 to 5 year olds attending. They have mats to sleep on and are provided with a daily breakfast of porridge, and a meal of rice, beans, and vegetables. A lot of the credit for this success has to go to Izzy one of our volunteers and the Immaculee the school headmistress who between them have overcome the financial and Local Government problems that faced them.
Plans are underway for windows and doors to be placed in the holes that presently exist in the oldest classroom block. With the help of local labour, of whom 28 were employed last year, it might also be possible to lay concrete floors and plaster the walls when we return in October / November 2013.
There is also work to be carried out on the long-drop waterless toilets and there is still a need for more water tanks to be purchased and installed enabling the children to access clean water.
Improvements are slowly taking place in this ever-expanding School, the work is hot and often difficult but the appreciation is apparent not only from the children and the teachers at the School also the local government andofficials who usually pay us weekly visits.
Although our volunteers’ expenses are met by themselves, all this work is only made possible by people kind enough to make donations, allowing us to continue helping at this school. We hope for these very under privileged children that this in turn may give them a better education.