The three site crèches at Yelahanka, Siddapura and Shivaji Nagar continue to run successfully.
A new crèche has been opened at Avalahalli. This new crèche is run in association with Promac. The crèche was started on the 1st of June 2011. This is not a crèche at the construction site, but is one for all petty traders and day labourers. This locality (Avalahalli) consists of many garment manufacturing companies. The main employees of thee companies are women. Thus, a lot of working women leave their young children home without proper child-care personnel. To address this problem, the crèche has been set up here. The age group of the children that attend the crèche is 2 yr, 10 month – 5 years. There are currently 30 children registered at te crèche.
There are three staff at the crèche, who we hired in May, after a series of interviews. Mrs. Neetha is the crèche teacher. She has been with Ashraya for 2 years as a crèche teacher at the Women’s Centre crèche. She has training in Balasevika care, offered by the Karnataka state government. Mrs. Sunitha is the crèche worker. She is a new hire with 2 years experience. The helper is Mrs. Shivamma.
Mrs. Chandy (Secretary, Ashraya) and Ms. Susan (Social Worker) visited the crèche two times since the crèche started operations. They met with the Government Doctor, who visits the Primary Health Centre near the crèche and arranged to have him visit the crèche once a month for providing vaccinations and general health check up of the children.
We just returned from visiting the crèches (daycare centers) and Needlbagh School run by Ashraya in and around Bangalore India. Although this was our third trip to India, the poverty in which so many children live was again depressing and overwhelming.
Our spirits did not begin to lift until we went to the crèche for children of migrant construction workers. One has to remember to put everything in a totally different context to realize how vast the gifts of the crèche are to the children who are fortunate enough to attend. A day in the care of a crèche means a safe place, early educational training, a daily glass of milk (20% of the daily construction workers’ wage of $1.00), monthly medical attention, lunch and access to running water. Clothing is often provided so that children can participate. Some of the children never step outside of the labor camp where the crèche is located and where their families live in barebones shelter until the building project is completed and they must move on.
The goal of Ashraya is to give these children a real chance of a better life by working with their parents to emphasize the importance of sending their children to school no matter how many times they move. The lucky ones go on to Needlbagh, Ashraya’s residential school a few hours outside of Bangalore. It was there we met children who have come from the crèches and are now finishing their 10th year of school. The school’s record is amazing, continually surpassing local school’s scholastic achievements!
Our admiration is endless for the staff and programs put into place by Ashraya. They are so outstanding that the co-founder, Nomita Chandy, just received one of the highest honors in India for her work. It is so important that we help Mrs. Chandy and her staff by funding her efforts that will change the course of these children’s lives.
There was one little 4-year-old girl who will particularly remain in our minds forever. Without exaggerating, she could have been our granddaughter’s twin - if not for her skin tone. When our Mia saw her picture, she said, “That looks like me.”
They may each have huge brown eyes, a lovely round face and the shyness evident in their smile, but the difference in their daily lives and the prospects for their futures are as dissimilar as night is to day. We can only hope that through Ashraya’s effort and the generosity of caring grandparents around the world that this little girl and others like her will have the opportunity to emerge from a life of abject poverty. The opportunity is there; we just have to help Ashraya give it to them.
There were a total of about 120 children in all three creches in the last quarter.
On August 15th, which is India's Independence Day, we had celebrations at the creches. The children took part in cultural activities such as Kolatta, which is one of the most popular folk dances of Karnataka, patriotic songs as well as some Bollywood songs and dances, without which no celebration is complete. After the programme, the children were served a special lunch and Indian sweets, which the kids enjoyed a lot.
A couple of enthusiastic volunteers conducted a day of fun activities for the children. The day started off with a few science experiments such as how to make static electricity from balloons, carbon dioxide from mixing vinegar and soda and sound waves from cups and string. The children enjoyed these experiments a lot. After this, they spent some time playing various outdoor games. A few pictures are attached.
The creches are functioning well and the teachers in addition to teaching the children, also counsel the parents regarding the importance of education and we have had great success this year because about 59 children from the creches joined regular schools this year.
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and want to reiterate that you are making a huge difference to the lives of these children.
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