My 25 year old daughter accompanied me for the first time to the New Life Centre school in India in February. When we entered the kindergarten classes on the first day, she was bemused that some of the 3 and 4 year olds started to cry as soon as we appeared. ‘What’s wrong Mum’ she asked? ‘They haven’t seen many white people’ I replied, ‘and anyway they are all so young some of them haven’t got used to school yet at all’. The teachers confirmed that a couple of the children still cried each morning when their parents left. My daughter was perturbed until I remarked, ‘Just like you were’!
The little girl in the photo at the front with a hat on was one of those finding it hard to settle at school. She had a captivating face, large eyes that surveyed us suspiciously. This was at the end of a school day, and whilst we waited for some of the parents we sang ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’.
All of the other children joined in as you can see and delighted in the song, but our little one remained serious and unsmiling. The more we tried to engage with her, the more she refused to be involved, and yet she couldn’t help herself from watching with interest as her schoolmates joined in.
I know that next time I visit, our wary little one will be amongst those eager to shake our hands in the morning as we arrive for school. I gain far more from my visits to this remarkable institution than I ever give. My life has been enriched by my contact with these children, who behave just like all other young ones, but because of this school they are well on their way to reaching their potential.
Wouldn’t you like to be enriched by helping this school?
A small team of just two volunteers has just returned from Muko School; this trip proved to be the most productive and satisfying to date. For this, thanks has to go to all the local enthusiastic workers able to offer their help this time!
The new school's committee has, as a priority, identified the need to build a security wall around the perimeter of the grounds to prevent entry by children and others out of hours, therefore preventing damage to classrooms and grounds. Hopefully this will reduce the cost of maintenance in the future. This work is being partly funded by the children’s parents and partly by local government. Hands Around The World was able to finance 110 metres of this wall on this occasion, but there is still a long way to go, to completion.
The long drop toilets are still in a very poor state and numbers are woefully inadequate for the 2800 children attending this school. Fresh water for hand washing is also in short supply - most of the daily rainfall still goes to waste - and although there are some water tanks in place, there are insufficient funds for all the necessary pipes and gutters.
Teaching English has always been high priority, and in February 2015 it is planned to see the return of a TEFL teacher from the UK. It is hoped that this visit may encourage others to follow in the near future.
All this, and the general maintenance of this school (which is in a very under privileged area) still needs to be financed; and although our overseas volunteers pay their own expenses, the cost of local labour and materials must be met.
If you have already donated to this project, I thank you. If you can, please continue to help us to make a real difference in supporting the lovely children and their school.
In addition to training in tailoring and carpentry the students are now receiving some tuition in the use of computers and agriculture. Training in bee-keeping is due to start in January.
The piggery is now in operation adding a further opportunity for the students to gain knowledge of farming.
The centre is still very busy maintaining poultry, fish and cattle as well as growing maize and beans during the rainy season and tomatoes, rape, okra and other vegetables all year around.
The incubator provided last year has enabled nearly 500 pullets to be reared – these will take over the egg production when the current hens are sold for food. The incubator has also allowed guinea fowl and quail to be reared.
All this provides a rich experience for the students and a chance to understand how they can help provide for their families by keeping a few animals or growing their own food.
In due course the piggery will help the centre towards self-sufficiency. In the meantime there are challenges to keep the pigs well fed so they grow fat for market.
Kaliyangile continues to face challenges, but, with your help, it is very busy doing all it can to improve the lives of disadvantaged teenagers in Chisamba, Zambia.
Please continue with your support so that more can be given skills that will allow them to provide for their families.