Friday, 22 October 2010

Latest updates

Crakehall School is now completed and open. Venkat is now starting the toilet block and then hopes to have the water tower finished so that we have piped water to the toilets and to the school. Our next project is probably going to be a new visitor accommodation block on the school's first floor. We will be putting funds aside to pay for this when possible.

This week, Venkat has paid 40000Rps (£600) to the Agricultural Board and will receive a grant for a further 43000Rps, which will pay for a drip feed irrigation system on a 2 1/2 acre plot. This will then be used for vegetable growing and the irrigation will save around 25% water, very important as the monsoon is again much less than needed.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

FOM now on Facebook

We now have a Facebook group under Friends of Mettupalayam, so you can now receive regular feeds more easily.
Hopefully this will be easier to update with small news items more regularly.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Mari's story- continued

This is the latest photo of Mari and her daughter, with Gopal, a proud grandfather. We have now heard fom Venkat that Marsi, Mari's husband, is still a bonded labourer, tied to a quarry owner near Kanchipuram. He is now getting into trouble as, understandably, he wishes to spend time with Mari and the baby. Venkat has been told that Marsi hasn't borrowed much money himself from the quarry owner, but has inherited his father's debts when his father died some 5/6 years ago.
FOM have agreed to find 9000 rupees, about £140, to buy Marsi his freedom, on the understanding that he treats Mari and the baby repectfully and properly, and allows the baby to come to Crakehall School when she is old enough. Venkat will find Marsi work on the farm, training him in agricultural techniques and tractor driving etc. We will also pay him a decent wage, as well as providing accommodation and support. There will be one less debt slave in India!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Paid to go to school?

One of the not-so-obvious ways that IRDT help local people is in accessing their rights and entitlements. This isn't easy when you can't read or write! This photo is of some of the tribal people who have chosen to settle near Mettupalayam as they appreciate the help that they receive. Across India, only around 5% of tribal children attend school and in order to encourage this, the Government have introduced an education grant. Venkat arranged for 24 Mettupalayam school and 4 secondary school pupils to go to the collectors office where each child received 600Rps- around £9, with a slightly higher payment for the older ones. In total, 16000Rps was paid out, around £240, a significant help to the parents.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Mari- a very young mother

Mari is one of the young children we found breaking rock some 6 years ago near to our farmland. Her parents and relatives were all bonded labourers (debt slaves) and were forced to stay working for the quarry owner despite inadequate wages, no proper housing and no access to healthcare. Following buying all 45 peoples freedom after our return to the UK, Mari was able to start at our Mettupalayam primary school and progressed to secondary school. However, following her mother's tragic suicide, she decided to leave school and was married last year at age 13! On Friday, Gomathi took her to the local clinic where she had a ceasarian birth, a baby daughter. Venkat had to pay for an ambulance to rush her to the government hospital as she was losing blood so badly. Today Venkat says that she is recovering well. I dread to think what would have happened to Mari and her daughter if we weren't around to take her to the clinic, then to hospital. The custom is not to give the baby a name for some time but we will continue to take an extra special interest in both Mari and her daughter.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Changing lives-3

This is Sabina, who has featured before in my blog. She was diagnosed with severe tonsillitis by Laura and Emily in July last year, but was too weak for an operation. After 6 months of special liquid nutrition (She had been unable to swallow solid food for a long time!) she was strong enough for the operation in December. The first photo was taken in July, at the health check-up camp, and the second one in mid January and, really, it is the same child!
Thank you Laura and Emily, for the diagnosis and for your compassion, thank you Venkat for your patience and support, and thank you to the doctors in the government hospital.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Changing lives-2

I would like to introduce you to Patchyammal. I met her first about 6 years ago, living in a very desperate situation, on the edge of starvation and although only 3 year's old, working at breaking rock with her slave parents. The family didn't earn enough money to buy food and had to resort to trying to trap rats to eat! When we returned to England, we managed, with the help of Sadeh Lok, to free all of the 14 family groups by paying off their debts. Most of the families chose to leave the area, but some remained. Regrettably, Patchyammal's parents split up but Sagar, her father, later remarried and now looks after Patchyammal, her sister Magaisse and her younger step siblings. Their income has improved considerably and the family have now returned to Mettupalayam, living with the other former debt slaves and working on the farm. Patchyammal is now coming to school each day, working hard and learning. Her health has improved although she will always suffer from those first 3 years of malnutrition. Hopefully, she will go on to secondary school- probably the first person in her family to achieve this. All this has been achieved with Venkat and Gomathi's dedication and commitment and the support of Friends in the UK. We are really making a difference to the lives and futures for these people.