Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Helping hand

This is Anusuya, a 14 year old schoolgirl who lives near Mettupalayam. About 3 years ago, she had a cycle accident, and had to have her hand amputated. IRDT have paid for her to travel to APD in Bangalore to have an artificial hand fitted. This has cost some 4000 rupees (about £50), we have paid 1500 rupees (about £19) with APD paying the remainder.

Our cooperation with APD makes a very significant contribution to the amount of help we can give to the 530+ disabled adults and children in our two project areas. We are also very grateful to all our UK supporters whose donations allow us to expand this work. We are planning a major expansion in our disability project in 2009 and are already training extra physiotherapists, selecting suitable girls from among the villagers.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Turning waste into wipes

It is impractical to inform our supporters of the many small enterprises that we organise through our 150 or so womens self help groups (sanghams). However, having been part of the negotiations last year in Kancheepuram, I was delighted to have received this picture of one of the groups with some cotton waste processing machines. The groups have entered into a contract to receive cotton waste from a manufacturer, and turn it into useful cotton cloths for resale. The machines cost 32000 rupees (c£400) which the women borrow on a special, low interest scheme, repaying at a rate of 50 rupees/day. Depending upon their effort, each woman can then earn a minimum net 150 rupees/day- much more than the daily agricultural labourers rate they receive. The Indian Bank have paid for the womens training and the scheme is sponsored by the District Development Agency, enabling the machines to be bought at cost price.
In addition to the income, this scheme also empowers the women and increases their status and self esteem.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Old age peoples day 8th October

In Mettupalayam and in Bedale, old people share a special meal and celebrate their lives. Thanks to the owners of The Millings Residential Home in Bedale, 150 elderly people in Mettupalayam are presented with a new set of clothes and enjoy a special meal together. In Bedale, the residents of The Millings celebrate with an Indian style meal of chicken curry, poppodums and pickles and special Indian sweets, followed by a slide show talk about the similarities and differences in their lives. The whole world over, we recognise the contribution that our parents, and grandparents have made, and continue to make in enriching and enhancing the lives that we lead.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Teacher training

This current academic year, which started in India on the 1st June, we have 5 new teachers at our Mettupalayam School. I am delighted that we currently have 3 male teachers, as often in the past we have mainly employed female teachers. All 5 new teachers are Government trained, but for various reasons, have been unable to get a post in a Government school. Venkat will train them and provide experience and at some stage in the future they will move on, earning a much higher salary than we can pay. At first sight, this high teacher turnover may seem wasteful and inefficient, but as Venkat explains, many of these newly qualified teachers are either of the wrong caste or are unable to pay a bribe to get into a Government school, and we are able to give them an opportunity that would otherwise be unavailable, and it doesn't affect the quality of the education provided- just the opposite in fact, as they are very motivated.
Student numbers have increased to 148 on the role, with a regular daily attendance of around 125.