Even our ‘furry friends’ help out…

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Zeb out boating

Our little dog Zeb has also been garnering support. He has had to visit our vets this week (better whisper that bit) and the nurses there could not resist his charms and along with the antibiotics he managed to raise donations for Elsewhere. So thank you once again to The Vets on White Hart Lane, Barnes for their help – definitely the best vets in the world – well Zeb’s world anyway!

Following on from last week I have been doing some more research into Mandrem and any other interesting facts I could find and here are some extracts from a wonderful article that you can find in full at goacom.com so, here we go – firstly this extract actually mentions both our school and the family connection with our friend Denzil Sequeira on whose property we stay.

“One-fifth of the locals are Catholic, who were earlier parishioners of the Arambol parish. The late Fr. Luis Gonzaga Sequeira, who rowed in his canoe across the picturesque rivulet, helped raise the chapel of Our Lady of Rosary to a church in 1933. In 1979 they laid foundations of a modern church, designed by architect Ralino de Souza (pictures of the church appear in other posts and pages in the blog). The church misses the traditional façade the churches in Goa are famous for. It was completed on May 25,1992, while the discarded old church accommodated the diocese-run high school”. This bit is actually out of date as the new building has been donated and is open as the school (pictures again can be seen in our other posts).

The other interesting part of the article is about Jose Calisto who is pictured with a group of friends and family celebrating the festival shown in the post Monsoon and Goa. “Whether Hindu or Catholic, the ethnics have been invariably at the receiving end since times immemorial. The salty winds of the history, brought tidal waves of alien rulers – Marathas, Portuguese and Muslims. The Portuguese defeated the Muslims to capture Pernem. They conceded the area to the Muslim forces of Tipu Sultan in 1786 and managed to recover it in 1801. Meanwhile, conversion zeal had waned and as a result, western inculturisation failed to impregnate the uncluttered and prosaic lifestyle.”

Why do I mention Juse and history that goes back to 1786? Well “After Liberation, hope sprang”, recalls Juse, “We sweated and toiled to sow, the bhattkars [landlords] reaped the harvest”. All that changed with land reform and now highly industrious Jose Calisto is involved in all the toddy tappers’ associations and the church Fabrica besides being into liquor distillation, fishing, coconuts, caju-nuts, mangoes and mussuri” We eat Juse’s wild rice when we stay at Elsewhere. The toddy is distilled from the local cashew nut crop and tastes great whilst a little strong – like locally produced eau de vie.

I hope you have enjoyed a little bit more history about our little bit of Goa, I wanted to bring it a little more to life for you!


Our little bit of heaven…

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I thought that I would not ask for anything in this post but instead tell you a little more about Mandrem and why we have fallen in love with it.

Mandrem is within the most northern administrative region in Goa called Pernem. According to the 2001 census Pernem has an average literacy rate of 74%, which is higher than the national average of 59.5% and 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Historically, Pernem is counted as belonging to one of the two Goan sub-regions, the Novas Conquistas (or New Territories). It was taken over, lost and regained by the Portugese from the Rajas of Sawantwadi, a state on Goa’s northern border that regularly changed its alliance between its northern and southern neighbours. After the Liberation of Goa by India in 1961, it became part of the Union Territory of Goa.

This is all a bit heavy I hear you say, but the history lesson is relevant as we have visited the town of Sawantwadi on a trip with one of the taxi drivers across the river into the bordering state of Maharashtra. Also we have stayed in the sublimely beautiful Fort at Terakol where a bloody battle was fought by the independent minded Viceroy with the Portuguese in 1825. This sense of being on the border of two cultures is reflected today with the harmonious balance between Catholicism and Hinduism that you encounter every day in Mandrem (and especially at festivals when everybody just celebrates!).

I felt that it is important to put Mandrem into context as I know most people think or see it just as a holiday destination but I wanted to tell you a little more and indeed show you in the pictures below.

Waiting at the ferry station for the boat to come to take to the next state of Maharashtra

Waiting for the ferry to go to school

The ferry – not for the faint hearted but great fun and a fantastic slice of real life.

In the centre of Sawantwadi there is a lake and this is a meeting point for doing your washing – just like the launderette.

This is the view back across the river from Terakol Fort… very picturesque but also the scene of bloodshed.

Here is the Church within the walls of the fort at Terakol. It is still a working church that holds services on Sundays and evensong during the week – extremely evocative.


Charitable Status…

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We are just going through the process of registering for charitable status – whilst we have not yet reached the 5K threshold, we are finding that we need to register for this status with HM Revenue and Customs.

So whilst we are waiting for this to come through can we ask all you generous people to refrain from using PayPal as just at the moment they are freezing funds in this account whilst we prove we are not a scam! PayPal is back! Here’s the link to the PayPal facility on our site.

We have just written our Constitution and we will be having our inaugural AGM at Thyme at the Tavern in Chertsey (where last week we collected enough in tips from the diners who partook in our ‘Fine Dining’ evenings to buy a Microscope for the school in Mandrem and it is as we speak on it’s way to Goa from Delhi via the wonders of ebay). Even more good news is that as it was purchased using the portal via the easy fund raising site we have received a donation that was in effect free of a further £1.50.


Mandrem moves into top gear…

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Last week we asked for help to ‘Sponsor a Child’ and once again you guys have come up trumps. Well to be precise, all the guys from A New Way Garage in Crawley who have sponsored all 20 of our children have! They have very kindly offered to forgo their lunch breaks and continue to do MOT tests during this time, charging nothing for their time and donating their percentage of the fee to Helping Elsewhere. So if any of you are in the Crawley/Gatwick area and need help with your car or an MOT please remember… A New Way Garage, Unit 3, Gatwick Road, Forge Wood Industrial Estate, Crawley, RH10 9PG – call them on 01293 531242.

So as of the new term, all twenty children from outlying villages will now be able to attend the school with new uniforms, books, fees and bus fares paid for a whole year.

Also moving on from last week, we have packed up an enormous box of sports equipment. Does anyone have a contact with a sympathetic Air Freight who may be able to carry the box to Goa in a cost effective way? Any contacts would be great.

Our next target is to get the school connected to the internet. Not only does this open up the world to the kids, it also will enable the educational link to be set up to a school or other organisation here (we already have one or two ideas on this one). Amazingly this is the one thing that costs more in India than the UK, we are looking at about £20 per month to achieve this – so once again I lay down the gauntlet!


The challenge goes on…

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This week has been fantastic – I am so pleased that the momentum is continuing! Firstly thanks to our good friends Susie and David in Oxshot along with our book-keeper at Thyme Lords Catering whose generous donations have allowed us to employ our IT teacher for the second year. This means the post can now become permanent as the Government will pitch in once the first two years are completed. Gina has emailed us to say the new teacher started on the 1st July which is great.

Also, following an event which Red Sky Events held on 5th July at the Watercress Line in Hampshire for one of our corporate clients, Red Sky has donated 50p per child under 12 to Helping Elsewhere. This was topped up by a number of donations collected during the event. This money will cover the costs of the gym shoes and other games equipment so we have just finished a marathon buying session on Ebay and have bought tennis balls, table tennis balls, badminton racquets, shuttlecocks, table tennis bats, basketballs and a basket ball hoop. For the wet monsoon days, chess sets and draughts along with dominoes have also been bought. I am hoping we can get a good deal with DHL to sent it all to India!

Our next challenge is this… there are a number of children who just cannot afford to attend school because they can’t afford the books, fees or the uniform – never mind the bus fare to get there. So we would love to help these kids! If you would like to sponsor a child, the sponsorship would cover all the costs above and is Rs1000 per year – this is just £12.50 per year! We have about 20 children who need help, so I hope some of you will help us to help them.

Juse Calisto (one of the founder members of the school) and Jacinta (our friend and headmistress) both want to pass on their own thanks in their own words – so here they are accompanied by many smiles “Dev borem korum” (which is konkani for Thank you!

monsoon scene in Mandrem

I thought you may like to see what it is like in Goa when it rains… especially given the weather we have had here in the last few days!