A bittersweet visit to Mandrem

Posted by Helen 
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Tuesday saw me making an eagerly awaited but simultaneously dreaded journey to our little school in Mandrem who lost their great headmistress, and our personal friend, Jacinta a few months back. The acting headmistress, Sister Lucy, knew I was going to visit, but had held the news back from the staff and pupils ‘just in case…’. So when I calmly walked into the staffroom, a fair pandemonium broke out. As one teacher said to me, “it will be alright now!” and in their dark moments they had wondered if, without Jacinta, we would quietly forget them.

I was shown their simple shrine to her memory in the school – with Catholic iconography, a Bible in Roman-script Konkani and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita – and I spent a few moments there.

Jacinta's Shrine

Then some of the kids were called in and great excitement was had when our gift in memory of Jacinta was unveiled – a full set of Student Encyclopedia Britannica. Pupils were lined up with a volume each to hold, the volumes were spread out on a large table, photos were taken… smiles were shared.

Encyclopedias at Mandrem

Plans for the future were then discussed, and together we worked out the details of the new scholarship fund generously endowed by our great friends Gemma and Stuart back in the (currently very chilly) South of England. The money will be invested and its interest will fund the schooling of five children who otherwise could not attend ‘Our Lady of Rosary School’. This will be henceforth referred to as the ‘In Memory of Jacinta Fernandes, donated by Gemma and Stuart Paine from Helping Elsewhere Scholarship Fund’.

I then gave them details of Henry and Andy’s Great Goan Walk. If you haven’t been following this, then they plan to walk the length of Goa’s coastline to raise funds for the school. And it’s by no means just the sandy beaches you see in the holiday brochures… rocky headlands, stretches of marshy land, river estuaries… areas to manoeuvre over, through, across and around.


Henry and Andy are great supporters of our school at Mandrem (we introduced them in a blog post in February) and it has been fantastic to see their project grow. They have a website dedicated to it at the Great Goan Walk and a Just Giving page – please visit both and give your best support to this mighty effort!!!


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