Another take on Sirsi…

Posted by Pete - Guest Blogger 
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Hi again! Another instalment from India…

Yesterday was finally time for the road trip to the Don Bosco school at Sirsi in Karnataka – which is the state that lies south of Goa and is the location of another project funded by Helping Elsewhere… and all the generous people who contribute to this worthwhile effort. So four of us (Barbara, Helen, Tracey & I) joined together at 6am in Cavelossim in south Goa to drive the 4.5 hours to Sirsi.

St Anthony’s is a Roman Catholic school, part of the Don Bosco group of schools in India providing a good education to local children irrespective of their faith. All are welcome at Sirsi – Christian, Hindu and Muslim. This school is for standard 8, 9 and 10 children, which in England are 13 to 16 year old pupils. The school has 360 fee paying places, 120 pupils to each year, split into two classes per year.

Sirsi is a rural town with little in the way of employment opportunities and the school fees, even at £50 per year, are outside the means of some families. The school’s reputation means that parents want their child to attend this school though and Helping Elsewhere sponsors those children whose families cannot afford it. Sponsorship is a bit like free school meals in the UK – it has a stigma for these proud people and therefore the identity of the sponsored pupils is known only to the Headmaster, Fr Avin, and the parents concerned.

Father Avin at Sirsi

Our travelling companion, Barbara, has been involved with the school for some time and brings a phenomenal amount of energy to everything she does. A veritable dynamo! She introduced Helen to the school and in turn Helen introduced us to the school.  Barbara is a good lady! The driving forces on site are Fr Avin and Fr Felix (the priest from the attached church). For a badly lapsed Catholic, I have to say that I personally found them inspiring; their mission is to provide their pupils with the best education that is possible and that is what they do. I wish I had gone to this school!

We visited all the classes and were made so welcome. Every pupil in uniform, standing as we came into the room and speaking to us in good English (better than mine). The smiles were genuine and the enthusiasm was palpable.

Kids at Sirsi

The photos tell the story and I put you all on notice that I am taking up cudgels for these two schools and there is nowhere to hide. When I get back I will be putting together a presentation on these two projects and if your Company has a charity programme I would love to come and speak to the people holding the purse strings – I am sure I can loosen them for a cause that has really reached me, Tracey, Gemma and Stuart [Pete and Tracey’s daughter and son-in-law].

By the way, a big personal thank you to Gemma & Stuart and the staff at Kenwood in Havant who are sponsoring three pupils at the school!


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