Elsewhere… and elsewhere

Posted by Helen 
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Thanks to the support of everyone over the past year we have achieved unbelievable results in Mandrem and we hope to continue this into the future. Already the places for the 20 poorer children has been secured for another year,  the teachers have been able to be paid more and the music department is underway thanks to the sponsorship of Simon and Charlotte from Vivenda Goa.

Anyway we have also been busy looking at ways to support other projects in other parts of Goa. Barbara, who is now the hospitality manager at Elsewhere, suggested that we look at a project run by the Don Bosco Organisation in the South of Goa. She arranged a meeting with Father George and on the last Monday we were in Goa we met and I found him the most inspiring man. His project is to bring education to the slum and street children of the itinerant workers – mostly those whose parents build the roads in the State. These kids mostly slip through the net as their parents are always on the move, although camps in various areas do spring up.

The vision is simple… if the kids don’t come to school, then take the school to the children – and that is exactly what they did. Firstly, using a bus that the government donated, they took out all the seats and put a blackboard at the front to turn the bus into a mobile classroom.  The bus then takes the same route around the outlying villages and the main parts of the highway every day. The children come for two hours of tuition and after lessons they are given a snack and some fresh water to take home. If they attend school for a month then they are given a uniform – this gives them a real sense of belonging. The aim is to try and get them into the mainstream education system, which can be a problem as they have no proof of identity or age. The Don Bosco Organisation have solved this too by getting affadavits signed for any child that needs them (and getting these recognised by the government), to get them into school.

On Saturdays the bus goes around to collect all the children and brings them all together at the main technical college where they are allowed to play games outside – this is something that they just can’t do at home as they have to be productive members of the household. They are then all given a hot meal of rice, veggie curry, dahl, eggs and yams. Afternoon brings two more hours of lessons in the novelty of a proper classroom – they just love this.

Now, what we are trying to do is raise the money for the clever idea of a mobile desk that doubles up as a plate for their snack, and a rest for their slate – an idea borrowed from Africa. But, uniquely, our desk is hollow and so each day it is filled with fresh drinking water to take home. Fresh water is something most of the children and their families do not have ready access to. When they come back the next day the desk is refilled (I have included a picture below). This idea has encouraged the parents to keep sending they children to school as it means they then all have access to fresh drinking water… an inspired idea. I hope someone out there might like to help, and we need to raise about £1000 to provide about 150 of these desks/water bottles. The simplest of ideas covers both education and health – fantastic!

One of the children drinking from the water desk

One of the children drinking from the water desk

What a welcome!

What a welcome!


One Response to “Elsewhere… and elsewhere”

  1. Joy says, June 3rd, 2009 at 12:22

    What a fantastic idea for desks.Helen,have you heard about the swing/roundabout that uses the movement from playing children to pump up water from wells.This says women and children long walks for freash water. All the blogs are great.Looking forward to reading more.

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