[PAST PROJECT] Children’s Hostel: Annual Report
Currently there are 42 children living at the hostel, 34 of whom are of secondary school age. Our aim is to admit younger children when the potential for development and learning is much greater but we have not been able to recruit a female carer who would accept to live in such an inhospitable area, far away from any major town.
The hostel children’s school attendance is usually better than other children in the area and is considered as one of the benefits of being in the hostel. All the secondary school children (except one with a progressive neurological disorder) had passed their quarterly examinations in October 2013 but only a few are high achievers.
The building had deteriorated significantly, with some structural damage due to faults in the original design. It was decided to undertake major repairs. The work took approximately four weeks to complete.
There continues to be a shortage of staffing. The warden is extremely caring and concerns himself with the education and welfare of the children both at the hostel and by visiting the children’s family homes but he is single handed in managing the entire work. A training day in general administration, filing and data entry at an IT centre in a nearby town was organised to help the warden with his administrative skills. Office equipment and a PC were purchased and a school teacher volunteered to help him. Also eight young people aged 17 and 18 were elected to form a team and be given responsibilities to help the warden with the day to day tasks.
One of LAFTI’s reasons for choosing this location was to create opportunities for improved health and education in this very poor and disadvantaged area. With the hostel in existence for over 3 years, we thought we could try to extend our activities to meet the needs of the wider community.
We visited two nearby villages with approximately 30 households each. Many of the villagers attended our preliminary meeting with their village leader and were keen to participate in any educational scheme we would offer. From their responses, the villagers seemed keen for their children to advance their education regardless of their age & gender. Many young people do not complete their secondary education and opt to work to bring income for their families. We were surprised to meet 2 girls who had completed their university degrees. Both villages asked for money but only to build community centres.
In November, I also visited Calcutta Kids, a charity for improving the health and nutrition of pregnant women and young children in their first 1000 days of life in a Kolkata slum area.
Although Tamil Nadu has one of the most advanced Integrated Nutrition and Child Development programmes in the country, unfortunately the government programme has not been introduced in remote areas such as where the hostel is located. Our next step is to liaise with the relevant departments with the view to starting the programme ourselves. During the February visit, further contacts were made with developmental paediatricians as well as the NGOs working with young people through educational programmes.
As the villagers have expressed an interest in having a community centre, we are planning to build a community hall on the hostel grounds. This will provide an opportunity to engage the villagers in various educational workshops e.g. literacy, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition and parenting. In addition, we plan to build 2 rooms as accommodation for volunteers. We have had a number of individuals both in India and abroad who have expressed an interest in working as volunteers but because of the lack of facilities at the hostel, we have not been able to use their services. An architect has already drawn a plan for the building, with an estimated cost of £12000.
T-shirts sent by a Hope for the Young supporter (Gina Albani) from Greece were distributed. We would like to thank all our supporters for making it possible to reach out to the children in one of the poorest areas in India. Again, a special thanks goes to PKCF for their generous donation.
On behalf of the trustees
Hope For The Young