[PAST PROJECT] Visit to Lafti House – November 2014
The number of children residing in the hostel are 35, as 7 young people aged 18 opted to attend college for vocational training and are staying either with their parents or in college accommodation. 2 other young people attending college are staying at the hostel.
The rain had just started to pour and muddy ground made it difficult for the outdoor activities to occur regularly. Due to the start of the rainy season, some children were suffering from fever. In these circumstances, the younger ones are usually looked after by their families at home, affecting their attendance both at the school and the hostel.
Children’s school attendance remains generally good. Although all had passed their quarterly examinations, the grades were lower than previously. This was attributed to the warden not being able to attend to the children as before, after the death of his mother by an accident. He is now recovering and resuming his full-time duties. A maths teacher volunteer from the UK visited the hostel and spend 3 days with the children, helping them with their maths.
Apart from visiting the children, the other purpose of my visit was to organise the construction of the community hall and volunteers quarters, as previously planned. Prior to visiting the hostel, negotiation took place with Orkidstudio (www.orkidstudio.co.uk), a UK based charity whose aim is ‘empowerment and social change through Building’ by training the local communities in the construction of the building. However their charges did not make their involvement cost-effective. Instead a local architect was recruited who made a site visit to modify and implement the building plan we had prepared in London.
Due to the recent introduction of child protection policies for hostel children, the current building does not meet the Government requirements. Therefore we decided to construct the new building based on the criteria required by law to house the children and instead, allocate the existing building to the community programme.The building work was planned to start in January for religious and practical reasons (end of the rainy season). During this visit, DHAN Foundation (www.dhanfoundation.org) whose chief executive knows Amma well, was approached to help us with the building construction as well as the community programme. The Foundation is experienced in rural community development and has empowered thousands of villagers to improve their living conditions. We are also using some of the features in their Tata DHAN Academy building, with double, extended roofs and a central courtyard to reduce the heat.
New proposals were prepared for an overhaul of the running of the hostel and the introduction of the community programme to train the parents in child development, hygiene and nutrition. With the help of a virtual team (from LAFTI supporters), a new organisational structure was suggested to allow for the employment of a project coordinator to supervise the construction and running of the hostel and the setting up of the community programme.
We would like to thank all our supporters for making it possible to reach out to the children in one of the poorest areas of India. Again, a special thanks goes to PKCF for their generous donation towards our building programme.
On behalf of the trustees
Hope For The Young