We visited the children’s hostel for two weeks in November 2015.  The rainy season in South East India was exceptionally severe this year, causing waterlogged roads and overflowing rivers.  Damage to roads and heavy rain interrupted the transport and delayed getting to and from places.

The Children:

•    Number of children staying at the hostel is now 29, with another 5 staying periodically at the hostel.  Currently there are 4 primary, 14 secondary, 8 higher secondary school (years 11 and 12) and 3 college students residing at the hostel.  All children had passed their quarterly exams, and 3 higher secondary children achieved A grades.
•    The number of over 18 children attending college are 5, and they are being supported by the hostel.
•    3 college students who have completed their college studies and 6 students who opted to leave school at the end of year 10 are no longer being supported.  The warden remains responsible for monitoring the progress of young people at college and is in contact with all the families regardless of whether or not they reside at the hostel.
•    The Diwali festival of light was a low key event due to heavy rain but the children used fireworks to celebrate and were given presents.
•    The school attendance remains excellent.  The warden’s relationship with the children is good and he continues to take good care of them.

The Hostel:

•    Due to storms and heavy rain, the government piped water had been damaged and the drinking water had to be fetched from the nearby village pump.  Unfortunately, a deeper borehole to provide permanent water supply had reached salty water not suitable for washing.
•    There were roof leaks and the playground sand had been washed away.
•    In the previous rainy season, the kitchen roof had been irrevocably damaged and a new, smaller kitchen had been built.
•    Fortunately, during the rainy season, the surrounding area, so inhospitable during the dry season, becomes a beautifully green landscape and the adjacent pond surrounded by palm trees gives the children the opportunity to play, wash themselves and their clothes.

•    Arrangements were made for the roof to be repaired, which was done by the time we left, and for the playground to be restored when the rain stops.
•    Local primary and secondary schools were visited and provided with 5 chairs for the classrooms and 15 sport uniforms for one of the sports teams, at their requests.
•    There had been a moratorium on new admissions due to staffing shortage.  A secondary school teacher was employed as an assistant warden at the hostel to improve staffing.  Also, the deputy headmaster at the secondary school agreed to act as a part-time hostel administrator to improve the day to day running of the hostel.

Future Plans:

•    In last year’s report, we had outlined our construction plans for volunteer accommodation and a community centre but a year has passed with no progress.  However, we remain steadfastly resolute in trying to extend the level and quality of service to the area.  During this visit, further negotiation took place to get the agreement of LAFTI to go ahead with the new building.
•    The building work will take place in two phases; initially 2 rooms with facilities will be built to accommodate volunteers.  We hope that volunteers both from other parts of India & abroad will create opportunities for the children to learn a variety of skills.
•    Discussions also included the addition of a secondary roof on the existing hostel building, both to protect the building from the rain and reduce heat during the summer months.
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.  A special thanks goes to PKCF for their support towards our building programme.

Matt Blacker

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