Given the COVID-19 situation in India, all 960 children have left to go back to their parents for the time being.
That being said, we have been informed by the Indian Government that they would like to use the 960 beds that we have in all 4 Ashrams of Kasturbasevashram to help those that are unfortunate to be taken ill by COVID-19. They need our beds and we need to help them as much as we can.
We need to get the beds cleaned for these arriving patients. We also need to open up the ashram kitchens for food preparation. We are lucky enough to be able to grow a lot of organic vegetables on-site at our ashrams. Kasturbasevasharam have already started distributing Grains, Pulses, Vegetables and Milk to children, and Medicine to all those in need at the surrounding villages, but this alone will not be enough. We will need to buy more to help those in need.
We have already extended our assistance to the Police & security workers as well the Doctors, staff and patients of two nearby Civil Hospitals (Netrang & Dediapada).
Six years ago, we asked a number of our 8-16 year old students a question; what is a computer? They all looked at each other with blank faces. They didn’t know. These children come from a rural village where the resources are less than basic, so it is hardly surprising that they didn’t know the answer to the question. It is for this very reason we took the decision that teaching them about computers and how to use them was an absolute must.
So how did we make this happen? We took over one room in each of the ashrams and took the time to decorate and furnish each respective room with tables and chairs. From London, we sent 16 old laptops so that each ashram could house 4 computers each. We then helped the students by teaching them the basics on the computers. Some of them were worried that they may break the buttons on the keyboards or damage the screen, but once they got used to them, there was no stopping them.
Whilst running the computer classes, there were some issues that occurred with electrical power surges and power cuts, so repair bills have been high, but to avoid this happening regularly, we installed stabilisers in each computer room and also bought generators for times when power cuts happen so that the computer classes could continue without any problems.
The highlight has been watching these children become more and more excited about modern technology and how much they are able to learn and accomplish on the computer. At the very start, only 5 children in each ashram wanted to learn, but now we have 15 students every hour in each ashram that want to learn. Currently each ashram runs 5 one-hour sessions, split by age group.
We employ 4 computer teachers, who live at the ashrams, and they run the computer classes until 8pm due to the high demand. We now have a combination of 20 computers/laptops at each ashram and we receive weekly reports from teachers on how the children are doing. We pay each teacher’s salary from the U.K.
Kasturba Seva Ashram
The Ashram helps to fund the education of children between the ages of 5 and 16. The children work hard to gain qualifications such as SSC and HSC in order to enhance their job prospects which would in turn give them security and a chance to break the Poverty Cycle/trap.
However, due to a lack of funding, qualified children are left alone to search for jobs. Without any additional support, it proves very difficult for them to obtain an appropriate role relative to their skills. Their only option is to then return to their village family home where they end up carrying out unskilled work, despite their education that the Ashram has supported.
The following strategy plan would provide them with the support they require to secure relevant full time skilled employment, after which they would be in a position to live life independently, and most importantly, they would be in a position to provide their children with the same educational opportunities (A positive start to breaking this seemingly never-ending Poverty Trap).
Malbar Primary School
India’s independence day is always a memorable one every year.
This year something made it just that much more memorable.
On this auspicious day, we came by a small tribal village named Malbar Town in Jambugoda, approximately an hour and a half’s drive from Vadodra, Gujarat. Intrigued by the area, we drove a little further in and came a across a small school, Malbar Primary School, where we saw a few kids playing in the front yard of the school.
The approach to the village is through the forest, on a road that barely looks like it ever existed. Visitors are far and few. In a way it was nice, the beauty of the morning, the sounds of god’s creatures, and a few families hidden away. The village has a population of 478 including 20 children from 0-3, 60 children from 4-12 and 10 children from 13-16.
Along with the beauty of the land, there are also great problems. With the forest being so rocky, cultivating the land to grow crops is proving very difficult, thus causing poverty on a high scale. To make matters worse, generations have gone by without educating their children on the importance of health and hygiene and the value of a good upbringing.
When we were driving through Malbar Town, we came across a middle aged man named Tersingh Neiak who was suffering from Polio. This poor man has been suffering from this illness from the very young age of 3.
From our car, we could see him using the strength in his arms and hands just to get himself around the rocky ground.
Tersingh lives with his parents, just behind a primary school. The foundation of their home is made of cow dung and their roof from straw.
Naturally this leaves lots of gaps and the home itself is in no way secure. Still, inside their home they have done what they can to create separate space through building partitions and now have a separate bedroom and kitchen.
They have also managed to create a room for their cows.