Reports on how charity work and development continues at the childrens and young women's residential boarding school in Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India.
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Malcolm Harper reports
We have helped PUSS to link with a local University and vocational training institution which has just opened a training centre for Yamaha motorcycle sales and repairs. The training leads to jobs near at home, not to garment factories in Mumbai or Bangalore, and they welcome female applicants. Twenty 'tribal' girls who are about to leave PUSS and are not interested in academic studies have been to see the centre and plan to apply, and we are assured that there should be places for most if not all of them. You can see the girls below, surrounding a bike.
Music at Filgrave by Duo Dorado - 5 June 2015
Our annual recital will take place here at the Old Farm House on Friday 5th June. Drinks on the lawn (weather permitting) will be followed by an hour of great music by the acclaimed Duo Dorado - Hazel Brooks and David Pollock (www.duodorado.co.uk). Hazel and David Pollock are two prize-winning early-music specialists who are passionate about the music of the baroque era. David will play on their beautiful harpsichord which is as wonderful to look at as it is to listen to, and Hazel will play her baroque violin.
Time: 7 pm for 7.30 pm, cost £65.00 including premusic drinks on the lawn (weather permitting), and a good dinner by candle light afterwards. Please let us know as soon as possible if you want to come; there are only a few places available.
New style teaching at PUSS
Parisar Asha from Mumbai (used to be Bombay, and seems still to be called that by most people who live there !) did their first sessions with the teachers at PUSS and the youngest thirty or so children over three days at the end of March; it was a great success.
Several of the teachers have been working at PUSS for many years. Like school teachers everywhere, they have become set in their ways and have tended towards the rote learning and 'chalk and talk' style which they themselves experienced in school and which is still prevalent in much of India.
After some initial hesitation, even the older teachers responded brilliantly. They overcame their reluctance and 'unbent', starting to play games with the children, to ask the children for their opinions and to respect them even when they were unexpected. 'What colour is the sky' ? The 'right' answer of course is to say 'blue', or maybe to chant 'the sky is blue', but the sky in Bhubaneswar in March is dull white and grey, maybe golden or slightly yellow (and certainly very warm).
It's much more fun, for teachers and students, to talk about such differences, to find things in the classroom which are of a similar colour to what the sky really is, than to recite what you have learned by heart, and it was clear very quickly that the children and the teachers too are starting to realise that learning can be enjoyable, that 'fun' is not just at playtime.
The Parisar Asha team will return to PUSS in a couple of months, and regularly thereafter, I was slightly nervous that the teachers would revert to their old style of teaching as soon as the team went back to Mumbai, but Kuku tells me that they have kept up what they have learned, and that the classes are lively as they were when the Parisar Asha team were there; this augurs well for the total transformation which we hope to achieve as the team work up through the school over the planned five year period. Hat Trick Productions have generously undertaken to support this, and it was excellent that three of our friends from there were able to see, to enjoy
and indeed to participate in the first sessions.
Visitors to PUSS always remark on two things; the children are happy, and Kuku has too much to do. It is therefore very good to be able to report that a competent administrative support team is now in place.
Badal is responsible for visiting the slums and villages from which the children at PUSS have come, for meeting their families, if any, and for assessing the children's needs. His reports are required by the newly established government 'child welfare committee', but they are also useful for Kuku and her colleagues to understand the children and to decide when it may be possible for them to be reunited with their families.
Silima is a qualified counselor, and has recently joined PUSS in order to support girls who have had traumatic experiences and who need someone to talk to and to guide them in how to deal with their past and their present problems. She has had extensive training in this difficult work, and has also been an intern with several institutions which work for vulnerable children.
Silima is a qualified counselor, and has recently joined PUSS Chinmayu has been with PUSS for a year, and is in charge of general administration, including the preparation of the numerous returns and other forms which have to be submitted to government departments, even by an institution such as PUSS which receives no assistance from government.
Mamata is a great PUSS 'success story'. She came to PUSS as a small girl some 13 years ago, from very troubled circumstances; she did well at school, she is completing a graduate course in social work at a nearby college and is now in charge of managing the hostel, feeding and other nonacademic aspects of PUSS. Many of our supporters who read this have met Mamata, and it is great to see her helping so many children as she herself was helped in the past.
The accountant's position remains to be filled. Mamata, Chinmayee and Kuku herself do most of the financial record keeping right now; it has always been difficult to find a competent person to do this work, who will stay for more than a few months. We hope, however, that PUSS will soon fill this vacancy and that the new team will continue to serve the PUSS community well into the future.
Return visit to PUSS
Bill and Michele Voss' niece Laryssa returned to PUSS for a brief visit in March, and she was able to help Mamata to update the survey of PUSS school leavers which Alice Gude and James Banks started last year. The results are still being collated, but it's very good news that three quarters of last year's leavers are studying at college or elsewhere. And in the meantime the girls continue to study as hard as ever, as you can see above.
News from SOCH
This picture below shows the SOCH team as seen from a train at Bhubaneswar station where they work. SOCH continues to expand, and last week they set up a new team at Berhampur, a station which serves a large 'tribal' hinterland. In the three months January to March they rescued a total of 112 children at the three stations where they operate, and they have now rescued well over one thousand children in total.
We look forward to seeing some of you at our recital on Friday 5th June, and maybe in Odisha/Orissa too. Many thanks for all your support.
Malcolm Harper, Chairman, Friends of the Children of Orissa.
Filgrave, April 2015
c/o Ursula Kraus-Harper (Hon. Secretary)
The Old Farmhouse, Filgrave, Bucks, MK 16 9ET, UK
Telephone: +44(0)1234 711764
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