Reports on how charity work and development continues at the childrens and young women's residential boarding school in Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India.
PUSS continues to flourish. Eva Maria Elliott, one of our most loyal trustees and fundraisers, was able to spend a few days at the Charity Boarding School in Orissa in March. We have included in this newsletter a note of some of her impressions, as well as one of her photographs.
Our fund raising efforts continue. In addition to our regular donors, and the special grant for the PUSS school septic tank from Femmes d'Europe in Brussels, we have received generous gifts from Alleyn's School in London, and from Emberton, Wyvern and Newton Blossomville schools and Portfields in Newport Pagnell. We show the children a power point presentation, which teaches them something about the differences between the lives they lead and the facilities they enjoy, and those of poor people in India.
The presentation includes pictures of everyday life in Orissa, showing for instance a group riding to school in a big basket on an oxcart, or someone eating rice off a leaf, or riding on top of a bus. Each picture is preceded by a question, such as: "what would you do if there was no bus to bring you to school?'' or ''what would you eat off if you did not have a plate?"; ''what would you do if there was no seat in the bus ?". The children always have good ideas, quite often the right answers, and there is lots of good discussion. If you know a school where a session of this kind would be welcome, do let us know.
Eva-Maria's visit to PUSS
She has lots of stories to tell...
About C., the shy withdrawn little six year old who always looked away, never joined in, and just stared down at the sore on her hand and rubbed it. So I walked up to her, and held her hand and massaged it gently, and after three days she started to relax, and finally she smiled at me...
About the time I was sun-bathing on the roof, and a lovely teenage girl whom I had not seen before came out of the dormitory with a big bundle of laundry. She started to hang it on the line, and then I noticed that she had terrible burn scars on her withered arm. I tried to ask her what had happened, but she just looked down and went quiet. Then the other girls came round, and explained quietly that her father had tried to kill her... She did smile at me afterwards.
About another time I was on the roof, during the half hour break after lunch when the children play, do their homework, take a nap or just relax. Some of the girls asked me what I was doing; I explained that I was trying to get a tan. This was incomprehensible, indeed hilarious; they knew very well that it was much better and prettier to be pale...
And then it was very warm, so I decided to take a dip in the big nearby irrigation canal. I walked across the fields, and the ground got muddier and muddier, and I was more or less stuck, just short of the embankment up to the canal. Suddenly a deep male voice boomed out: "Madam, please be very careful, there are lots of turds". And there on the embankment was one of the PUSS schoolteachers, who had just taken his midday dip. He climbed down the bank, gave me his hand and hauled me up out of the mud on to the track beside the canal. ''Wash yourself'' he said, and gave me a bar of Lux soap. So I did, and the fishes nibbled my toes. The very next morning at four o'clock I went out in the dark and had a proper dip.
Then they asked me to teach maths to the older girl pupils. I told them it was not my forte: 'just use the book' they said. I passed my A level maths, not so very long ago, so I took the book but I could not understand a word of it. It looked like University Education-level maths to me. So I put the book to one side and told them all about my travels instead. How I spent two days waiting at the border to get into Nepal, because of the Maoist troubles, and then three days stuck in Kathmandu, not able to get out of the city, and then about my visit to Benares on the Ganges. The girls were not at all surprised that I had taken a drink from the river, but most of my friends in England seem to think I was mad.
And about how sad it was to see so many women with bruised eyes and bruised cheeks, let's hope that the girls at PUSS will be able to win the struggle against the awful ill treatment of women in India.
But one thing is certain. Eva is already planning her next trip to Orissa, and will be there again in July. And she has already made a substantial donation for a playground and equipment for the School.
Eva-Maria Elliott sent us this message when she got back from her visit to PUSS early in March:
I think everyone has his own image of paradise. Mine was somewhere warm, sunny, trees, flowers, water, birds, animals and smiling happy people. Good food, music, dancing and singing. I only had to go to Orissa to find it.
Unfortunately I had to leave again, my employers are very generous and understanding but they will only pay me if I work. Now I am back at work again, and all I have to do is to raise some money to help PUSS to buy a piece of land. I am working seven days a week, but I should welcome any help. The quicker I raise the money, the quicker I shall be back in paradise.
Charity Recital and Dinner
We are holding a violin and harpsichord recital and dinner at Filgrave, on 24th June. This is being given by Hazel Brooks and David Pollock. They will play a selection of royal court and theatre music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, interspersed with lively readings from Pepys, Boswell and Johnson. Just to look at their harpsichord is in itself a pleasure. Please let us know right away if you want to come; places are limited, and we had to turn away several people last year.
© Friends of the Children of Orissa