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
There is lots to report, including Manoj Kumar's visit to England, and my own two visits to India since our last newsletter. And, our post-referendum recital on 1st July. See the next page for details. Thanks to everyone who helped to make Manoj's visit a success. He saw something of London, Oxford, Cambridge and Sheffield, as well as Milton Keynes, and met lots of existing and new supporters. I asked him to make a note of his impressions, good and bad; he wrote as below:
This trip to UK was my maiden trip abroad. I was excited about it and I think all went very well. I enjoyed meeting many people, sharing and connecting many of you with my work at SOCH. The most beautiful part is that you all tried your best to make me feel at home, during my stays with you. I enjoyed your pure English food as well as the English version of Indian food, which you all tried to cook or bring for me. Thank you very much everyone for that.
Your country's life style, social behaviour are different that of my country. A few good things I observed: most families love to meet and talk with their neighbours, which is rare in Indian cities but can be observed in rural India. The road traffic discipline is amazing. I have hardly heard any horn on the road. I was very impressed with the well maintained and protected country side. Architecture of the old buildings and monuments are remarkable, they have been standing for centuries, which is amazing.
I found the government social protection system in UK to be much much better and stronger than ours. Maybe because of this your people are more secure in their own country and can show concern for people of other countries which do not have such social protection, and I genuinely appreciate this. I have seen people in India not going to hospital in fear of high bills and dying at home. I think this is unimaginable in your country, where everyone gets free high quality healthcare.
I wish and hope you all live a happy life. And please help in whatever way you can to bring smile and happiness on the faces of unfortunate children who struggle die on the streets of India. With your support we have already helped more than 2000 children but we have a long way to go. Thank you very much for everything you doing to support our work!
Manoj is far too polite to tell us any bad things, but thank you all for taking such good care of him.
News From PUSS
A 'railway child' is reunited with his mother by SOCH
I was able in March to see something of the one month rehabilitation camp which Manoj organised for twenty 'hard core' railway children for whom SOCH's usual fast turnaround 'get them home' treatment is not enough. And then I attended the final event of the camp, where the children were reunited with their families, in some cases after two or three years of separation.
It was naturally very emotional, happiness, anger, relief and lots of tears, but Manoj tells me that so far (after two months) all the children who were reunited with their families after the camp have stayed together.
Manoj plans to run another camp later this summer, and he hopes that in the long term he will be able to have a permanent centre for rehabilitating children in need; as those of you who have visited India will have noticed, there is no shortage of such children.
Showing children something of the world of work
I was also able to participate in a 'workout' programme for the older girls at PUSS, which Kuku organised to keep them busy since the local education authority had closed the schools because of 'heat stroke risk'. It was hot, 42 degrees odd, but maybe better than zero in England.
The programme, which was designed and first run by Tom Bulman at Worktree in Milton Keynes, is designed to show children something of the world of work, to meet 'real' people from outside their school and family environment and to quiz them about how to get and keep jobs.
Girls quizzing a lady who is a labourer on a building site next to PUSS
It is based on 'speed dating', and enables the children in groups of four or five to meet and throw questions at some fifteen adults, for six minutes each. This was the second time it has been run at PUSS and it was a great success. Here are some of the girls quizzing a lady who is a labourer on a building site next to PUSS; she is a widow, she earns £3 a day, and supports three children. Most of the other visitors were doctors, teachers, business people (and one retired English professor), and the PUSS girls were interested, not shy at all, and seemed much more eager to learn than their contemporaries in Milton Keynes.
The local government in Orissa/ becomes daily more demanding in its requests for reports and documentation, without providing any assistance, but Kuku and her team are coping successfully. Swapna (not her real name) came to PUSS when she was a small baby and was one of the first children to come to Eva Maria Elliott's baby home at PUSS.
Swapna doing a 'high-five' with Kuku
She is now eight years old, and an official adoption agency has just now finalised her adoption, by a family from Calcutta. PUSS is a real family for all the girls, and the staff at PUSS, most of all Kuku herself, love all the children as their own. It is therefore all the harder when a child is adopted, for everyone, even though it is in their long-term interest; here is Swapna doing a 'high-five' with Kuku as she says goodbye to the teachers and staff. She apparently cried for a day when she first reached Calcutta, but has now settled in and is happily part of her new family.
Joining or re-joining a family may not always be easy, for railway children who are rescued by SOCH or for girls at PUSS, but it's clearly the best option when it is possible. When it is not possible, PUSS offers a wonderful alternative for the girls who are fortunate enough to be there; it is your help which makes it possible. We look forward to seeing some of you at the recital on July first, many thanks again.
Malcolm Harper, Chairman, Friends of the Children of Orissa. Filgrave, May 2016.
Recital at Filgrave—Friday 1st July 2016
A post-referendum evening to celebrate or drown your sorrows with beautiful (European) music.
Heidi Fardell on the recorder
Please make a note of the date and time and join us if you can. As before, £65 covers reception on the lawn (rain permitting), a recital by cellist Poppy Walshaw, Heidi Fardell on the recorder, playing various pieces by Bach, Telemann and friends with Penelope Rapson on her beautiful harpsichord, and a super dinner, wine and all. And every penny goes to the children in Orissa/Odisha!
Time: 7 pm for 7.30 pm, cost £65.00 including pre-music drinks on the lawn (weather permitting) and dinner with wine after the recital. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will be with us.
Malcolm Harper, Chairman, Friends of the Children of Orissa.
Filgrave, May 2016
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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