Reports on how charity work and development continues at the childrens and young women's residential boarding school in Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India.
By Malcolm Harper
Kes Srikanthan and Katie Rook spent two weeks at PUSS again this summer, teaching English, playing games with the children, helping with the computers, and so on. Kes sent us this note about their visit:
"Even though we had done it all before, travelling across India hasn't got any easier in the year since we were last there. But arriving at PUSS felt like coming home. After our time there last year we had been looking forward to seeing all our friends at PUSS again, and it was great to see everything going so well.
In our last newsletter we announced two fund-raising initiatives; the dinner and music recital by the Pavao Quartet at the Old Farm House, and 'Puppies for PUSS'. Both were very successful; Jet's Labrador puppies were sold for 750 pounds, and the generosity of Peter Cook, her 'husband's' owner, meant that all this was available for PUSS. The recital earned over 1500 pounds for PUSS, and it was also a most enjoyable evening. We are planning a similar event for next summer, but with Indian classical music and food; we shall keep you informed.
Name the baby llama Competition'name the baby llama competition'. Please use your imagination, and please pay generously for the privilege as well. Send your suggested names, and cheques, to our address.
Computers and Internet Connection
The Internet is now up and running ! Because of PUSS's location in the paddy fields, the phone line and the power are unreliable. As a result there have been a few problems with the internet connection, but they are being rectified and the technician who is working on the internet is also trying to get the two older computers working as well. Because of the intermittent power, this is difficult, and the hard drives are constantly getting damaged. A backup power system for the computer is now really necessary, especially as the Internet is now being used more regularly.
Games, fishing, smiles
In lessons, while teaching us to play local games, or while fishing from the swollen streams using home-made fishing lines, the children's smiles and enthusiasm are always infectious. The time we had there passed too quickly, and we wished we could spend more time with them. We hope to return next year, and we have lots we plan to do. Friends of the Children of Orissa and PUSS are busy planning and implementing ideas for the benefit of the children, as always there is a lot to do. But after having seen the children work and play and enjoy everything they do so much, it is important to remember just how much has been done."
Going to Orissa
I shall myself be going to Orissa in mid-October (on other business), and I plan to spend some time with PUSS when I pass through Bhubaneswar. Kadambini has not been very well, but she is now recovered. When she was resting, other members of staff had to become more involved in the day-to-day management of the school and the children. Kadambini is in any case quite often away for a few days at meetings elsewhere in Orissa or in Calcutta, and it is becoming clear that middle management is not such a problem as we earlier thought it might be.
School building work
Also since our last visit the building work has come on very quickly. The new dining hall has now been completed. It is above the classrooms, so that food can now be prepared and served to the kids in the school; during the monsoon, they do not need to wait in the rain to get their food. Some more dormitories and classrooms are being built now as the number of children attending PUSS keeps growing! It has now reached well over three hundred !
When I was here last year, I felt how important it is for the children to have a chance to be just children, and this struck me again this time. Their education is vital, but it is important for all of them to have a chance to play outside of the classroom as hard as they work inside the classroom. I had hoped to take some footballs out with me to play with, but because of the unusually heavy rains, the fields around the school were flooded and there was nowhere to play. Given my football prowess, that was probably no great loss, but it is important for the children to have some toys and sports equipment to use in their spare time. The younger children especially need to have some toys of their own, and maybe an area to play in.
Flooding elsewhere in Orissa
Because of the heavy rains while we were there, many areas of Orissa were flooded, or very close to flooding, including the area around the school. At times the rain was so heavy that even travelling from the school to Bhubaneswar and around became difficult. Many of the kids were worried about what was happening in their home villages. During most evenings the older ones watched the news on the school TV, while the younger ones would pretend they understood. It must be hard to be young, living away from home, and not to be able to find out whether everyone at home was all right in the floods. Despite this, and the continuing rain, the kids were always in good spirits.
We have also modified our general leaflet about PUSS and Friends of the Children of Orissa. Please let us know if you would like us to send you a small (or indeed large!) supply to help you recruit new members, and do refer people to our web-site www.orissa.org.uk
We have already gained several subscribers "cold" just from the web site and the message that every penny goes to the children in Orissa is a very powerful one. The big charities are spending vast sums on promotion, including affable young people button-holing you on the street; this is enormously expensive and the revenues barely cover the costs. Friends of the Children of Orissa is a far more attractive proposition for people who care about value for money.
Filgrave, October 2003, Malcolm Harper
© Friends of the Children of Orissa