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
Kuku Patra Visits the UK
Kuku picking apples in Filgrave
Kuku Patra, the young woman who so competently took over the management of PUSS when her father and her aunt died last year, arrived at Heathrow on 28th September. There had been some anxious moments with the visa department of the British High Commission in Calcutta, but she finally made it.
Anonymous donor pays for visit
The ten day trip was paid for by an anonymous donor; we stick to our principle of ensuring that every penny you donate goes to the school in Orissa. The visit was in part a 'thank you' to Kuku for all her hard work, partly for her to do some fund raising, and partly an opportunity for her to meet old friends who have been to PUSS, and to make new friends among our supporters.
First flight in an aeroplane
The visit was a great success, in every respect. Even the weather co-operated, and Kuku may have gone home with too favourable a view of our climate. She made the best of every moment. It was only her second trip to Delhi, and her first flight in an aeroplane, her first taste of plums, raspberries, figs, pears, blackberries and her first chance to pick an apple from a tree. The only thing that beat her was the escalators, but London busses are more fun than the tube anyway!
We asked Kuku to make a note of her impressions. This is what she wrote:
I would like to share some of my experiences during my 10 days visit in September 2009.
The cleanliness of England
Firstly, I am so amazed to see the cleanliness of England. I visited Filgrave, London, Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell, Bedford, Oxford. Everywhere I found the roads are very clean. All the people are so aware of keeping the country clean, it is really commendable. Also in homes people maintain three dustbins for compost, rubbish and recycling of plastics. I'm very much interested to implement this in our organization. I will also talk to the local Municipal authority about the recycling of plastics. Because in Orissa we are not aware of recycling and everybody throws huge lots of plastics on the street.
Advanced technology of England
Secondly, I'm amazed by the advanced technology of England. Not only for households but also in parking areas, railway stations, bus stops, shopping malls, offices, cultivation fields, and museums you have enormously advanced technologies which make life easier and save time and energy.
English people never waste a second
Thirdly, English people are incredibly organized. They never waste a second at all. They read books, work on their laptops even in trains, buses, railway stations and wherever they find any spare time. Fourthly, most of the people are health conscious and they do exercises, run and walk to stay healthy.
English people are kind, cooperative and friendly
Fifthly, I had a wrong idea that the English people are mostly rude. But here I find the opposite. English people are kind, cooperative and friendly. The sixth point is that in England the driving and traffic rules are excellent. There are endless good things to write about my experience in England but as the letter is already very long I shall stop writing now.
We asked Kuku to mention something she did not like. After some thought she was about to tell us, but then she said: "No, that's the same as in India", and would say no more.
British Venture Capital Association
Kuku gave three talks; one to the group of friends who met at The Old Farm House on 23rd September, one to the British Venture Capital Association who have chosen Friends of the Children of Orissa as their charity of the year, and one at Bushfield Middle School in Wolverton.
She told the venture capitalists and the children about Shanti, a seven year old who was brought to PUSS with her little friend Jubli, when I was there in early September.
Shanti and Jubli at PUSS
Shanti called the Indian Government's 'Childline'
Shanti had no idea where she had come from, and she does not know Oriya, the language of Orissa, but her accent apparently suggests that she is from Bihar, several hundred kilometres North of Orissa. She said that her Father had been a snake charmer. He was removing the fangs from a new snake when he was bitten and died. Her mother died a few weeks later, and Shanti was taken in by her aunt and uncle. They made her beg for cash and scraps of food, but she said they never gave her anything, they just took whatever she had got and drove her out to beg for more. She was begging on a train at the local station one day, as many Indian children do, and the train started and took her away. She lived on the trains for some time, until she showed up at Bhubaneswar station in Orissa.
Another railway child suggested that Shanti should phone 1098, the Indian Government's 'Childline' number. She did, and their staff collected her and took her to PUSS. They also brought three year old Jubli. Her widowed mother had been thrown out of her house by her husband's family, an all too common occurrence. She had been begging to survive with Jubli tagging along, but had just got a job as a live-in maid. She would not be allowed to have her child with her, so she too had called 'Childline', and they brought Jubli to PUSS.
These two brought the numbers up from 394 to 396. Kuku reckons that the existing site can cope with up to 500 children, and she has plans to build new dormitories and classrooms to accommodate them. If funds allow, that is. And then, maybe, they will open a new school elsewhere in Orissa, or beyond. A number of earlier 'graduates' from PUSS are working as government child-care assistants, and some of them would be only too happy to work in a new PUSS school.
The need is never-ending, and so is the need for funds; please keep it coming!
Malcolm Harper, Filgrave, October 2009
© Friends of the Children of Orissa