Asha Kiran Ashram,our special needs centre in Tamil Nadu, is always a highlight of our visit and this year has proved to be no exception. The children were as excited as ever to see us, and enjoyed singing songs with us. We had bought a lot of simple musical instruments in Trivandrum, which we distributed to them all - what a cacophony! Not at all the usual rather formal meeting, and much better. We were also able to give them a huge pile of colouring books, crayons, excercide books, pencils and so on, as well as a lot of educational toys that we had brought from the UK or bought in India. And there has been a great deal of development in the children - children who could only crawl can now walk, week limbs have been strengthened, and children who could do nothing are now enabled to do simple tasks. It is all hugely encouraging and rewarding, and parents are marvellously enthusiastic - one drove for an hour to tell us!
Another encouragement is the way that local people are supporting Asha Kiran Ashram. Last night we collected a television for the children, along with a substatntial gift, from a family who have already supported Asha Kiran generously in the past; today a widow gave the lunch-time food (and enough left over for dinner as well) for all the children, this being in memory of her husband who died ten years ago. This local sujpport, along with the givernment grant that Santhosh is getting now, is becoming increasingly important as Asha Kiran expands, well beyond our ability to support it.