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More Indian exploration

Yesterday I hit the ground running. Today has been quieter.

It is the last day of the Indian school year, so it was a last chance to see Happy Valley special needs school in action. There are some 50 children on the books, and today just 25 came in the new bright yellow school bus. A full programme followed for the morning – assembly with prayers, promising allegiance and exercises. The children then came in, and physiotherapy, crafts and tuition in small groups followed. The children’s ability to learn is very limited, but with patience and persistence many of them are able to master the art of simple writing and reading in Malayalam (the local language) and English, along with basic numbers and arithmetic. Physiotherapy and speech therapy, conducted by skilled professionals, make all the difference to many children, and one of the benefits of having not visited for two years is that I was able to see the difference that these make, with children able to do significantly more than previously. The lead image shows Vishnu, who has very severe cerebral palsy, having physiotherapy.

Shibu came, and I was able to catch up with him about some of his patients. He currently looks after six, who would not get treated if he were not there in the hospital to care for them. I’m hoping to get the details of the rest tomorrow. Unfortunately I will not be able to visit: Covid rules still apply here.

After the children had gone home I met the Banyan Tree’s Management Committee. They have a good range of skills. I encouraged them to find more supporters and trust income for Happy Valley and the other work of the Banyan Tree. Philip has a great track record, and they need to make the most of this. And Philip has proved that it is possible to raise money in India when he raised most of the money needed for the new bus.

We then went to see some of the people that we help. Rhada is an old friend. She recently had kidney problems. Fortunately they responded well to medication, but she needed a bit of help to get to the hospital for a checkup and to pay for the medicines, so I gave her Rs. 1,000/- – GBP10 to you and me. A little money goes a long way in India, where the state pension is just GBP16 a month.

Sarath is a young man. Just 27 years old, he has crippling IBS and Chrone’s disease. Treatment was prescribed – a fortnightly injection for two years. The cost is GBP75 a dose – as much if not more than a man earns in a fortnight in India. They get some help, but the cost is still crippling to the family. I was able to pay for his next dose, and we hope to be able to help with some more in future.

Then it was off to the tuition group at Cheropolly. This is hugely successful – some 40 children come along, with more wanting to join. In the evening group there were 24 children there, all eager to learn and practice their English on me. We are looking at starting a second group here, if we can find the funding. This will enable the children to be segregated by age, which will make it even more effective.

After a few more visits to people that we help regularly, or have helped in the past, it was time to return to Happy Valley for a very late dinner. It is most unusual to return in the daylight!

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