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Daytime care for Poonjeri orphan children

Malar Trust helps orphan children from the Poonjeri Irula community: a new day care project started

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The children taking part to the project

Last February, after a couple of Italian volunteers spent a few weeks in the Poonjeri Irula community an anomaly caught our attention: there was a group of children wandering through the village streets during the day, apparently without attending school and unsupervised by adults. The investigations unveiled a critical situation. Coincidence has it that within the timeframe of a couple of months, a number of children aged two to thirteen lost one or both parents, leaving them in a state of semi-abandonment.

After this discovery, Malar Trust India staff organized a meeting with the community. This resulted in the decision to launch a project similar to the day care center Panjartheerthi: a meeting point where an assistant welcomes the children in the morning, checks that they are clean and have school uniforms in order, prepares breakfast and sends them off to school.

Malar Trust has rented a small room with kitchen and hired a second shift teacher from the kindergarten Malar Trust has run for years as a chef and supervisor. A second woman in the village bathes the children and accompanies them to school.

The day care center for orphans of the Irular community of Poonjeri was inaugurated in February. This center welcomes about fifteen children with family problems plus two girls who have been granted access to the canteen even if coming from families with both parents on the advice of the pediatrician who reported symptoms of malnutrition.

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Children ready to go to school after breakfast

All the children received a backpack, exercise books, school uniforms and clothes. Since February, members have started to regularly attend school and even follow the Malar Trust afterschool program .

 

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Challenging new programme launched in Panjartheerthi

After eight months since we opened the Tuition Center with Save International, for Irula and Dalit children of Panjartheerthi, we now need  to improve children attendance at school: to convince the about 30 children to go to school regularly is the aim of this project.
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Group picture of Panjartheerthi Irula students

We recently met the Head Teacher of the local school and she is desperate to improve attendance. In order to keep the school open she needs at least 20 children but despite the 35 children enrolled this year (31 of which are Irula), there are only very few children at school when there is a government inspection. She says the children do not come school, often she goes to look for them around the village in the morning. She finds that the children are often not clean and are hungry, sometime away with their parent when they find jobs away from the village. Conditions in the village are very basic.

It is interesting that most of the children do come to the existing Tuition Center regularly, perhaps this is because of the daily snack we offer? What else we can offer to encourage better school attendance and improve the lives of these children and their families?

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Children having breakfast before going to school

We thought that if we offer a place where children can come in the morning, get washed, have clean school uniform and a good breakfast, this may help.  Obviously this service will be for the children who do really go to school.  We met with the families, parents and children and they agreed to try this service.

Luckily we soon found a small house to rent very near the Irula village, with a kitchen, bathroom, store room and a small terrace in front of the house where the children can sit and eat. We hired two young women from the same community, one to cook and the other will help the children to wash and dress, both will wash all the school uniforms.

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Children go to school after breakfast

On November 17th we started with 26 children attending the first day.  After two weeks the project is a great success.  The Head Teacher can hardly believe such a quick change to school attendance.

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The Tuition class in the afternoon

Also because the house is so close to the village we decided to use it to run the afternoon tuition session.  We hired a new teacher, Mrs Rajeshwari, and left the other teacher, Megala, to continue with the Dallit children at the other building. The Head teacher, cook, other helper and tuition teacher will work together as a team to provide the service and check the attendance at breakfast and afternoon tuition also match with the daily attendance at school.  Our hope is that this service for school children will greatly improve the lives of the families in the Irula community and help them continue to develop new opportunities.

 

Launched a new coaching program for 10th standard students

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TVO request for MTI support to its coaching class in 4 villages

Also this year we decided to continue and even improve our collaboration with TVO (Tamil Nadu Village Outreach), sponsoring its program of coaching classes that help students to pass 10th standard exams.

TVO is a local NGO supported by the American Association Save International and this year the number of classes supported by malar Trust pass from three to four, being Arunkundram village added to  Ellandoppu, Mullipakkam and Karanai.

After three years, the benefit of this project is definitely proved: the number of students that last year passed 10th standard with excellent results has been impressive: especially in Elandoppu, and thanks to the capability of its teacher Gnanasekharan, a vast number of students passed the exam scoring more than 400 out of 500 total marks.

Malar Trust will pay for the salary of all the four teachers, while Save Int’l will pay for extra things like coaching guides, stationary, transport and students awards.

The project, for the duration of eleven months, worth about 1 lahk and is granted with Malar Trust Onlus funds