Glasses for our Children! – 20 Sep 16

Today I just want to give you a very quick update for something that I am very happy about: the glasses arrived!

I told you that in our eye camp, the eye doctors found several children to be in need of glasses. Now finally their glasses have arrived – just in time for their exams, which have started yesterday. These children can now look at the blackboard and clearly see what they have to write. It will prevent their eyesight from getting worse in future, too!

Additionally, there were some children who need further examinations and treatment. They have had their pre-checkup and we will send them again to meet the head doctor who will make sure that their eyes get the treatment needed!

For the next ten days, the kids will be excitedly coming to school in the morning for the year’s first exams and leave relieved and happy when they have filled their pages with knowledge.

That’s it with news of our school for today. If you would like to support us, you are more than welcome to sponsor a child or the food for a day for the children of our school – we thank you from our hearts for your support!

Free Eye Checkup for the Children of our School – 31 Aug 16

Two days ago, the children of our charity school had a special event in school: a team of doctors came from a close-by eye hospital and every single child of our school received a check-up – completely for free!

An eye check-up doesn’t seem like a big thing to a lot of people. It is however when the doctor’s fees cost you a complete day’s work and any treatment would cost you at least two days’ income on top of that! Glasses come at least at a week’s income – can you afford that?

This is the situation of our school children’s families. They use the daily earned money for their meals. If they spend money for a doctor, they do it when it is really serious, not to be cured by home remedies or simply time and thus definitely not for preventative check-ups. That’s how minor and even bigger problems with the eyesight of children often remain undetected and thus worsen over the course of time due to a lack of treatment.

That’s how the team of doctors did a great work day before yesterday, checking every child’s eye, having them test their eyesight themselves and checking on the exact number for the required glasses. Of our nearly 250 children, 32 children will now get glasses and seven of them have to go to the hospital to have further checkups. They may need bigger treatment or have such high numbers in their glasses that they need to be thoroughly checked to make sure there is nothing else that needs attention!

It is amazing that there are a few children who practically see nothing clear which is further away than three meters – but they never noticed that this was any problem! Our teachers told that they already had suspected something about a few of them.

So now we are eagerly waiting for the glasses to arrive – so that all of our kids have a clear view to the blackboard!

Click here to see pictures of this eye examination

Four Girls and two Boys – and five of them learning with us! – Our School Children – 29 Apr 16

Today I will introduce you to one of those children who will be in our school for the first time in the next school year: Hari Om. Arriving at his home, we realize that the members of this family are no strangers to us! Hari Om will definitely feel at home at our school – three of his sisters are currently learning with us and his oldest sister has already finished her primary education with us!

It is one of those families that would not have had as many children had a few chromosomes been different: they had four girls before they finally had the two sons they always wanted to have! What they did not think about, just as so many other families with illiterate or less educated parents, is that they still need to raise those four girls! They don’t have the funds to send them to school – how are they going to pay for their weddings?

It is quite a predicament which the family got itself into, especially as the father’s health is not good at all. He has a kind of a permanent cough which gets better sometimes and at other times gets so bad that he cannot even leave bed in the morning! After having been to their home the last time, I already told you that doctors had denied treatment, saying that it would not be possible to do anything about it. A childhood injury which is impossible to treat today, at least that’s what the family tells us.

They have their buffalo cows that give milk when they had calves but at the same time eat a whole lot, which narrows down the profit. That’s how they started opening on of their rooms towards the street, selling sweets, snacks, pens and similar small things from there to people walking by. As the father goes out to search work, the mother sells there and, whenever she is busy for example with the buffalo cows, the girls take care of the shop.

They are very poor, no doubt about that, but as I told you already last time when I wrote about them: they are among the jolliest people, enjoying life, laughing and having fun whenever you meet them!

You can support family’s like Hari Om’s with a child sponsorship or by donating the food for a day for the children of our school!

Farewell Party at Ammaji’s for our Fifth Graders – 26 Apr 16

Yesterday I mentioned that Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant also supports our charity school and when rereading, I remembered that I had not told you about an event we had at the restaurant last week: the farewell party for the children of the 5th class of our school!

Yes, the year has already progressed so far that the end of the school year has arrived and the oldest children of our school, those of the fifth class, have completed their time with us. Exams are over and the day they had their last exam, we invited the fourth and the fifth class over to Ammaji’s for the farewell party.

It is a tradition that the second-oldest students bid the oldest ones farewell. They had hand-made cards for those whose places they will take in the next year, each equipped with a poem and a few personal lines for the fifth-grader. The kids of the fifth class, in turn, had cards prepared for the teachers and Ramona, praising a quality of each and thanking them for their time, effort and love they put in into educating them.

After this exchange, the kids, all in their best clothes, sat down at the tables and had the first fine dining experience of their lives, with our waiters serving them a delicious lunch!

When their meal was over, all there was left to do was to take a picture and then say good-bye – to which we added a reminder and encouragement for the fifth-graders to keep on studying well. And of course we told them that we, as well as their teachers, would always be there for them, whatever questions, problems or needs would arise in future years.

It is always a bittersweet goodbye. Children who have grown in front of our eyes from small kids to young adults. Children of whom we are proud because they have learned so much more than their parents ever have, just in primary school! They have faced odds and will face even more in future but we know that we have given them a base to build on. Basic education which will be the seeds for what they will do in future.

We are looking forward to seeing them in future and finding out where their ways took them!

When the warm Lunch at School is the best part of the Day – Our School Children – 18 Mar 16

Today I would like to introduce you to Dhruv, a boy of our school who started learning with us in July. In that time we were at first unsure whether he is not too small for our school – but soon noticed that he is only shy at first and is quite clever picking up new information!

Dhruv was with his five years among the smallest children of our newly admitted students. His father being a hairdresser in a poor area of Vrindavan, his parents had heard of our school from the neighbours and their children. Dhruv’s family owns a small house in the second row from the main road. The entrance is a door leading into a rather narrow walkway that then opens into a courtyard. It has three rooms, one of which is used for sleeping and living, one as a kitchen and one for storage.

This means that Dhruv’s parents share that one living room with their three children as well as Dhruv’s grandmother. They have three beds, one of which is just a metal frame with cloth stretched in between. When we ask Dhruv who sleeps where, he tells that his father usually sleeps on the floor – so that the women and kids sleep on the beds. Dhruv is the oldest of three, with two younger sisters.

Dhruv’s father is a hairdresser, renting a shop two houses further and paying the rent for it from his income. As there are several more men of the same profession just next door, the income can vary greatly – and often, the result is that they have not more than the essentials for dinner. ‘We eat bread, lentils and pray that it gets better’, Dhruv’s grandmother tells. Of course, vegetables and fruit would be important for the kids, too, but that is something that is reserved for times when business runs well.

That’s how it is not only important for the family that we provide Dhruv quality education for no money at all. No, he also gets a warm lunch at our school every day, making sure that at least one of three kids has had something warm and nourishing in the stomach!

Dhruv is just about to start his exams for the end of the year and is obviously excited due to that. We are happy that we have several years ahead of us supporting this boy and his family!

If you feel like helping us with this effort, you can sponsor a child or the food for a day. We already thank you for your support!

Another three-in-one Surgery for Monika – 14 Mar 16

I already started telling you yesterday that Monika has had her third surgery! It has been completed successfully and she is recovering at a guest house near the hospital in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi.

I had told you already in January that we were going to the hospital with her. We went and returned without having anything done, as she had got fever in the night and an infection in her respiratory system which made the anesthetist decide not to risk anything with a surgery.

So we had brought her back home and gave her time to recover. It was a persistent infection however and took long to fully heal. It was about the same time that my father’s surgery was decided when Monika was fully healthy again. The waiting list for plastic surgery is obviously fuller than the one for knee replacements and so Monika got an appointment later in the past week.

She was of course excited when she came to the hospital: the doctors were going to work on her mouth so that she would be able to open it fully again! And they wanted to work on her right eye once more, as she could still not close it completely, in spite of the past surgery in December 2014 for the same eye.

We were there when she went into the operation theatre and of course also when she returned – and we were surprised to see her bandage: it didn't only cover her right eye and her lower jaw but also went around her complete neck and upper chest! Had they worked on her neck again?

Yes, they had! In a discussion on short notice, the surgeons had decided that they would make another release cut, skin transplant and graft for her neck while they were already working on her mouth! She had grown a lot since her first surgery and one could see that it was pulling her chin down again!

So it was a three-in-one surgery and it will of course take time to recover! They released her quickly though, as they will open the bandage and change the dressing only in a few days. As before, Monika is thus staying in a guesthouse close-by together with her mother. We will go and visit on our next trip to Delhi – and I am sure we will find this brave girl eager to start the next steps of her healing process!

Click here to read more about Monika and support her treatment

A Half-Orphan searching for his Place – Our School Children – 11 Mar 16

Today I would like to introduce you to Harshit, another boy of our school. He is a half-orphan and he doesn’t even live with his living parent, his mother. He lives with his aunt – who is not too eager to keep him either!

Three years ago, Harshit’s father suddenly seemed to have gone crazy. He said funny things, he started walking to places where he had no work or no reason to be and, most of all, he didn’t do his work as a tractor driver properly. His family brought him to a doctor who gave him medicines. He started driving the tractor again – but unfortunately did not continue taking his medicine properly. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. In the end, whatever had upset his brain won and his body succumbed. He died, leaving behind his wife, two daughter and one son, Harshit.

Harshit’s mother is now the one caring for her parents-in-law, the cow and the buffalo cow. And of course she also had the responsibility for all three of her children. Harshit, a lively boy, was getting more and more difficult to keep away from doing nonsense and so she asked her sister for help. Nearly one year ago, Harshit thus came to Vrindavan.

He is now living with his two cousins and his aunt who helps cooking food in an Ashram in the morning and sews blouses for women to add to the income. Harshit’s uncle words as security guard in a temple. They don’t have a huge income and with rent, food and the school fees for Harshit’s cousins, it can get quite tight!

This as well as Harshit’s habit of getting into difficult situations seems to make the aunt slightly regretful of her offer to help her sister. It is not easy for her to keep the boy either – but she does it because one should help family whenever needed.

For Harshit, this state is obviously not pleasant. His mother has not been able to visit him in Vrindavan for the past year at all. His father is no more and his aunt started to resent his presence in her home. But what to do? Maybe some of the naughty ideas he has have their roots in the difficulty of his situation!

There is one good thing however: Harshit got admitted to our school last year! He enjoys it there very much and has found friends. And that all without a burden for the family!

You can help us supporting children like Harshit! Sponsor a child or the food for a day!

When Teenagers work as Labourers – Our School Children – 4 Mar 16

Today I want to introduce you to two brothers who have joined our school in the last year: Mukesh and Jitendra. They are brothers and only one year apart from each other but already in the first days after their admission, the teachers noticed that these two boys are quite different from each other!

While Mukesh answered the questions of teachers, worked along well and also started finding friends quite quickly, his younger brother Jitendra didn’t say a word, often only started doing the work teachers told him to do but didn’t finish it, not reacting a lot at all on anything.

Over the course of the past school year however, also Jitendra started working along! The teachers soon noticed that Jitendra did in fact pay attention – he just mainly did not speak a lot. It was not easy but with a lot of attention by the teachers, Jitendra now speaks. On low volume and not much but he does!

Jitendra is nine years old and Mukesh ten. They are the youngest of five children, with two elder sisters and one elder brother. Their brother is the eldest with fifteen years – and he has been going to work and earning money for three or four years already!

The boys’ mother tells that he completed his primary schooling, until 5th class, and then didn’t want to go back to school. That’s how the father decided that better than sitting at home, he could go to work with him and earn some money. Make himself useful and contribute to the family income. The father is a daily labourer who goes to construction sites and brings bricks or sand from one spot to another, simply doing hard manual labour – and he taught his son to do the same already at the beginning of his teenage years.

The eldest daughter doesn’t go to school either. Her mother tells that she, too, is fifteen years old but that her oldest children are not twins. You can see in that already that they don’t exactly know when their children were born. This teenager is thus at home, helping her mother with the household and learning whatever is necessary for being a good housewife.

The next daughter, age 12, goes to school and the mother calls her ‘the most intelligent of the family’. And of course Mukesh and Jitendra.

The income of the boys’ father and brother is obviously not huge. They earn whenever they find work and they try their best to find it regularly. That’s how they can afford the rent for their home and food for the family. School admission fees, monthly fees, exam fees, uniforms and books however would be a huge extra expense. They might try to make it – but they would have to struggle greatly and might even give up, especially with someone like Jitendra who just didn’t seem to take in any information the teacher gave him at the beginning.

We will not give up on him or any other child however – we will help these boys and the other children of our school get a solid primary education which will be the base for further learning! You can help us with this by sponsoring a child or the food for a day!

Officially a Half-Orphan living like an Orphan – Our School Children – 26 Feb 16

Today I would like to introduce you to the oldest girl of our smallest class, the LKG. Her name is Beena and she is ten years old. When we went to her home last week, we knew exactly we wouldn’t meet her parents – let me tell you why.

At the time of admission last year, Beena came with her aunt and her cousins. Her aunt admitted her own children and then asked Ramona to take Beena as well. Ramona obviously asked her to please send Beena’s parents. That’s when she got to know that Beena was living neither with her aunt nor with her father. She is living with her grandparents!

Beena’s mother died in childbed. Her grandmother tried to explain us that after the baby had been born, the placenta did not come out. It was a home birth and the family had hired two nurses for the birth – but the situation got out of control and until the nurse had the idea to finally call a doctor, the new mother was already closer to death than life. They couldn’t save her – and there was Beena, a healthy baby girl, not knowing that she had just lost her mother.

Obviously, in the time of mourning, there were many people around who helped get the girl through the first months. After that, however, help became less and less and when Beena’s father went to work, he simply left her with his own mother. She asked in the family whether there was a younger woman who would raise the girl with her but nobody was interested in taking the burden.

It was even worse when Beena’s father remarried: he now has a new wife and children but none of them has any bigger interest in Beena than saying hello and goodnight. That’s how Beena was raised by her grandmother and calls her ‘Mum’, too. Her grandfather is the one providing for her. They live in a room at the front of the property and Beena’s father with his new wife and children behind that in another room.

Obviously, money is always tight. Beena’s father takes care of his own family by running a small shop while her grandfather goes to work as a security guard at a cow house to provide for his wife and granddaughter.

Now Beena is at our school and she enjoys it there. She learns quickly and helps her younger classmates.

You can help us helping children like Beena! Sponsor a Child or the Food for a Day for the children of our school!

When a Mother doesn’t know the Age of her Children – Our School Children – 19 Feb 16

It is Friday again, time to introduce you to one of the children of our school! Today it is the turn of Harichand, a nine-year-old who started learning in our school in July. He, too, is from one of the poor areas of our town.

When we reached Harichand’s home, we met his mother and also his sister. The following conversation took place mostly with Pooja, Harichand’s sister, as their mother’s ears are not anymore as good as they used to be. Pooja however seemed used to answer in place of her mother.

Their elder brother is probably 15 years old – their mother was not sure but that’s what Pooja told us. She herself is eleven and Harichand nine years old.

The property they live on is theirs, inherited from their grandparents. That is good – because a monthly rent would probably be too much for Harichand’s father to pay regularly every month! He is an ox wagon driver and has to search for work every day. His daughter tells that he very rarely gets work. Often, he is hired for only one round with his ox wagon – not enough to pay for all the expenses of the family!

That’s how the two elder children go to a government school right now, a school with very low quality where the children themselves need to see that they learn because the teachers mostly don’t really care.

We talked to Pooja as well to join our school in the next year, too. They will definitely get to see a difference quite fast: in our school, the teachers do care about their students’ progress and that’s how the children also learn faster and better! And that all while studying completely for free!

You can support children like Harichand by sponsoring a child or the food for a day.