Children United! helps a group of Sisters in India to build and run schools, orphanages, women's refuges, children's homes and crèches. All fundraising is by volunteers who pay their own expenses. Thus there are no wages or administrative costs here in the U.K. or in India.
St Loys has been supporting the orphanage at Thangachimadam through Children United! for many years; Julie, who volunteers for Children United! (Reg'd Charity No. 1098864) makes regular visits to the island of Rameswaram and comes to St Loys to update us on the progress at the orphanage. The photograph below shows some of the orphans holding a photograph of our St Loys children!
The History of the Orphange:
Originally there were a number of homeless children who would sleep in the classrooms at Thangachimadam School at night for safety and would receive a little food from the Sisters. St. Loy’s School agreed to help them, and the rest as they say, is history. Now there are anything up to 200 permanent and temporary children there, living in a (recently extended) orphanage. They receive their food (of a very high standard compared to some other projects) schooling - uniforms, books and stationary, medical care, other clothing and soap, toothpaste etc. all thanks to the children and staff at St. Loy’s School, the parents and villagers.
Sister Bibiana who was in charge of the project, converted an old barn - not ideal, but at least it was dry, unlike any of the classrooms. (The island of Rameswaram gets a lot of rain!) Concrete floors were laid and doors put in. The children's bedding, clothes etc. had to be stored up in an 'attic', which leaked and was only reached by an outside staircase. All the children were bought a tin trunk to store their belongings and a number of benches and rough cupboards were purchased to keep everything off the floors.
One amount of money given, paid for a large concrete area to be laid around the existing toilets. This meant that there is now a 20cm step up - which the children can manage with ease, but prevents scorpions from gaining access to the dark toilets, where they used to like to hide. A scorpion's sting can kill a small child. A piece of homework on Thangachimadam given to the children at St. Loys resulted in an excellent model of the toilet block!
The children Sister Bibiana looks after are mostly abandoned; some are true orphans and there are a number of refugees from the troubles in the surrounding area. She also takes in temporary borders, girls whose parents are unable to look after them or who are away looking for work. There is virtually no income for the orphanage. There is no soil on the island, only sand on top of rock and the large stagnant pools are ideal breeding places for mosquitoes that carry maleria, dengue fever and chickengunya and keep the tourists away. The land is not suited to any crops, so fishing is the main employment, especially for the uneducated.
However a Spanish charity Manos Unidas, paid for a new school building and from money raised in 2006, St Loys helped to pay for an extension to the orphanage, which (much to the children's delight!) included an inside toilet!
Sister Bibiana, in her eightees, retired recently and Sister Charles took over.
Many of the 'original' children are now all young ladies. A few years ago, when the orphanage reached full capacity, the boys moved to a home run by a group of Brothers, only a couple of hundred metres away. They still attend Thangachimadam school. The girls at Thangachimadam get the best food of all of the Children United projects resulting in them being much taller and healthier than any of our other children!
What has been happening in recent years?:
Children United! tell us that they are so grateful to St. Loys for their continued help with this project. Our school's commitment has enabled them to help with so many other projects.
We get regular correspondence and photos from Thangachimadam.
In July 2016 our money was put towards a new Oven and Chimney for the kitchen which caters for 250 children currently living at the orphanage.
In December 2015 after just one sponsored event we were able to send £1110!
In 2013 an amazing £4147.20 was sent out! This included a donation to carry out lots of expensive building and repair work. More toilets were built, along with an incinerator. Some floors and corridors were re-concreted and walls repaired. More shelving was purchased. Sister Jovita sends regular emails to keep us updated and although they don't have a camera there, managed to send us some photos showing the work. As always, most of the money raised by our children at St Loy's, goes on milk and good healthy food for the girls. There are some treats though - such as a new CD player (the old cassette player kept breaking down when the girls were dancing) games equipment and of course, the new library.
In 2012 Mrs Johnson from St Loy's School went to visit the orphanage and the total sent out from our school in that year was £2476.25!