First Term, 2015!
Dear Friends of Vanavil,
The best and happy wishes to one and all from the children and team at Vanavil. We are at the beginning of the farming season in the Cauvery delta and the Vanavil farm is waiting along with acres of other farms for the rains to come. It’s the end of the first term and we have completed our term exams.
The most expected day for the children at Vanavil is Deepavali as they get their only new dress apart from the uniforms for Deepavali and we generally celebrate Deepavali at the school itself to prevent children from begging for sweets and crackers. Every child gets a new dress, crackers, sweets and a special Deepavali breakfast. It costs us Eight hundred rupees (Rs.800/-) for each child to have a slice of happiness on the festival of lights and we welcome all our supporters to celebrate this Deepavali along with the children of Vanavil by supporting this expense.
The greatest news of course is the fact that in its tenth year Vanavil has taken a new step towards reaching more children. We have started Vanavil afterschool centers in two villages where the same nomadic tribes Aadiyans live. In Neelappadi and Porakudi the aadiyans live and while many children in these villages attend school some are entirely out of school and many of the enrolled children also take to the streets regularly. The after school centers would work with them and the community and will move forward to achieve total education for all the children in these villages gradually. The strength and support for this move comes from our anonymous donors from Singapore who are invested into the proper strengthening and growth of Vanavil. We thank them for the trust and support.
Vanavil’s children have finished their first term and learning English through the computer lab and from the new phoneme based learning, introduced by our expert volunteer Erin Dowd, who spent two valuable months with Vanavil this summer, and Delaney Dangerfield our young student volunteer, has been an exciting learning activity for the children.
Continuing with our two volunteers who came all the way from the USA came Vinoth, a young engineer who had to be in Nagapattinam for a few months on family matters. He contacted Vanavil and volunteered to help the tenth standard kids with English and Math lessons. We are also hoping to rope in college students to volunteer at our new afterschool centers in Neelappadi and Porakkudi.
We took education outside the classrooms too. For their fifth standard Tamil lesson talking about ancient painting and rock art the children were taken to the Neelayadakshi temple to see the ancient sculpture and paintings. The children were asked to write and draw about their trip and they came up with some ingenuous artwork and ideas.
The initial months kept us busy with various admissions into the middle school and college for the elder children. We had a tough time getting admission for K.Sukanya who was 12 years old but her birth date was entered wrongly into the records. Shalini our social worker and Durga our new Project manager had to run between various government offices for almost two months as the Puducherry school’s Headmistress refused to admit the girl. Finally with the intervention of the District Collector himself and after we obtained a birth certificate for Sukanya we secured admission for her in the same school.
New bags were bought in Chennai by our Board member Dinesh and were given to the children. Human Rights foundation from Chennai donated 18 Good quality school bags, note books, geometry boxes to Vanavil. Dr.Elangovan (our ex-project manager Emaya’s father) and his friend visited Vanavil and they also donated stationeries for all the children and made a donation.
Independence day was celebrated in Vanavil with usual fanfare with cultural programmes and competitions. Vasuki who worked with Vanavil as an amazing warden cum teacher was visiting the children and she addressed the independence day meeting. The Flag was hoisted by Vanavil Board member Natarajan and our Theatre coach and Actor VijayaKumar.
Of the four children who took the class ten SSLC exams two girls had passed initially. Vedhanayaki who took the instant exams to clear her arrears cleared them and all three of them have joined plus one in the Sikkal Higher secondary school. The fourth student Kumar is working towards his exams again to clear the lone English paper he failed in. He along with Manikandan, Kalidas, Devayani and Selvarani are preparing to take the SSLC exams privately and are attending a tutorial college in Nagapattinam.
Kamarajar’s birthday and Periyar’s birthday were conducted as events where kids made oratory theatre about the lives of these leaders.
Thanks to Srinath, 19 new cycles were bought for the children who joined 6th standard this year at the Puducherry school and they were refitted also immediately to avoid repairs. A.S.Samy, P.Siva, and Manikandan have become cycle repair experts and they repaired all the cycles in the school year beginning. They were given gifts and were appreciated in the School assembly.
Thanks to our long time supporter Rajesh Haridas for the amazing sports kit he personally bought and sent over from San Francisco. The kids have a great time playing in their leisure time at Vanavil.
We made new uniforms for the kinder garden students and they now come to school and change into their uniforms. The uniforms are being washed by Vimala our help after the school.
Sathya our Kindergarden teacher resigned her job as she is getting marries and as is the custom in rural Tamilnadu still she was asked by her family to quit her job. We had a farewell meeting for this wonderful teacher. A new teacher has been appointed at her place called Jayalakshmi. Kokila our art teacher has also resigned owing to health issues and we have Gaythri an old teacher at Vanavil back in the team.
The new HM Surya has been effective in holding teachers meetings and getting the lesson plans turned in innovatively. Surya along with teachers Madhavan, Surendar and Gauthami attended a training on Abacus method of math teaching and phoneme training from Valli Rajam an educationist and long time supporter of Vanavil at Chennai.
Many repair and maintenance works have been done at Vanavil with the gracious help of our donors. We have closed the open entrance to the kitchen which was causing small thefts and other issues for the cooks. We have repaired the ground floor hostel and with a little more renovation we can make it the sleeping place for younger boys. The gap above the alcove in the teachers room was also closed to prevent some pranksters from getting into the staff room. The old grinder had given away and two smaller new grinders have been bought. Buying smaller grinders meant less cost and also easier load on the Electric meter.
The SSA (Education for all – Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) Education department officials visited the school and have been granting us roughly 84 to 86,000 rupees per month as grant. This would be given for ten months and we are hopeful that we would get roughly 8 lakhs from the government this year as support.
The social welfare board has been holding the monthly Home Management committee meetings. The process of obtaining civil supplies and LPG gas at subsidized prices through the social welfare board is being delayed at the boards side and Shalini is pursuing with that.
A network of alternative schools in Tamilnadu is being formed in the lines of the All India network of alternative schools. The first meeting for the same was held at the Sholay School in Kodaikanal. Marutham school from Tiruvannamalai is organizing this and Poornima and Harish from Marutham School visited Vanavil and invited us for the meeting. Emaya and Shalini from Vanavil attended this meeting.
Parameswari, Arthi and Sakunthala of Vanavil won prizes at the competitions held at the Puduchery school.
The leading Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan has launched a scheme along with prominent Tamil actor/choreographer Raghava Lawrence whereby they give one lakh each to hundred young people to help a cause they espouse. Geetha Elangovan, a longtime friend and supporter of Vanavil, is one of the chosen hundred and she has decided to help Vanavil with the one lakh rupees. We have given different requirements and the team at Vikatan and the actor will choose the things they want to do.
That’s all the good news from this rainbow at Nagapattinam. We look forward for a very happy Deepavali with all of you and we welcome volunteers to come to Vanavil during weekends to help the children with English classes, Computers or just to spend time with them and play a volleyball or football match. We would also be glad if any of you could collect used clothes in good condition and send it across to us.