Karisalpatti Saturday

I woke at 6.30 and could hear the children sweeping outside my room, laughing and chatting.  As promised, I went and had breakfast with them.  It would be idli, which I really don’t like, but as I had promised I knew I must eat it.  However, I quite enjoyed it as it was with a very tasty dhal.  I only had one, but most children had three!  I was really amazed at how well behaved they were! 

After breakfast I sat and chatted to Sr Charles who is in charge of the children.  She used to work at our orphanage at Thangachimadam, so I knew that she would be just the right person to take over from Sr Hilaria.  I wrote down lots of facts and figures and she told me how well the children are doing, now they are having a healthy diet.  I could see that, just by looking at them!  Last year they were SO thin, that their elbows and knees looked very big because their arms and legs were so thin.  They were tired all of the time and slept a lot.  Each day 20 or 30 of them would go to the dispensary (little hospital / chemist where Sr Stella is the nurse) as they had fever or infection or other illness.  Now she only sees them occasionally if they are new here, all the other children are strong and healthy (and VERY happy!)  I cannot describe how absolutely wonderful it was to see these healthy children; I could not believe the difference.  All thanks to Clipston and Hunsbury Park Schools!!!!
Last year they had plain cunchi for breakfast every day - a very wet rice.  For lunch they had rice with a very thin gravy with a little vegetable in it.  For supper they had sausages and chips - only joking, they had rice with pepper water - yes, water flavoured with pepper.  So now, here is their new menu:-
Breakfast - idli = steamed rice cakes, served with dhal (lentil sauce with vegetables in it) Or beetroot rice, dhal rice, green rice etc served with sambal (vegetable sauce) or other gravy.  All with another vegetable - cluster beans, brinjal (aubergine) etc.  Or uppama which is sweet and also made of rice.  Lunch - Today they had CHICKEN BIRIANY!  And not just because I was there, they have chicken every other Saturday.  School dinners are rice with chopped egg or vegetables and at the weekends if they are not having chicken then rice or other cereals with curry.  After school and at weekends, after they have done their chores, they have a tumbler of milk and a snack.  Yes that is a tumbler of milk EVERY DAY.  Snacks are biscuits, puffed rice, Bombay mix, either sweet or savoury etc. Supper - Rice and sambal, or vegetables and sauce sometimes made with dried fish.  Or appalam - fried puffy sort of bread.  They also have pickles made from gooseberries, limes or mango to give another taste to the rice.  They have curd (yogurt) rice when the milk is delivered late. 
How WONDERFUL is it to hear how they are now eating!!??!!
So now they are healthy, I asked Sr Charles what else they needed - and really there is not much.  The main problem here is the lack of electricity - it is only on for about 8 or 10 hours a day and always off in the evening when the children need to study and have their supper.  So they want to install a solar light system - this will cost about £479.00.  A lot of money, but something we can plan for.  (They also want a solar hot water system, but this is much more than we can afford - about £1800.00!)
Other things made me laugh!  A complete set of stationery for each child - pens, pencils, coloured pencils, rubber, ruler, pencil case etc - comes to 47p for each child!
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap for washing themselves and their clothes (they all do their own washing by hand - even the youngest children!)   These items are a little more expensive - toothbrushes 11p, toothpaste 21p for a big 200ml tube, soap for washing themselves 16p and for washing their clothes 14p.  Not a lot to us, but very expensive for them when they have 70 children. 
They would also like to buy each child a sweater jacket for the cold season - I woke in the night and was a bit cold, and this is not the coldest season.  It is hot in the day, but cold at night and in the morning until the sun comes up, which is long after they are up.  A good quality sweater jacket which would last a long time and could be passed down to younger children, would be about £3.00 to £3.50 each, depending on their size.
I would also like to buy them some games and sports equipment - I have bought soft toys for the youngest children (26 in first and second standard, how many did I just happen to bring? 26!)  So skipping ropes, different sorts of balls, cricket set, badminton set, Frisbees and so forth.  Cost - about £45.00, to buy good quality ones so they last.     
Other costs - electricity and water =£15.00/month for both, and emptying the septic tank. (£84.00, twice a year.)  This all seems a lot, but if they tell me what they need then we can plan for it in the future.  At other projects they don't need anything at the moment.

So . . . .  After breakfast the children were gardening -  clearing weeds and looking after the plants they are growing - tomatoes, chillis, greens and okra.  They have mango, supporta, gooseberry, coconut and guava trees.  The banana trees are not producing fruit yet.  Some boys were having a bonfire to burn the rubbish.  Others were sweeping or washing their clothes.  On Saturdays they not only sweep, but wash their bedrooms (one for boys and one for girls) kitchen, bathroom etc.  (Not the sort of bathroom you are thinking of! - I will photograph for you.)

This morning Sr Charles and I caught a bus to the next village.  There we bought 100 laddus - the  children’s favourite treat. 

We were hot when we got back and I had a tender coconut to drink - have you seen these before?  (This photo is to show my mother that I am well and happy!)

The children are having a ’function’ - singing and dancing, which I will film for you.  Afterwards I will give the laddus out.  Remember the fabric garland I was given?  It was actually a sari!  So the matching blouse has been made for me and I will wear my new sari for the function. 
Lunch for the children was chicken biriany with onion raitha (chopped mild onions in yogurt,) but I am vegetarian, so I took over some rice, vegetables and curd and ate it with the children.  Below the children's meal.

My meal:-

In the afternoon, the children all stood in a big circle and held the happy messages the children in Mrs Butcher’s class from Clipston School had sent and the artwork from Hunsbury Park School.  They sang songs as I walked around the circle slowly, filming the children and the items you sent.  I will show you the films when I get back!
Snack was uppama - made from rice, a bit like wet cous cous. 

Then hot milk.  I dressed in my new sari ready for the function and soon it was time for supper - rice, pepper water and cabbage.

All ready for the function - costumes were made from one sheet of gold wrapping paper - crowns, belts and armlets and a piece of red material became a cloak for the infant Jesus.  Props = sticks from the garden for the dancing and as pretend microphones, covered in a paper streamer.  Red glitter and talc used as make up.


All the children performed and it was SO good!!!  Singing and dancing and a comic act.  Would you like to see it?  I have filmed it for
you.  Afterwards we all had a ladoo.

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