Paravai  (you say Para Vay)

Hello Weston Favell Primary School!  This is your new project!

This is what I knew before my visit:-  There will be lots of very poor children here, with very sad tales to tell.  In India, the homes (huts) belong to the husband's family.  So sometimes when the husband dies the mother and her children have no-where to live and no-one to provide for them.  There is no social security, disability benefits or child benefit here, so if the mother cannot work because she has to look after her baby / toddler, there will be no money at all.  Such very poor families come to Paravai, often with only the clothes they are wearing and often in very poor health.

So first they are given a medical check-up and treated.  Most just need to be given healthy food to eat to get them better.  The children who are old enough are given school uniforms and go to school.  The toddlers probably go to the creche (nursery) - I will find out when I get there.  The babies stay with their Mums.   We have similar projects in other places and at these places  we help the children by buying their food and milk, school uniforms, books and stationery.  Then they need everyday clothes, toothbrushes and paste, soap etc.   We also like to buy BOOKS and TOYS that they can share and SWEETS for special treats!   Usually the Mums are trained to be cooks or housekeepers, or are taught to sew and given a sewing machine, so they can work and earn money.  All of the ladies who work in all of our schools, orphanages and children's homes come from Paravai.  They are the cooks, gardeners and wardens (people who help and look after the children.)  They are all very happy to work with the children and their own children go to our schools.

Monday evening, 12th November  

I had not been to visit this project before but my friend Hilaria had been transferred here and as I would be going right past the entrance, it was not difficult to arrange!  We arrived on Monday evening and as we came  up the driveway, I could see a crowd of people, women and children, waiting for me.  But then I got VERY confused!  I had not been here before but I recognised her and her and those two and him and him and her!!!!  How could this be??  Then they were running towards me shouting ‘Welcome Julie-Auntie!’ and they were happy to see me again!  These were the children I recognised:-

Then it was explained to me.  Some of the children were from Karisalpatti and some from Kodai Kanal.  This was their home.  Some of the children do not have any family at all, no-one to look after them.  So they go to one of the Boardings and to the schools.  In the holidays (and this was Diwali holiday) they come here.  Some of the children were with their mothers, who live at Paravai.  They are destitute families - having lost their husbands and with no-where to live or families to help them.  So they come here, are trained to sew, cook or use a computer, helped to get a job and a home and then they can support themselves.  In the meantime the children go to our schools and all worries are taken away.

Monday evening was VERY frightening!!!  At Diwali, it is when they light fireworks - and it is the children who are lighting them!!!  They have firecrackers which frighten the life out of me!  The children were doing absolutely everything you should NOT do!  Going back to re-light a firework they thought had gone out, shooting rockets along the ground instead of up in the air etc etc.  How no-one was badly burnt I don’t know!  

Diwali on Tuesday is the day the children most look forward to.  They get up early and have an oil bath and put on the NEW clothes their families have bought for them.  Only one girl had an uncle who had bought her a new dress and so we bought outfits for everyone else.  (This is coming out of your penny trail money!  Is this a nice thing to do?) How happy do you think the children were - to have something new is not what they are used to.  The night before, some of them had decorated their hands:-

Then they had a service and a special breakfast.  I missed this bit as I was still in bed - having been up all night with a poorly tummy!  So as far as ‘Whatwehadtoeattoday’ is concerned, the children had idli for breakfast - a kind of sponge made from rice, served with a lentil and vegetable sauce, followed by a banana.  For lunch they had rice and curried vegetables.  I had ‘dioralyte’ and more ‘dioralyte’!  In the afternoon I was feeling a lot better and we gave out more gifts - yes, you are paying for these as well!  Every child had a new toothbrush, toothpaste, soap for themselves and their clothes and a bottle of coconut oil for their hair.  They were very happy! 

However, nothing as excited when compared to when we gave out the next items - pants!  Yes, pants as in knickers!  Most children don’t wear any, as they are too expensive for poor people.  How pleased were they to have pants!  If I had asked you what you though I might spend your money on, you would not have been surprised if I had said ‘on poor children who do not have any family at all.’  You would have been surprised if I had said ‘on pants!!’ 

All of these items did not cost very much at all - so the rest of your money will be kept for their school books and food etc - and for other children who come here - new ladies and children come all of the time.

I had also bought some sweets - a traditional gift at Diwali, so all in all, a brilliant time!  The children said that their friends would be jealous that they had spent Diwali with Julie-Aunty, but I think as most of them are orphans, they deserved to be treated especially well! 

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