Thangachimadam Orphanage

We (or rather St. Loy’s School, near Towcester) has been supporting this project for many, many years. 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 living in the orphanage.  Their food is of a very high standard (compared to most of our other projects) all thanks to the children and staff at St. Loy’s School.

This year Mrs Johnson is coming with me - how EXCITING!!!!!!

So below is a photo you will all recognise.  Watch out for a similar photo but with Mrs Johnson in it!!! 




After breakfast on Saturday, one of the Sisters took us in an auto to the Bus station and put us on the bus to Thangachimadam.  The journey would take about 4 hours.  We went through towns, villages and country side, so Mrs Johnson could see lots of different things.  She was a little worried about the bus though - it was very old and would not be allowed in the UK!  There were lots of dangerous looking wires and the driver’s seat was an old kitchen chair tied onto metal on the floor!  Note the two lemons used as knobs!  We were driving around cows sitting in the middle of the road and swerving to avoid the goats which made her gasp with worry.



I have not been to India at this time of year before and had never seen so much water!  Usually everywhere is dry and dusty when I am here, but there were lakes and rivers which looked quite beautiful.  Plus everything was green instead of dusty brown.  After about 3 hours we could see the sea on one side and the ground was now sandy.  Then we could see the sea on the other side as well so I knew we were getting close to the bridge.  We were sitting at the front of the bus and Mrs Johnson was sitting next to the window, so she had a really good view.  The bridge is 3km long, so at the beginning you cannot see the other side!  When you are high on the bridge you can look down and see the old railway bridge.  Then we were on the island of Rameswaram!  We went through a couple of villages and I could see the spire of the Church, so I know where to get off the bus.  However, the nice driver told us to wait and he would drop us off opposite to the Convent. 
 
Mrs Johnson took photos of the road, Church and all the way to the campus - you will be able to see all the photos when she gets back!  We put our luggage in our room and went to see everyone - they were not expecting us for another half an hour, as the bus was early.  So we had a wash and then Sr Jovita came to say that the children were waiting for us.  This is what we saw and Mrs Johnson started crying as she was so moved and happy.  The girls were all lined up and two small girls gave us some flowers.  Then two older girls put a dot of yellow and red paste onto our foreheads as a greeting.  We walked through the lines of children as they clapped.

  
 
We had lunch with all the Sisters which included Srs Bibiana, Charles and Jovita - so all of the orphanage wardens.  Sr Bibiana had just come out of hospital and Sr Charles was visiting. 
 
After lunch we bathed - this is the only place I go to that has shower so Mrs Johnson is very lucky - although it is only with cold water, but as it is HOT here that was fine.  (We understand that it is rather chilly in England?)  Then she dressed in a sari and this is her standing outside our room.


 
Obviously first of all, I wanted to show Mrs Johnson THE TOILETS.  The girls wanted to show us their rooms etc and kept saying “No, this way, only toilets”  and we were saying “Yes, we see toilets first” which they thought was very strange.  One of the older girls translated for the smaller ones and I explained that one of the first things St Loy’s School paid for was the concreting, then they understood.  So here is the promised photo!


 
Then we went to the orphanage and again it was explained that St Loy’s had paid for the old cow barn to be converted, including putting in doors and windows, a concrete floor and for it to be painted.  Mrs Johnson has taken lots of photos to show you, but this one shows the attic with the benches/shelving and tin trunks you paid for.  

 

The girls had made a welcome rangoli pattern for us as well.  There are 175 of them here at the moment including several new year 1 girls.

 

We had a cup of tea and a biscuit and then went visiting.  The gardener here is quite an old man, but he started working for the Sisters when he was only 13.  Today (Sunday) his daughter is getting married, so we went to ‘wish’ the family.  We went in an auto but walked back which was lovely as it was then evening and cooler.  By the time we got back it was very dark - and there was no electricity!  I had intended updating the website last night, but could not - sorry!  They only have electricity here in the day-time and so it is very difficult for the girls to study and do their homework as they only have two solar lamps.  I asked how much a new solar system would be - very costly - 25,000 rupees!  Converted into pounds, this is £299.40, so I said we would pay for it.
 
We went to bed early and slept VERY well.  Breakfast was at 7.30 and we had egg curry with bread rolls, or iddiapom which is like a rice vermicelli (a very thin noodle) with coconut cream.  There was also butter, cheese and jam for us.  Mrs Johnson is going to spend the day with the girls, after a tour of the campus and we are going to have lunch and supper with them.  Today they have a special lunch - the gardener is paying for the girls to have chicken to celebrate his daughter’s marriage!  At 5 o’clock the girls are going to perform a ’function’ for us - so singing and dancing which I will film for you.  Next update tomorrow depending on the electricity!!!

Now you need to scroll back up to the top of the page and click on 'Thangachimadam page 2' in the left-hand column, to read what happens next and to see more photos.  







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