OUR WORK IN 2016: A YEAR OF SERVICE & PROGRESS
2016 was a very busy year for us. We’re happy and grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the children and families we serve. Here are some of the highlights from our work in 2016
We started feeding Sonakshi, a one year old baby girl who was starving and in dire condition. The situation with Sonakshi’s family is complicated, and one year later we are still feeding her.
Vikas Project School
Our school ramped up to full speed in January after its December 2015 launch. One year later all of our older students are reading and writing and we’ve served more than 7,000 meals.
We helped our student Priya to have surgery for kidney stones, successfully ending years of pain that she had endured. We helped with the logistics and finances for her pre-op, hospitalization, and post-op recovery at home.
We spent several weeks helping dear Manju with a severe burn to her hand, likely preventing gangrene and the loss of part of her hand. When we first met her her hand was in extremely poor condition.
Babu’s Kidney Surgery
We spent most of March helping our dear friend Babu with a major kidney surgery in Jaipur, which required 15 days in the hospital and extended aftercare. Babu has brain damage and was facing kidney failure. Now his kidney has returned to near normal. We facilitated and financed all phases of his care.
We also spent much of March managing a large spate of dog bites, many of them from two dogs that were known to be rabid. This is a complicated endeavour that involves coordinating multiple shots for multiple people, and often transporting them from rural areas to receive care.
We threw a first ever birthday party for our dear friend Sunita at age 14. It was a memorable experience for everyone.
We added another class at our school and another teacher. Our Kindergarten grew to 25 students. Some of those same students are now reading and writing just nine months later!
We significantly expanded our art program, providing tables and art supplies to families in the camps who do not have children in our school. The response was tremendous, with entire families sitting together and drawing by firelight at night.
In one of our most memorable activities ever, we took 40 people by van and rickshaw to Ajmer to see Jungle Book in 3-D on the big screen, complete with popcorn and 3-D glasses and the works. This was the first time that any of our students – or teachers – had ever been to a cinema, and it’s still a popular topic of discussion 8 months later.
MAY & JUNE 2016
India is on break during this very hot time of year. Schools are out and our project takes a recess.
We spent much of the month helping our student Arjun with a severe electrical burn to his hand. He has made a full recovery. A student in our school, Arjun has also learned to read and write against all the odds, as he is a classic “naughty boy” from the camps that everyone else had written off in terms of being able to successfully educate.
A House for Babu
We built our first house, for our dear friend Babu and his family. Babu has brain damage and other health problems.
Computers & Music
We added a computer lab, music keyboard, and various scientific learning tools to our school. Our older students have now mastered the educational software we use, and are the first people of any age in their communities to use a computer.
We spent several weeks caring for our student Meenu, who was hit by a motorcycle. We took her to the emergency room, and our nurse cared for her at home afterwards. She healed well and is still in school. We also provide she and her brother tutoring every day at home after school.
Food for Families
We launched our supplemental food program, providing 20 kg of chapati flour to all of the families of our students. Since then we’ve provided more than two tons of this important food staple, enough to provide the bread component for about 12,000 meals.
We spent a lot of time during the monsoon dressing infected wounds, well over 500 for the month. This time of year brings a huge surge in the number of infected wounds, as mosquito bites get infected and the hot, wet climate reeks havoc with health in general.
For two months starting in August we provided care to the mother of one of our students who had a severe dental abscess. She was also 7 months pregnant, so her care was delicate. We facilitated and paid for all of her care, including about 10 trips to the hospital, and shortly after her eventual delivery we were able to finally completely resolve her problems. We also built her family a new home (tent).
September was a breakthrough month for our students, as many of our older students who had then been in school for 7-9 months became able to read and write for the first time in their lives!
We increased our presence in one of the rural camps were several of our students live. Isolated from the rest of the community in a remote mountain setting, these families are very large (one has 15 children!) and very low incomes. We provided medical assistance for everyone from babies to grandmas, with a focus on dealing with problems relating to the dwindling monsoon season.
We re-united with our friend Mohit, a five-year-old boy with severe genetic disorder. A year earlier we took Mohit for his first-ever diagnosis of his condition, and started him on a complex and costly medication regime that has significantly improved his condition. In that year he also started walking fully for the first time, at age five. His parents and doctors were impressed by his progress and condition.
With the help of a generous dentist from Pushkar we held a dental clinic in our school, with a focus on stopping the use of chewing tobacco among our students, which is a big problem among children in the communities we work in. We work with our students, their parents, our nurse, our teachers, and people like the dentist to constantly reinforce the importance of not using tobacco.
We began a program of tutoring some of our students at home after school. Almost none of the parents in our students’ families are literate enough to teach at home or help with homework, so we started at-home tuitions as much as possible. The resulting increased rate of proficiency with Hindi and math was dramatic.
We continued a 4-year-long tradition of taking many of the children we work with to the carnival at the famous Pushkar camel fair. A good time was had by all.
Books & Toys
Thanks to generous donations we added a library and a big toy chest to our school. This was the first time any of our students had access to a library of really nice children’s books, and the books have served as materials for drawing and for learning Hindi.
After a brief and failed attempt to transition care back to her parents, we started feeding Miss Sonakshi again, quickly bringing her back from an emaciated state. We’re still feeding her today.
We waited a long time to get school uniforms, since they are costly and prone to getting destroyed in the chaotic and dirty environment of the camps, but by this time we had a large group of students with consistent, sustained attendance, and we were all proud and excited to finally get nice uniforms complete with our school name.
We spent the latter half of December helping two year old Nogon, the brother of two of our students. He contracted the deadly disease tetanus from a dog bite, and we have been helping facilitate and pay for his extended hospitalization, as well as looking after his siblings who are back home while he’s in the hospital.
Happy Birthday School!
The one year birthday for our school was most important in terms of the fantastic progress our students have made, against substantial odds. They’re reading and writing at an amazing rate for only one year in school, and all were first-time students when they started.
Happy New Year!
We would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. We appreciate of all your interest and support for our work. We are grateful for the opportunity to help the wonderful families that we serve, and we look forward to many more New Years together.
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