Tuesday 12 December 2017

October 2017 visit to Kodaikanal

The 2017 student trip to India was a great success and more information can be found from the participants. The author of this blog was not on the Easter 2017 visit but made a visit in October with some administrative tasks in connection with the creche projects. Here are some recent images

October 25 Kodaikanal Projects visit:

On this morning we visited our three creche projects, Little Lilies, Peach Tree and Grace Kids in and around Kodaikanal. We were accompanied by Hilda the chief officer of the NGO with whom our international school liaises to manage and fund the schools, salaries, food and building development.

It was a pleasure to be welcomed by the staff of each creche, get up-to-date with developments and see the students being taught.

Little Lilies creche with students in the outside play area (village in background) after an energetic dance.
One reason for visiting Kodai (other than to meet our contacts) was to leave a plaque on each creche building to acknowledge the work of students and the support of the International School community in the facilitating the existence of 'our' creches. The three plaques should be firmly attached to the wall near the main doors of each creche for our students to see next Easter. 

One of the plaques, measuring about 10 x 20cm, on the outside wall.

Peach Tree creche on our departure.

Peach Tree creche suffers from limited outside space for the students. We are looking into the possibility of purchasing a new site and building from scratch. We had a great hour with the staff and students who were also doing an energetic dance. It is nice to see the students being actively engaged.

Hilda, our main contact, a remarkable woman, heading up the NGO responsible for several similar projects.
Our final visit was to Grace Kids, where the students had been moved to temporary and rather cramped quarters nearby because of the expansion of the creche. There will be lots of work on the campus for our students when they arrive next Easter!

Grace kids under redevelopment, the addition of extra space and a separate kitchen, to comply with Indian regulations regarding health and safety.

After the students had been fed and were having an afternoon nap, we ate a delicious meal with Hilda (right) and the teachers.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Kodaikanal and doing some shopping; we purchased underwear, notebooks and pencils for the 150 students.

October 26 Drive from Kodaikanal to Madurai:
We said goodbye to Rathna and Srinath, the couple who provide the meals for our students, and drove down the Western Ghat (mountain) road towards Madurai where we were to fly onto Delhi. However we made one more stop for a rendez-vous with Mr. Paramadas who heads up another NGO with whom our students visit and work in a tribal village.

Our departure from Stonycroft Hotel, Ratna and Srinath centre.
A couple of hours later having descended to the plains we stopped at Eden Garden restaurant where Mr. Paramadas and his wife were waiting. We liase with him to work with Tribal people living in villages in the forested areas near to Kodaikanal. Students have planted tree and carried out some labouring and painting work in one village and the work is expanding to another more remote village next year.

Saying goodbye to Mr. Paramadas and his wife as we leave for Madurai

Please scroll on down for the 2016 student visit

Wednesday 23 November 2016

08 2017 India Trip

Pre-trip Activities

  • Pre-trip activities included a sponsored walk through the Lavaux vine-yards, an Indian meal in Geneva, a team-building escape activity, a hike on the Jura with snow-shoes and several in-school fund-raising sales and events.
  • Please scroll down for highlights of the 2016 India trip and what students were and can expect to be involved with.
  • Further down you will find information about the India trip aims and history.

The Ecolint Ceilidh

This most successful and enjoyable dance event was held on Friday 3rd February to raising funds for the crèches that the school supports in India. It was attended by over two hundred people from the whole Foundation community. It was a fun evening of dancing with the Loch Leman Ceilidh Band, a tombola/raffle and lots of interesting food and desserts to eat. Many thanks from The India Team at La Chataigneraie.

The second ceilidh has now been scheduled for February 2018.

The Loch Leman Ceilidh Band and Master of Ceremonies at the start of the evening
The ceilidh in progress.

The lucky winner of a signed Celtic football shirt in the raffle.

Guest piper who started and finished the evening and piped in the haggis for a traditional address. 

The poster

Indian Meal in Geneva

On the 12 December at 1900 in the Bollywood restaurant in Geneva there was another opportunity for students to get to know each other and to get a "taste of India". Everyone enjoyed the food which consisted of three different curries with rice and naan bread. After the meal there was a secret santa to break the ice even more!
The students at the start of the Indian meal.

The India Team, present and past staff, after the meal

Lavaux sponsored walk

As soon as the list of students from the three campuses has been established, activities to get students to meet and get to know each other are planned. At present there are 30 students from the Foundation going to India next April. There are regular meetings for students each week leading up to the trip. The first all-campuses activity is a sponsored walk and this year was our favourite walk through the Lavaux vineyards from St. Saphorin to Lutry, about 11 km.

Students and staff introduce themselves at the start of the walk from St Saphorin to Lutry.
Lavaux vineyards - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Staff and students near the end of the walk.

Fundraising for the 2017 creche projects

Once again Sarah got the project money off to a great start with a sponsored cycle during the summer vacation to Copenhagen covering 2100 km. Well done!!

You can read and see a full account in her blog at: https://isthisthewaytocopenhagen.com/ 

Day 16 of Sarah's 22 day cycle

The leaders!

Thursday 31 March 2016

07 2016 India Trip

This is an update of all the work done during the 2016 India trip between 16-29 March.

Students after the Holi holiday 'celebrations'
Due to a reorganisation of our contacts we now coordinate with three bodies, the Betsy Elizabeth Trust NGO or BET, with whom we work with our three main crèche projects, Ann Peck with whom we worked on a house building project and installation of smokeless cook stoves and with HELPS NGO with whom we help at a Tribal village.

Betsy Elizabeth Trust crèche projects:
Peach Tree Crèche

We were pleased to see that OUR crèche was in a good state of repair and that the grass planted last year had thrived. On our arrival we found that the sky lights in the middle room had been newly panelled and the upper parts of the walls had been plastered this allowing the students to repaint and decorate the walls with educational themes.

English alphabet with a marine theme.

Students repainted the outside door and the front wall with a welcome message.
In their spare time the students made teaching booklets and flash cards which they used to interact with the children. Students also read books, played, danced and did yoga with the children. they helped at meal times including teeth cleaning afterwards!
On the departure day students, children and staff had a picnic lunch a short bus ride away from the crèche.

Little Lilies Crèche

Again students found the crèche in a good state of repair. There was major work to be done to plaster the outside walls to protect them from the elements. Students helped by moving and sieving large amounts of river sand and cleaning moss from brickwork. A team of workmen worked all week to do the actual skilled application.

Students sieving sand.

Children, staff and students at the picnic
 When we left at the end of the week again with a picnic lunch only one outside wall remained to be treated.

Plastering the back wall with the well covered up.

As at Peach tree our students also read books, played, danced, did yoga and helped at lunchtimes. Some exterior painting was also done.

Grace Kids Crèche

As with Little Lilies there was some hard labour required to shore up the lower boundary of the crèche. A solid wall had to be constructed and there was no lack of enthusiasm for moving stones, sand and cement to the construction site.

Foundations of the new boundary wall.
Student painted the front outside walls of the crèche with educational themes and added chalk blackboards.

Grace Kids staff with Hilda (BET)

Our students also interacted with the children through painting, reading, dancing and help at meal times.

Students working with children.

HELPS Project
Tamaraikulum Tribal Village

Twenty-seven students visited the remote village over three days. This is a tough expedition with a rough road and much warmer working conditions.

In the truck!
On arrival we had two tasks. A ditch was dig along the back of the school house to aid drainage and in preparation for the installation of a concrete drain and reposition of the water tank.

Clearing and deepening the drainage ditch at the school house.
On the second day we purchase and collected 50 tree seedlings (peach, lemon and Goa), ten of which were planted near the school.

Planting a tree seedling
The third day was the gathering of some of the 41 families to receive a gift of 5kg of rice and a tree seedling.
The assembled villagers; most men and some women at work.

Giving rice and a tree to a villager

Students look inside a village house during the village visit.

House building and cook stove installation

Four students were assigned to this project and all were highly satisfied with their achievement. A house belonging to a family (with two children at Little Lilies crèche) had collapsed and the students helped a builder construct a new one and install a smokeless cook stove.

The construction team and completed house.

Starting the house building

Adding the roof

Installation of the smokeless cook stove inside the house.

Peach Tree Graduation Ceremony

We attended a graduation ceremony for the Peach Tree Crèche children who had reached five years of age and were leaving to enter Primary School in June. The ceremony, attended by children, their parents and ourselves, was held in a marriage hall in the centre of the village.

Speeches by the graduating students.

Children show their dancing skills.

Speech by Dave harrison translated into Tamil by Hilda the MC.

Speech by the Primary School invited headmaster.
The ceremony consisted of speeches and dancing displays, the award of Graduation Medals to the children by our students and gifts to the parents. The Primary Headteacher explained how he looked forward to the crèche children entering his school as they were so well-prepared by their crèche experience.

Our students place Graduation gold Medals around the necks of the 'graduates'.

Students present gifts of blankets and other items to the Parents.

Farewell Social

On the last evening before the departure of the group from Kodaikanal Hilda organised a social and evening meal on behalf of the BET in a local hotel function room.

The staff of each crèche demonstrated cultural dances and our students participated. To round off this pleasant evening we had a very delicious buffet supper.

Student Activities

During the travel to and from Kodaikanal the students were able to see some of the special sites for which Tamil Nadu is known. On the outward journey students saw some of Chennai including the Hindu temple and the Cathedral of St. Thomas. We also visited Chennai beach (second longest in the world) as well as doing some shopping before the overnight train journey to Kodai.

The students by the Indian Ocean at Chennai beach.

Enjoying masala dosas before the overnight train to Kodai

On the return trip, our first night was at Tanjavur where we visited the World Heritage Temple. Visiting just before closing time is a serene, magical experience and watching the religious activities of a busy temple is fascinating.

Enjoying the ambiance of the temple in the evening.

The group at the Five Rathas world heritage site.

Chrishna's Butterball at Mahab.

Our second night was spent at Mahababalipurum where next morning we visited several interesting historic and religious sites. also World Heritage listed. Students finished their holiday shopping here since being near the capital city it is more touristic.
The Staff
here are some images of the seven staff on the trip.