Indian Futures is currently working in partnership with Laia Foundation and Vallalar Educational Trust, two Indian charities operating in Vedanthangal, Vandavasi and Kanjanur, three rural areas in the Tamil Nadu state (South India) with a population of approximately 20,000 inhabitants.
The economy is mainly based on subsistence agriculture, such as rice, dhal and peanuts, and cattle raising (cows, buffaloes and goats). Due to its extreme weather (very hot and damp with very little difference between the hot and cold seasons), there isn’t a great variety of foods available which leads to high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children.
Most of the population in the three areas belong to the Dalit caste -formerly known as the Untouchables-, the most disadvantaged caste in India, with high malnutrition and low literacy levels, with children being sent to work at a very early age due to most families' lack of economic resources.
Laia Foundation runs 19 after-school support centres for students between the ages of 5 and 14 and a kindergarten. Vallalar Educational Trust (VET) runs a nursery and a primary school and an international volunteering programme.
Both charities benefit a total of 760 children and employ 50 members of staff who carry out teaching and administrative tasks.
The IT Community Centres
In 2019 Indian Futures successfully completed our first project, the IT Community Centres! Thanks to recurring donors and fundraising by our team we were able to introduce three IT Centres in Kanjanur, Thandarai Pettai and Chitiraikoodam. In reality this involved;
* Buying 17 computers, desks and chairs
*Having specially designed storage cupboards built
* Installing internet
* Recruitment and training of 3 IT teachers
Going forward, Indian Futures is committed to cover the costs of the teachers salary, ongoing training and internet.
Thanks to the creation of our IT Community Centres, we set up Future Communities. We used the centre we'd created at Vallalar Educational Trust to connect these students with their counterparts around the world.
Partnering with la Lacuna Primary School in Barcelona a project was formed to bring the two schools together by creating models of their village or town. After some teething problems the children connected by a Skype video call and presented their projects. The excitement in the room was wonderful to see and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
Starting in January 2020, with more time to devote to the project, Anna and Tom are running a similar project. This time the Skype calls are between the Vinayaganallur tuition centre and St Lukes Primary School in Brighton.
Before leaving for India we visited St Lukes to ask Year 3 if they would like to get involved in Future Communities, this request was met with an enthusiastic yes! Spurred on by this reaction we met with the students at Vinayaganallur and the enthusiasm was matched!
Now, each group is currently preparing for the first exchange on 28th January. Here they will showcase drawings and pictures of their houses and schools, maps and diagrams of their local area and a few surprised thrown in!
Watch this space for more info on how it progresses..
Our aim is to bring children from different backgrounds closer together.
Nursery school refurbishment
Meanwhile, in Vedanthangal, the Nursery School was in need of refurbishment.
At the end of 2019 we raised enough funds to paint the whole building. New murals made by local artists adorn the front of the building. Inside there are now paintings of animals, fruit and vegetables, Tamil cartoons, the Tamil and English alphabets...
These paintings take inspiration from the colourful classrooms of an AID India funded school (https://www.aidindia.in/) that the Indian Futures team had the pleasure to visit in 2019. The objective was to create an atmosphere that inspired learning and where different didactic tools could be used.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and friends, before leaving Vedandathangal in March 2020 we were able to cover the refurbishment costs of the nursery school floor which was full of holes that made learning more difficult and also put children's health at risk. It's worth reminding that in India, and specially in rural areas, people use their hands to eat with. Hence the need to create spaces that are as hygienic as possible.