Paul and Frances Finch, Report of our visit to India, December 27th 2014 until 10th January 2015 

We arrived on December 28th at Ebenezer House, the home of Edgar, where we were able to relax for a few days. The house is very comfortable. It was great to be with Edgar again enjoying his company and generous hospitality. The weather was very warm and sunny so we enjoyed the warmth on the spacious balcony and the delicious Indian food Yadamma cooked for us each day. It was great to be able to rest for a few days. During those days we visited the NATIVE BASE meeting the wonderful team who diligently serve there year after year, and the young men who look after us so well, accompanying us every where and caring for our every need. It’s just a joy to be with these people who are so special to us, we love them dearly. Another time I went with Edgar to choose a fridge and dining room tables for the school. We found just what we were looking for.

On New Years Eve still feeling a little weary we decided not to stay up into the early hours but to continue resting as much as possible to prepare us for the fuller days that lay ahead so we celebrated New Year’s Eve quietly by ourselves back at Ebenezer House. In the distance from the balcony we saw a few fireworks going off on the outskirts of Hyderabad with lots of noise and celebration locally. On the 1st January 2015 Yadamma, the lady who comes in daily to clean and cook for Edgar, was busy again in the kitchen, during this time I was able to have some good cooking lessons watching her prepare the curries

We had a good journey travelling with Edgar, on the now familiar journey to Chinamuthevi. What a warm, joyful welcome we had! How great it was to be at the school once more. The place and its people have become so dear to us, so familiar that we feel at home. After lunch we went back to Machilipatnam to settle into our modest but comfortable hotel where we would be for the next three days.

Report School visit

We had three full days at the school with four clear objectives:

  1. To assess and plan the completion of the kitchen and dining room.
  2. To see how things were progressing after our last visit, whether the staff had been able to maintain and follow the new guidelines that had been put in place to help them.
  3. To encourage and assess further needs.
  4. To enjoy being with the children.

Paul stayed at the hotel on Monday to rest after his busy few of days so I had time with the teachers at coffee time, and together with Edgar we were able to outline some new ideas at the same time enjoying some Italian Panettone we had taken for everyone. I met one new lady teacher, unfortunately the other was off ill the whole time. It was just lovely to be there, the children are always delightful and very excited by our visit. I had time to look around, to see the newly developed area at the back with the new hand washing facilities and a flower garden it all looked so orderly and pretty. Quite a transformation.

Preparing for the new dining room

We were able to put one of the ideas immediately into practice. That lunch time I helped to re-organise the younger children to have their lunch in their own class room.

There had been much thinking and discussion about the new dining room that would soon be in operation with all the new tables and benches and how it would best operate to facilitate all the children. The new idea was that the younger children who already had little tables could remain in their large spacious class room to eat. This solved two difficulties.

  • The dining room with tables wouldn’t seat all the children at once.
  • The tables were too high for the really little ones in ‘Early Years’.

On our last visit we had purchased new low blue tables that had been intended for the year one classroom. We discovered they hadn’t been used in that room, so it was easy to move them into the big spacious room of Lower and Upper Kindergarten where year one children could join the Kindergarten for lunch.

This idea worked extremely well, these dear people soon get organised. Lunch was bought to, and served in, the classroom. Everyone was pleased with the new arrangement.

It was great in the following days, to see the first group of children sitting at tables having their lunch using spoons. The children made no fuss they adapted immediately as if it was quite normal for them. The dining room will easily accommodate the rest of the school years 2/3,4/5,6/7 in one sitting.

On Monday afternoon the new dining room tables were delivered along with the new fridge, they were soon unpacked and in place. They look great! We discovered that the school has 14 old benches so they were quickly hauled down from the roof. It was decided that these could be re-vamped for the seating. They will work really well and it also keeps the cost down. They will be painted a pretty green with polished wooden seating. We had a practice run of 10 children to check the spacing and seating arrangements. Lots of smiling happy faces!

Edgar, Tabitha and I then took time to look at the kitchen to decide what should be done to complete everything just before the carpenter arrived. It was decided that in addition to the ten new tables and new fridge, in the kitchen there will be:

  • Two new sinks
  • Two new large cooking hobs
  • Cupboard doors fitted over all the lower shelving up to fridge height in blue colour to keep in harmony with the rest of the school.
  • New marble work tops and serving hatch top.
  • A large centre work table.
  • Glass for all the very top windows in kitchen and dining room
  • Mesh for all the remaining dining room windows
  • Benches renovated and painted with wooden seating.
  • Also 3 fans, weighing scales, 8 tube lighting

We sincerely thank the friends who gave funds to make all this possible.

While we were at the school we provided 100 new stainless steel plates, 100 drinking cups. 80 forks, 6 serving bowls and 8 jugs one for each table.

On Tuesday morning Paul and I went into each classroom giving out pens and pencils to each child. These had been donated by some of our English students in Vicenza and a stationary shop in Ferrara.

Paul also gave each of them an Italian coin and gave a lesson about the dates on the coins telling them how it relates to the birth of Jesus. There was also plenty of Italian Christmas cake the famous Panettone for them to taste.

This was a fun time together and we were amazed how well the children remembered an Italian song we had taught them on our last visit: Gesù ama tutti tutti bimbi etc.

We established with MV and Tabitha three new prayers to be said in English; they really liked this idea – one to start the morning, one to give thanks for lunch, and one at the end of the school day. In the afternoon two young men from the village came to visit us, ex-students of the school, it was a great to see them, to hear how they are going on with study and work.

On Wednesday I spent some time in the ‘Early Years’ looking at the children’s work. They are doing great! They have a lovely teacher Rajani!

Later as I looked generally around the school, I thanked God for his amazing provision over the years, and for the dedication of everyone involved. We were pleased to buy new crayons and colour pencils while we were there too, these were distributed to the lower classes as they were completely without. Tabitha and MV manage so well with the limited budget they receive for the school. The children are good at art, their drawings displayed around the school are lovely.

The day and our visit finished with fun and games outside. Paul taught the children two new ball games. In teams he had them running around the established play area at the front of the school. We all enjoyed watching and cheering the kids on, it was a lovely conclusion to our visit.

Those four days went very quickly. It’s always very moving and inspiring being there. I just love the school! Being with the children, Sundar, Tabitha, MV, the sense of oneness of family, everyone doing their best. We pray that God continues to give good relationships with the teachers and helpers too, everyone seemed very happy with what they are doing. There are always lots of other things we would like to have had time for, but we are very grateful for the visit and very satisfied and happy to see the way the school is progressing.

Tabitha and MV do an excellent job running the school. They are dedicated teachers and work extremely hard. They have persevered through many difficult situations. The school stands as a shining light to all around of their love and commitment for the children and the community. As we leave there is always hope in our hearts that we will see each other again 

Objectives

Our three objectives were over and abundantly fulfilled:

  • The kitchen and dining room are on the way to completion.
  • Many of the new routines and guide lines are well established. The school is immaculately clean and orderly. The class rooms were pretty they still have festive coloured streamers around and the       display boards are very attractive. The time table is much tighter. The younger children are washing their hands in the classroom and having milk and biscuits each morning, lunch time is punctual, with the little ones now eating in their classrooms. All the children’s written work is and always has been very neat and well presented. There is an overall sense of high standards. The structural development of the school is very, very good.
  • A rota has been set up for one teacher only to be on duty at break times at lunch time and after school, Tabitha and MV were very happy with this suggestion. They’ve worked out a rota for each teacher to change on a weekly basis not a daily one. We also thought it would be helpful for them to establish monitors in each class on a rotating basis to develop responsibility in the children, and a head boy/girl for the school.

 

Current needs

We recognised two very urgent construction needs:

  • Boundary line fencing, with strong brick foundations and gate.
    Estimated cost to complete £4,914.78.
  • A wide fibre glass over head covering around the school starting at the kitchen door around and over the hand washing basins covering the pathway from the school building to the toilets.
    Estimated cost £1,134.38.

Future development

Once the boundary fence is up further planning will be:

  • To landscape the surrounding land area with a flower patch, and a vegetable garden.
  • A play area with swings and a slide, and a sports and games play area.