20 July 2016

From Pudukattai to Putney

My daughter attends a child care centre which is generally regarded to be 'the bomb'.  Enthusiastic teachers, colourfully painted, big emphasis on play and it's contribution to learning, nutrition garden so they can learn how to grow vegetables and then see them used in food, singing, dancing and yoga. 

It's everything a Putney parent could wish for.

And then some. It's only a few hundred metres down the road.

Don't get me wrong - like all Australian's we pay for child care. Handsomely.  And in Sydney, we pay even more.

And it sometimes feels from my point of view we pay to have sand replaced on a daily basis if the amount that comes home in my daughter's shoes and pockets is anything to go by. 

But we are prepared to pay for quality care, positive and cheery carers and an environment that nurtures a love of learning. 

And then, quite surreally, I find myself standing in a small village comprised of dirt tracks, stray goats and makeshift housing, where about 80 kids have access to exactly the same thing.

Around 9,000 kilometres NW of Putney. In a village not far from Pudukottai there is -

A cement building colourfully painted inside and out (tick)

Enthusiastic and committed teachers (tick)

Big emphasis on play (tick)

Nutrition garden (tick)

Carefully prepped meals to make sure their brains and bodies are nourished (tick)

Yoga sessions (tick)

Education (tick)

Focus on hygiene (tick)

I think David Bowie can rest. Not only do the Russians love their children (confirmed by me in 1992) but it turns out that Indians do too. 

This is what sponsorship money does. 

See this?

Do I need to bore you or have you guessed what it is? (I know - totes hilaire right?)

That's right. It's the innocuous pipe transforming the future in a way that Marty McFly could never.

Pushing 240 feet (around 80 metres) into the ground, this bore is pumping CLEAN water onto the hands of small people, down their throats and onto their nutrition garden.

It's the trifecta of happiness.  

This modest government school has been transformed by a dedicated headmaster who recognised that education doesn't happen in isolation.  He might have had the building, but he needed to create an environment that allowed children's bodies and brains to flourish and for that he went and collaborated with World Vision. 

There are about 10 children sponsored as part of the World Vision program in this village. That monthly contribution is transforming the lives of over 80 school children directly and many hundreds indirectly.  World Vision helped the headmaster install the bore, furnish the school, set up the plumbing and set up the gardens with seeds and what not. 

And "just" like that, the kitchen garden which my daughter adores is present in the lives of 80 odd children in a village that had no access to safe water. 

We spent some time chatting to the children in the school. I met five little boys who made me smile.  Two wanted to be police officers, one a senior government official, one a mechanical engineer and one a doctor.  One of the lads had a hole in his heart and was waiting for surgery, a surgery that would not have been possible without the school because he wouldn't have been strong enough to undergo it. 

They loved school.

They loved weekends best. 

Those little boys could have been any of my daughters' friends. Funny little chaps with big ambitions, heart melting smiles and and dusty knees. Irrepressible.


This week I am in the field with World Vision Australia 
as a guest of World Vision India.
I am sharing stories about the humans I meet.
This is done with their full permission.

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