February 13, 2015
FOI President Pam Walsh and Treasurer Ted Talbot are now in Arani in Tamil Nadu, South India – an area where we have been involved in a number of projects.
The SUEB Women’s self-help groups
In 2014, FOI contributed CHF 10’000 towards advanced skills training courses for self-help groups run by the SUEB. These not only covered practical techniques such as jewellery-making and sewing, but also marketing skills, how to get bank loans etc.
This week, Pam and Ted met with representatives of many of the self-help groups from the surrounding districts and as far away as Chennai. They gave entrepreneurial encouragement speeches to the group, and heard many success stories – including the story of Andal:
At the age of three, Andal developed polio and this left her severely crippled in one hand and one leg. She had then lived with her mother (who died last year) and earned a tiny salary as a labourer. Six years ago she was introduced to a SUEB self-help group. Having dreamed of setting up her own business, the SUEB helped her to take a loan to buy a small silk bobbinating machine – putting silk yarn onto bobbins ready for weaving.
Today she supplies weavers with bobbined silk at around CHF 1.20 per kg. Her plan is now to buy her own silk yarns and to sell it on at nearer CHF 4.00 per kg profit.
The Richard Walsh Music School for the Blind
Visiting this school always brings back strong emotions and wonderful memories. It is so great to recognise the children and see the progress they have made – not only musically, but as a result of the loving care they receive under the guidance of Brother Leveil assisted by Brother Babu.
The whole atmosphere is one of warmth, care and progress. The farm with pigs, chickens, calves and paddy are thriving and producing good revenue to pay the upkeep and salaries of the music school.
The children give paid concerts and music is part of their general curriculum with support from the government. They are now requesting help for equipping a room for recording their music.
The Baby Jesus Orphanage
This orphanage received a donation from our friend Noelle to build a dining and study hall. This prompted another donor to build a girls dormitory. However, the government is now insisting on a compound wall around the buildings if girls are going to sleep there. This is a real challenge as the wall needs to be 180 metres long and will cost CHF 12’000!
The children are wonderful and put on a brilliant dance display under floodlight. This was followed by silly games led by Pam after which we were treated to a wonderful feast by the Sisters.