We are pleased to share an update from our English+ Program Volunteer Extraordinaire, Julie Myles! She was in India recently working with Jane Koons and the staff, teachers and students of the ALC School Project. Her love of teaching is clear from her writing and her pictures shared here:2017 January English+ Julie Myles India Travels. We hope you enjoy this program update as much as we did! Blessings to you, Julie, for your continued dedication and support to the English+ Program and to the students in India!
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from India! I arrived safely for Trip 2017 about a week ago. The first weekend of my four-week stay was spent in Pondicherry—located on the Bay of Bengal on the far southeastern coast of India—acclimating to the local time zone, organizing teaching materials, shopping for the “musts” (mosquito lotions, plug-ins, and netting), setting up my phone, and trying to stay dry and cool!
On Sunday I traveled 2–3 hours northwest to the Danish Mission Girls Boarding Home, in Siloam, Tirukiolur. Base camp for me, along with 800+ girls from grades 1 through 12, the boarding school is a joyful place. My favorite time of day is when a sea of girls flows past on their way to classes. First, led by the youngest, the red uniforms (grades 1–5) and then the blue (grades 6–12)—a marvelous sight to behold!
After a week in Siloam training the first groups of teachers from our goal of 50 schools, I was thrilled to be able to visit our Mambazhapattu Elementary School in the village of Mambazhapattu, 45 minutes east of Siloam. I am so pleased to report that the school and students are doing very well! Since I last wrote:
- Headmaster David hired a mural painter to enhance the street facade of the school’s compound wall. Now the outside matches the inside, and there’s no chance of missing Mambazhapattu School when traveling on the busy road.
- The toilet block is, of course, very well used but also very well maintained . . . just as beautiful as a toilet block can be!
- The hand-washing curriculum put in place at the toilet block unveiling is still going strong, with lathering up considered fun! And it was great to discover that village families are donating soap for the hand-washing stations.
- The playground is always filled with happy, active kids. But, thanks to an additional donation from kind friends, I was able to purchase soccer and various other balls, a cricket bat, bases, ring toss games, badminton rackets and jump ropes to further playground activity and enjoyment!
- The members of the Mothers’ Club have found their voice and have begun working with the village leaders on issues important to the women and their children. One project is improving the village’s toilet block, making it cleaner and safer. A mother is even going to represent the village at a Women’s Conference—a first! GO MOMS!
- The much-needed nursery school is still on the wish list and is being discussed by Headmaster David and the village leaders. Hopefully one day the village will be able to make it a reality.
- But perhaps best of all . . . the gardens, lush and bountiful. Guided by Headmaster David and his mother-in-law, Jayamary, students help care for the grounds and plantings, and take turns selecting and picking ripe, fresh vegetables to add to the noon rice. With a new Noon Day kitchen, a new cook, and yummy, nutritious veggies, school lunches now taste mighty good!
Finally, how I wish each of you could be here with me to see what a remarkable difference a year has made at Mambazhapattu School. But since that isn’t feasible, I hope these attached new photos show how your incredibly generous support for the children helped make that difference possible last year, today and for years to come.