Visit to India 2020

In February this year, when the world was still relatively normal, I went to India. No, I wasn’t doing the Golden Triangle, I was visiting Special Schools, Care Homes, and individuals who all benefit from the charity Health Help International. I saw first hand the huge impact that the charity is making to the lives of many special needs children and adults with continuing health care needs. I travelled with Jute Williams and Edmund Plummer from Newport.

We stayed at the Happy Valley School for special needs children and young adults and travelled daily to different establishments supported by HHI. 

Thanal House is a residential home for 22 women with mental health problems. They are looked after by Salini and her husband Shanel, (their 3 year old daughter, Chrissie) and her mother. Work had been ongoing for a long time at Thanal House on construction of septic tanks, and shower and toilet blocks. All were in the final stages of completion but needed an injection of cash to finish the work. Edmund and I were able to provide this from funds donated from our committees. The work was completed by the end of the week and we were able to see the showers working before we left India.

One place that I was very keen to visit was a project beside the Neyer Dam, where several women of low caste are given employment training. Some are trained in sewing and embroidery and others paint leaf cards. I was very surprised when I walked in to see the ladies all painting Strathaven scenes. A request had gone, ahead of my visit, for more of these cards and the ladies were trying to complete as many cards as possible before I left. My suitcase was packed with fresh supplies of cards on my return home.  Please visit the ”shop” after reading this article and check out our lovely leaf cards. Send them to all your friends as a ray of sunshine in these troubled times. The money raised will go back to the ladies who paint them and your support is needed more than ever at the moment.

The Happy Valley School and the Asha Kiram Asram are schools for children with special needs. The schools are a lifeline to the pupils who attend and to their families. In spite of their disabilities the children in both schools appeared to be very happy. They were pleased to see visitors, especially ones bringing Strathaven Tablet or Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. We used some of the funding supplied by SFHHI and HHI  to purchase new equipment for both schools. We felt like honoured guests as the children put on shows to demonstrate their appreciation of our visit and we were all presented with a shawl from both schools as a thank you from the pupils and staff.

Happy Valley Students
Asha Kiram Ashram 

 At happy Valley School, the bus used to transport the pupils to school is nearing the end of its useful life. We at SFHHI  were about to embark on a fundraising project to purchase a new bus for the school, but this has all been put on hold due to Coronavirus. However, as soon as we can we will launch this project to raise £16,000. I just hope the old bus keeps going until we can replace it.

One of the most shocking visits of our trip was the trip to the hospital in Trivandrum. The hospital was very poorly equipped and very overcrowded. Here, Shibu, works alone to support patients who are admitted with no relatives to look after them. He works as a Bystander, bringing them meals and generally assisting them until they are fit for discharge. His work is crucial to the survival of his patients. HHI supports him by paying his wages and providing him with supplies for his patients. This must be very difficult and dangerous in the current situation. 

Shibu and patient

During my visit Edmund, Jute and I visited many individuals who were dependent on funds from HHI to purchase medication. In many cases this was clearly saving lives. This is work that had been started by Tom Sutherland, who is currently in Australia, and it is being carried on by Philip from Happy Valley School.

I had a very happy and deeply moving visit to India where I saw first hand how the money sent by HHI helps to make a huge difference to the lives of many. 

In the current situation with Coronavirus spreading across the world it hits hardest at the poorest communities. When we emerge from lockdowns across the world who knows what the world will look like. As soon as we are able to we will start our fundraising activities again as our support will be needed more than ever.

Kath Russell

Christmas Fair

Members of the SFHHI Committee at their stall at a Christmas Fair where they were promoting their parent Charity, Health Help International. A good number of Christmas cards, craft items and Iain Park’s book were sold on the day.

Eye to the Hills

‘Eye to the Hills’

is a personal account of Iain Park’s lifetime of climbing experiences and relates mainly to his climbing over the past 60 years with several generations of Scouts.

In that time Iain has climbed nearly 1300 Munros.

He has been a member of the Scout Movement for 70 years.

Although it is a personal account the book will be of interest to other Munroists and the photographs of Scottish Mountain Scenes will appeal to climbers and non climbers alike.

All copies of the first print run have been sold and a

second impression of the book has now been printed.

Order a copy now for delivery by Christmas.

Priced at £25, all the profit of £10 from each book 

will be given to the Charity 

Health Help International

of which Iain is a Trustee.

Have a look at the stunning photographs!

Tuition Groups in India

HHI have been supporting the Tuition Groups run by the Banyan Tree in Kerela for many years but at the end of 2017 financial restrictions resulted in the number of these groups having to be severely reduced despite the high demand. To combat this reduction Strathaven friends of HHI  created a system to ease the financial shortfall.

It costs £30.00 per month to maintain each tuition group which supplements state education and with this extra help school pupils have achieved academic success beyond their expectations and given life changing choices to deprived young folk. 

HHI recruits and pays the salaries of the teachers and at the start of the school year, provides the funds for the students to be given school supplies including notebooks, pencils, pens and other learning aids. 

At the beginning of 2018 we thought we might be able to fund two tuition groups for the year by raising £720.00. We asked supporters to contribute £1.00 per month to the Tuition Fund but as always the support exceeded our expectations and £1441.00 was raised allowing four tuition groups to be financed by Strathaven supporters for the whole year. In December 2018 we made an appeal for the year 2019, hoping to equal or even surpass this level of funding. I am delighted to record that by the end of September 2019 a total of £1658.00 has been sent specifically to finance the Banyan Tree Tuition Groups and we are on target to fund five groups by the end of this year.


The Ragbag scheme has provided a regular source of income for the work of Health Help International over the past ten years and has been well supported by the members of both the Avondale and Trinity churches and by the Strathaven community generally, raising around £1000 per year. Now, thanks to the generous cooperation of the Hamilton Bridge Club and St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton, SFHHI hopes to increase the amount of money raised in this way for HHI. An external collection unit has been set up in the car park of the Bridge Club and this is easily accessible to both its members and to the members of the adjacent Church. 

Festive Cards

In the run up to Christmas SFHHI are focussing their efforts on Christmas Card sales. We will be selling cards in several churches and schools in the Strathaven area throughout November and December. The Christmas cards proved very popular last year and already there has been a lot of interest for 2019. The Christmas cards can be ordered from the “shop” on this website. Order early as they are going fast.

The SFHHI committee hopes to expand the sale of the painted leaf cards next year to a wider market around Scotland. They will be aided in this by the generous support of the Church of Scotland’s Life and Work Magazine which has printed a full page article about the leaf cards and the work of SFHHI in the December issue of the magazine.

Life Saving Borehole in Monze

£3000 was recently donated to Health Help International from this year’s Round Strathaven 50 annual charity cycle event.

This has already put to use and was the answer to HHI’s prayers in enabling a much needed borehole to be drilled in the ground’s of the Charity’s HQ building in Monze.

Zambia is currently experiencing a severe drought causing famine and hardship in many areas of the country and those working for HHI in Monze and many of those whom the charity helps have been without a regular supply of water for many months.

The photos show the borehole being drilled and it should produce water shortly.

Bridge Drive

The annual bridge drive organised by SFHHI to raise funds for Health Help International which was held at the end of August proved once again to be a great success. It was well supported by players from the two Strathaven Bridge Clubs and also from the Hamilton Bridge Club. The committee thanks those who took part and all those who gave donations or who provided prizes for the raffle and helped raise the excellent sum of £1,065 for HHI.

The money has been used to purchase a defibrillator which will be used in a new hospital nearing completion in Zambia . Dr John Phiri, the District Health Director responsible for  the new hospital was supported through medical school by HHI and some of its loyal supporters.

Pictured are the members of the HHI committee holding several medical items of equipment which Jute Williams (at right of photo) is taking out to Zambia on her forthcoming visit. Iain Park (second right) is holding the defibrillator purchased with the Bridge Drive money.