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.
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.
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.