This unique correspondence was from Barbara Hamilton to her future husband, Andrew Dykes, during the years of World War I. Andrew, a member of a farming family whose farm was near Strathaven, in the Parish of Avondale, South Lanarkshire, had emigrated to New Zealand in 1909 to establish himself as a farmer in the south of South Island. Barbara, also from a local Avondale farming family, was unable to follow him as planned because of the war but they became engaged by post in 1916. She wrote to him faithfully throughout the war years until she was able to sail out to join him in 1919. Barbara, who had trained as a schoolteacher, combined her duties teaching at Strathaven Academy, two miles away, with the hard manual work of the farm but also was able to enjoy the hectic social life of the farming community that continued despite the war. Her letters give a fascinating insight into her busy life and the effects of the war on the town and farming community as she recounts the growing number of friends and family members injured or killed during the hostilities.
One of the main projects supported at present in Kerala by Health help International is the Happy Valley Special Needs School in Nedumangad. The school building provides the base for the Banyan Tree’s operations in Kerala and from here Philip Mathew, successor to Tom Sutherland, is spearheading HHI’s activities in southern India.
Philip and his team of ten staff at the school care for upwards of thirty handicapped children and young men and woman suffering from a variety of life limiting physical and mental disabilities.
These young people are brought to the school each morning and returned home later in the day using two mini-bus type vehicles with each of them usually having to make two journeys each time.
They have both reached the end of their useful life and were falling apart due to the dreadful state of the roads in Kerala. Without these means of transport these young people would be unable to receive the education and treatment which Philip and his team provide for them.
One of the vehicles was replaced earlier in the year with monies largely raised by Philip in Kerala but with a contribution of £2,000 from SFHHI
SFHHI has now been able to provide the sum of £9,000 to enable Philip to purchase a second replacement vehicle, like the first, a 14 seater people carrier.
These monies were raised by SFHHI from some of its fund raising events but mainly from generous donations received by one or two of our supporters and from the Committee of the Round Strathaven 50 to whom we express our grateful thanks.
As you can imagine last year, 2021, has been like no other year. There have been extra unforeseen costs for our tuition groups and social distancing, face coverings, isolation, inoculation and peripatetic teaching have all changed the way we offer our help. The Avendale group support three Tuition Groups in Kerala in South India. The three groups we sponsor are UNDAPPARA Tuition Group, CHERAPPALY Tuition Group, and ARYANAD Tuition Group. Last year at this time the estimated running cost for each group was £50.00 per month but the additional costs have made that estimate difficult to achieve. However due to your continued support and generosity we achieved that estimated figure in October allowing this important work to continue. By the end of the year 2021 a total of £3231 was raised and with the addition of monies reclaimed from Gift Aid the gross amount surpassed even our highest expectations. All donations for the Tuition Group go directly through HHI to the Banyan Tree Tuition Group work. After completing a number of health inspections and certificates being issued schools have re-opened. We hope it will not be long before the Tuition Groups can meet in a “pre covid” way.
Many thanks to all for your continued support for our Tuition Groups in India. We are not sure how this work will proceed in these difficult times but be assured your gifts will continue to improve the education and subsequently the life achievements in communities in Kerala. Ian Gow , who has organised the Avendale supporters, receives donations in many ways. Some folk give an annual donation in January, some give a donation each month through the year and others give a donation at birthdays or anniversaries. Some give a donation electronically directly to HHI. Whichever way and by however much you decide to support the Banyan Tree Tuition Groups it will be received with grateful thanks.
Edmund Plummer, the Chair of Health Help International was able to return this year to Kerala to see the many individuals and various projects which HHI has been supporting throughout the Pandemic and he has sent us these photos of the Tuition Groups at Undappara and Cherappaly which he visited.
This latest productionfrom HHI tells the stories of four schools, two in India and two in Zambia which have benefitted tremendously from the support of HHI and the monies provided by it in recent years to help with the building of extensions and the provision of much needed facilities. The progress they have all made and the improvement in the lives of the children who attend them, many of them severely handicapped makes for heart warming reading.
After cancellation in 2020 due to Covid 19 the RS50 returned to the roads around Strathaven on 19th September. It had changed a little to meet the challenges of the Pandemic and involved staggered starts and different procedures for signing in to help maintain social distancing. Despite the restrictions there were over 450 entrants for the 50 miles event and 60 families took part over the 15 miles route.
Despite the mixed weather which brought sunshine and heavy rain all the entrants seemed to be having a good day and many voiced their thanks to the organisers and said how delighted they were to be back for the RS50. They were particularly appreciative of the marshals and those who provided the savouries and home baking at the two food stops. The RS50 is indebted to the many individuals and supporters in the community who provide help on the day.
Once again the RS50 committee has been very generous in its support of Health Help International and has donated £4,500 to the Charity from the monies raised this year.
The Charity’s regular Supporters Evenings which were held in Newport several times each year had to be discontinued due to the Covid restrictions. An on-line one using Zoom was planned to take place in September but had to be abandoned on the night due to technical reasons. A great deal of work had gone into preparing for it and Presentations were to be given by the HHI Trustees and a number of the people helped by the Charity in India and Zambia. These presentations are now able to be viewed by following the link below. If you take the time to do so you will be able to see and hear about all the activities which HHI has been able to continue supporting in India and Zambia despite the difficulties imposed on the people there by the Pandemic. The Presentation can be viewed here