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Latest news and project updates from Lotus Flower Trust - May 2014

Trust Brings More Hope to Many

After another journey to India, John has come back with exciting news of progress on our current projects, plus feedback on more vital work to be done...
He visited our schools and homes in Uttrakhand, Rajasthan and Assam as well as potential new projects. Although it is always distressing meeting so many who are in desperate need, it is wonderful to see those we have helped and to know that there is hope for more, thanks to your ongoing support. Read on to see how you have helped the Lotus Flower Trust change lives forever...

Hope Grows for Slum Kids

Brahmaputra Home for Railway Children, Guwahati, Assam, funded by TFWA Care, Evan Cornish Foundation, The Jephcott Trust and individual sponsors: A few days before we visited No 2 Gate Slum, the Railway Police, at 6am, chased all the people away - 4,000 adults and 1,000 children. This is the kind of difficulty the people we are helping face in India. Fortunately, an organisation called sSTEP who we work with, did a wonderful job finding the children who we hope will live in the new home.

The new home away from the slum is almost complete. We organised a very intimate opening ceremony at the site to lift the children’s spirits. They will start to move in in June, with priority given to girls under 12, and all the children will attend the local school. Local people have offered to help feed at least 15 of the children on a daily basis. We will be back in November to see how the children have settled in, and for the formal opening ceremony. 

To be instrumental in getting the children away from the railway lines is something the Trust and its sponsors should be very proud of as this will change lives far beyond anything perhaps we can understand. Currently the children face prostitution, rag picking, stealing, chain-snatching and working for the mafia in the clandestine drug industry.

The story of the children and their hardships was recently publicised in the headlines of the Assam Tribune under the title Ray of Hope for Underprivileged Children.

Kapkote Girls Settling In

Kapkote Girls' Home, funded by Mel Morris and Friends: Now completed, there are 50 girls living at the home and numbers are expected to reach 80 by November. The girls appeared happy and well fed. John presented them with clothes collected in his local village. They still desperately need beds and bedding as well as computers to work on. Import restrictions in India make it impossible to take computers with us so we are looking for donations to buy them in India at a cost of approximately £30 each. Click here to help.

It is reassuring to know that the local women have also adopted the home. Recently two major events have taken place here - International Women’s Day and the ASHA Presentation Day for Women where the girls were awarded a number of prizes.

Progress at Okhalkanda

Okhalkanda Girls' Home, Uttrakhand, funded by TFWA Care: This home is being built for 100 girls living in an appallingly cramped building formerly used as offices. Some even sleep under the furniture at the Primary School. The new home will allow them much more space where they can live comfortably. 

Construction has progressed well and it is expected that the home will be completed this month with the girls taking up residence in June. We have asked for an extra exit and entrance as well as a rail to run along the path at the front of the building - you can see why in the picture above.  A formal opening ceremony will take place in November.

Skills Centre Underway

Shivam Sundram Women and Girls Organisation, Community and Skills Centre, Rajasthan, funded by CBD Charitable Trust: A site for this building has been secured on the edge of Nua village. Anita Kumar, who represents and teaches the ladies and girls, let the local press and a paper in Delhi know about our recent visit. Because of this two TV companies picked up the story and visited the project filming the women at work. 

A group of people from Calcutta holidaying in Jodhpur read the report and visited Nua. They were very impressed with what they saw and purchased a number of garments to sell in their shops. Another businessman has also bought merchandise to sell on. Both are keen to set up an on-going business relationship with the community. We brought back samples of their work for Ingrid Scott, of CBD, as she too may help find export markets for the clothing.

The first installment of £14,000 has recently been received and building will start soon. This exciting project has the potential to affect more than 500 women and girls' lives. Our participation has already raised its public and commercial profile.

Marathon Runner Steps Up

Recently, three Lotus Flower supporters who first went to India with John as part of Fulcrum Challenge, have generously signed up to make monthly donations to the charity. One is also running a marathon to raise money for the Trust. Sponsoring us £20 a month, with Gift Aid, results in a donation of almost £300 a year and will be used to benefit the children in our projects. Please go to the website and click on Donate if you feel you can help us. Many thanks for your support which is very much appreciated. Above shows children from JSR Special Needs Home and School, Ramnagar.

Business Sponsors Needed

Over time, we have been funded by a few key business sponsors but we now need additional supporters. If your business is prepared to sponsor a project, please visit www.lotusflowertrust.org where under How You Can Help/Businesses you will find more information on how your company can benefit from an association with the charity.

Tragic Tiger Attack

Corbett National Park, Uttrakhand: While in Ramnagar, John was approached by the local Park Rangers who he knows well. They asked him if he would be prepared to help a family whose father had been killed by a tiger. The man, an experienced wildlife resident, had been sitting within 20 yards of the main Ramnagar to Mohan Road reading his newspaper at 11am in the morning, when the attack occurred. Sadly, he didn't hear the tiger approaching him from the jungle behind. We were able to make a small donation to the family to help with costs they faced as a result of this tragedy. 

JSR Students Dazzle

Janet Sheed Roberts Special Needs Home and School, Ramnagar, funded by Women in Travel (WiT): This residential school for children with special needs, goes from strength to strength. There are 51 children with various mental and physical special needs here. All are delightful and it is a joy to see them progressing and some growing into young adults. The building itself is sound and both the solar hot water and electricity sponsored by m1nd-set and the Travel Retail Business are working fine. John was asked to ceremoniously switch on the electricity and now all the lights and fans are running on the new solar system.

We attended an amazing annual celebration which coincided with Hindu New Years Day. The highlight was to see 'our' children performing with the children from the adjacent Inter College. They were all stars. To think three years ago they would never have performed on a stage in front of such a crowd. The confidence they have gained is wonderful. The children received rapturous applause, especially from the college students who have really taken them under their wing, as the picture above shows. Two girls from the college coached all the children in their performances. 

The community are also supporting the school: local Government teacher Hema Verma has very kindly donated 65 much needed sweaters to the children and another gentlemen recently donated two fire extinguishers to help safeguard the building.

We are currently looking for specialist teachers to teach deaf/mute children and to work with children with mental special needs. If there is anyone with these skills who would like to take a volunteer placement for three months, please contact us for more details.

The Trust has been asked to fund the building of a Skills Centre on the roof of the school. Besides teaching skills to the children with special needs, it will be used by the community with village women teaching sewing, cooking, soap and candle making and mobile phone repairs. We will keep you posted on this. Click here to Donate.

National Games Success

Janet Sheed Roberts Special Needs Home and School, Ramnagar, funded by Women in Travel (WiT): Four students, with their coach Manish Rawat, from the JSR School participated in the recent National Games for all Disability at Ajmer, Rajasthan. A spectacular five medals were won! 

Fahiem won gold in the 4x100m relay and silver in the 100m run; Vijay Rawat won silver in both Badminton Singles and Doubles; Kartik Joshi won bronze in Softball Throw and Dishu Mathpal ran a great race in the 100m and 4x100m relay. Congratulations JSR!

Work Begins in Dehradun

Ram Trith Kanya Vidvalaya Junior High School, Rajpur, Dehradun, funded by TFWA Care: We met with Toral Sharan, a local resident who approached us for help on this project. The teachers were also very excited about the support we are giving to the 200 poor children of the area. They are classified as slum children, all living in inadequate housing that runs beside a small stream above Dehradun.

A local Swami has donated the land on which the school extension will be built. The ground has to be graded and the bulldozer was working on site while we were there. A local architect and an engineer who took part in the construction of Terhi Dam, the highest dam in India, have offered to help for no charge.

Ladakh Projects Update

John’s trip was too early in the year to visit Ladakh, so he will instead visit in May and will report back on all the projects here. We will keep you fully posted with all updates...

Thanks to Kind Sponsors

Huge thanks to TFWA Care for its donation of more than £78,000 to fund Ambedkar Ardarsh Junior High School in Berinaag and the Ram Trith Fanya Vidvalaya Girls' School in Dehradun, mentioned above.

Very big thanks also to the CBD Charitable Trust which generously donated £30,000 so that we can build the Shivam Sundram Womens and Girls' Organisation in Rajasthan. Without this generosity, these projects would not be realised. Thank you for changing lives!

UK Kids Write Letters to JSR

John has also been busy introducing children from his village of Hyde in the New Forest to the children of the Janet Sheed Roberts Special Needs School and Home in Ramnagar. Both groups of children lead dramatically different lives and it is of great benefit to them to learn about each other... by way of good old fashioned letter writing! Teachers' email addresses have also been exchanged so that further and 'faster' news can be shared.

Children at the Hyde Church of England School look forward to John's photographs from India, hearing his anecdotes, donating clothes and swapping information about their lives with the children at JSR. Perhaps when they are older they will go and meet them in person... Above shows John sharing letters from Hyde to the children at JSR.

 

New Website a Hit!

Have you seen it? If not, take a look at www.lotusflowertrust.org for news on all our projects - current, completed and in need of funding. As well as all the latest updates, you can also find John's Blog, information on travelling with us to India and some truly incredible photography in the Gallery. Thanks so much for all of your positive comments so far... In the meantime, we look forward to updating you with more news from the Trust's work changing childrens' lives in India in the very near future.

Under Construction

Ambedkar Ardarsh Junior High School
Assam Brahma Putra Home for Railway and Slum No 2 Children
Basgo Nunnery (phase 2)
Domka Gongma Primary School
Nalanda Primary School
Okhalkanda Girls' Home
Ram Trith Fanya Vidvalaya Girls' School 
Shivam Sundram Women and Girls' Organisation

Lotus Flower Trust Team

Chair of Trustees - Sarah Branquinho; Trustees - Dr Ann Hunt, Erik Juul-Mortensen, Dr Jamie Hill, John Wilbourn, CEO - John Hunt. 
To see more images, find out about projects, how to help or even join us on a life-changing trip to India, visit www.lotusflowertrust.org or email johnhuntnfo@lotusflowertrust.org.

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