17 February update
After the trustees visit, things have been quiet as we have begun work on the actions arising.
One thing we haven't mentioned previously is that, building on the foundations of the successful development of the school, the Indian team have been exploring the possibility of launching an English Medium kindergarten near the centre of town. They have found a possible location and we are working with them to see whether a leasing arrangement might be possible.
At school, Helen (not her real name) gave her presentation on oxygen, but was pipped by others to go on to the next stage. As well as the great experience for her, there was much for the school to learn from this, and we look forward to reporting on next year's competition.
Sponsorship. We will be writing to all sponsors in the next two months in relation to the privacy requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). As mentioned last time, we have started our annual review of the status of sponsored children, and discovered that we were unaware that several children have left the homes. Mostly this was because when college students re-take a subject without attending college, it is difficult to track what is happening. In such cases, we will sweep up the discrepancies at the same time as dealing with GDPR.
8 February update
As mentioned on 11 January, three Trustees visited India last week. We had extensive discussions with the Indian trustees and management of the homes and the school. Here are some highlights which we will turn into a CHIT CHAT in the coming months:
Resources. Further to the appeal update, below, we discussed several developments in India that will move us further towards both short and long term solutions. In the short term there is a good prospect of increasing funding from other sources to substantially close the funding gap of £40,000 for 2018 and make an important contribution to 2019. In the long term, some local proposals have been made, for example to secure funding out of the Indian Companies Act, which from 2013 has required companies to make a contribution of 2% of their net profits to grants to non-profit organisations. Additionally the long-held aspiration to achieve the prestigious CBSE accreditation of the school has come as step closer in the last month by securing a long lease on sufficient land to meet the area criterion. A CBSE school in a slowly expanding residential area offers a range of opportunities in future, but major funding hurdles remain.
Current activity. Frankly is it business as usual. While we have been preoccupied with financial sustainability, the 49 staff in the homes and school have just been getting on with caring for for and educating the 250 children in the homes and a further 120 children who come to the school from the locality. One of these 'day scholars" made a particular impression. With others from the school one of the year 8 students had entered the local heats of a national science competition, where she did a chemistry project about oxygen. She was selected to take this to the next level, and tomorrow will be giving a practical demonstration of how oxygen supports combustion, with plenty of gurgling, swirling vapours in a test tube, and flames! On the evening before we departed, the children in the homes performed some traditional dancing for us, and we were very impressed that this same girl came in to lead one of the dances, a nice indication of the how the relationships between the children of the homes and the local children can develop. Business as usual !
Cobra strike. We heard about a cobra strike that took place in Bapatla in October. The previous encounter with a cobra was in the Nidamarru home in 2015. In October a 5 foot long white cobra attacked a boy, nearly catching him near his eye. He instinctively swept the snake's head to one side, and managed to get away, calling for help which led to the animal's destruction. It emerged that the snake had entered the compound through a waste water channel from the kitchen. Following less serious infestations elsewhere in the home (see 19 August update), immediate action was taken to block the channel and dig additional soakaways for grey waste within the compound.
Sponsoring. Just before we arrived, Vijaya, who we reported in our 11 February update had taken on sponsor liaison had been knocked off her scooter and was in hospital for an operation to repair injuries to her knee. So we did not have the opportunity to carry out our full review of sponsorship details, and will now do this remotely over the next few weeks.
English conversation support. Mainly because of the capabilities it gives the children, and partly to support the achievement of CBSE accreditation, we were asked to investigate opportunities to increase the level of English conversation support we can offer from UK. This could be in the form of a placement in India, an exchange, a programme of shorter visits, or a programme of Skype-enabled conversations. In all cases, it is important to give sufficient time to establish good working relationships with the staff there, whose first priority is to complete their curriculum obligations. If you are interested in any of these, please contact us: details are given on the about us page.
26 January update
Appeal update. We estimate that we have received about £18,000 of donations on top of what we would have expected in the last month, and can already see us reaching £20,000 of our £40,000 target. There is still much to do, but we are very grateful to everyone who has responded so magnificently. Our next step will be to engage with a range of grant-making bodies again who we believe sympathetic to the work we support in India. We are also examining the use of more contemporary fund-raising methods that will attract a younger generation of supporters.
Other news. In January Howard Mathers received a cheque for £576 from Katharine Lady Berkely School, Wotton-under-Edge. This was the fruit of some sterling fund-raising work by the 6th form, supported by Dr Judith Vorley. This was already in train before our appeal and is not included in the figures above.
We are continually reminded of the fragility of life in the region. One of the HIV+ children has become quite poorly and has been admitted to hospital twice since November. Among parents of children in the homes there has been one death and one attempted suicide in the last month. These are situations that your donations are helping to avoid or ease every day. Please continue to support us.
11 January update
Since our last update we have been much in contact with India, and have determined the following path:
- The Indian team are looking into changes they can make to maintain the impact of their work with a lower demand on UK sources of funding. They are looking at this from both ends, that is to find new sources of money and to find ways of reducing costs. They have advised their staff and the parents and guardians of the children in their care.
- We need to find an additional £40,000 in 2018 in order to sustain the current work will these changes are developed. Depending on the pace of development, we may need something similar in 2019.
- We are making an appeal to existing supporters, both to help with the funding gap and to point us to others who may give us a sympathetic hearing. If you are one of those, please contact us!
- We are also developing an approach to other UK charities to help us. It is a turbulent time, which may have some interesting consequences.
2 December update
We (the CHIT Trustees) estimate that the gap between our income and the Indian rupee budget is about 30%. As things stand we will not be able to fund all the current activities from April 2018. We are engaging with our Indian partner in how to respond to this situation.
As a Christian charity we need to exercise wise and proper stewardship, and faith in the Lord's provision. We have started to draft a way ahead that we think does both, and are aiming to agree it with our partner in the coming week. We will be releasing a full account of our plans in an edition of CHIT CHAT in the new year to avoid the Christmas rush.
In the meantime the Indian staff and children are meeting every day at 6.00 pm for 10 minutes' silence when they can pray in their own way for the needs of the homes and the school. We have decided to join them (at 12.30 pm UK time) and have nominated 16 December and 13 January as fasting days (UK only). You are invited to join us in this endeavour.
10 November 2017 update
The break in the news updates has been due to the Chair of Trustees and author of the updates moving house from Bath to Taunton. (The address has been amended in the "About us" page.)
The period has been marked by one thing above all others, which is our need for new financial support. While we enjoy a steady stream of new supporters, whom we appreciate greatly, and increases by those who already give so generously, nonetheless we are not recovered from the hits we took in 2016 with the fall in exchange rate and loss of some major donors. with the current trajectory we will exhaust our reserves by March 2018.
We would like again to appeal to all who read this to consider how they might help us, perhaps by simply inviting us to speak to a group who might be minded to support us. Every little helps. We are planning to publish a fuller update on the situation in a new edition of CHIT CHAT at the beginning of December, by when we should have a better idea of our revised plans as the situation has become so pressing.
For those who identify with the Christian ethos of CHIT mentioned in the "About us" page, please pray that the Lord will provide. We don't under-estimate the importance of placing the situation before Him.
19 August 2017 update
We received our monthly update from India this week. The new school year is under way and the children and staff are settled in. Some highlights and lowlights below.
Some of our school-leavers go into industrial training, and we have news that from the 2016 entry two have completed their one year diesel mechanic course, and two are progressing well on their two year courses, one as an electrician and one as a mechanical fitter. As we may have explained before, we have very high expectations that they will secure a good job or go on to a full apprenticeship.
The sickbay has been busy with numerous minor complaints, thankfully nothing serious, although one child had to go to hospital for an operation. The HIV children also display a serious of complaints that have been treated.
Among an update on building repairs, there is the rather alarming report that snakes have been sneaking up the drains into the toilets and bathrooms, which has been addressed by raising the outlet level. Not something to dwell on too much!
Back in UK, we have been invited to speak at three events in the next two months, but need many more. Please consider whether you could host a fund or awareness raising event.
12 August 2017 update
We expect our monthly update for July from India soon, when we can provide a fuller update.
Meanwhile we continue to work on English conversation sessions using Skype. Two of the Indian team, one in the office and one teacher, are now regular participants. At the last session (they are now lasting about 90 minutes each) we discussed Human Resources management, including job descriptions, recruitment, conditions of employment, discipline, etc. Interviews came up quite often, so the next session will be our first real attempt at role play. There will be one recruitment and one appraisal interview, each end trying out the different role of interviewer and interviewee.
27 July 2017 update
During the last two months we have had little information from India. It was the back end of the summer holidays and the main focus was on the new entry.
62 applications were made for new admissions, or which 22 were accepted at the end of June: 20 for Bapatla and 2 for Nidamarru. Their medical examinations and x-rays have been completed successfully (i.e. no medical conditions emerging).
These new entrants range from 6 to 11 years old. Much will be new for them over the next few months, both in the homes and at school, particularly in Bapatla where they will be learning in English, probably for the first time.
Other news is that two of the girls at college have left to get married. It has prompted Director Rani to remind us of an ongoing problem. Traditions in marriage, like the bride and groom having equivalent standing and the obligation of the bride's family to give a dowry to the husband, remain strong in this part of India, despite the latter being technically illegal. So if their daughter gets a good qualification her family will be expected to find a comparably qualified groom, and the dowry expectations will escalate. Rani is philosophical about the need to work with the local culture. She is confident that girls who are unable to complete or convert their education into a good job, clearly understand these pressures and will try to raise their own children with a commitment to the best education they can give. So it is not with a heavy heart that we are able to celebrate with these two girls.
The CHIT Trustees (UK end) met on 23 July. A significant item remains the need to bridge the funding gap left by the foreign exchange effects of Brexit last year. If any readers know of opportunities where we can introduce our work to new potential supporters or support groups, we would be delighted to take them up. Next year promises to be particularly challenging for us if we are unable to discover new income.
3 June 2017 update
The latest issue of our newsletter CHIT CHAT is here, to download load it click on the icon below. Personal copies will be emailed and mailed to supporters next week.
9 May 2017 update
Results in ! All 17 of our school leavers have passed their Year 10 exams, including 15 from Bapatla, and 2 from Nidamarru. Bravo.
We ran our third English conversation on Skype on 6 May, and next time will extend it to our Indian staff. During the conversation it emerged that applications for admission after the holidays have already started to come in.
21 April 2017 update
In India the schools are on holiday, having completed their end of year exams in March. We await the results.
Following what has become a tradition in the school, the year 9 children organised a farewell party for the year 10s, and gave each the gift of a zippered folder to keep their academic certificates safe.
We have been saddened by the news that Mrs T Shobha Rani, the warden in charge of the Nidamarru has resigned. Two of the Bapatla house parents have moved to Nidamarru to fill in until new permanent arrangements can be made.
In UK, work has started on our next CHIT CHAT, which will round up some of the recent items here with more detailed reports from India.
18 March 2017 update
The CHIT trustees met on 12 March to agree the budget discussed during our visit to India and review progress generally:
- The operating budget was agreed. Approaching £120,000 it is by a long way the biggest budget we have agreed, reflecting a fall in the effective Rupee/£ exchange rate from 97 this time last year to 78 this week. Please consider whether you could arrange an opportunity for us to widen our support base to help us in this challenge.
- We agreed that the persistent grey water (not sewage) was the top health risk to be addressed, but needed more information from India to be convinced that soak-aways are the best answer given their inevitable proximity to bore holes for domestic water.
- We agreed to make an appeal for an operation for Charlie (see earlier posts), and will include this in our next CHIT CHAT.
11 February 2017 update
We have not updated the news page through the last month as most of our activity has been focused on preparing and undertaking the annual CHIT trustees' visit to India. We are now able to report on this event. We recognise that the images attached are short on our main focus, namely the children, this flows from a cautious approach to data protection.
This year four trustees made a successful visit to India, accompanied by a former school-teacher bearing many gifts for the High School, including 12 microscopes. The Air India baggage allowance of 46kg each was fully exploited!
At the High School, we saw:
- the growing library in use, from Lower Kindergarten upwards
- the excitement of the biology teacher and her students as they peered at a range of permanent slides through their microscopes
- the computer teacher using a projector to demonstrate WORD operations for her students to experiment with at their PCs
- the challenges of keeping materials in good conditions in an inherently dusty atmosphere, and of providing suitable seating for children across a very wide age (and hence size) range
- the new building works, including refurbishment of the boys' latrines and construction of a compound wall to give protection from the persistent problem of snakes: this completed the planned capital improvements (see CHIT CHAT April 2016, below)
- recent repairs to the roof water tank, a reminder of the rapid ageing of structures resulting from the harsh climate, with summer temperatures of up to 50C
- 15 of the HIV+ children supported at home and witnessed the distribution of their support
- the new nurse Indhira who has replaced Mary
- Charlie (see earlier updates), and expect to launch an appeal for the operation he needs on his heart
- Clark (not his real name) who has a pressing need for an operation on his adenoids, for which we will extend the appeal
- Vijaya, wife of Assistant Director H Benji, who will take on responsibility for sponsor liaison
20 December 2016 update
- Rani opens her latest report: "I would like to extend our greetings to our supporters, friends, and trustees. We wish you all Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year." We are very pleased to pass this Christmas greeting on.
- Otherwise, her report records business very much as usual: quite a lot of examinations going on for the college students and the year 10s have their big exams in their sights; a school "field trip" for the Nidamarru year 9s to a historic site on the River Krishna; a range of minor ailments among the children; the wedding of Prasanti (19 November update); and preparations the Christmas celebration in the EB School on 22 December.
- We are awaiting updates on Charlie and the shortage of bank notes (19 November update)
17 December 2016 update
Posting and emailing CHIT CHAT will complete today. If you think you should have received a copy, but haven't, please contact us.
- We have written to an initial group of 22 supporters asking for speaking/talking opportunities to widen the reach of CHIT: if you have not received a letter, but would be able help in this way, please contact us.
- A Skype link between Bapatla and St Swithins Bath worked quite well last Sunday, but we had some projection problems: another lesson learned as we develop this medium that brings the children's home into your church, school or living room!
12 December 2016 update
The latest issue of our newsletter CHIT CHAT is here. We will start distribution by email and post this week, but you can access it now by clicking the icon below.
3 December 2016 update
- We are delighted to receive a report from India that a group of 10 from Paris visited Bapatla and Nidamarru for a week in October, which was tremendously well received. We have always encouraged the Indian management to diversify their support, and we warmly welcome this development.
- In UK our thoughts are moving towards the annual visit by CHIT trustees to the India. We have agreed the schedule of meetings on education, health and welfare, and finance, and the main meeting with the Indian trustees. Over the next fortnight we will work out what reports we need in advance, in order to make the best use of our short time there.
19 November 2016 update
- This update is based on the October report from India.
- News of Charlie (25 October update): further examinations have revealed early signs of TB. He is now in hospital for treatment for this, before addressing his heart issue.
- News of Chris (25 October update): has responded to hospital treatment, including injection of platelets, and is doing better. His life was saved by the quick response of our team in India.
- Prasanti, one of the 3rd year degree students is getting married next Friday. She is the daughter of one of the Bapatla staff. She will continue with her degree studies to completion.
- Carol (not her real name) lost her grandmother on 5 October, who was her carer.
- Applications for HIV support are rising rapidly: one top of the existing 17, another 10 have been requesting support repeatedly. We cannot absorb this sort of number (and the trend it is setting) without a significant budget increase. Undoubtedly it will be an important issue for discussion and prayer at the trustees' visit to the homes at the end of January.
- On a different scale, the Indian government recently determined to dissolve all Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes in circulation as a well-intended crime prevention measure. However, it has created enormous difficulties for rural communities such as those in Bapatla and Nidamarru, which depend heavily on cash for business and domestic transactions. There is a period of grace to exchange old notes, but we understand that this is currently limited to Rs 4000 (about £45 a day). Bank queues are long, and it is placing a large additional administrative burden on Rani and her teams at Bapatla and Nidamarru, which of course divert them from the core work of care of the children.
- We will provide updates on this in our "India Watch" section towards the bottom of the "About us" page.
25 October 2016 update
We received news of the following children today, (not their real names). Do remember them and their families in your prayers:
- Charlie (aged 8) from the Bapatla home, had been ill with a fever and was admitted to the regional hospital. As well as having a blood infection he was found to have a hole in his heart. There is a possibility he will need to be transferred to a specialist hospital unit.
- Chris (aged 15) an HIV+ supported boy, has been found to have a very low platelet count, and is also being considered for transfer to a specialist unit.
- Carol (aged 9) a day-student at the Elizabeth Barrie High School, but not in the case of the children's homes, died on Sunday from dengue fever.
19 October 2106 update
- This update is based on the September report from India.
- Mostly it is business as usual, with the children now settled into the new school year. We have heard three points for your prayers:
- Mike (not his real name) lost his mother in the middle of September. She fell ill suddenly and died on her way to hospital in a tuk-tuk. Mike has three sisters, one of whom is deaf and dumb. The other two are married. Please remember the family in your prayers.
- Money transfers to India have again been delayed by questions of compliance of the Indian bank account. It is quite alarming to send £10,000 to India and find that it hasn't arrived. Thankfully it was a case of third time lucky, as we don't really understand the problem. Please pray for an enduring resolution of these difficulties.
- The electrical installation in the Bapatla home has failed, apparently due to the changeover relays that switch the emergency diesel on and off when there is a power cut. Some equipment has been damaged. Repairs are unavoidable, and will be an unwelcome unplanned expenditure.
30 September 2016 update
- During the summer the President made an appeal for additional support to increase our annual income to make up a deficit in our annual income of about £20,000, including £12,000 resulting from a fall in the Rupee exchange rate. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has contributed and to those who have joined with us in prayer for the resources we need. We have estimated that your response is around £18,000 which, with some recoverable gift aid, will be amazingly close to our target!
- This will balance our books this year, and we may be able to consider some investments in India to reduce future running costs, but the majority of the gifts were single donations, and so there remains a considerable ongoing challenge. If you missed the appeal and would still like to contribute, you might like to send an email to Vivien@Gillman.org giving us the details. We do appreciate your loyal generosity.
16 September 2016 update
- Thank you to all who responded so generously to George's appeal in August. There is still a gap to be filled and we will be examining other avenues in the coming months.
- Children's letters to sponsors were sent out in the last month. If you think you should have received a letter but haven't, please contact us at email@example.com
- We received the monthly report for August from India this week.
- All children are doing well, no hiccups so far this academic year except Ed, below. College students are doing some internal exams, but otherwise it is routine studies.
- We have some news of four of the boys who went into industrial training when they left school. The industrial training centre is next to the school we support and run by the same Indian governing body as the school we support, but is financed mainly by student fees because of the great prospects it offers, so we don't usually make a big feature of it. Three of the boys have finished their two year course, one each as an electrician, mechanical fitter and civil draughtsman, and one has completed the one year course as a diesel engine mechanic, all paid by CHIT. Once they have their final exam results they will go on to a 6 month apprenticeship, and the world of work.
- There have been the usual catalogue of minor ailments among the children, but we note that one boy was diagnosed with typhoid fever: a reminder that this sort of threat continues to be real in the 21st century. He is responding well to treatment.
- Please remember two particular children and their families in your prayers:
- Sue (not her real name) has been in the care of her grandmother after being deserted by her parents. Her grandmother has just had an operation for a brain tumour. We do not know the full prognosis, but it is a matter of concern for the team in India.
- Ed (not his real name) was ill after the summer holidays, and when he came back to the Bapatla home later than the other children, wasn't able to settle in. Despite pressure from his mother to stay, he ran away and we understand he is at home.
- Pictures received from India on the splash-guards under the washing stations (left), and the "bund" to control sand erosion around the cooking station (right):
- Feedback on the 3 day training workshop (see 9 June update) supported by the Haggai Institute has been very encouraging. Subjects included leadership, integrity and effective communication, drawing on biblical examples. Attendees were invited to give feedback, and all were appreciative, irrespective of their faith. From the pictures below, the newly painted walls were a blessing!
17 August 2016 update
- Capital improvements mentioned in our April CHITCHAT (link below) are taking shape. They include the new equipment for the school laboratories and a major re-paint of the classrooms, pictured below. This month a concrete splash guard has been completed to protect children's clothes and shoes when washing (e.g. dinner plates), and additional protection around the outdoor cooking area. Photographs are awaited.
- In addition, plans are in hand to build a new boys toilet block at Nidamarru, essential for health reasons, and we are re-visiting solar heating to reduce energy bills.
- We released a CHIT appeal letter, mainly in response to the fall in exchange rate (see 1 August update) and loss of some sources of revenue. Also mentioned current projects above.
- Recent vacancies have been filled by the appointment of two new houseparents at the Bapatla home, one for boys and one for girls.
- On 30 July the Andhra Pradesh state government launched a programme called "Vanam and Manam", meaning "we and green", planting nearly 10 million plants all over the state. 150 have been planted in the children homes.
- CHIT Trustees' next visit to India confirmed 29 January - 7 February 2017.
1 August 2016 update
- UK Trustees meeting 24 July. Key issues: adverse INR/£ exchange rate; volunteering in India; English coaching over Skype; website; initial planning 2017 visit - likely around
- Website re-launched today.
23 July 2016 update
- During the summer 78 applications were received for places at Bapatla and Nidamarru. 20 children were admitted to Bapatla and 13 to Nidamarru, holding the total at 250. Blood tests and X-rays have identified no chronic health issues.
- All 27 of this year's 10th class leavers have now passed their examinations and are heading for further studies across a wide range including: industrial training, nursing, pharmacy and various academic courses at further and higher levels.
- Nurse Mary (news update 1 June) and her new husband have accepted appointments as nurse and deputy warden at the Nidamarru home.
- With access to banking facilities, progress has been made on the school, including refreshing the paintwork of the classrooms:
- and equipping the natural and physical science laboratories:
- New school year started on 13 June.
- A 3 day staff training workshop, including school teaching staff, staff from the ITI industrial training centre has been arranged for 13-15 June, supported by the Haggai Institute.
- We have received the news that the bank account in India is accessible again, at least temporarily, so debts can be settled and capital works started.
1 June 2016 update:
- Currently summer holidays: local temperatures have been approaching 50℃ !
- The dry winter season is starting to have its effect: electricity cuts from lack of hydro-electric power, and changes in diet arising from weak harvest. "Drumsticks" are a recent addition:
- Changes in the regulation of Indian bank accounts have created difficulties in accessing funds in India. A crisis is taking shape to pay salaries and food bills. Up to 70 children are staying in the homes during the holidays, either total orphans or to receive special coaching.
- Success in our appeal to equip the science labs (see April CHIT CHAT, below) means that when funds are accessible again, the work and purchases can begin.
- On 9 April there was great local celebration as K Mary, resident nurse since 2009, was married (see Life Stories).
- District Child Protection Officer with team of 3 visited the Bapatla home on 20 April, and recommended renewal of the licence for another 3 years.
- Coming up:
- Following the death of S Raju from a brain haemorrhage, there is a need to find a new male house parent.
- Inability to access funds has meant that the planned construction of new toilets at Nidamarru and various works at the Bapatla home and school have not been possible during the holidays, and will need to be scheduled during term-time.
- Applications for the 2016 entry are now starting to be processed.
- In April we published CHIT's occasional newsletter, CHIT CHAT. Click on the icon below to download it.
- Earlier issues of CHIT CHAT can be found on the About Us page, together with other information about CHIT, our partner in India Christiana Children's Homes, and the work that we do.