Vanakkum! That means welcome in Tamil. Why are we speaking Tamil? Well I want to take you on a journey to one of the largest countries in the world – It has a population of 1 billion, it grows rice, they love cricket, there are elephants and tigers! That’s right its India.
India is such a wonderful, colourful country and there are lots and lots of children who just like us go to school, play sports and spend time with their friends. There are also a lot of children who aren’t like us and don’t have the opportunities that we have.
In India there is a huge gap between those people who have lots of money and those people who don’t have much who are living in poverty. That doesn’t sound right does it? Why should a child just because of where they live not have the same opportunities as we have. In the south of India in a state called Tamil Nadu there are many rural villages living in poverty.
My Uncle, went to Tamil Nadu with my mum 20 years ago and as a result setup a charity called Hope Gardens to help these families. Hope Gardens is a very caring charity that is working to help others improve their lives and give them the opportunities that they deserve. This charity pays for over 70 children who don’t have money to go to school, it cares for boys and girls who don’t have their mummys or daddys to look after them. It helps children learn about how to stay healthy and gives families vaccinations and medical help when they need it. Hope Gardens supports 20 communities all over Tamil Nadu but has a special place called the Rhema Gardens where they have a school for children with disabilities currently with 28 children, a hostel and a medical centre which is life saving to many families.
Ebanezzer, 12, lives in the hills next to the spice plantations. With his big sister he has to walk down hill for 30 minutes to get to his school in the village at the bottom of the valley. Everyone around them works in the cardmom (spice) plantations. Before he goes to school each day he has to go to the well to get the water which they use to wash and to cook their food in. Their dad, Robin, is a pastor who works for Hope Gardens.
Robin has a wonderful church building that is used not just on Sundays. Everyday of the week the church turns into an after school club to care for children while their parents work in the fields. It’s a cool club as it also tutors children who aren’t able to go to school yet, helps others with their homework, offers fun activities as well as an evening meal. Without these clubs the kids would be left to just fend for themselves either wondering the streets or being home alone with no electricity or food to eat – doesn’t sound safe or fun does it. Great Walstead has kindly supported Hope Gardens over the past two years and some of the money has gone towards these after school programmes. It has made such a difference to these kids - THANK YOU!
This building, while the kids are at school, is transformed into a school for ladies so they can learn to sew and go on to get a job. Oh and the best thing is this building has a toilet! Did you know that in these rural village not every house has a toilet!
Hope Gardens is a Christian charity but not everyone in the villages that they work are Christians in fact the majority of people are other religions but the main one is Hindu.
Isn’t it great that our school has enabled some children to go to school and also to help run these after school children’s clubs. Hope Gardens runs 6 clubs just like this helping over 135 children every week! I hope they can open more as they sounds brilliant!
I look forward to going out to Tamil Nadu with my Uncle when I am a little older to meet these families in person. If you want to learn more about this charity or support a child or project out there then please log onto www.hopegardensindia.org