A day in the life of a child at one of our orphanages / hostels / children's homes.

We help eight orphanages, boardings and children's homes - at Thangachimadam, Kodai Kanal, Munnar, Maski, Paravai, Savugampatti, Vettimukal and Karisalpatti. (Bellary no longer needs our help.)  They are all very similar - they have mostly abandoned children and many true orphans. Some children may have some relatives, but no-one who is able to look after them.  Special preference is given to Dalit children - from the lowest caste.  Some children are refugees.  There are always more abandoned girls than boys.  Some children may stay for a short while until their mother or father is able to have them back.  Most live with us for many years.

There are about 150 children at Kodai Kanal Orphanage and Boarding. Kodai is at the top of a mountain, so it is cold there. The children need warm clothing and blankets. There is a lady to supervise the boys and a cook to make their meals, but the children have to do many jobs to help.  They do the cleaning and help prepare the food. They collect water and firewood, and also tend the gardens, growing fruit and vegetables.  They also do their own washing - by hand, no washing machines here, and hang it out to dry.  

They spend a lot of time studying (see the daily routine at Munnar below!) but if they do well at school they can get good jobs. We buy lots of things to help them.  Some things may seem very boring - cooking pots, water buckets, solar lighting, fire wood, desks and benches and such like.  They like having geysers so that they have warm water to wash in.  BUT some things make the children very happy! Nice new clothes for the girls! (and boys - but they never seem so excited as the girls.)  The girls at Munnar also have a television and DVD player so they can watch the news and other educational programmes.


Playgrounds! The children are lucky that they live with so many friends and have lots of other children to play with.  We buy them sports and games equipment - cricket sets, volleyballs and nets, balls, skipping ropes, badminton sets etc.


The children at Thangachimadam are very lucky as St Loy's School looks after them.  They have very good food and milk to drink and snacks like Bombay mix or biscuits as a treat.  They still have to do jobs to help. 

Our children are very lucky - they have somewhere to live with lots of friends, they have enough food to eat, go to school and can see a doctor or nurse if they are ill. They are happy because they are cared for. 

A day in the life of the children at Kodai Kanal.

The children get up at 5.30, get washed, clean their teeth and get dressed. With so many children, they have to take turns to do everything. So some will do housework first, or go out to sweep the paths and roads. Some will study first or go to collect firewood. At 7.30 they will have prayers and then it is time for breakfast. Then they do whatever they haven’t had time to do earlier and hopefully by 8.30am they are all ready to go to school.
The girls are in one building and the boys are in another one across the road. Each boarding has a warden to look after the children and there is another lady who cooks for them all. The older children look after the younger ones, making sure that they have cleaned their teeth, done their homework and so on.
The school is in the same campus, just across the road from the girls’ boarding and next to the boys’. The road is not open to traffic so it is safe and the children can play here. Only occasionally lorries come to deliver things and then the children move out of the way. Children from Kodai Kanal town and the surrounding villages come to the school. It is a very big school and very noisy, especially at break and lunchtimes. Lessons are much the same as those in schools in the UK, except that the children learn Tamil, their own language and English. They have a break in the mornings, an hour for lunch and another break in the afternoon as they don’t finish school until 4.15pm.

After school the children in the boardings have tiffin - a drink of hot, black tea (we can’t afford milk) (Update!!! - in 2012 we sent out our first amount of money to pay for milk for the children - hurrah!!!!!) and a snack - usually mung beans, which are very nutritious. 
Then they again do things in shifts. So some will have their playtime. Some will do the gardening, help the cook to prepare the evening meal, wash their clothes or do their housework. Then they can play. At 5.30 they do their homework and study until it is time for their evening meal. They have prayers and more studying until 9.30 when it is time for bed. The 10th standard children study until 10.30.
If the children have any relatives or friends, they are allowed to visit them on the second weekend of each month or the relatives/friends can come to the boarding to visit. In the holidays, the children who have no family often go to stay at their friends’ houses, but some stay here all year around. It is a very happy place here, despite the hardships. The children don’t mind that their clothes are worn and repaired, that they don’t have television or toys. However, it is important that they have a good diet to stay healthy. With so many children living squashed together it is a disaster when any of them become ill, as illness spreads very quickly, especially fever and colds.
The children here are very fortunate. So many are turned away. These children have the very best education and usually all of them pass their exams.

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