Ritapuram School

This school is in a rural slum area, with most children coming from Dalit (lowest caste) families, living below the poverty line. The School was already struggling with virtually no income, but then had the additional problem of the tsunami.  Although money poured in from all over the world to help the victims, the school was not given any financial help as the sisters are Christians.  
On 26th December 2004, over 4500 people came to the school for shelter after the tsunami. The school was left in a very sorry state. All the benches / desks / doors etc. were broken up for firewood, to cook rice to feed all the people, and every cup, plate, cooking pot etc. was taken when the people left. Most of the buildings were damaged, as were the gates and walls surrounding the camp.  Children United! sent £1250.00 to purchase wood and have new desks, benches etc. made.

Photos showing the purchased wood, the desks and benches being made and then used.  The final photo had written on the back - 'Our Sisters at Ritapuram conducting games for the tsunami affected children, on the sea shore to make them get rid of fear.'  


UPDATE - 2007. Julie visited Ritapuram for the first time.  There was a mixture of good and bad news. Probably worst of all, Ritapuram did not receive a single penny (or rupee) from the government for damage incurred because of the tsunami. But GOOD news, RTU (Reaching The Unreached) paid for the construction of a new senior school building.
Thanks to the following schools:- Blisworth County Primary, Isebrook School, Kettering, St. Mary's, Burton Latimer and Clipston Primary, this building has been repaired, replastered and repainted! It has the classrooms used by the five, six, seven and eight year-old children, plus a computer room and library for them.

Good news! The new computer room (but only one computer for 681 children!)

July 2007 - letter sent by Sr. Jessy, the Headmistress.  "The £229.51, given by Blisworth School was used to purchase three water tanks.  We have started Plus One (15-16 year-olds) on June 18th.  74 students have been admitted.  To give you the good news in the 5th standard exam we got 100%.  All have passed and have scored 464 marks out of 500.  It is a great joy for us."

December 2007  "In the midst of all the struggles, our school stands first in the Educational District's average mark in English and Maths in the public exams.  We are honoured by the educational officers and the Diocese.  We got the rolling cup for the year 2007.  Let us continue to pray that we may continue to have it with us in the coming year also. 

"Debts are increasing in the school.  Needs are more.  By God's grace +1 students (new classes for 15 year-olds, 11th std.) are doing well.  Because +1 teachers are under self finance salary, they are not happy about the minimum salary of 2000 rupees per month each.  (That's £23.81 !!!)  Kindly pray that the staff (10) of them who are in the +1 may remain with us fully.  Otherwise the standard of +1 will suffer.  We have not yet got recognition for the +1 (from the education department of the Government) We are trying."

October 2008  "My loving beloved students of NSB, (Northampton School for Boys)  Joyful and thankful wishes from Sr. Jessy.  My dear boys, you are really great.  Your thoughtful deeds have enriched our school and students with a bright future.

Your generous contribution is spent for the equipments to the Science Lab.  It is great indeed.  You have illuminated our needs with your selfless service and love.

February 2009 -  What a difference since my last visit, two years ago!  There are now +1 and +2 classes (16-17 and 17-18 year-olds.)  All children now have classrooms* (although not completed) and there are two libraries and computer rooms.  

2011 visit:-  I flew into Trivandrum and travelled by taxi to Ritapuram. However, the journey took much longer than usual. Due to recent heavy rain, many areas were flooded and roads had been washed away. River banks and dams had been breached and crops destroyed. Reservoirs were also affected and so after too much rain, there will soon be shortages.

However, there was only good to be seen at the school! The changes made in two years are astounding. The old condemned hall has been demolished and the main school building extended. When I was last here, the new building looked very grand but a lot of it was still a building site. Inflation had caused prices to rise, so the money given had run out before the building was completed.

Most of the money we gave to Ritapuram in 2009 and 2010, came from Burton Latimer Baptist Church. They have helped to pay for one corner of the school to be completed - six classrooms. There are now over 1000 children here aged 3 to 16. Although most children are from the poorest families, they do exceptionally well with exam results often the best in the area.

Three of the six classrooms that Burton Latimer Baptist Church paid for:-

The last amount of money from Burton Latimer Baptist Church (they gave £2519.00 in total!) came after the building work was completed. This money was spent on desks and benches. However, not like any I have ever seen before - these are metal and will last forever! The usual wooden ones are easily damaged and need constant repair. Sr. Jessy the headmistress, was anxious that some of the desks should be completed (a man has built and welded them from scratch) so I could see and photograph them. In one classroom there will be anywhere up to 60 children. The school and desks / benches will be here long after all of us have gone, so how many children will now be able to receive a good education, get better jobs and work their way out of poverty?

Some of the new metal desks and benches:-

Thanks must also be given to Clipston School who also gave a donation towards the desks and benches. We also received donations from Luke and Sophia. 

Sr. Jessy sat with me and looked at the photos of Burton Latimer Baptist Church; the building inside and out (she screamed very loudly when she saw that the red fabric she had sent was used to decorate the Church at Christmas!) and photos of the members of the Church, the pancake evening, strawberry afternoon tea, harvest and coffee, cake and car-wash. She was visibly moved to see how her friends in England had raised money to help her school. She retires in May and can do so, happy in the knowledge that her work is complete. 

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