Thangachimadam Orphanage

We (or rather St. Loys School, near Towcester) have been supporting this project for many years. There were a number of homeless children who would sleep in the classrooms at Thangachimadam School at night for safety and would receive a little food from the Sisters. St. Loys School agreed to help them, and the rest as they say, is history. Now there are anything up to 200 permanent and temporary children there, living in a (recently extended) orphanage. They receive their food (of a very high standard compared to some other projects) schooling - uniforms, books and stationary, medical care, other clothing and soap, toothpaste etc. all thanks to the children and staff at St. Loys School, the parents and villagers.

Sister Bibiana who was in charge of the project, converted an old barn - not ideal, but at least it was dry, unlike any of the classrooms. (The island of Rameswaram gets a lot of rain!) Concrete floors were laid and doors put in.  The children's bedding, clothes etc. had to be stored up in an 'attic', which leaked and was only reached by an outside staircase.   All the children were bought a tin trunk to store their belongings and a number of benches and rough cupboards were purchased to keep everything off the floors.

One amount of money given, paid for a large concrete area to be laid around the existing toilets. This meant that there is now a 20cm step up - which the children can manage with ease, but prevents scorpions from gaining access to the dark toilets, where they used to like to hide. A scorpion's sting can kill a small child.  A piece of homework on Thangachimadam given to the children at St. Loys School resulted in an excellent model of the toilet block! 


We all went through the trauma of the island being badly affected by the tsunami; only one nine-year old girl at the school was lost, but forty-four fathers did not return from fishing, adding to the number of children staying at the orphanage.  Many injured were treated in the dispensary and four badly injured fishermen remained there for some time. Many boats and nets were lost, and naturally many were very scared about returning to the coast and to fishing. However, people generally were refusing to eat fish, thinking that they would be poisoned by all the dead bodies in the sea. Fishermen who did return to work, found that they had no customers. Boat builders, net makers / menders, coolies (who walk around the beaches collecting the fish) etc. etc. were all without work.
 
"Most of the local population are fisherfolk who live in palm-leaf shacks on the beach.  They have moved to our school for safety and shelter and are living in the classrooms.  The tides continue to be exceptionally high and it rained continually for many days afterwards."  After the tsunami the survivors were fed and cared for by the Sisters. St Loys School had raised a large amount of money for them in 2004 so the Sisters had immediate funds to buy rice to feed the people.  St Loys then collected even more money to replace this money spent!

Huts were rebuilt and life very slowly started to return to normal.

 

The children Sister Bibiana looks after are mostly abandoned; some are true orphans and there are a number of refugees from the troubles in Sri Lanka.  She also takes in temporary borders, girls whose parents are unable to look after them or who are away looking for work. There is virtually no income for the orphanage.  There is no soil on the island, only sand on top of rock and the large stagnant pools are ideal breeding places for mosquitoes that carry malaria, dengue fever and chickengunya and keep the tourists away.  The land is not suited to any crops, so fishing is the main employment, especially for the uneducated.

HOWEVER!!! Some very good news - the Spanish charity Manos Unidas, paid for a new school building.  



From money raised in 2006, St Loys helped to pay for an extension to the orphanage, which (much to the children's delight!) included an inside toilet!

Sister Bibiana retired (on the left - she is on her eighties, although she doesn't look it!)  Sister Charles took over.



One year, Julie took a photo of the St Loys children to India.  Which she photographed with girls from Thangachimadam holding it.



This photo was then held by the children at St Loys and another photo taken!



And THIS photo was on Julie's laptop and she managed to find two of the girls in the original Indian photo to hold the laptop:-



We get regular correspondence and photos from Thangachimadam.  You will see that the children are now all girls.  A few years ago, when the orphanage reached full capacity, the boys moved to a home run by a group of Brothers, only a couple of hundred metres away.  They still attend Thangachimadam school.  The girls get the best food of all of our projects and this is shown by them being much taller and healthier than any of our other children.  



We are SO grateful to St. Loys for their continued help with this project. Their commitment has enabled us to help so many other projects.

2012 - Mrs Johnson from St Loys School went to visit!!!  Please visit our other website www.whatwehadtoeattoday.btck.co.uk to read all about it and to see lots of photos.  The total sent out in 2012 was £2476.25! 

2013 - Amazingly, £4147.20 was sent out.  This included a donation to carry out lots of expensive building and repair work. More toilets were built, along with an incinerator.  Some floors and corridors were re-concreted and walls repaired.  More shelving was purchased. Sister Jovita sends regular emails to keep us updated and although they don't have a camera there, managed to send us some photos showing this work.  As always, most of the money raised by the children at St Loys, goes on milk and good healthy food for the girls. There are some treats though! - such as a new CD player (the old cassette player kept breaking down when the girls were dancing for us,) games equipment and of course, the new library.

Below, some of the new toilets and the incinerator.                    Lots more shelving

  

The girls have milk several times a week!                 Pongal is like our Harvest Festival, celebrated in January and is a very                                                                                                important festival in the state of Tamil Nadu



The new CD player, speakers etc.                                         There are now up to 200 girls at Thangachimadam!



The new Library.  (Sorry for the name!  They must have guessed how to spell Ophelia!)

2014 - £1522.00 given by St Loys School.

2015 - £1460.00 given by St Loys School.

2016 - £1240.00 given by St Loys School.  Thank you all SO much!






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