April 2018 Update
In April 2018, Karine and Chris re-visited Rishikesh to follow up with two of the schools which have benefitted from the Foundation’s funding.
On their visit to Ramana’s Garden, they saw the children looking very smart in their Foundation-funded new school uniforms and shoes.
Having agreed to fund new classroom furniture, Ramana’s Garden contacted The Foundation to advise that another benefactor had agreed to donate furniture for the classrooms and asked if funds donated by The Foundation could be used to make safe the pathways and stairs around the school, which were in urgent need of repair, to which we agreed. Karine and Chris were pleased to see that this work had been completed, making getting around the school for the children and staff much safer.
They spent time with one of the volunteers at the school, Allie, taking about plans for the school and, in particular, the extension and upgrading of the kitchen, which serves meals made from organic produce and is one of the main financial contributors to the funds of the school, as it is open to outsiders and visitors.
The school also has plans to build more classrooms, as they look to take on more pupils of the poorest families and children most at risk.
Allie explained how the children flourish while with the school. They often arrive as very timid, scared children having suffered some of the worst experiences that a child can have. She said that, in particular, some of the girls on arrival are very mistrusting of male members of staff and won’t be alone with them in any circumstances, but they soon learn that these men will not hurt or abuse them and their confidence grows. Bearing in mind what some of these children have experienced prior to joining the school, it was heartwarming to see how happy, lively and healthy these children were.
The Foundation is now in discussions with the school regarding potential further funding of projects.
October 2017 Update
For the start of their new school year, all the children of Ramana’s Garden school in Rishikesh were given new school uniforms, funded by the donation made by The Foundation. The school then sent us the photos of the children looking very smart, and ready for their new academic year!
This school doubles as an orphanage for about 60 of the 220 students at the school and was established by an American lady, Prabhavati Dwabha, who did not originally come to Rishikesh to do social work (but to pursue her own spiritual journey on the banks of the Ganges), but whose heart was captured by these poor children with “ … open sores, distended bellies from malnutrition, vibrant smiles that having nothing couldn’t deter and a keen desire to learn”.
Karine and Chris met with, and were shown around the school by, Pamela, a Scottish lady who originally went there to volunteer for a couple of months, but has now resigned from her job in the UK as an Actuary and committed herself to helping these kids for the foreseeable future.
The children at the school, if not orphans, are children deemed “at risk” and are from the poorest sections of the community. The children at this school would be at risk of being murdered, forced into prostitution, forced into child labour, forced into begging, likely to suffer starvation or total neglect if they were not in this school.
The school has an organic garden, the produce of which forms part of the nutrition programme for the children at the school. There is also an organic cafe serving people outside the school, the profits of which are put towards the running of the school. The day children receive a warm, nutritious meal every lunchtime; and the orphans who live on site, receive breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In the 18 years in which the school has be operating, they have provided educational assistance to over 1,800 children.
We encourage you to look at the website (www.sayyesnow.org) for more information on the philosophy and work being done by this orphanage and school. As you will see, it has not been an easy road, but the children we saw were happy and healthy (and one was a bit cheeky, but in a fun way, just as Greg sometimes would be!).
Following the visit, Karine and Chris have been in contact with Pamela to find out, initially, what financial assistance currently is required. Among other things which are on her “wish list”, she has advised them that the school is in need of new classroom furniture and the children are in need of new school uniforms and shoes. The Foundation has, therefore agreed to fund all of this, for the whole school. When Karine and Chris next visit, they also shall be taking with them some sports equipment to add to (or replace worn out) equipment currently being used by the children. Sport was another of Greg’s passions and we are sure he would have approved this donation by his Foundation.
The Foundation Board is also exploring ways to replace the old and broken computers so that the kids can resume their I.T. lessons.
A Smile Project