06.12.2015 - 10.12.2015 26 °C
On our penultimate Sunday, we had another visit to the Children's Village. As it was my last Sunday visit, and Mark's only visit, Mum had arranged a Christmas party for the Children. We played musical statues and Simon says and gave them a little bag of gifts including light-up rubber balls and toy mice, ladybirds and bees that Mum had knitted. The kids really enjoyed it and so did we! I had one more short visit to the Village before I left and gave the children some sports equipment which I hope they will use and enjoy in the years to come. I'll miss those little guys.
During our time, we were also lucky enough to visit two other charities which are supported by the Joe Homan Charity, the fundraising body for Boys Town Society based in Peterborough. We had a fantastic guide in the shape of Gopi who himself is a Boys Town alumnus. First we went to Mother Mary Special School which is attended by around 40 children with special educational needs. Rachele, who is the secretary of the school, explained to us that many parents don't understand the needs of these children and so this school offers them the support that they require and some of the children live at the school as well. She also showed us the physiotherapy room which was clearly in need of additional equipment, although the dedication of Rachele and her staff was clear. After this Gopi took us to a residential home for children with HIV and other life threatening diseases like Hepatitus B. Many of these children have heart breaking stories of being found in train stations and drains. Gopi explained that abandoned children who have these kinds of diseases are automatically brought to this home and an additional building was being erected as some of the children are now becoming young adults. These experiences made me realise the levels of need here in India and the lack of understanding, but also the dedication and love of a few individuals which goes a long way.
We also stopped off at Tirumangulum where the founder of the Boys Town Society, Joe Homan, spends half of his time. As part of the 50-year celebrations of the charity in January 2015, a small "museum" was set up at Tirumangulum to showcase the decades of wonderful work which Joe started in 1965 as a man of 35. The photos of the first generation of boys that Joe was able to help were humbling. Many of those boys, now older men themselves of course, are still close to Joe. It's been insipirational to see the story of the Boys Towns in its entirety - from children as young as five at the Children's Village to boys of around 16 at Athoor Boys Town. I've learnt about the history of the charity and seen photos of boys of nine whose hands I've now shaken as men. I've been invited to the home of Gopi, a former Boys Town boy, now a man with young children of his own and qualifications in commerce, sociology, computing and acupuncture and giving his time to help better the lives of other children through the Joe Homan Charity. And of course I've met Joe himself, an old man of 85 and felt honoured to hug him and thank him for all he's done for the children and young people in the area.