We were shocked and saddened by last Friday’s tragedy in New Zealand. The loss of innocent lives is deeply confronting. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to those immediately impacted and their communities, particularly in schools across Christchurch. Due to the many educators who visit Claremont College, we have formed many close friendships with a number of schools in New Zealand, and so we have reached out to them offering our love, prayers and support.
Schools provide a safe and supportive environment for all students, staff and their community, and so our primary goal this week has been to review and consider our response to this tragedy. Each week, on a Monday morning, our Pastoral Care team meets to review the pastoral and wellbeing needs of students, staff and families. We evaluate issues from the week before and we plan how to best care for children and others across the week ahead. As a team we considered how we respond to the Christchurch tragedy and discussed what would be the best way to talk to the children. Our actions included:
GRANDPARENTS AND SPECIAL FRIENDS DAY
This week we were blessed to have so many Grandparents and special friends visit us. It was fun and very special. Congratulations to the children and teachers for your presentations. There was certainly a lot of love in the air!
HAPPY GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY
This weekend we celebrate Greek Independence Day. I look forward to being with many of our Greek families at Martin Place on Sunday.
NATIONAL FUTURE SCHOOLS EXPO AND CONVENTION
I have spent three days this week in Melbourne attending the ‘National Future Schools Expo and Convention’ which was attended by approximately three thousand delegates. It is always such an honour and privilege to talk about Claremont College. Yesterday I was a member of panel of Principals where we were asked to speak about ‘Strategies for School Leaders to Realise Learning Improvement’. I was also a keynote speaker at the ‘Future Leaders’ Strand where I presented on the topic ‘Planning for the future – change, strategic planning, and a leadership toolkit for disruption, and your personal wellbeing’. If you are interested, the slides of my talk have been uploaded to the school website. Click here to follow the link.
One of the things I love about conferences such as this, is the chance to hear cutting edge talks on a variety of topics that interest and are important to me. Some of the presentations I attended included the new Digital Technologies Curriculum, Positive Psychology in the school setting, researched based strategies for students with autism, latest research findings in brain based learning in children, future innovation and emotional resilience. All up, it was a productive time and I look forward to sharing my ideas and all I have learnt with the staff, and with you all.
As I gave my talk yesterday, I concluded by saying that we need to “keep things simple” and to not lose the perspective of the things that are most important to us all. Our communities must be places where people come first. For me, this means that we must prioritise hope, purpose, reconciliation, unity, diversity, empathy, compassion and most importantly… love.
Let’s continue to hold up Christchurch in our prayers. My heart also breaks for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe as millions of people come to terms with the destruction of Cyclone Idai. Our world is certainly hurting. Even if it’s a ‘drop in the bucket’, and we are all positioned to make a difference.
Thank you for all you bring to our school community… It wouldn't be the same without you.
I am grateful for the opportunities that bring us together as a community, for it is in community, working together as a School and parent body, with our conversations together, our shared purpose, consultation and collaboration, that we find the solutions to best care for your children. For this reason, at a recent parent function, I shared my perspective on some heavy stuff, as a concerned and very grateful Principal, and also from my perspective, as a dad who has seen my three teenagers navigate and try to make sense of the world they are growing up in.
If you did not attend the event, I shared an experience of my childhood. My mother would often describe me (and probably still does) as “a little bugga” and I fully understand why. I sometimes did things that I am sure mystified her. Like the time in Grade 2, for no reason at all, I ran up to a girl at school and whacked her hard on the bottom. Our scary Deputy Principal at the time (who every child feared), summoned me to his office and proceeded to hit me on the hand with his thick black rubber pipe, which he affectionately called his "licorice stick”. I recall that moment clearly and I remember my mother saying that afternoon “well you must have deserved it!”. My mother asked no further questions and she directed no accountability for my punishment towards the Deputy or School. Times have certainly changed with some parents in this day and age, challenging schools, without placing any responsibility on their child for his or her actions (or on their own parenting). “My child would never be a do that!” one might say, and if a consequence is put in place, the school is unfairly criticised.
As we work together in a spirit of trust and respect, there is a healthy middle-ground.
With children growing up in a new world filled with new issues and concepts to those we experienced as children, and a very different to the world our mothers and fathers, we must work closely together. Take a child’s easy access to pornography for example. How necessary is it for both parents and the school to work together to help our children navigate this ugly territory? It both saddens and maddens me that psychologists and schools must now deal with a disorder termed ‘pre-adolescent porn addiction’. The majority of children aged 10, will have looked at explicit porn. My experience when working with these children who feel that they have done the wrong thing, is that they clam up and don’t say anything to their teacher or mum or dad. If it’s a group of children who have done the wrong thing there may be a code of silence, or they all point the finger of blame in different directions. It is easy for kids to live with the guilt and shame of their actions, often without telling a soul, way into adulthood. We must carefully balance the issues of debriefing, resolution, consequence, learning from mistakes, and knowing what is appropriate for the future. If we don’t do this well together, a child or young person’s mental health is certainly at risk.
How do we do this? The School and parents must work together in partnership. We certainly don’t blame or attack, should a child make a mistake. If we just ‘punish’ then our children will never come to us for help. As children get older, the challenges they will face will only become more difficult and complex. With children’s forms of social media thrown into the mix, it’s a foreign language for all of us adults.
It takes a community to support a child and it takes a community to support mum and dad. It takes great mums and dads to support a school. We are in this together, and on behalf of my entire staff team who work so tirelessly for your children, I offer you my sincere thanks, for working together with us to support your children.
Thanks @timmarshall for the fantastic image.
He Last week after attending the funeral of my 19 year old son's girlfriend Marli, in the cool of the evening I was sitting having a quiet beer, pondering and reflecting. I was exhausted and emotionally spent. I put on Spotify and played some music to cheer myself up, something good for the soul.
When you're not really listening, it's strange how the lyric of a song can catch your attention. I still find it uncanny, that a song can be so timely and quite unsettling all at the same time. It raises questions for me that I can't answer or make sense of at this point in time. Yet, I hold on to my knowledge that God is present, God is love, He is grieving too, and He promises to turn bad things into good.
I get it if you find this hard to believe.
Life can change in the blink of an eye
You don't know when and you don't know why
"Forever Young" is a big fat lie
For the one who lives and the one who dies
I watched my son - shovel in hand
Go from bulletproof boy to a full-grown man
The cool dark dirt on the casket lands
Nineteen years old and he's buryin' a friend
Oh, goodbye two boys, hello one man
This son of mine is gonna leave in the fall
Some might ask how he stands so tall
His life was changed with a telephone call
Not even he understands it all
I watched my son - shovel in hand
Go from bulletproof boy to a broken man
The cool dark dirt on the casket lands
Amy Grant 'Shovel in Hand'
Click here if you'd like to help
10000 burpees and 10000 push-ups, that’s what I can do
Towards the end of last year, I was asked to be a part of a fundraising initiative for my local hospital, the Prince of Wales at Randwick. I gladly accepted knowing that I would need the help of my fantastic school community to raise a goal of $10 000. Over 2019 I would promote the importance of health and fitness in my school and wider community. It’s a great cause and I’m delighted to be a local Principal (a local Coogee boy too) helping other locals, because this is what ‘doing life together’ in community is all about hey!
So in January I set myself some fitness goals, with the help of my local gym and my trainer, JJ Coutts @outerstrengthfitness (JJ is also an awesome Claremont old boy). At the time I only had a vague sense of how I might go about raising this significant sum of money. Little did I realise how personally meaningful this project would soon become.
Just last week, on Sunday 27th January, my family was rocked by the sudden and tragic death of my son, Gulliver’s beautiful 18 year old girlfriend Marli. You perhaps have seen this news in the Herald see link to SMH or on the TV. As the headline reads;
‘She made one mistake and that’s it’: Teenager dies after party drug overdose
When it comes to learning, we teach kids that it’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, we recognise that mistakes are good being an important aspect of deep learning. Taking a drug, however, is not a mistake that anyone can afford to make. The risk is simply not worth it. In Marli’s case, her mistake was totally unforgiving, and she had no opportunity for learning or second chances.
So we are all heartbroken, sad beyond words, and very much in a state of shock and disbelief. Please pray for Marli’s family and circle of friends, particularly leading up to the funeral later this week.
There’s no way to understand such a senseless tragedy, but what I do know is that I can make a difference. With your help, I will raise $10 000, which will be directed to the Prince of Wales (POW) new Emergency and Intensive Care Units. I will do what I can to teach kids and empower them with the awareness and skills to say ‘no’ to drugs. To add weight to the importance of this issue, I was told that last weekend, four teenagers were rushed to POW Emergency for drug overdose related issues. This is a problem that impacts us all ...our children, their parents, families, and our community suffers. Things have to change.
One solution for the well-being crisis that is currently impacting our children and young people, is found in education, health and fitness. Our kids must grow up having a sense of purpose that comes from positive relationships, personal identity, belonging, contributing as we ‘do life’ together as members of a healthy, inclusive community. It’s locals helping locals and this needs to become embedded into the very DNA of what we’re all on about.
I love this Bible verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13
"until then, there are three things that remain:
faith, hope, and love
yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.”
So let's run with love!
I hope that you might be happy to share this journey with me, over the next 6 months as I work towards these goals. I’ll be doing some blogging to keep you posted about my progress.
Please help me to get the message out and if you have any creative ideas for helping, please be in touch. Please connect me with others who might like to run alongside.
Your donations are tax deductible through the POW Foundation via my ‘Every Day Hero’ fundraising page. Click here to make a donation.
Thanks a million,
Our Jungle kids can now study and do their homework later in the evening
Happy New Year from me and the team at ‘Project Help India’. We are incredibly excited about 2019 and we are thankful for your interest, help and support. Our prayers are with you for all that you hope to do and achieve this year.
2019 is shaping up to be another big year in the life of 'Project Help India'. We have many goals and we are ambitious and intentional about all we are seeking to achieve. We will be guided by our vision and mission and have a clear sense of purpose and strategy.
A reminder of what is our big picture
The mission of ‘Project Help India’ is to bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to the poor. Our vision is to focus on education, nutrition, health and ultimately human rights, so that individual lives are impacted, empowered and restored. ‘Project Help India’ seeks to bring about community change and generational transformation. ‘Project Help India’ seeks to grow in its impact and influence in the lives of people and communities, with a goal to ultimately expand into other towns and places of need.
Some of our 2019 resolutions are to;
- hold our second ‘SHINE’ Women’s Empowerment Conference in April. We are anticipating 900 delegates over 2 days!
- develop individualised programs for each of the high needs students who attend our Disability Centre in the Kotdwara City Centre
- improve the quality of education in each of our centres through ongoing teacher training
- continue to investigate and develop a strategy how we can purchase a property in the heart of Kotdwara (for our HQ)
- continue to investigate the feasibility of purchasing (or long-term lease) for a jungle school
- provide quality educational resources to assist the Kotdwara anti-human trafficking police team
- register ‘Project Help India’ with the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission)
- develop policies to ensure for excellence in all aspects of our operations and compliance
- be able to provide tax deductibility for our donors
Our efforts to achieve this (and so much more) spring-board off some fantastic things that have just happened in December.
Our team in India were delighted to describe the many wonderful Christmas celebrations across Kotdwara. Apparently, there was an incredible energy and enthusiasm for Christmas in the markets and churches in a way that has never been experienced before. Each one of our 260 students received a warm jumper as a Christmas present, which was well received given that it has been a particularly cold winter this year. Thank you to the students of Claremont College in Sydney, and a good number of others too, who raised the money to make this possible.
Bringing solar powered lights to the homes of 180 of our students
In December we were delighted to connect with another NGO, the ‘CBN Foundation’ www.cbn.in which heard about our projects. Through this, 180 of our students in slums and jungle villages had a bonus Christmas blessing of receiving a solar light to assist them with their work at night. Our Project Officer in Kotdwara wrote;
“The Jungle people were very happy. They said that these solar lights will help our kids to study at night. Now these kids are using the lights in night for their studies.”
We are thrilled that the CBN Foundation would like to continue to work with us with the goal of looking into the possibility of installing a water plant in the jungle villages, which will improve the quality of their drinking water.
We are very thankful for the generosity and heart of the CBN Foundation and look forward to further joint ventures and achievements in 2019. You can check the full report on our website at http://projecthelpindia.co/blog/
A Documentary on National Television
A national Indian Broadcasting Network, the ‘Colour Channel’ has produced a documentary about the story of Manisha, a young girl who is one of our students in the City Centre’. This will be aired later in January and we will send a link to you as soon as it becomes available.
What is your New Year Resolution?
Whether you agree with the concept of new year’s resolutions or not, might you resolve to be committed to supporting ‘Project Help India’ in 2019? We are an organisation that really is committed to making a difference in the lives of people, and I hope to can see that we operate with great intentionality and integrity. Your donation goes directly to our projects with minimal admin fees.
It is important to us that you feel connected to our story, so that the stories of lives of people impacted by poverty in India, intersect with your story too. As we bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to these beautiful people, your life will be changed too. Your regular donation will assist in bringing light to the poorest of the poor in 2019.
BSB: 062 230 (Commonwealth Bank Randwick, Sydney)
Account: 1134 1909
Account Name: Project Help India
OR donate directly at
Thank you for being a part of our story.
I have recently been reminded that because I am a leader, people will talk about me. The kids at school talk about me, parents will talk about me at dinner parties (the school is one topic of conversation that they all have in common) and my staff certainly talk about the boss. There certainly has been a lot of talk in the press and on social media lately about me (and also about many of my colleagues who are also Anglican Principals). Because of this, it has been one of the most difficult seasons in my leadership ever. I am angry with myself for a number of reasons, angry that I have been misunderstood and misrepresented and upset not to be able to say what I really think about a number of things. People make judgements, some think that they have it all figured out about who I am and what I stand for.
A leader is often the topic of conversation. If you’re new to leadership get used to this, and don’t kill yourself by trying to keep everyone happy, that they might only say nice things about you behind your back.
People are always appraising you. People will talk about the principal of the school that they are considering sending their child to. People discuss you. Your reputation is important to them. “Is he any good at his job?”, “what are the academic results of school like” ...do I trust him?, does his behaviour reflect what he says? People will talk about whether you say thank you, show appreciation, if you look worried, stressed or angry, if you’ve put on weight, bought a new shirt, or perhaps looking unwell and losing too much weight. People care about you too, and this is something I appreciate and never take for granted.
People will draw conclusions from what they observe. Show your humour, share your vulnerabilities and be real with the people who you do life with. People need to see the authentic you. But also guard yourself. If you’re dealing with a difficult situation, tell people without going into details.... give them something to talk about like, “hey, I feel for him at the moment, he needs our prayers,”, rather than “gee he’s rude. He walked straight past me and totally ignored me.”
So in the midst of all of this, who do you get your validation from? Who do you listen to? Who can you turn to when everything seems confusing, unfair, lonely or hurtful?
Psalm 121 helps me;
I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realise that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me. He will never slumber nor sleep; he is the Guardian-God for his people. He himself will watch over you; he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence. He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night. He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity as he continually watches over you. You will be guarded by God himself. You will be safe when you leave your home and safely you will return. He will protect you now, and he’ll protect you forevermore!
Thanks Nik Shuliahin @tjump for the great pic.
It's always a great day, and a highlight of any year for me when a new Barbra Streisand album is released. I am listening to it now after a challenging day filled with responding to people's valid upset ..and I understand why they are upset. This upset is based on misrepresentation by the media and the twisted mistruths posted on social media. It's upsetting to be told that I am something when I have striven in my life and in my leadership to fight injustice and work against discrimination...to be fair, kind, show love, grace and demonstrate integrity. And to point to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of all these things. He walked the talk and I seek to emulate that. I don't want to sound pious, I am just suggesting there's gotta be a better way to work out misunderstanding and to realise that there really are not as many differences as the media suggests exist.
So back to Barbra, my other hero. I love this lyric which I have just listened to for the very first time. I think I am about to drive my family crazy this weekend because they do not share my taste in music.
Angry words and bitterness cause love to fade away
What happened to the dreams and hopes that we shared yesterday
Misty chords of memory that stir within our soul
Lead us to forgiveness so that we can be made whole
We are not enemies, there is no good in that
There are better angels that surround our soul
And we will find a way through all the differences
Hear the better angels, listen to the call
Hatred only breeds more hate and darkness in our heart
May we find compassion in a world so torn apart
A symphony of what could be
Says this is where we start
We are not enemies, there is no good in that
There are better angels that surround our soul
And we will find a way through all our differences
Hear the better angels, listen to the call
Let the better angels be our guide
Yes let the better angels walk beside
Can you catch us all
'Cause we just about to fall
And find better angels in us all
Yes, rise up!
It's time, oh it's time
We are not enemies, there is no good in that
There are better angels, they surround our soul
And we will find a way through all our differences
Hear the better angels, listen to the call
And we will find a way
I have just returned from Kotdwara, and one of many highlights was the opportunity to work with a group of university students. These young men and women were an enthusiastic and energetic group, full of determination to study hard as they aim for a bright future. I was asked to speak to them about leadership, and I was inspired by their commitment to serve in their community. Keep studying hard, make some sacrifices, and you are sure to make a difference.
I have been asked to publish my notes - so here they are.
I recently attended a meeting for NSW School Principals and had the pleasure of listening to a presentation given by one of Australia’s leading psychologists, Dr Michael Carr Gregg. Dr Carr Gregg shared his concerns regarding, what he called, “well-being and mental health crisis” for Australian children aged 8 to 12 years. The issues he raised, were certainly aligned with my own concerns and sadly they were on par with the many serious issues I see here at Claremont and hear about in the media.
As I write this weekly newsletter, I do not want to sound alarmist, but I believe that we need to take this more seriously than ever before and respond as a school community accordingly. It was once my thought that the Primary Years were the ‘safe haven’ years for children. These were the years when we as educators and parents would lay the firm and solid foundations for young children and pre-adolescents. These were the years that we would equip children with the skills for making wise decisions, provide them with values and a moral framework, equip them to be resiliency and enjoy that wonderful sense of safety that comes with childhood. Surely one’s childhood should be the years of being carefree and happy with eyes wide-open with wonder and curiosity. I still advocate and strive for all of these things, perhaps more than ever before. However, the reality is that, thanks to technology, the adult world is encroaching into the primary years and little kids are being impacted. It is no wonder that we hear that our hospitals and medical professionals are seeing more and more children being treated for depression, crippling anxiety, panic attacks, anorexia for both boys and girls, self harm and talk of suicide.
If this alarms you, it should. As a school community, we need to be working together to seek solutions and support and strengthen the home/school partnership. It was fabulous to talk about this with the Claremont Dads, who on Monday attended the Fathering Project meeting at the Coogee Diggers. We shared stories, strategies, ideas and solutions. We worried together about some of the things we are aware of, especially when one dad mentioned that at his daughter’s high school, data was published suggesting that 85% of the entire Year 11 cohort (girls and boys) were taking prescribed anti-depressants. We heard stories of young teenage boys who do not attend school because they are unable to leave their bedroom due to online gaming addictions. We were encouraged and affirmed, however, by the reminder of the importance of dads being involved in the lives of their kids. On the flip side of some grim statistics we learnt that there is significantly less likelihood for teenagers and young people to be impacted by these issues when their parents are actively involved in their lives… coaching, supporting, disciplining, having rich conversations, allowing for mistakes, following through on consequences, growing resilience, and essentially being involved in a way that is not being a helicopter parent or a parent who creates a ‘Bonsai Child’.
Our School Discipline and Anti-Bullying Policies
So with these comments, my reassurance to our Parent Community, is that Claremont takes this very seriously. Our priorities focus on your child’s safety, well-being, happiness and their learning. Next week, we shall introduce our revised ‘Discipline’ and ‘Anti-Bullying’ Policies. These documents align with the contemporary issues that we are dealing with as a school and wider as a community. I would hope that we have the support of all parents as we implement initiatives, and further refine our school-wide behavioural expectations.
Kids and Smart Phones
Dr Michael Carr Gregg sought the opinion of Principals in the auditorium on the issue of smart phones and devices in schools. Dr Carr Gregg has been commissioned by the NSW State Government to write a report regarding the use of technology in schools. This comes on the back of a number of countries such as France and Malaysia that now have complete bans. My personal opinion is that technology, when used wisely, with appropriate infrastructure, filters, fire-walls, supervision and education, is rich, valuable and wonderful for learning. However, this must come with some strict guidelines. I am so pleased with the success of our 1:1 iPad Program but certain consequences must be put in place should children ‘break the rules’, and of course parents must have the assurance that our IT systems are safe and carefully monitored.
What we are seeing in the lives and the world of some students
I’d like to give you the heads-up with a few issues that concern me deeply. These things are based on issues and incidents that my staff and I have to respond to at school over recent months.
• Online bullying from home, where children connect to each other on apps and games. Many harmless looking kid’s games, come with the ability to chat with friends and strangers.
• I see children who are using Instagram, Facebook and other forms of social media that are clearly identified as being for users aged 13 and older. Children must lie about their age to become users. Don't forget that creepy adults also lie about their age and pretend to be a harmless 14 year old kid.
• There are students who have set up YouTube Channels. To make matters worse, they are using their name, and they talk about their school, their house and give other personal details.
• I am hearing that many students are playing ‘Fortnite’ which is considered to be perhaps the most addictive online game ever.
• I have seen students looking at, and playing Grand Theft Auto.
• We have children who are messaging mum and dad on their iWatch during lessons and school time.
• I see children overly worried about their body image as they obsess over the number of steps they take at school, constantly checking their fitness on their Garman or Fit-Bit.
• Most children, are given mum or dad’s hand-me down smart phone, which essentially gives them the ability to access pornography and other unhelpful content within a couple of clicks.
• Children who are receiving psychological help for self harm and/or having suicide ideologies. Our data shows that 25% of our 2017 Year 6 student cohort, presented for these issues and required counselling, psychological or medical intervention.
We may wonder why the adult world is encroaching into the precious years of childhood. Is it because we are handing the adult world to our children? It would be neglectful to drop your child off onto a dark street in the middle of the city at night, yet isn’t this what we are doing when we let them navigate the internet on a smart device? Our kids may be accessing highly dangerous content, and providing their personal details and data to strangers, often while sitting next to mum and dad at the Café.
It has been a long standing policy that phones are banned at school. Earlier this year, I mentioned that Apple iWatches (or similar) are ‘discouraged’. On Monday, I will be informing all students that these devices will now be completely banned at Claremont. If your child has one, he or she must hand it in at the office on arrival at school and collect it at the end of the school day. I would expect that parents have the necessary safety talks and rules associated with having these devices while walking to and from school, and when at home.
Four of the Core Values of Claremont College summarise my concerns.
Engaging learning through quality teaching across the curriculum with innovation and creativity.
Providing a nurturing school community through care and respect for self, others and the environment.
Growing and affirming the character, leadership and a sense of purpose for each individual child.
Having faith in Christ and following his word in our lives.
Let’s work together to give all of our children the safe and happy childhood that each one of them deserves.
Thank you Robert Collins @Robbie36 for the beautiful photo.
Meet Adnan, Sunjay and Anaya...
It comes with an incredible sense of satisfaction when I hear the news of children who have been rescued and whose lives have been powerfully changed. These kids did not go to school but once were forced to work in child labour. Thanks to Project help India these kids now have the opportunity to receive an education, to learn, be cared for, make friends and have a class full of other kids who they can laugh and play with.
These precious kids now have a safe haven, a place of belonging and a kind teacher who keeps her watchful eye on them.
These children no longer are subjected to the cruelty of a harsh adult work, forced to do what no child should have to do. They are now safe from the dangers of exploitation and away from a dark world that no child should ever be forced into.
Just this month, I have caught up with the story of 3 remarkable kids who attend our centres in either Kotdwara or Bijnor.
Adnan is 9 years old and is in 3rd Grade. His father died and the family were forced to live on the streets. Poor little Adnan had to make a living by collecting and selling rubbish from off the streets. We have helped Adnan’s family and he now attends school 6 days a week.
Sunjay is 14 years old. He stopped going to school and was forced into labour due to poverty, working hard for 2 years. He is back at school and thriving in his learning. He has big hopes for the future and he dreams to become a doctor
Anaya is 11 years old and has spent most of her childhood working in the harsh conditions of domestic labour and making an earning from picking through garbage. Read her story as reported last week (mid September) by our Project Officer in Kotdwara:
Anaya is one of the students in our Kotdwara Slum Centre. When Anaya came to us she could not utter a word. Dirty hands, shabby clothes, sweaty brow and the look of misery and desolation were writ large on her face. This barely 11 year old child was the hardworking breadwinner of a poor family. The time that should have been spent in gaining basic education and in playing with friends was being devoted to pick garbage. The hands that could be used to build the future of the country were being taught to wash dirty floors and utensils. A valuable life was being severely ruined. After 6 months of being at the Slum Centre, Anaya has a spark in her eyes as she dreams of a future for herself. Now she is also going to School. She is in 6 class. If you ask her, she says she wants to be a doctor, to be able to cure her ailing mother. Anaya was freed from domestic labour with the help of dedicated efforts of organisation.
I think you will see that their smile says it all.