Kanji's Good News
A Page of News to Make You Smile
Keep an eye out for new updates from St Antony's Foundlings, The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, The Kanji Project trustees, and our amazing supporters all over the world.
Construction of Plus 1 and Plus 2 Buildings is Underway
Lourdusamy has managed to secure funding for the construction of new buildings at St Antony's, which will eventually host Plus One and Plus Two classrooms. Plus One and Plus Two are the Indian equivalent of college education (for 16 - 18 year olds). Until now, St Antony's provided education up to end the school at 16 years' old, but parents of students at the school have been requesting a Plus One and Plus Two to ease the transition from school to university. Students will soon be able to stay at St Antony's for their full school journey from kindergarten until they're ready to start university or go into work, which is a very exciting development for a lot of people in Kanji!
Sunshine School Updates
The Sunshine School is truly up and running again after COVID, with the latest report from the Rose Sisters highlighting the 14 students currently enrolled, including 4 new students who have come from surrounding villages. Despite heavy rain and disruption in the area over the last few weeks, the Rose Sisters have continued to work closely with the students and their families to support education. In her last report, Sr. Vimali said "We feel very glad for your wishes on behalf of The trustees of The Kanji Project. We welcome your gratitude. We send you the another report of the students well being their good health. We gladly inform you that the students of Sunshine are great and safe and sound here, and please pardon us for the delay of sending the report late. It has been late for heavy rain and major network problems."
Standard 10 Graduation
A massive congratulations to all of St Antony's Standard 10 graduates. This year SAF once again achieved a 100% standard 10 exam graduation rate. This was in the backdrop of the school granting 60% fee concession to all 1450 students, as most of them couldn’t afford to pay the school fees due to the Covid pandemic. In the words of correspondent Lourdusamy Michael, "Our teachers worked hard and prepared the students to achieve the best result and we appreciate all the staff and students for their hard work." Shanhi Lumin was also reopened early for standard 10 girls to support them as their exams approached.
Women's Self Help Group
SAF has started up some new women's support groups for teachers and ayahs, as well as women in the town. In the inaugural meeting on the 8th July at the school meeting hall there was a great turnout and the group hopes to further expand in follow-up events.
SAF Children's Parliament
St Antony's Foundlings have run their first children's parliament, getting the views of young people in Kanji and hearing their voices in what they think about the school, their town, and more! They also used the time to work on homework...
We want to say a massive thank you to Bernadette Skinner and her family and friends for the success of their St David's Day Lenten Lunch. A soup lunch was interspersed with a recording of a beautiful Celtic song by Maire McInness and Richard Burton reading the introduction to Under Milk Wood. There was also a quiz on St David and Wales that people just shouted out the answers. They managed to seat 22 and with some prior donations raised £510 for TKP. Thanks to you all!
Pongal at the Sunshine Special School
It's always great to receive reports from the Rose Sisters about the running of the Sunshine Special School. It has been an uncertain time in Tamil Nadu over the last couple of years, and so it's good to see the students celebrating Pongal earlier this year. Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamils around the world to mark the end of the winter solstice. The festival shares its name with the signature dish prepared from the new harvest of that year, a sweet meal of rice boiled in milk with raw sugar. The dish is made in honour of the Sun god, Surya, and is prepared in the sunlight, typically in a courtyard or porch. The traditional greeting on the Pongal day is "has the rice boiled?" and family and friends are invited. This year, the Sunshine School participated in the celebrations, which took place between the 15th and 18th of January. The students were involved in helping to prepare the school grounds for the activities, and the distribution of pongal, banana and sugarcane. This was just the first of many activities the staff and students got up to in the first part of this year, and the Rose Sisters continue to work not just with the students at the school, but also their families and disabilities rights groups in the surrounding villages.
International Day of Disabled Persons Celebrations with the Rose Sisters
The International Day of Disabled Persons is celebrated every year on 3rd December. This December, the Rose Sisters marked the day at the Sunshine Special School and with their Disability support groups, with a series of games and celebrations for the children. They also shared food and drinks to welcome people to the event
We wish to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported our flood appeal over the summer. Thanks to you, we were able to provide the funding that SAF required to support Mrs Jothi and Mr Arumugam in rebuilding their homes. Lourdusamy and his colleagues have worked tirelessly to support families in need, and he brought our attention to the plight of these two households who were in particular need of support. In the immediate aftermath of the flooding, both families were struggling with severely damaged housing that made them vulnerable to snakes and insects. Now, both families have much more secure housing that provides protection against the elements. You can see some images of the newly finished homes here, built with the support of Kanji Project supporter donations and read the full story on the Tamil Nadu Floods 2021 page (just click the image on the left).
Litter Picking for Kanji
Ten-year olds, Flora McLachlan and Hannah Keogh from Eastbourne, raised £1244 for The Kanji Project by scouring the streets and parks near their homes armed with black bags and litter pickers. Flora said, “We decided to start picking up litter when we saw a squirrel in our park with a plastic bag in its mouth.” The intrepid duo went deep into the park and roadside undergrowth to fish out huge hauls of cans and bottles, some of which had been lying there for years. These were recycled – an added bonus to their project. Their worst find was old food and nappies – yuk! Their best find was a plastic dinosaur – probably been lying there for millions of years! Hannah and Flora were sponsored by their families and by friends of Kanji who donated to their JustGiving page. Thank you everyone who supported their efforts.
St Patrick's Church - Woodingdean Supporters
The congregation of St Patrick’s Church in Woodingdean on the south coast are loyal supporters of The Kanji Project. Sales of homemade jam and marmalade after morning services lead to a regular monthly donation. A July coffee morning in the garden of Bernadette and Ted Skinner raised a further £1100. This was achieved through the sale of cakes, more jam and marmalade, eggs, a raffle, sales of Indian goods and artwork.
The Rose Sisters are hard at work in the communities trying to reconnect with some of the support groups for disabled people that were active throughout the COVID lockdowns. Now that the Sisters are able to get back to work in the villages they have immediately started reviewing how they can best support the community-based action groups. From a recent report: "We have started to work with the disabled and women’s groups [in the villages]. We have arranged to receive their ration as soon as they go to the ration shop. We have made arrangements to get them [access to] 100 days permit work card with which they will receive salary for 100 days each day. They will get Rs. 280.” You can read more about the COVID response in Kanji by clicking on the image.
Whilst the flooding in Tamil Nadu has caused chaos for lots of people living in the affected areas, both SAF and the Rose Sisters have been working hard to support those who have been impacted. They have been working hard, including: distributing bags of rice, mats and blankets and other sundries to over 70 disabled people, and repairing houses damaged by the floods, and provided low-cost housing. A week’s worth of food was given to 30 families, in the immediate aftermath of the floods, in addition over 20 walking aids for disabled people. Outreach support has also been provided by the Rose Sisters, helping 500 – 600 families with food and bedding. Read more by clicking the image.
Our trustee George completed his Sponsored Kanji Skydive on the 22nd October on his third attempt following weather cancellations, raising funds to support the COVID response in Kanji and having a great time while doing it! You can watch the Skydive by clicking the image.
Much Needed Rain Arrives in Kanji
The beginning of September saw some long overdue rain arrive in Kanji, with a rainfall that lasted all night and filled up depleted water storage units and ponds. Capitalising on the rainfall, St Antony's was able to plant 1.5 acres of rice paddies on the school grounds. After a long dry spell, the rain has breathed new life into the agricultural work in the school and the surrounding villages.
Sunshine Students Support
The Rose Sisters have welcomed students back to the Sunshine School on four occasions since the start of COVID, where they have been able to provide food and support to both the children and their families. The teachers are also visiting the children at home twice a week to help them to continue their study even when they are unable to attend school. In addition, the Rose Sisters are supporting up to a further 500 disabled people with food supplies during the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, the Rose Sisters are continuing to support disabled people in the communities surrounding Kanji to access government financial support and save for food and other resources needed. In the last 3 months they have set up 22 disability self help groups, who have organised into a federation of support groups that have collectively saved 70,000 rupees that can be accessed by members when needed. During the first four months of the pandemic, governmental support for disabled people was frozen and so many people were struggling with no access to food or other services, and so the creation of these groups has allowed for mutual aid and successful lobbying to local government for funding to be reintroduced.
The Rose Sisters have been working hard in the villages through the COVID-19 pandemic, and have received approval from the local government to expand their humanitarian work into 20 villages around Kanji during the crisis. They have now reached over 800 families who were struggling with food, and supplied them with rice, oil, and dal. With The Kanji Project's COVID-19 fund support, they will be able to continue this work during this difficult time.
COVID-19 Support at St Antony's
As St Antony's remains closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions in Tamil Nadu, the school staff have found ways to continue to support their local community through the provision free mid-day meals to 25 destitute elderly men and women in the villages, and - pictured here - providing rice rations for over 200 poor families that are struggling to make ends meet during the current crisis.
A Very Successful Fundraiser
We would like to say a massive thank you to Kanji supporter and trustee Annette Boehmer, who cycled a whopping 58 miles in one day through Brighton to raise money for The Kanji Project. After a very successful ride, she raised over £1,000 for our Indian partners. You can watch the ride here and experience a great cycle (on a very warm day!) yourself: https://www.relive.cc/view/vMq5dLZW8Q6. Thank you Annette!
TKP Trustee Rod and SAF Correspondent Lourdusamy tuned into to an online workshop on the 2nd July, organised by the Eco, Young, and Engaged Project. The 1st Virtual EYE Eco Summit featured activities including rock pool mapping, air pollution mapping, celebrating climate champions in local schools around Sussex, and much more! Aimed at students aged between 6 and 14, the EYE initiative aims to engage young people in sustainability activities, and Lourdusamy's Eco Club at St Antony's shares this goal. By getting involved in these local school projects, SAF and TKP are hoping to strengthen their links with UK schools and Kanji, as well as build on the activities of the eco club at St Antony's.
Marking International Women's Day
On Saturday 7 March, Eastbourne Kanji supporters ran an Indian artefact stall at an event celebrating International Women's Day. It was a joyous occasion held in the Town Hall which was decorated with purple and white balloons and attended by hundreds of people. In addition to numerous stalls, there was street food, dancing, singing, poetry and speakers. A lot of people visited our Kanji stall and we took over £200 for the sale of our Indian goods. We made some useful contacts and hope that the newsletters we slipped into the bags containing purchased goods inspire some long-term support.
Mastering the Walker
One of the students of the Sunshine School, getting to grips with her walker! Many of the students at Sunshine have physical disabilities, but the Rose Sisters provide a warm and caring environment where these vulnerable children can learn new skills, receive therapy and be medically assessed and monitored. It's great to see the progress that these children make in their time at the Sunshine School!
Trustees from The Kanji Project visited Kanji for the 25th Anniversary celebrations of St Antony's Foundlings. Whilst there, they caught up with events at the school, Shanthi Lumin girl's home, and the work of the Rose Sisters in the villages. You can read about their trip by clicking the image.
Feeding the Hungry in Kanji
Sebastian, who works at St Antony's, delivers food daily to people in the villages surrounding the school who are in need of support. 7 days a week, St Antony's Foundlings provides free meals to 37 hungry people in their local area.
The Kanji Colour Run
We want to say a massive thank you to Silva and Laura, who ran the Colour Obstacle Rush in Brighton to raise funds for the Sunshine Day Centre in India. Runners were covered in rainbow coloured powder paint, much like in the Hindu festival of Holi that is celebrated annually in India. Silva and Laura raised a whopping £180 for the Day Centre!