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Kids Helping Kids - First UMC Redondo Beach Gives Generously

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During Vacation Bible School at First UMC Redondo Beach the children learned about our students in rural India and then collected donations to help us provide books for Panchsheel School. Last week, we received a check for $1,023.15 and this wonderful letter:

"What a joy to learn about our friends in India every day at VBS! Our kids gave generously and with so much love! Please feel free to use this for anything the schools, students or friends of Padhar needs!"

Many thanks to Risa Vargas, Molly Vetter and the wonderful team at First UMC Redondo Beach. Because of your generosity, we are able to give books and school supplies to the 600 children at Panchsheel Ashram School.

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Padhar Mission Primary School's Uniforms


Yesterday, we sent funding to provide school uniforms for the children of the Mission Primary School. Thanks to our generous donors for helping us give children an opportunity to go to school in Padhar, India.

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Getting started at Padhar Mission Higher Secondary School

When the new school year began in July, students at Padhar Mission Higher Secondary School returned to an improved school thanks to your donations!  At the conclusion of the previous school year, Friends of Padhar Schools sent $3050 to the Mission School and they used the funding to complete the following projects:

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Ceiling Fans - The school is now equipped with 2 electric fans per classroom, and our donation was used to pay for the ceiling fans themselves and also to pay for running electricity into each of the ten classrooms.

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New Computer and Printer - The Mission School and its 200 students are dependent on one computer and one printer to produce all paper materials for exams, classwork and homework assignments , and that computer and printer were both failing. 

Flooring repairs and a water delivery system - Our funding provided the opportunity to purchase and install a water pump to deliver water to various locations on the campus.  

Teacher's stipend - We were also able to provide an emergency fund for teachers salaries for the year. 

A Note from Mr. Horeb Rao, Principal of the Mission Higher Secondary School:

Loving greetings to you and all the members and friends of Mission High School Padhar . We gratefully acknowledge your kind concern for our services.

Once again we all are immensely thanks from the bottom of our heart the precious help we had received from you all, it shows yours solidarity toward our school and services.

Thanking you all.

Horeb Rao, all staff and students, Mission High School Padhar

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Amazon Prime Day is July 16th! 

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Amazon Prime Day is July 16th! 
By shopping on AmazonSmile on Prime Day, you are getting the best deals for your purchases AND the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Make that organization Friends of Padhar Schools, and your purchases support students in rural getting and their pursuit of an education.Write here…

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Our 6-month checkup

Hello friends,

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As July approaches, it is time for our mid-year review and fundraising update for you. I am pleased to tell you we are doing well, with over 50% of our goals reached.

  • Our total goal for 2018: $18850.00
  • Raised as of 7/10/18: $10094.00
  • Still Needed: $8756.00

Our Projects for the second half of 2018

 

We have 4 remaining projects for the Fall and Winter:

  • Books and Writing Supplies for Panchsheel School for Fall
  • Books and Writing Supplies for Panchsheel School for Winter
  • Equipment for Mission Primary School, St. Mark School in Sarni and Ebenezer School in Shahpur
  • School Vehicle for Felix Convent School in Paratwada
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Great News from Cal-Pac Annual Conference

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GREAT NEWS!
Yesterday, we reached our goal and raised $1037.00 for our Scholarship program for Happy Valley English School! Many thanks yo all who purchased beautiful crafts and to the artists who donated the items! You are wonderful!

EXTRA great news: we also collected $800 for our Student Sponsorship program and so eight more students will have the opportunity to go to school beginning in July!

So, we leave Annual Conference today with $1837.00 and a heart filled with gratitude. Thanks so much California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church!

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FoPS at Cal-Pac Annual Conference 2018

This is the first time we've hosted a booth to distribute information, network with potential connections and do a little fundraising. I am on Day 2 of the 4-day gathering of the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Representatives from over 300 churches are here and on their break time, they visit the booths, find out about programs and do a little shopping. This year we had several artists and friends donate over $1000 worth of items: artisan soap, jewelry made with succulents, beautiful piece of handmade jewelry, reusable gift bags, handmade cards and many other items. This sale will fund our scholarship program for Happy Valley English School in Padhar, India. 

Two days into the conference and we've sold $637.00 worth of merchandise! We still have 2 days left and hopefully we will reach our goal!

The other good news is that, so far, we've raised $500 for our Student Sponsorship program and our Give Books program. Overall, this has been a awesome experience to get the word out and introduce people to our work. 

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Welcome to Felix Convent School

Felix Convent School is a Primary school for village children, grades Nursery-6th, near the town of Paratwada. They teach primarily in English, although their first language is Mahrathi and they also learn Hindi, the national language is Hindi. They had a fantastic welcome program for us this morning, with three different dances. One by the Kindergarten class, one by two third-grade girls and one by the fourth graders. They were all wonderful! I then toured each classroom and learned about their studies.

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Program at Panchsheel School

On our final evening together, the children of Panchsheel school held a program featuring many dances from all ages and nice words spoken by the teachers and staff of the school. I accepted their gratitude on your behalf, our dear donors and supporters. The work we are doing together is changing the world. Maybe not ALL of it, but in this place, the world is changing for many. Thank you!

On the last evening we were together, the children presented a program and it was a celebration of joy and progress. Here are the girls from the Primary School with their dance. 

Here is a dance from the older girls. The part you didn't see was them pulling me up from my chair, putting me in the middle while they danced around my excellent moves.
This is short clip of the second primary girls dance- it was really great, but the light was bad for filming. The girls had such great dresses and wonderful moves.

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Morning Meal in Panchsheel

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Morning Meal in Panchsheel

Yesterday, I captured the morning ritual of serving breakfast to 450+ children under the trees at Panchsheel Ashram School. It is the beginning of the summer and has been very warm (in the high 80's and low 90's), so the children have moved to a shadier spot. Each day they have a small breakfast, then this morning meal, then a dinner around 6:00PM. The school has it's own flour grinding process and it's own chapati machine - to make chapatis for so many children! It is like a kitchen-aid mixer, but supersized! They have 8 full-time workers in the kitchen to prepare food for 600 children each day, and the teachers help facilitate the serving and organization. Quite a production!

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A Day in the Life

Life in Panchsheel is busy for the children, filled with chores and study time, play and school. Take a look at the activities around the school today.

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My heart is full.

So, I have been in India for 14 days - 2 full weeks of travel and sight-seeing, adventures and visits. I still have 3 busy days here, 3 days that include tours of Panchsheel School and Felix Convent School, check in's with our students, meetings with teachers and programs "in my honor." But I am feeling the need to explain why this time in India is important for me.

It is not a spiritual retreat - it is too busy and too loud and too crazy for that.

It is not a holiday - or it is not ONLY a holiday.

It is not "work" as in drudgery or meaningless tasks.

It is more like a homecoming. For the people, the food, the sights and sounds, the smells, the laughter of children, knowing that I am contributing to the goodness of the world, knowing I am helpful.

I do miss my people in the US, my family and friends and I miss my Po, and that's why I come back. But in the back of my mind I am always planning for my return, checking my internal calendar to see how long I can stay away.

So - as I finish up my work here in Panchsheel and Felix, my heart is full. I thank you, for letting me share this experience with you. And I will see you soon!

(There will be more posts to come, just thought I'd take a moment of personal privilege.)

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Intro to Panchsheel Ashram School

Panchsheel School serves a large tribal area on the border of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, in the Maharashtra state located near the town of Bahiram. It serves the Gond and Korku tribes, poor children from 1st grade to 12th.

It is a 5+ acre live-in facility that houses and teaches almost 600 students. 50 staff including teachers, attendants, wardens, kitchen staff and other specialized trainers and tutors. The children wash their own clothes, have jobs around the site, have regimented times to study and to eat.

They offer:
• Vocational training in computers, carpentry/ fabrication (welding), electrical work, tailoring
• Homegrown vegetables and fruit from large on-site gardens
• Off-site chicken farm which produces eggs for use and sale.
• Animal care-taking of goats and cows.
• Sports facilities and teams
• Water filtration for clean drinking and washing water

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The Kids of Panchsheel

Early this morning, I arrived in Bahiram, at the Panchsheel Ashram School. I was greeted this morning by these beautiful faces and thought I'd share them with you. This is why our organization exists: for these children and for the children in rural India who need and want an education.

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What we brought with us... besides your good wishes.

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The children of Riviera UMC donated lot and lots of pencils and pencil sharpeners to our efforts and while we were in Padhar, we distributed them to two schools: half went to the teachers of the Padhar Mission Primary School and the other half went to the teachers at the School and Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. As exams had just begun and were schedule to last several more days and into the next week - the teachers plan to give them as a “completion gift” and the children finish their exams, as a special bonus.

We also passed on bookmarks and personalized letters made by the children of First UMC Redondo Beach for the children of Happy Valley English School. Friends of Padhar Schools also donated a digital camera to each of our fours major schools: Mission Higher Secondary School, Happy Valley English School, the Blind school and Panchsheel School. Hopefully this will ease our communication and help us tell the stories of our schools, students, teachers and staff.

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Meet Sakshi!

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 I first met Sakshi in 2013, when she was in the 12th class at Padhar Mission Higher Secondary School. She had great English skills and acted as an unofficial translator for me and for others in need.She was a good student and one of the stand-out students with such promise. She is now 22 and a teacher at the Happy Valley English School! She teaches the Nursery/Pre-Kindergarten class, and does so lovingly. What a joy to see one of “our” students doing so well! 

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Making a Difference

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As we were leaving the hospital, families gathered for a photo. “The parents are here” we were told, “and they’d like to say thanks.”  We gathered with parents who work as drivers, as ward attendants, as teachers at Happy Valley School and in the maintenance department, in the administrative offices and on the cleaning crew. All there, smiling and expressing their gratitude for the scholarships provided through Friends of Padhar Schools to their children.

At the beginning of the school year, scholarships were available to staff at the hospital and staff of Happy Valley School, for those who were on the lower end of the pay scale. We had 30 applicants and 16 children were selected to receive scholarships. The Education Committee of Padhar Hospital established the criteria, facilitated the application process and administered the funds and, together, we were able to provide 35% of the school fees for those 16 children.

It was an amazing experiment in how we can be in partnership with those “on the ground” in Padhar. The first year of scholarships was funded by a single donation from the First UMC Redondo Beach Vacation Bible School.  During the Summer of 2017, the children, leaders and staff of  FUMC Redondo Beach brought in small donations to help fund children’s education in India. I did a presentation to the children, introducing the children to India and to the conditions and challenges the children face in attending school. They were attentive and interested and by the end of the week, they raised almost $900. And THAT donation provided 16 children with just enough money to help them attend school for the whole year!

We also hand-delivered bookmarks made by the children of FUMCRB and hand-written letters to be distributed to the children of Happy Valley English School. As the students at Happy Valley are in the midst of exams, it will be a nice treat for them to receive something special.

This next year, we will be funding scholarships for Happy Valley English School. If you want to contribute to this, our newest program, Please click here.

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Gifts, Smiles and Good wishes

This year, we did something different. For 10 years we have sponsored students in Padhar, but this year - since we traveling at the end of the school year - we wanted to do something special for our students. I sent word to our sponsors that if they wanted to send a letter, a photo and/or a small gift, I would carry them with me to give to our students. The following is what transpired at the Blind School:

Satish (right) is sponsored by Loreen Brown and we read the letter (with the help of Mr. Alpheus from the Blind School) and looked at Loreen's photo, then shared her gift, a small angel. He was very touched. 

 

 

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Jyoti is sponsored by Marilyn Cahill and she was thrilled with the letter and the loverly gift of lipsticks and a necklace. 

 Matan (above) is sponsored by Dell and Janet Epperson and Mr. Alpheus translated the letter and they enjoyed the photo together. Smiles all around!

Matan (above) is sponsored by Dell and Janet Epperson and Mr. Alpheus translated the letter and they enjoyed the photo together. Smiles all around!

Sukwanti (above) is sponsored by Pam Zwingman. She has a visual impairment, but surprised Amy and me by holding the card up very close to her eyes and reading the letter, IN ENGLISH! She is one of the top students in her class and loved the braille necklace.

Pratibha (above) is sponsored by me, and has been for several years. I wrote a note and included a photo of me with my lovely dog, Po. I also gave her a necklace with the letter "P"  (for Pratibha). I love to see her smile!

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A Visit to the Blind School

The School and Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind is a live-in facility for 177 students. Although it began as a school for only visually-impaired children, it has expanded to include those with hearing impairments, physical and mental challenges. The children are well-cared-for and are provided with the tools necessary to succeed both socially and academically.

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