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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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Mission Primary and Secondary School

Yesterday, we visited our partners at the Padhar Mission Primary School and the Mission Higher Secondary School.

The Primary School serves children in the 1st-5th grade and currently has 130 students. They receive money from the government to support their teachers, but the funding is precarious and does not provide for supplies like books, notebooks, supplies and school uniforms. Amy brought a gift of pencils and pencil sharpeners for the children and the teachers decided to give them to each student as a gift after they'd finished their exams! In 2017, we provided new uniforms for the students and we look forward to helping them into the future. 

The Mission Higher Secondary School serves children in the 6th-12th grades. Today was the first day of testing as they finish up the school year. These students will take exams over the next 10 days in all subjects: Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Social Studies, Maths,  Science, Chemistry, Psychics, etc. etc. etc. 

We passed on your gifts and good wishes and the teachers expressed their gratitude for our partnership. 

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A Visit to Happy Valley

The children smile as they stand and say in a unified voice, “Good morning, Madame.”  Clad in their yellow, green or red shirts denoting their “houses,” each class is studying and preparing for the exams they will take on Monday. These exams are government-mandated and come at the end of the school year.  But today, the children are busy, working hard to ensure they are prepared for what is to come. 

Happy Valley English School serves the village of Padhar, but its students also come from surrounding villages, some taking a 45 minus bus ride to get to and from school. It is an extension of the mission of Padhar Hospital to provide the children of the village every opportunity to thrive and prosper. Happy Valley currently has 468 students enrolled, in grades Nursery-12th.

In 2017, we provided scholarships for students and provided the funding for them to purchase a drinking water fountain. 

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Introducing Padhar

Padhar is a small rural village in Madhya Pradesh. The village, its economy and the school system is centered around Padhar Hospital, a 200-bed multispecialty, charitable, rural hospital belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the central highlands of India. Located at the southern border of Madhya Pradesh midway between Nagpur and Bhopal, our patients also come from the surrounding states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

From their website: "The primary objective of this institution is to provide physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing in the Spirit of Christ to all in general, but especially to the poor and needy, regardless of caste or creed. To this end we provide diagnostic, curative, preventive, palliative, research, developmental and rehabilitative services, both in the hospital as well as in the community. Apart from the state of the art medical services available at Padhar Hospital, we engage in a host of community outreach activities targeting the surrounding tribal villages like schools, environment and nutritional enhancement programs, maternal and child health programs, and various community-based clinical outreach programs covering areas as diverse as mental health and cancer screening."

https://www.padharhospital.org/

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Touring, combatting jet-lag and getting to work!

With our feet firmly in Mumbai, Amy and I are in India! We arrived at 3:00AM on Wednesday morning and have spent the first 2 days being tourists around Mumbai and fighting hard to get accustomed to this time zone. For the most part, we’ve done extraordinarily well! Our days have been filled with walking through Colaba, exploring shops and restaurants, taking photos of the outrageously beautiful sights, people and colors of the country.

Yesterday, we visited Elephanta Island, in the harbor of Mumbai. After a 40 minute ferry ride (great opportunity for people watching and making friends), we arrived at the island and toured the ancient caves. The caves, temples and intricate statues of Hindu gods were carved between 450-700AD and are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This afternoon, we make the journey to Padhar, first by flying to Nagpur, then driving to the village. Tomorrow we will begin the work of catching up with our partners in the region, planning our meeting schedule and starting our school-tours! So much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for. Here's to a good Friday! 

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All packed up and ready to go!

As I wait for the pick-up of my airport shuttle, I thought I'd start the practice of journalling on the blog! It has been seven months since my previous trip to India, and seven months since my last blog entry. 

This trip is different for many reasons. It is the first time I've traveled at this time of year.  My first four trips were in the Fall, last time I traveled in June-July and now, I will be traveling in February! The trip last June-July coincided with the beginning of the school year and this trip will greet the end of the school year, which will provide me an opportunity to check in and discover how our plans worked. 

This year, my friend and fellow Board member Amy will be my traveling companion and an extra set of eyes. I hope she will also contribute to this blog.

So, I wait for the shuttle with much anticipation and my bags filled with supplies and gifts. I've packed gifts for our partners, gifts from the sponsors for their students, bookmarks and letters from the children at First United Methodist Church Redondo Beach, and once all those gifts are given... I will have an extra bag to fill up with things to come home. 

So, for now. we are off! See you on the other side!

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The Mission School Celebrates Republic Day

Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.[1]

The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.

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Year-End Gratitude

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Year-End Gratitude

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After my trip to India last Summer, our Friends of Padhar Schools' Board of Directors set an ambitious goal: to fund schools, students and supplies in the amount $11,100 for the school year 2017-2018. This was a lofty goal, almost twice the amount we'd raised previously.

And thanks to you, as of today, WE'VE REACHED OUR GOAL! FIVE MONTHS EARLY! It's been a great fundraising year - thanks to your participation and support!

So this year Friends of Padhar Schools has provided:
* Scholarships and support to 55 students at 4 different schools
* Needed repairs and equipment to 5 schools
* Stipends for Teachers at 1 school
* School Uniforms to almost 300 new students at 3 schools
* Books and Supplies to all 600 students at 1 school

What a lot to celebrate for this year! Thanks to you and may you be blessed as you've blessed the people in rural India this year.

Much love and gratitude, 
Krista Givens
Director, Friends of Padhar Schools

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Great Soap for a Great Cause!

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Great Soap for a Great Cause!

Hawaii Soap Company has created a wondered India-inspired soap collection to benefit our Give Books program! The collection includes: Orange Clove, Mango Chutney, Sweet Lime Soda, Vanilla Bean and Lavender Anise.

100% of proceeds will benefit the Give Books program to purchase text books, notebooks and writing supplies for the 630 students of Panchsheel School in the Maharashtra state of India.

Perfect for Holiday gifts, or for your own soap needs! Do some good as you shop!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/196802426/silk-roadorange?ref=hp_rv

 

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2017 Christmas Cards!

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Christmas Cards - Overstock Sale!

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Variety Pack of 12 cards with 12 white envelopes -4 cards per design. 

We are overstocked in our 2016 designs and before we launch our 2017 Christmas Cards, we are having an overstock sale! The three artists featured donated their work to raise funds for Friends of Padhar Schools to support education in rural India.

To purchase cards, click on our etsy site: http://etsy.me/2yb1JfC

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