Who I am
For the last 10 years I have been volunteering and working for charity in Goa. The majority of this time was spent with the charity 'Children Walking Tall' which I founded with a friend. In 2011 at the Trustees request this was passed onto Indian staff to run and manage, however, that did not stop the work I do to help street and slum children in Goa. As many of the children in the area where I live have known me for the majority of their lives they continued to come to me for help, often just basic things with health, education or just advice. So the work has never stopped and I continue to this day.
More recently Children and Supporters alike have asked me to start another charity which will enable me to continue to help the children. Further to this end I have created a new project which will hopefully grow into a more permanent solution for the children that I help. At present I keep a blog of the charity work I do on this my personal website, but I will extend it onto a permanent site later this year. Do check out the charity blog and I am happy for any support people wish to give.
The work is regulated under the umbrella of Joy Home for Children; a Registered Charity of England and Wales - Charity No 1131247
Health Care and Keeping Clean
Health care will always be a major part of the work we do. Street and Slum children often don't have access to running water, soap to wash themselves, toothpaste or brushes to clean their teeth and often leave wounds to fester due to the poor conditions in which they live and a lack of knowledge and support to gain the help they need. We aim to provide the basics of health care to promote a healthier childhood and will be here to advise, help and provide first aid and hospitalisation if required. At present we are providing basic health packs which include Soap, Shampoo Sachets and Toothpaste and Toothbrushes. Each time we distribute the items it gives us a chance to do a basic health check on the children and see if extra help is required. Common ailments the children are prone to include Scabies, Impetigo, Conjunctivitis and simple Burns and Cuts which if left untreated become infected and very painful.
We also get called to the slums when children are sick, we have helped children with Malaria, Typhoid, severe skin infections, burns and problems with their teeth as well as the flu which spreads through the slums quickly.
Scabies is very common in street and slum children as it is very contagious and often spread by close skin to skin contact. It often spreads through family members and results in an itchy rash often starting between the fingers.
The rash is an allergic reaction to the scabies mite, a parasite that lives and burrows under the skin. The mite can be targeted by medication. Two applications of treatment are needed, one week apart and treating the whole family is a requirement to reduce the likelihood of it re-appearing.
Impetigo is a common skin infection in children and is very contagious. It is a bacterial infection which is often spread to others through close contact or by sharing towels, sheets, clothing and toys. The bacterial infection causes red sores that open up oozing liquid and when dried produce yellow/brown crusts on the infected areas. Scratching the sores increases the likely hood of spreading the infection to other areas of the body. These sores often appear around the mouth and nose. Impetigo is treated with cream or oral antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the white area of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be painful and looks terrible although has no serious long term effects. One of the main problems is how easily it is passed to family members and other children due to the children wanting to rub their eye, infecting the second eye, or to other children via hand contact who then rubs their eyes. Conjunctivitis is treated usually with antibiotic eye drops.
Burns/Scalds and Cuts
Because of the living conditions children are susceptible to burns from open fire and cooking pots. Many of the children help with cooking from an early age and most things are cooked on an open fire, normally indoors which also increases smoke inhalation and can cause respiratory problems. Many burns/scalds and cuts are small and although painful are not serious. Sadly, many of these small injuries become infected due to insufficient cleanliness. Secondary infections can continue for months if they are not cleaned and covered adequately. As children are children, scratching and picking scabs is also a favourite pastime, which can extend the duration of the infected areas.
Other Health Issues
As well as these common problems we also have to be ready to deal with children with Leprosy, Rabies, Malaria and Severe Burns all of which we have treated during our time in India. Thankfully with the help of government and private hospitals we can provide the children with the care they need.
How to help?
We would be delighted to receive financial donations that we can use towards purchasing medicine locally and paying for doctor/hospital bills, also financial donations also allow us to pay school fees and purchase books, stationary, uniforms and bags for the children.
We would be grateful for donations of toothbrushes, flannels, hand towels (no bigger than 1 meter long), nail brushes, toothpaste (50g or 100g size), toothbrushes, soap (125g to 150g size) which would help us give equal amounts to the children.
Many of the children survive on the most basic diets. Usually rice/Dahl with roti/chapatti, and rarely eat fruit and meat. Fruit is a great source of antioxidants and vitamins which will be used alongside the health packs to create a better base for a healthy life. We aim to start providing fruit on a regular basis to a growing number of children according to funds available. Fruit is relatively expensive but we hope that it is something that becomes a part of their daily diet. We would concentrate on seasonal fruit, such as bananas, watermelon, apples, oranges and pineapples. The children love receiving fruit which provides the vital extra nutrients.
Education / Arts and Crafts
Education is something every child should have a right to, but sadly family economics and lack of the parents education often excludes children from this basic right. As BEING CHILDREN grows we hope to provide a pathway which will allow the children we care for into mainstream education and keep them there by providing support to them in the form of incentives and teaching materials.
Further funding will be required for teachers, but we hope that until then we can provide informal lessons at their homes, which will, hopefully, increase their appetite for learning.
For older children the hope is to fund sewing classes, computer training and other vocational training and sports training.
A Childhood Worth Remembering
We want to be able to give street and slum children a chance of a childhood worth remembering. We want them to study hard, but we also want to provide them with a safe and fun environment with access to toys and games which other children take for granted. We will continue with this hope that our work will not only be beneficial for the children; it will be fun, safe and become an extension of their family life.