During the last week it was necessary to visit the Education Department in Mapusa to ask about special schools as one of the young boys we are helping is deaf. Having this disability, the local schools will not admit him and he is required to attend a 'special school'. We asked about if this was a rule and it seems so, although they did inform us that if he was fitted with a hearing aid, then he would be able to go into mainstream schools, which would be ideal as then he could continue in the same school as his siblings.
A quick question: Does anyone have any knowledge/experience with hearing aids/doctors here in Goa. This is something we have never had to deal with so any information would be gratefully received. Just send us a message through the contact us form.
The 4 new school children didn't have school uniforms yet, so Robert asked if the Education Office knew anywhere in Mapusa that supplied them, sadly they didn't, but they very kindly offered us a few sets of uniforms that they still had in stock after distribution earlier in 2014. A couple of very kind gentlemen ( David Noronha and Mahadev Andulkar *I hope I have spelt your names correctly) took Robert down to their stores where they managed to find just enough spare uniforms which they handed over to Robert.
Robert drove directly to the school and met with the children's class teacher who kindly allowed Robert to hand out the uniforms. A couple more children in the same class also didn't have uniforms so the extra sets were given to them also.
A huge thank you goes to the Education Department in Mapusa for their help and especially David and Mahadev for going out of their way to help a few more children stay in School.
New School Children
Recently we have had a few new families arrive in the local slum, with children of school age needing to be admitted into school. Many of the new families only speak Urdu, which isn't as common as other languages in Goa, which in turn restricts the accessibility of schools which generally teach Marathi, English or Hindi mediums.
Thankfully there is one school relatively close by that we have already put one child into, so along with the mother I took four children to request admission. Unfortunately, one of the children, although very bright and accomplished in study the headmistress didn't think he would be suitable for the class due to his being deaf. As it was a Saturday the Education Department was closed but we will visit on Monday to see what options are available for him. Hopefully we will be able to sort something out. But for the time being I will be arranging books, bags, uniforms, shoes and everything for the three other children. We will also be funding bicycles so that they can ride to school which is a little too far to walk to and has no direct bus service.
If you would like to help with any of these needs then please do send a donation through our charity account and if possible make a comment stating the donation is for the Goa branch.
Brushes with the law
Sadly another part of our work is often dealing with the police. Many of the families are involved in the recycling business which often means walking around in the heat from morning to evening searching for 'scrap' (discarded metal/plastic, empty drinks bottles etc). In the early years of my working in Karaswada most of the children were involved in collecting scrap and over the years I was lucky to get most of the children (of school going age) into school with the majority still in school and its lovely to see.
Unfortunately one of the older girls who was just a little too old when we started never got into school as the parents wanted her to work, now aged 18 or 19 was out collecting scrap and took something that someone else was taking claim to. Often people leave rusting metal next to the walls and it will just go to waste if not recycled, in this case the owner wasn't happy for it to be recycled so called the police and she was arrested.
She has spent the last day in custody and bail has been set at Rs 10,000. I came to know just this morning as they wanted help in paying this security. After visiting the advocate, court and bank, it was the opinion that I wouldn't be able to provide the security due to being a 'foreigner' and not resident (although I have been resident in Goa for the last 11 years). So it was back to square one and I left the family with the advocate trying to sort out the next move.
There is such a huge difference in attitude between the children who have been involved with our work and those who just missed out on the chance. It is so important that these children are provided with the chance of 'a childhood worth remembering' rather than one that is often short lived and perilous.