The new website is here, but I expect you already know as you are reading this blog. We now have somewhere official to store all the news and details about the work we do in Goa, India. Goa Outreach is the name and it is also a description of what we do. The outreach work allows us to keep our costs down as we don´t have to pay for buildings, rent or electricity, so more of the money goes directly to where it counts - the Children.
The website has started to take shape, although there is still a lot to do. Unfortunately we never seem to find the time to do it as we are normally doing the outreach work rather than stuck in front of the PC. One section that is doing well and kept up to date is our blog which charts our progress, our ups and downs and allows us to be as transparent as possible so people can understand what we do, who we help and the help we receive.
The Blog is usually updated two or three times a month with the latest news. We include donations and wherever possible include details of those who help and what is done with the donations we receive. So please take a moment to have a look at our latest blogs, and also weave your way through the similar blogs to understand what we do and why. As the website is new we would be so grateful for anyone willing to link to it from their own blog or website. It would go a long way to getting this website established. During the past month we have been given a registered charity Non Profit Grant by Google which will go a long way in helping people find out about our work, with the obvious endeavour to raise funds to support the work we do. It is all quite exciting, but there is a huge demand for the work, more families ask to be included in our education project every week, but it is difficult with our limited resources. A special thank you goes to Raj Gosai who has enabled the majority of the work so far.
This year has been a learning curve for Robert as there was an influx of children who wanted his help. The pace started quite leisurely but the number of children kept increasing as the word spread. It's great to be popular with the families in the slums, but time, money and resources were all limited so we sadly had to say no to quite a few children this year.
Several of the older children from Children Walking Tall / Mango House also asked for help as Mango Tree concentrates its help on the younger children. It was lovely to be able to help these kids, many of which Robert remembers getting into School when he first started Children Walking Tall back in 2005.
Most of the uniforms had been stitched by the end of May and we started filling the bags and adding in books, the book lists were provided by the schools. It is amazing how many books the children need, there are different type of books for different standards and lessons, red and blue line, square line, double line and the normal single line books, which also come in different sizes depending on the standard the children are studying. We spent a huge amount on books, having to go back, again and again to stock up as they magically disappeared into the children’s school bags. It did make the bags feel 'complete' with the added weight, and as the bags were readied, distribution to the children began.
As of now we have prepared 90 school bags and the distribution was slow but steady, three or four would be taken out at a time, due to vehicle restrictions (a motorbike). It was great to see the children's smiles as they received their new bags full of all their school needs. There were a couple of issues with uniforms needing adjustment and a few different books, but overall everything was perfect.
We would like to thank the tailor and his team for their hard work, the children and parents, for continuing and allowing them to continue at school and finally everyone who has supported this years’ educational drive. Thanks
The last few days have been spent visiting the local colleges for prospectuses and trying to get the children into their chosen courses. It was quite a few years since I attended university, and I don't quite remember it being quite so traumatic. The day started early and we arrived at the college at around 7:15 am after picking up a couple of the children from home. Even as we arrived there was already a long queue for their chosen course. There was a large black board with instructions displayed on it so we carefully read through it and bought the prospectus which contained the 'admission form' and headed over to the queue to finish filling in the form.
After being there for an hour the day was starting to warm up, with the sun appearing over the building tops. We were still stood in exactly the same place but another 100+ children with their parents had joined the now, very long queue. As the children stood in line, Robert went to ask when the line would start being processed and to his horror, he was told they wouldn't start until 9:30. As time passed the heat and humidity started to take its toll on us, and the others in the queue. The lucky ones at the front still had the shade of the building to keep them cool, but our section of the queue was in full sun. Robert decided to go for refreshments and as he was leaving he noticed storm clouds in the distance so while he was out he also picked up a couple of umbrellas for the kids. Thankfully it stayed dry, although the umbrellas did come in handy as a shade from the sun. Water was shared between the kids and another hour passed.
The time had come and as the queue started to move, everyone got a little excited, but it was very premature since nearly another two hours passed before we reached the front of the queue. As its India, there were quite a few attempts of queue jumping, thankfully a few people voiced their disgust and a group of people at the front put them to shame. It was now our turn to head up the stairs and join yet another queue. Thankfully it was cool and breezy and there was a place to sit until our numbers were called. Just 10 minutes before our number was called we had the news that our chosen subjects were full and we would have to be put onto the waiting list which would be displayed in two days time. By the time we left there was a huge fight for people to get into the admissions, the stairwell was blocked with people pushing and fighting to get in. It was comical in a sad way. We decided to skip over a barrier and head down another stairwell to escape the madness.
As admission was not guaranteed we visited another institution and bought another prospectus before heading home.The next day Robert joined four more students for their admissions. The crowds were less and over the next couple of days six more children were admitted into college. It was nice that the running around was over, but there was still the job of sorting out three different styles of uniform and getting everything ready for the start of the new term.
My name is Camille; I'm 28 and grew up in Wellington, New Zealand.
On the lead up to the school year I joined Rob for a few days to help him out.
One of the reasons I decided to go to India was to do some volunteer work with children in the slums. While researching charities I came across Robs blog and got in touch.
The work Rob does is both inspiring and enriching for the soul. After spending the past 4 years in Sydney I had become accustomed to a life of luxury. All of that doesn't seem to matter now after spending time in Mapusa with Rob.
Our first stop was to the Primate Trust; we were dropping off some donated bedding in the form of clothes for the monkeys. I was surprised by how many monkeys were being cared for and how they are threatened and aggressive towards women. Rob gave me a few tips around how to engage with the monkeys and an insight to the work they do there. There are some great videos - you should check them out!
On the second day we handed out monthly health packs to the children. It was so neat to get out and meet so many of the children. They were all very excited to see Rob when we approached their homes. It was such a reality check to see how some of these families live and how grateful they are for these supplies. I've never seen some so happy to receive a gift of soap. We gave out around 140 health packs to the local slum children. While it was an eye opening experience it was also lovely to hear the local girls chatting about boys etc. (mainly one in particular but I won't name names) you see, no matter where you are in the world their is always a guy who has the single ladies in a stir!!
The next day the not so glamorous work started! Time to get the packs ready for school. Rob has a very in depth spreadsheet which captures all of the key information about the kids and their schooling supply needs. Obviously age had a big thing to do with the supplies but I personally thought the little touches Rob had thought of would make the first day of school an exciting one for the children. There were different coloured supplies and also a variety of backpacks. Every single one was specially put together with any special request from the children (within reason) followed. The tailoring of the pack I think will make such a difference because no matter where you are from everyone has different tastes, even if you live in a slum. Even though I was cheap labor (free) I'm nowhere near as efficient as Rob and had to go and recheck the 60 packs we put together. Hmmm detail is not my strong point!
On the last day we caught up Rob had taken a one of the younger girls and her big sister out for the day. After spending some time at a swimming pool they came and meet me in Panjim for ice-cream because all children love ice-cream don't they?!?
I've now made it a personal mission to host a fundraising event when I get back down to the Southern Hemisphere. The work that Rob does is so important; it really makes a difference to many children. So stay tuned for some information about the fundraiser later this year.
A big thank you to Rob who is an absolute legend for letting me get involved, I will be back, hopefully with a bag full of money!
Do you want to help Street and Slum children? If you do then do take a look at our new website at www.GoaOutreach.org In August 2015 we stopped updating the charity blog on Poiple Shadow as we wanted to seperate it from the work we do helping tourists to Goa.