The Indian Connection

Thursday, 31st January, 2008
It's a long way from the midlands, but staff from Leicester YMCA have been building bonds with two educational organisations in India. Emma Knight visited them in January to see how the donations had opened opportunities for children and young people many miles across the globe. The welcome was incredible with lots of flowers, handshakes and local press.

Saarthak School
Saarthak School is a voluntary organisation run by women in Kurukshetra, Haryana, about 160 km north of Delhi. It has about 40 children aged from 5 up to 16, most of whom are profoundly deaf. They are not supported in mainstream Government education, which means without Saarthak they would have few prospects.

The speech training equipment provided by Leicester YMCA has enabled the children to start saying people's names and describe things they need. Several parents told me that prior to this gift their child had no vocabulary and only used gestures or sign language. It has had a great impact on their confidence and helped them to interact in their wider community.

The school now needs a specialist teacher to increase the learning opportunities for Saarthak's children. The salary is £90 per month and with further donations to the fund we hope to be able to contribute half of this.

GVM Girls College
Neelam Rathee and Pooja Arora are in their final year of their degrees at GVM Girls College. Leicester YMCA provided scholarships for the young women who are from economically deprived backgrounds.

The state of Haryana has one of the highest female foeticide rates and unequal sex ratios in India's population (82 women to 100 men in 2001 Census). This is why supporting the education of women in this state is especially important. Leicester YMCA will continue to give a new scholarship each year.

Community Education
Girls from the college already go out into rural areas to talk to women about health issues. They are particularly trying to address the practise of aborting female foetuses after pre-natal sex determination by changing attitudes and raising awareness of women's rights.

The college also create opportunities for women from the community to take free courses in crafts such as needlework to help them earn a living. With the help of more staff and external donors GVM would be able to increase their community work.

Letters from the scholars:

"I place on record my sincere gratitude for providing financial support towards my studies. I assure you that I will continue to put best of my efforts to justify confidence and support provided by your organisation.... I am earnestly looking forward to the day when I will reach a position where I could reciprocate your support by providing philanthropic services to your institution and to society in general." Neelam Rathee

"I Pooja, express my sincere thanks to you for your kind and benevolent support to my studies.... Your help came at such a time when I was in dire need...I also promise you that after being settled I will also do charity and will help those needy students who want to study..." Pooja Arora

Please add your support
Thank you to all staff whose donations have made these achievements happen. If you are not already donating to the India Project, please give it some thought. If 30 more people sign up to just £1 a month we would be well on the way to providing the specialist teacher for Saarthak and supporting GVM's outreach work with women. Because we can claim gift aid, for every £1 donation the tax man gives an extra 28p to the fund! For more information contact Emma on 0116 2046224 or

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