10-year-old Georgia Regan, niece of our Head of Programmes Sian Arulanantham, has been keen to accompany her auntie to see TLM’s work for a while. After finally persuading her parents to let her travel without them, and to foot the bill, she has spent the past week in India, and has been really touched by the country and its people, particularly those affected by leprosy. Here are some of her thoughts that she would like to share…
“When I visited Gandhi Kusht Ashram (leprosy colony), some little girls called Sneha and Sunita told me a little about their schools. They are both age 10 and in 6th class. They said that there are 48 pupils in one class and 5 classes in one year group compared to the average of 22 pupils in one class and 2 classes in one year group in my school in England. They said that in their school there is just one teacher to every 50 children. The main subjects that they learn in lessons are Hindi, English, Maths, Science and Social Science. Sneha said that she especially loved to learn Hindi.
“They said that when they had parent teacher meetings their parents were forbidden to be in the school in case a parent of another child saw them and took their child out of the school. They said that sometimes the other children in the school ignored them and kept away from them making them feel sad and different. They told us how in private schools they sometimes were refused admission because of their parent’s disability. The girls told of how the god of education would be angry if you put your feet on your books and that in India it is considered a sign of respect to take off your shoes when you enter someone’s house.
“When walking round the colony I noticed some particularly unusual things, not at all like in England. I noticed that there were a very strange amount of flies, hundreds, flying and getting everywhere. Also unusually were the parrots and budgies sitting in cages in the street. Many children wandered about the streets, some playing with tyres or their siblings. There was a great tub of rice in a building where the children would go to collect food. Sweet and jewellery stalls lined the streets as well.
“Although the people there were not from the richest backgrounds they all seemed happy and content. Unlike in England, walking around the streets everyone seemed to know and like each other, accept each other and understand each other, whereas in England it is not like that, it is not like that at all.”
Check back tomorrow for Part Two of Georgia’s India blog.