Through the Derby Diocese, we have been linked with Sukantanagar School in the Calcutta slums and in January 2017 Mrs Alton flew out to India to meet the link school and their teachers.
In January 2018, Mrs Alton visited the school again along with Mrs Dent. As the school does not have a fixed address, it is difficult to send items to them, but we can send equipment and other items to Calcutta Cathedral, who will deliver goods to our link school.
In January 2019, Miss Gibson and Mrs Dent flew out and sent emails back to Spondon on a daily basis, and we saw photos of what they had seen in worship. Here is a condensed version of their reports to us:
Saturday 12th January 2019 – upon arrival
Namaste! Which is Bengali for hello. Mrs Dent and I had a very good journey and have just arrived at the hotel. We went from Birmingham to Dubai, then changed planes to Kolkata where we had curry for breakfast at 4am! We are about 6000 miles from Derby and it is very warm for January! We were greeted at the airport by Rig and two coaches, one of which was full of our luggage. We have brought lots of resources for the schools out here, including the ones we showed you in our worship just 2 days ago. Having eaten some lunch we are soon heading off to see a temple. We will be ready for bed tonight because nobody slept much on the plane! All for now, Miss Gibson & Mrs Dent.
Saturday 12th January 2019 – bedtime
We had a good night at Blue something- it was crazy walking through the streets of Kolkata- I have never seen anything like it. Everything is bonkers!! Off to church tomorrow and then the Ganges- what will tomorrow bring? It’s so surreal. I think it’s like being in a film of India multiplied by 20. Night x
Sunday 13th January 2019
Hello St Werburgh’s. Today we got up extra early and went to the Cathedral for the morning service. It is very big inside and the service was similar you our services at St Werburgh’s but whilst we were all listening to the reading a chipmunk ran up the church wall which caught our eyes. I’m sure we don’t have those at St Werburgh’s. Today we have also been preparing for our day in school tomorrow and meeting the school’s interpreter and health visitor. We are very excited about visiting our school in Sukantanagar to see if they have got their new roof which you raised money for. During our first day there we will give them some of the resources we showed you in worship. Eating lots of spicy food has almost made steam come out of our ears, and they have been bombarded by the cacophony of beeping horns which everyone on the dangerous roads seems to do all at once. We miss you all very much but will pass on St Werburgh’s love and care at Sukantanagar tomorrow. Love Miss Gibson and Mrs Dent xx
Monday 14th January 2019
Greetings from India. This morning we were met by our school’s health visitor and we were transported through the busy streets of Kolkata to Sukantanagar to our link school. You have to almost not watch where the driver is going because there are near misses every second. We had a wonderful greeting at the school and we were given a necklace of flowers. Mrs Dent recognised some children from before. We sang some action songs in English and they also showed us a dance and sang 10 green mangoes which Mrs Alton had taught the children on her previous visit. We then told the story of Brown Bear in English and the children did a few activities relating to the story. We taught them colours by playing a game with skittle sweeties and the did some more language work. We took some clocks for the children and did some telling the time work. They were very good. It was a long day for us as the interpreter didn’t come and the children only understand a little English. On the way back we visited a kind of village where all of the people in all the houses were making statues to sell. First they start with straw and make the figure – then they add the clay and form the details. Some statues were tiny but some were as tall as 2 houses together. The statues are then painted and sold for the festival that will be happening in a few days time. When one festival is finished the people then begin making statues for the next festival. All of the statues eventually are put in the Ganges to wash away back into original mud/clay. Tomorrow we are going to train the teachers so we have lots to get ready. Lots of love to you all. Mrs Dent and Miss Gibson xxxx
Wednesday 16th January 2019
Hello St. Werburgh’s! We’ve had a brilliant day today, with a very busy morning in school. We did phonics bingo and the children have been practising but they are not very good at working in groups! Miss Gibson taught them all about the parts of a sunflower. They did some fabulous pictures with labels. We sang some songs which they enjoyed. They really liked the alphabet tubs we brought for them, one for each letter, with all sorts of objects that start with that letter. They drew them and spelt some of the words. They have a new red floor which looks smart. This was provided by some of the money we have raised. The walls look great too, as they have been painted. We were sad to say goodbye but we will see the teachers tomorrow for another busy training day, and the children on Saturday for a games day. More about that later! We are off to eat now, Miss Gibson & Mrs. Dent.
Thursday 17th January 2019
Hi everyone! Today we went to train the teachers in English and Maths again. We did an activity on telling the time, phonics using Twister and some more maths games ideas. We then visited a little shop near the training room where we bought some items made by ladies who have had difficulties getting work. There were some really beautiful things. On our way to dinner we took some food out with us to give to the many people who live on the streets of Kolkata. Including a little boy who was selling balloons. Tomorrow we are not in school but we are visiting the countryside. On Saturday we will be joining with hundreds of children for a sports day. Mrs Dent and I are in charge of 5 lots of 70 children doing three legged races and sack races so I’m sure we will be dreaming about our planning for that tonight as we aren’t that fluent in Bengali – please pray for us with regards to that. We are very tired and have to get up really early tomorrow. Lots of love from Mrs Dent and Miss Gibson.
Saturday 19th January 2019
Hello everyone! We are amazed that our school link to Sukantanagar is almost at an end. Today was quite emotional. Children from all the schools gathered at St. Thomas’ school, Kidderpore, for a grand traditional sports day. We had over 300 children! They were in large groups and they rotated round activities such as parachute games, football, tug of war, egg and spoon race, and the one that we were in charge of – three- legged race and sack race. It started with a picnic breakfast for them all, and a ventriloquist, whom they loved as he made them laugh. At lunchtime they had takeaway curry and rice followed by ice cream – yum. They had never done anything like this before and it showed! But they had the best fun and it was great to see their smiling faces. The girls were mostly in beautiful dresses and a lot of the boys wore thick jackets. We were roasting in the heat! It was sad to say goodbye to them all, then we had a hair-raising ride back to the hotel as this morning there was a rally in the city and thousands of people came in by bus. We were all trying to get home at the same time! Tomorrow we have to be up extremely early as we leave for the airport at 5.30am. We hear it is very cold and even snowy in Derby so we will be shivering for a while! This is the last instalment we will be sending from India so we look forward very much to seeing you in school. Lots of love, Miss Gibson & Mrs. Dent.