Through the Derby Diocese, we are now linked with Sukantanagar School in the Calcutta slums. 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 2017, Mrs Alton flew out to India to meet the link school and their teachers. She sent emails back to Spondon on a daily basis, and we saw photos of what she had seen in worship. Here is a condensed version of her reports to us:
15th January 2017
Arrived in Kolkata after a very long journey indeed. Kolkata is not a beautiful city but it is full of beautiful things. It is an attack on your senses. The air is filled with the smell of spices, colours explode everywhere in the adverts, the clothing and decorations. There is the constant beeping of traffic even into the early hours. There is a real mixture of wealth and poverty.
We were lucky enough to visit the holy river Ganges. Whilst we were there we had a cup of Chai- Indian tea – which is very sweet. Next on our whistle stop tour was Mother Teresa’s house. This was in an impoverished part of Calcutta.
16th January 2017
Namaste- that’s hello in Bengali.
Today was my first day at Shukantanagar. The journey to the school was extraordinary. The traffic! Our school has concrete walls and the roof has matting which is covered by a tarpaulin.
When I arrived the children were just being dropped off by their Mums. Each child greeted me with “Good morning Ma’m” and sat on the mats. The school has 2 teachers. They were very shy of me and were keen for me to give the children the experience of attending an English school. The time whizzed by and before long the children’s mums were there to collect them. I was then showed around their community. They live in houses that have just 1 room, no bathroom, no kitchen, no furniture except maybe a chair for Grandma. I spotted a tiny new born baby. The mum was very keen to show him to me and I was lucky enough to hold him. I go back to school on Wednesday as tomorrow is an inset day and I am really looking forward to it.
That’s all for now
18th January 2017
Today I visited our link school again. Along the streets I saw pigs roaming freely, women pounding their washing in the ponds and men being shaved at the edge of the road. Very different to Spondon! There are people absolutely everywhere.
At school today the children made space rockets out of plastic bottles. They had never done any DT before in their lives. None of them knew how to use sellotape and they were thrilled with the felt tip pens I had bought for them to use. Hot seating was the next thing we tried. They had never done this before either and yet within a few minutes their teacher was having a go and then the children themselves tried.
Tomorrow I am helping to train teachers at the cathedral. I will let you know how I get on.
Bye for now
19th January 2017
Today started with a visit to a private school. We were presented with flower garlands which I thought were amazing. We were also sprinkled with flower petals and our foreheads marked with a bindi – red dot. The training day took place at the cathedral in the centre of Kolkata. The Indian teachers loved all the ideas we shared with them about how children learn best. Sadly tomorrow is my last day in school. I have made so many friends here it will be sad to leave. All the people we have met here have been so warm and friendly and eager to learn.
Bye for now