Indian school opens thanks to Norfolk churches
By Keith Morris
Norwich-based Christian development charity the Vidiyal Trust, has opened a school for children from a slum area of Kerala, in India, in partnership with local churches and with financial backing from churches across Norfolk.
Headed by well-known Norwich minister Rev Canon Pat Atkinson, chaplain at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the opening of the school is the start of an £80,000 project to also build two children's homes and day care facilities for local destitute elderly people.
Local churches, in an area of northern Kerala that had been badly affected by the tsunami, were desperate to fulfil a need for school facilities for village children in Mavelikara. They contacted the Vidiyal Trust and Pat, who has been working in India for 17 years.
Using a locally-based charity which Pat had set up some nine years before, the Trust bought and registered land and started to renovate and extend what had been a cattle shed in Mavelikara.
The school has already opened its doors to the first 50 children, with a further 10 expected to start in October.
"Local schools were so full that they could only offer a few hours of teaching each day," explained Pat. "Our centre helps the local Dahlit slum children to have full-time education and is also providing two meals a day and medical care.
"Some of the funds given by Norfolk churches are still in hand to build a vocational training school as the site develops. We are building a boys home, girls home, kitchen and dining suite, for our existing children. The vocational training school will help our resident children as well as our school children and other local young people. We anticipate having facilities for over 150 by next July.
"We are particularly grateful to the Norfolk churches who responded to the Lent appeal," said Pat. "We are thrilled to be working so closely with the local Christian community which is also offering a lot of voluntary help."
The Vidiyal Trust is also continuing its work with the Regional Cancer Centre, providing home care to terminally ill poor patients who cannot get to the hospital, and has purchased a new ambulance to extend this care. They will be holding study days at the Centre early next year. It also continues its post-tsunami work in Sri Lanka,
extending its sponsorship scheme in one of the worst affected areas. This work is also with local churches.
"What started as a difficult year has, thanks to a lot of prayer, developed into a secure project where land and buildings will always be used for the poorest," said Pat. "Please continue to pray for our work."
If you want more information or would like to support the project, you can contact Pat and the Vidiyal Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org
on 01603 635777 or at 32 Berryfields, Brundall, Norwich NR13 5QE.
Pictured top, Rev Pat Atkinson with pupils from the new school in Mavelikara, northern India and a lesson in the school and, above, Pat with children from the Regional Cancer Centre in Sri Lanka.