For the last eight years, St. Patrick's parish has been supporting the school and orphanage, Ashadeep in Bijnor diocese, north India. Through the Octoberfest BBQ and the Advent Giving Tree, funds have been raised to buy cows, solar panels, computers, sewing machines, a school bus and, this year, money to start a poultry farm.
The idea of the poultry farm is not only to supply a food source for the orphanage, but to eventually have an income from selling the eggs and an opportunity to teach older students, particularly the disabled, agricultural skills. The same applies to the dairy farm, which now has a herd of 40 cows providing more than 200 liters of milk a day. Attached to the dairy farm is a biogas unit which converts manure to enough fuel for the entire institution.
This year, St. Patrick's also supported another institution in the diocese, Premdham. This is a home for young boys and men, physically and mentally disabled, who have been abandoned by their families and are living on the streets. Some are terminally ill and also bed-ridden. Part of the funds went to buying an auto rickshaw, which is very cheap to operate, and can be used to transport children and goods.
The school at Ashadeep, St. Joseph's, integrates the disabled children from the orphanage into the regular classes. This is very rare for India where disabled people are often abandoned and neglected. There are 650 children in the school from 3 to 16 years old and, up until now, the main language of instruction has been Hindi. This year some classes were started where the language of instruction is English.
In January 2016 Barbara Galbraith made her eighth visit to Ashadeep and spent two weeks working with the teachers in the English Medium kindergarten classes, which have just started. This was rewarding, as the teachers are anxious to learn new strategies and approaches in the classroom. She also took a supply of math materials to teach math concepts, but also found that the school lacks any kind of children's books in English.
A small group of parishioners will be visiting Ashadeep in November 2016 and will be establishing a small English book library in the school as they begin to offer the English Medium program with the children. The books have been generously provided for by St. Patrick's Parishioners from the Book Drive over the summer!
Many thanks to the many families who helped to provide the needed books for this cause.
The parishioners who will be going to Asha Deep in November will be travelling at their own expense.
For more information about Asha Deep and Premdham, we invite you to contact the Parish Social Justice Committee. If you would like to contribute to this annual campaign, you may do so by contacting the parish office.