Water, electricity, local support, food - all issues in the quest to make TRUST Children's Homes a 'sustainable' project.
Our regular support for TRUST Children's Homes gives them some extra security, but the project cannot depend entirely on donations from abroad.
It is not easy to support around 80 children in a 'sustainable' manner, but sustainability is always in mind and there is progress, including:
- Crops have been planted and grown at TRUST to provide some of the vegetables needed daily. But this can only be done when there is water available.
- Cows and calves have been tended by the children and the cows have provided some of the milk needed by the children. Again, sufficient water is needed for the grass to grow for this to be possible.
- Goats gave been looked after, grown and then sold at a profit. Although it is a largely vegetarian community there is a good market for goats at some festival times.
- Coconut palms take several years to come to maturity and produce coconuts. Many were planted and are now (July 2016) producing all the coconuts needed to feed the children. Coconut is a key ingredient in Tamil cooking.
- Coconut saplings have been planted at the Boys Home and each boy was given one to look after, watering it daily with his used washing water. Again, water is the key to the local provision of food.
- Now that official registration as a Children's Home has been achieved by the home for the girls, there is a small allowance of food (rice, in particular) available from the government.
- Families in the local community are playing their part in supporting TRUST. In the past year over 200 meals have been provided by families who have shown their involvement and support for these children in crisis from their communities by bringing a meal, serving and eating it with TRUST children.
- Local shopkeepers support TRUST, providing provisions at generously discounted prices as well as other items such as clothing.
- Over the years our Support Group, and others, have helped to finance wells and bore holes at both the Children's Home (girls) and the Boys' Home. After the capital cost these produce water for washing and cooking as well as for growing food.
- To extract the water, electric pumps are needed. The Support Group has paid the connection costs for free electricity for agricultural purposes (increasing sustainability), but that doesn't cover domestic use.
- Also, rainfall is poor in this region and so there is often a shortage of water between May and October. This year, the new well at the Boys' Home still has some water, but there is a general scarcity.
- The village has a supply of river water but until now has ignored requests from the Children's Home to connect to it.
The village Panchayat (council) has at last offered a connection - but TRUST must pay for the pipes (about 3000 feet) and making the connection. Again a capital cost towards sustainability. This could be a permanent solution to the water problem, but the capital cost must be found. Any help welcome!
- The Tamil Nadu government offer a free electricity connection to pump water from a well for agricultural purposes, see above. There is a capital cost, but then the water can be used to grow produce. The electricity bill at the Children's Home has already been reduced by this capital support.
- STAR Health Insurance company has just come forward to install solar lights at both the Children's Homes. The manager of the company happened to see Thirumaran and the children in a television show (read about it here: Raj TV). This is fantastic news and should also reduce the electricity bills.
- TRUST runs an English medium Primary School in the village. This is fee paying and open to children from surrounding villages whose parents are able to pay the (relatively small) fees for an education conducted in English.
- These fees enable the younger children at TRUST Children's Homes to be educated without cost, further helping the TRUST project to be sustainable.
Thirumaran, who runs them, and TRUST Children's Homes themselves are part of the local rural community.
It is Thirumaran's life's work, along with support from his family, to bring up this extended family of around 80 children. This is costly to them in every way.
It is our privilege, in a small way, to be able to help him to realise his vision and to help these children to be able to have a happy childhood and a vision for their future.