The Bee-sting

Barney’s bee-sting is better, and he thanks you for your concern. After three days he could see out of his eye because the swelling gravitated from the eyebrow down the side of his face. Weird!

SB B beesting day 3

Bee-sting going down- literally

Dr George’s Birthday

On Dr George’s birthday, the open-sided assembly hall became the stage for some great performances by both students and staff and we sat in the quadrangle looking in. Traditional Indian dances contrasted with Bollywood style dances, taught by a US volunteer with an Indian background.

SB DrG Bday dance

The assembly hall from the side makes a wonderful framed stage. Note the piano in the background – a permanent fixture.

DrGBdayBigDance

A traditional Indian dance.

The mechanics of running a family of 250 kids

The George Foundation provides for the children from the age of four. It is a huge commitment when you think about it because it’s not just their schooling but their food, clothing, bedding, haircuts, schoolbooks and everything. Volunteers in the US collect donated clothes and shoes, which are sent in a container each year. Two women in the nearby village are employed full time to alter the clothes, as the SB children are slimmer than their donors.

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Each child keeps their worldly goods in a bedside locker.

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Shoes for every occasion.

On top of that, their medical, dental and optical needs are met. A little Suzuki van visited the school while we were there – apparently the mobile optician. Currently a team of Italian dentists visits the school once a year to provide their dental treatment. Fortunately the children all have pretty good teeth because sweets are a rare treat and junk food non-existent. The senior girls now wear traditional kurtas (over blouses) during the school day, baggy pants and scarves optional.

Girls' dorm 2 girls

The senior girls’ dorm. Note Catherine is in her Indian school clothes. There is no uniform and it makes a colourful array each day.

The Foundation has also undertaken to pay for the university education and living expenses of the three batches of children who have already graduated from the school, until they finish their first degree. Of the first batch (2010), those who undertook three-year degrees are about to graduate. Three graduates have already been chosen from hundreds of applicants to work with Goldman Sachs in Bangalore. Others have received offers or been shortlisted for jobs with other prestigious international firms in Bangalore.

Once they have graduated, their income will support them, their families, and a voluntary contribution back to the school. They will also be encouraged to save about 15% of their income for their Master’s degrees. There will be little left for fun and games, but these kids don’t need a lot to have fun.

Many of the former students, now at university, come back to the school on weekends, (an hour and a half each way by bus) to coach the 10th, 11th and 12th Graders. They have a strong sense of altruism and often miss their “250 little brothers and sisters.”

Sundays

SB Sunday kids on rocks

Freedom to play in safety.

SB kids hanging on Sunday

Just hangin’ around.

Sundays at SB, the only full day off for the children are very pleasant. While older children often study or have extra classes, the younger ones potter around the large school grounds. There is a grand piano in the middle of the school assembly area and there is often someone tinkling away on it just for pleasure. When we were here in 2011, the volunteer coordinator for the year was an excellent musician/ music teacher and some of the children are remarkably good. In the past volunteers have taught cello, guitar and other instruments and choir.

Meralis braiding

Meralis is braiding

Our Puerto Rican volunteer chose a Sunday afternoon to offer anyone who was interested a lesson in different ways to braid hair.

Hair Braiding

One of the many samples

Sometimes volunteers use weekends to escape to the big smoke (literally- cough splutter) but this time we were more content to stay home and relax.

9 volunteers escape for the day. A rare sight of vehicles on campus. Our house is the cream one on the left.

9 volunteers escape for the day. A rare sight of vehicles on campus. Our house is the cream one on the left.

In our next blog we say goodbye to the 12th Graders and the Shanti Bhavan family.

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