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We love that every time we come to the school, there is something new. Last year it was the electronic smart boards, this year it’s DUCKS! Four months ago they modified the dam and brought in 50 baby ducklings as a trial. The end goal is to provide an egg a day for each child. Currently only the staff and ‘children who are not thriving’ have an egg a day. Other sources of protein are lentils, chick peas, and the one meat meal a week for the ‘non-veg’ kids. So duck eggs would be a real boon.

New ramp from dam to the duckhouse

Last ducks waddling up the new ramp from the dam to the duckhouse. The dam walls used to be sheer so the landing places are new too.

Those ducklings are now full-size ducks, dabbling on the dam, that will presumably start laying eggs at some point. The exciting part is that, days before we arrived, 200 day-old ducklings were added to the mix. On our late afternoon constitutional we pop by and watch them growing bigger every day.

Some of the 200 ducklings in their cage

Some of the 200 ‘new’ young ducklings – now two weeks old – in their cage

Caring for the whole child

The George Foundation selects 24 four-year-olds each year (12 boys and 12 girls) from situations of extreme economic or social disadvantage. When they offer a child a place they know that their parents will be unable to contribute anything towards the cost of raising the children. Not only does Shanti Bhavan educate the children right through university and help them to find top jobs, they also provide food, dormitories, clothes, and all of their other needs along the way. This would be a minimum of 16 years and sometimes more if they choose longer degrees.

Every year a voluntary team of Italian dentists descends on the school and treats all of the children’s teeth. Can you imagine the assembly line of checkups for 200 kids? This year, to our surprise, a number of the famous Shanti Bhavan smiles were flashing with braces. No cosmetic treatment here, but the dentists identify kids with serious over- or under-bite problems and they are sent off to Bangalore for orthodontic treatment.

Praveen's braces

Praveen’s braces

Haircut time

In the olden days, barbers were the ones who extracted teeth but, thankfully, no more. Instead every few months, two barbers come to cut all the boys’ hair in a different, equally efficient, assembly line. Overnight all the boys look completely different, just when volunteers are mastering their names!

One hundred boys... Short back and sides please!

One hundred boys… Short back and sides please!

The girls’ hair is also cut every few months. The littlest girls have the shortest hair and as they progress though the grades they are allowed to wear their hair longer, on the grounds that they are better able to look after it. About once a week, boys and girls slather their hair in coconut oil for the day, which apparently keeps it strong and lustrous.

Short haired First Graders

Short haired First Graders

Mid length haired middle school kids

Mid length haired middle school kids

Long-haired 12th Grade girls

Long-haired 12th Grade girls

More news soon…

Kandy & Barney