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Help for the poorest of the poor, the children and their families, in one of the poorest slums in Calcutta
Dear friends of the slum school in Calcutta,
I am very happy to share my latest impressions from Calcutta with you. In the spring of this year I was in Calcutta for the 23rd time. We are all very happy that the school has been around for 18 years and that many children have the opportunity for a more humane future. Without all of your sacrifices, this would never have been possible. This year even more aid could be brought about than last year. Thanks to a large number of donations in Switzerland and Germany, a whopping 80,000 euros will be used this year for the poorest of the poor. This is really great. This year we used another 20,000 euros of the money received to expand the school's infrastructure. We were able to buy another 2-room apartment in the existing building and also set up a smaller room as an IT room with three computers and used another 3,000 euros here as well. Preserving these premises in the slum is really a godsend for the children of the school. All the prerequisites are now in place so that we can teach up to 7th grade. Officially, we are no longer a primary school, but a middle school. For this reason, according to the West Bengal curriculum, we are also obliged to teach IT. We are very happy that we can give the children from the slum an ever better education.
The safest and shortest way out of poverty is the way to school.
This is only possible because you are there, many people of good will ready to share. The children are very happy that they can now be with us up to the 7th grade. The 6th grade starts in January 2015 and the 7th grade starts in January 2016. The school expansion and all associated renovation measures have been completed. We used around 4,000 euros for the various renovations in the school, which now has 11 classrooms and the construction of toilets. Classes take place in the extended premises. In January the new school year began in Calcutta and we started with the 5th grade. We no longer have 140 children in the school, but 170 children together with the sewing school. Next year there will be around 185 to 190 children. I am very happy that, thanks to you, we can open up a more humane future for so many children.
"We know we are just a drop in the ocean of poverty, but if it weren't for it, you'd miss it." (Mother Theresa)
In addition to the investment already mentioned, this year we were able to provide a further 8,000 euros in one-off aid for the poorest of the poor. Raising the floor level in the huts so that the sewer does not get into the living space in the monsoon. Furthermore, we have equipped many huts with new tarpaulins so that it does not rain in during the monsoon. These concrete aids are very useful for the poor, so that they are less sick and also die less as a result of illness. The Biswas family, who until now lived with their two children right next to a holding tank, were able to build a small "house". The house has twenty square meters of living space and is made of solid brick. It has a small toilet and the walls could be plastered. A decent floor could be laid and a power line installed. A stable roof prevents moisture in the house. This house cost 1,700 euros. So far it has always been the case that in the monsoon the stool and urine stood in their hut and their two children were often sick. The mother is very happy and cried for joy.
With all the additional funds, we have triggered one-off aid so that the costs for the project do not increase too much in the long term. With the start of class 6 and the number of students of 170 as well as the hiring of two new teachers for Hindi, mathematics and IT and the extended family support, including 30 eye operations, the regular costs from April 2015 to March 31, 2016 amount to approx. 51 ' 700 euros, which corresponds to approx. 64,500 Swiss francs.
The need of the people in Calcutta in the slum is so great that it is not possible for us to build up reserves. We always use the entire amount that arrives on the accounts by the end of March for the current school year to the best of our knowledge and belief for the children entrusted to us and their families.
We now support 135 families with food rations every week, another 30 families more than last year. More than 600 people benefit from this aid. Every Tuesday you get a "food basket" with 3 to 5 kg of rice, 1/2 kg of dall (lentils), 4 eggs, 1 to 2 kg of potatoes and once a month laundry soap and sometimes oil for cooking. For this family help, we need around 20 tons of rice, 2 to 3 tons of dall (lentils), over 25,000 eggs, about 1 to 2 tons of laundry soap for washing and about 400 liters of oil per year.
Without your help, many children would no longer be alive or seriously ill, as would their parents. Hunger is a daily guest of the families in the slum
All the family fathers, as well as the mothers, are often exploited for starvation wages. A monthly wage of 20 to 25 euros for over 60 hours per week is common in the slum. They have enough income to eat 4 days a week. With the food rations we cover the other three days of the week.
This year I met a girl named Miri. She is 11 years old and makes over 300 zippers a day for some companies that I unfortunately cannot find. She receives a wage of 12 rupees for 8 hours of work, which corresponds to about 9 cents. These 12 rupees were previously necessary for the 4 eggs that she was able to contribute to the family. This girl now goes to school and the family now also receives food rations from us every Tuesday.
Often tears just run down your face when you see the exploitation, you can't control it at all. Even though I've been there so many times, I can't understand why this is happening. We live on one earth. It's a shame that there are people who exploit other people in such a way. I am aware that this will not change, but the drop in the ocean of poverty, the drop of love and hope, will mean a lot for the individual and that gives me and all of us hope. Thank you for not forgetting these people who are marked by great hardship.
Without education, it is not possible to escape the "vicious circle" of poverty. They then only have a life of exploitation and oppression.
We go to great lengths to further educate the students so that they have good prospects for decent work with a decent wage.
Everyone is aware that the safest and shortest way out of poverty is to go to school.
I am also very happy that all the girls who trained as a seamstress with us have found a job or have received enough jobs to lead a more humane life. The trained seamstresses now often have a monthly income of 50 euros.
This year we were able to obtain sight for 30 people. Many parents of school children suffer from cataracts. Without an operation they would be blind. I would like to thank you very much that this help became possible through all your sacrifices. An operation on the cataract costs 150 euros. I also visited all the poor people in the slum who had had their eyes operated on in recent years. You all see very well again and have no complications. That's beautiful! In total we have been able to save 71 people from blindness in the last few years.
Medical costs remain a real problem for the poor. In India there is no statutory health insurance as there is with us. Anyone who has no money for treatment dies. Many children and their parents are affected by this bitter reality.
For two years we have been supporting Sayad, an 8-year-old child who developed polio.
Sayad also had multiple fractures and was unable to sit until a year ago. The mother worked as a cleaner and is currently receiving 11 euros monthly wages. It is not possible to feed her family. She and the children live in an area of 4 square meters. That's incredible. Sayad made a lot of progress thanks to physical therapy, medical care, and sufficient food that the mother received every week.
Sadly, Sayad died of pneumonia this summer.
He had also been able to laugh for the past two years because he was able to laugh again through the love and hope that he had received.
We are happy that we were able to help Grau Babli, a mother of three small children. She has lung tuberculosis. By financing the 4-fold medication for at least 9 to 12 months and the protein-rich food that we provide her, she is doing significantly better and the children do not become orphans despite all the hardships. The accommodation is very pathetic. You live on 6 square meters with a tiny window of 20x30 cm. There is hardly any oxygen there to breathe and the open sewer system is right next to the entrance. We hope to be able to improve your living situation very soon.
Through my more than 14 years of work in the healthcare system in Switzerland, I have always been able to make new and good contacts.
The founding of the non-profit, well-known sponsoring association St.Josefschule Calcutta in Schaffhausen in November 2012 is a real blessing
Due to the spread of the project in Switzerland, as well as in Germany, this small aid project has grown steadily.
As before, I remain true to the principle that no money is spent on administration. All administrative costs such as flights, postage, brochures, etc. are borne by my family themselves and this should stay that way so that every single cent goes to the poor.
Without the loyalty and trust of the Friends of the Poor over the years, we would not be where we are today. We look forward to any form of support. Be it through a financial sacrifice or through a prayer.
The Friends of St.Josefschule Calcutta was founded on July 21, 2014 in Constance. This is not a legal person, but a group of people of good will who are ready to financially support the school in Calcutta by initiating events and the associated proceeds.
The chairman is Walter Stolz from Constance. As a co-founder of the St.Josefschule, I am also active in this group of friends.
Fortunately, the dean of the Konstanz Minster has recognized the charity of the St. Joseph School in Calcutte. So it is now possible for everyone who wants to receive a donation receipt in Germany. You can find the account details under the "Donate" icon on the homepage. All those who do not want a donation receipt can still use the previous method with the direct transfer to the school account, as known under the "Donate" icon.
Through the various activities you can see how necessary and varied the help is in connection with our basic mission of the school. Education is the most important thing for us. Here the teachers are a real milestone thanks to their great commitment and constant improvement in the quality of teaching.
Without education, children can look forward to a terrible future. A future that we would rather not imagine, it is so hard.
But we are aware that we are only a small drop in this ocean of poverty. Nevertheless, we never tire of standing up for children and their families who are marked by suffering and misery.
I would like to tell you all that, of course, our primary mission is to educate children. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot look at this topic in isolation from the other important issues in life. Education at school is of no use to a child if he does not have enough to eat. Education is also of no use to the poor child if they go blind due to an eye disease or die due to tuberculosis. More and more diverse tasks arise for us so that we can help the children in the long term. These various additional tasks, which I mentioned briefly, are only partially taken into account in our annual expenditure planning. We can only do this again and again because there are always surprising individual donations, which are given especially for medical help.
I would now like to show you some pictures on the next few pages and at this point hug you all from the children and the teachers. Without your help, many tears would not have been dried. Tears have turned into smiles many times over and in hope thanks to your love and sacrifices. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this small but wonderful work.
The children are happy that there is a new room. We can now teach up to 7th grade.
Because we are now officially a Middle School (Mitelschule), we teach EDP according to the West Bengal curriculum. The teacher Ms. Umar teaches IT. The children and parents are thrilled that they are getting better and better access to education and that they are getting better prospects for a more humane life and livelihood.
The saying is still true: "An empty stomach has no ears." How nice it is that the children can eat a full meal every day at school. Daily bread is a foreign word in families. There is also a fruit every day.
The girl who is allowed to go to school is just happy. A beautiful picture.
Here you can see a desperate mother. She doesn't know how to feed her children. The child in the picture now comes to our school and they receive a food basket every week. We visited all 135 families we support and then invited them to our school for a conversation.
Our headmistress Veronika speaks to Miri's father. Veronica is a real pearl. She gives all her heart to the poor. 11-year-old Miri has been exploited so far. She made more than 300 zippers for 9 cents a day for companies that unfortunately cannot be located.
We are happy that we were able to help Ms. Babli, a mother of three small children. She has lung tuberculosis. By financing the 4-fold medication for at least 9 to 12 months and the protein-rich food that we provide, she is doing significantly better. They live miserably on 6 square meters.
The school children play Miikado enthusiastically. In many cases it does not allow them to feel the harshness of life.
Sayad, a wonderful child who suffered from polio, unfortunately died this year of complications from pneumonia. We have been able to help the child a lot over the past two years. He could laugh again and enjoy life. His poor health only gave him a short life.
A family man who works as a rickshaw driver brings the raw material plastic to a raw material dealer. He earns around 20 euros a month.
This woman is overjoyed to have the rations for another year. Otherwise she would die.
What a wonderful day for this poor family man. His eyesight could be preserved. We need 150 euros for this operation. So far 71 operations have been successful.
"The poor are not there to be found, but to be found." (Mother Theresa)
We always go to visit the poor in the slum.
I would like to say goodbye with this beautiful picture of our school children, whom I also visit again and again at home. It is great to know that these children have a future in mind that will no longer be characterized by exploitation and oppression, thanks to all of you!
I am already looking forward to going to Calcutta again next year for our project, the St. Josef School. I'm flying on April 6th, 2015.
I would now like to wish you all a peaceful Advent, a merciful Christmas and God's blessing for the New Year 2015.
Marcus Pohl family
In den Linden 15
Telephone: 07774/922897 (preferably between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.)
Email: [email protected]
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