In 2002 Trustees met Sister Rani and colleagues from the Holy Cross Convent in Mannackanad, near Kottyam, in the south-western state of Kerala. After special training, the sisters had begun classes for twenty five mentally retarded children from local villages in a redundant roadside building. Their initiative had found a ready response and a need for much more adequate accommodation, so they asked the Fund to help with a new building for up to 100 children and to buy a bus to transport them from home to school. The project was completed in 2003 at a cost of £24,000 and the school has thrived.
Sister Rani says: “The goal of our school is to help our mentally challenged pupils become effective and productive citizens. Generally the students have poor health, but they are improving through the additional medical care we give them. There is physiotherapy helping some to start walking for the first time, and speech therapy for those who cannot speak well. They are beginning to become independent; some have learned to read and write; some are able to go to shops and purchase things. They also enjoy extra-curricular activities like drawing and painting.”
An issue which became clear during the Trustees visit in 2008 is that some of the pupils are now in their 20s and beyond and have no local opportunity for further training. Starting with candle-making in primitive facilities, vocational training took a leap forward when the Fund helped to refurbish a derelict building.
The remarkable success of this project was further recognised when Sister Rani trained as a special needs volleyball coach, developed school sides which won locally and two players in particular who made Indian national sides (also coached by Sr Rani!) for a Special Olympics held in Athens in 2011 where they won Bronze medals.
Funding in 2020 – £17,000