Thursday, December 09, 2010

Holiday Donations for Nareshwadi Learning Centre (NLC)

First Standard students and their teacher

I am back in India!! Back to posting.....

Prior to leaving for this visit to India, several people have asked me about how they could help out and since I have been back in India the past month others have emailed me and expressed an interest in supporting the school I used to work with and still support through fund raising, technical assistance and lots of prayers and hugs!

Thank you to everyone that wants to help out. On my visit out to the boarding school (about 3 hours by car or 4 hours by train/auto rickshaw north of Mumbai), it was so rewarding to see the growth of the school and the students. Of course there are still areas that need improvement, but great work is being done for example, to address the shortage of gas canisters for cooking, a constant struggle, the school now has a solar cooker.

It can cook 12 kg of dal in about 40 mins if there is good sunlight. There are plans to start a school specific dairy with 6 cows. The cow shed will be built near the kitchen. The milk will be converted to ghee (clarified butter) and sold, so it will be a self sustaining project, and the buttermilk (chaas, not the same kind of buttermilk we have in the US) given to the children everyday to increase their protein and calcium intake (this is an all veg school! no egg either). The dung and the waste from the hostel toilets will be used in the biogas plant proposed to be put up.

I met several new staff members, young, seemed very caring and they were from the local town so a positive that the school can employ and support the local economy. The student gardens looked great and are able to provide the school with needed vegetables. Still is not able to provide enough, we would like to be able to serve veggies at two meals versus only one, that is one of the needs we are requesting as donations.

Eating in the Dining Hall

Sister Sunila had the School Based Health Centre looking great, with the two nurses employed they are able to provide around the clock health care to the students. Sister Sunila and Sister Savita the Junior Nurse work together, making rounds at the hostels, attending to students that visit the health centre, taking students with special medical needs to Mumbai for their doctor visits, organizing and managing health camps with doctors and interns who visit from the Somaiya Medical College and the plan is to start a training centre at the school for this model to be replicated elsewhere.

Sister Sunila with students

There were many other improvements I noticed on my visit and in the past year the school has made huge strides and are becoming a model centre for the area. The school has around 500 hundred students from the 1st to 10th standard. The exam at the end of 10th standard is a determinant for students advancing their studies. For the 2009 - 2010 school year 100% of the students passed their exam and several passed with honors! This is an improvement from an 11% passing mark just five years ago.

There are several students competing and winning in athletic events in the past couple of school years, a coach was hired to focus on developing students for running, kabadi and volleyball competitions. This school year's 10th standard class has nine female students (about 30% of class), 9th standard has twelve female students closer to the 50% mark we are aiming.

For recent batches of students there has been a goal in enrolling male and female 50/50 and then a focus on retaining students. A new project is taking off in a village area that a large number of Nareshwadi students are from, it is a micro enterprise project to provide women in the community training in various trades to earn a living. Many of Nareshwadi student's parents are from local tribal communities and migrate for work. One goal of this village adoption project is to allow for the mothers to have an option to stay at home and work.

So for those of you interested in supporting the school you can access the Nareshwadi site directly at At the moment donations and grants have been made through direct transfers from bank accounts overseas to the Trust who owns and manages NLC, Girivinasi Educational Trust which was established by The Somaiya Group

6th Standard Students

For now only donations in India are tax exempt. We have not yet established tax exempt status for donors from other countries. If you are interested in donating you can do that through my payPal account by clicking here:

The immediate needs include supporting the school health project through the nurses salaries, medical supplies and transporation costs for health specific reasons. Nutrition needs are to supplement the student garden and buy vegetables and we would like to start providing the students with a healthy afternoon snack. Lastly the total cost of building the Biogas plant is around 3 Lakh (300,000 Rupees) or $6,700, we are looking for donations towards that project expense as well. (see chart below for requests)

Fun on the Bullock Cart

Request for Donations to Support
Student Health for 2011
Budgeted Monthly Costs Annual Costs
USD $ Rupees INR USD $ What it can do....

School Based Health Centre Costs

Nurses Salary for Health Centre (2 nurses)
$233.33 10,500.00 INR $2,800.00 Sister Sunila's Salary monthly (head nurse)
$182.22 8,200.00 INR $2,186.67 Sister Savita's Salary monthly (junior nurse)

Medicines and Supplies for Health Centre
$33.33 1,500.00 INR $400.00 monthly expenses

Transport to Mumbai for Treatment and Checkups
$22.22 1,000.00 INR $266.67 monthly expenses

Nutrition &Meal Costs

Vegetables to supplement Student Garden
$333.33 15,000.00 INR $4,000.00 Ten months for 500 students
$33.33 1,500.00 INR $400.00 Two months for 50 students

Afternoon Snacks/Fruit
$555.56 25,000.00 INR $6,666.67 Ten months for 500 students
$55.56 2,500.00 INR $666.67 Two months for 50 students

Bio Gas Plant
$6,666.67 300,000.00 INR Total for plant = approx $6,700 School wants to build a bio gas plant that will use cow dung and waste from student toilets to provide cooking gas in the hostel kitchen

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