Warm new year greetings to all our friends and donors!
We were so happy to finally have all our students back and to also begin welcoming new outreach children again, and we were really hoping that we would be able to continue our work this year without further interruptions. Unfortunately, COVID cases are increasing again in India and schools have been instructed to close once more. This will result in many of our students going backwards again, just when they had regained their health and skills. It is difficult for us to witness.
Here are some photos of our Christmas celebrations where we were able to be all together.
Delivering food during COVID-19
Work experience on an organic farm
During the first lockdown our team member Leo initiated a wonderful opportunity for a few of our older students to volunteer on an organic Auroville farm. For many, lockdown has meant staying at home bored and alone. The farm work offers an opportunity for meaningful occupation as well as developing vocational skills and provides a sense of purpose, fulfilment and integration with the wider community. The students also receive fruit and vegetables from the farm, which means they are able to bring good nutritious food home for their families.
We started in August 2020 with two students five mornings a week, which increased to four students attending twice a week before the second lockdown. Now we have fifteen students volunteering on the farm. The farm work, like Deepam’s other work, has fluctuated depending on the situation (including monsoon season, illness and Covid precautions), however we have mostly been able to keep going when schools and vocational training was not allowed. The students are learning well and have become a valued part of the farm community. The progress and enthusiasm are clear to see and it is inspiring to observe our children and young adults, who are typically disregarded in society, contribute so richly to the farm work and social environment. It is a highly rewarding experience for all involved.
We are so proud of Dharani who has made incredible progress in many areas and loves handicrafts. She is now 23 years old and came to Deepam for the first time when she was just two years old. She was born with a neurological disorder called Sturge-Weber Syndrome and has severe epilepsy and other complications. Both her parents died of HIV and she has gone through a lot of hardship and trauma in her life. Luckily, she has an older sister who takes good care of her. Over the years, Dharani has received physiotherapy, education, medical and social interventions and (in usual circumstances) attends our vocational training and day care programme. Here is a photo of her embroidery work.
Some parents are doing exercises with their children at home