The four types of schemes that have been running for several years will continue and one new, specific project is being added.
The 4 types of regular projects are:
- Provision of the monthly costs of holding a ‘patient and carers forum’ for people affected by mental illness, and others facing general medical and social problems;
- Giving of small grants to various individuals to help with the cost of medicines / medications;
- A regular monthly grant to assist with school fees and allied costs so that young people can study and improve their chances to gain good employment in the future.
- Provision of rice-packets each month to families who are living in poverty (below- poverty-line (BPL) persons).
- and the ‘new’scheme is to assist one family with a ‘housing benefit’ grant.
-The forum Jane and I attended the February 2014 meeting and 25 people were present with most coming in family groups. Each family openly shared the problems they faced and seemed to take strength from the support given by comments and encouragement provided not only by other Group members but also by the volunteers who delivered short training sessions on issues such as practical coping strategies.
The Forum serves as a regular date-in-the-diary to meet, talk, learn, take encouragement, and share a lunch together.
-Cost of medicines: contributing toward the cost of medicines will continue and the number of people to receive support has been doubled from 5 to 10.There is finance only to repay part of the person’s medication cost; they must find the amount needed and then the K.P. grant is given on production of the receipt given by the ‘medicals shop’.It was very clear that none of the 10 would manage to get the full prescription without the K.P. grant.Indeed three of them also receive from the volunteers a rice-packet each month (see below).
About 5 people will receive up to £5 per month (the number and the amount will vary as this ‘fund’ is for short-term, non-chronic illnesses), and 5 suffering with long-term, chronic conditions will receive £10 per month.
Deepu continues to do well and it was good to say ‘hello’ to him and his brother Dilip.
The photo on left shows three of the new people (Mohanan, Saraswathy and Rajamma) to receive grants; all suffer with cancer.
-The regular monthly grants given to assist with the payment of school fees and allied costs will continue and will be extended for 2014 / 2015 so that monthly grants will be made to 10. We learned that those youngsters who had received support in 2013 / 2014 had been ‘monitored’ by MGM volunteers and Mr George through the reading of school reports and by regular ‘pep talks’! All the young people attended the forum meeting and all presented as bright, happy and personable young people – wonderful!
The grants will be £5 per month to each of the 10 students, and will be provided for the 10 months that make the academic year.
Jysha and Jithin (now a keen cricketer) continue to do well.
Photo below shows two of the younger students.
-Rice packets are given monthly to 8/9 families (about 25 people). About half are elderly who live in simple, small dwellings with few possessions. The rice is purchased by MGM, packaged and handed direct to the person. This direct approach works well and Mr George gets a better price per kg by purchasing in bulk. The package supplements the ‘BPL’ (below poverty line **) subsidised rice allowance.
Although the cost of medium quality rice has increased since our last visit in April 2013, the £2 per month per rice-packet still provides sufficient for about 10 days meals. We considered increasing the allowance to £2.50 per packet but the finances would not stretch to this in view of the extensions made to other projects in this village area.
The photo below shows distribution starting at the Forum meeting of the rice-packets (yellow bags!)
(** See ‘background info’ section at the end of this report for details about BPL)
– General welfare ‘Housing benefit’ grant. The volunteers brought to our attention and introduced us to Ernesta, a lady who cares for her adult son who has a learning difficulty; her husband is in prison. Ernesta cannot work due to her caring responsibilities for her son, and she has borrowed money from a Bank in order to keep the two of them in food etc. The small house she owns was given as security and in recent months she has not been able to make the monthly repayments. The Bank has foreclosed and given her notice to quit as it will take the home from them. The volunteers asked if K.P. could grant money for food and possibly rent-money (as they faced the prospect of having to find elsewhere to live).
With no funds and if no-one were willing to take the two of them into their home, then Ernesta would face the option of entering a ‘government hostel’ but her son would have to go to a hostel for men; on meeting the son it was clear he would neither understand nor cope with such drastic changes and upheaval.
We had a special discussion with Mr George and the volunteers and Ernesta and as a result K.P. has guaranteed £120 for George to use in the best interests of Ernesta and son. The main plan is for George to go with Ernesta to the Bank to renegotiate the terms of the loan by offering up to £10 per month for 12 months to stabilise the repayments.
This seemed a more positive approach and one giving far less disruption (if any at all) if it is successful. George was very willing to take on this supportive role and the volunteers will look for ways to help with food etc, and maybe something might be done in terms of a ‘rice-packet’.
We are waiting to hear how the discussions / negotiations are progressing with the Bank and we will provide updates as news emerges – look out for such news in ‘news update’ page.
We have given detail on this single ‘grant’ to provide an example of how the volunteers and K.P. indeed try to ‘make a real difference’ to individuals.