Old Projects

SPRING 2013 TO SPRING 2014

Kundara

All the projects running through 2012 and 2013 have been going well and Mr George (Head of the partner-charity MGM Trust) continues to manage and monitor all with care and attention.

There are 4 main types of project being supported:

  • 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 one family to enable the two children (Jysha and Jithin) to study and improve their chances to gain good employment in the future.
  • Provision of rice-packets each month to 8/9 families who are living in poverty (below- poverty-line (BPL) persons).

-The forum provides an important way for individuals and families to come together and share experiences. The monthly sessions are chaired by MGM Committee members but all Forum members are encouraged to stand up and speak out, so all can listen and provide encouragement. The session runs for about two hours with about 20 attending and there is a simple lunch provided afterwards. One family travels 60 km to attend as there are no similar meeting held in their locality. 

-Most medicines have to be purchased and for people with chronic (long-term) conditions the costs can be punitive particularly if the condition means the person cannot work. So a grant from time-to-time does give good assistance. Sadly KP does not have the means to give grants that could continuously fund everyone’s medication packages. One lady is living with cancer and in need of regular medicines; she stood up at the forum and said:

‘This is the only source of money I have for the medicines’

For one man however (Deepu) KP can afford a regular contribution toward the cost of medicines that help to control his mental illness. As a result Deepu has regained his ability to work as a house painter, under the supervision of his brother (Dilip).

At the Forum held on April 27th 2013, Dilip said:

‘After getting this help from KP UK he is more self confident and now he spends more of his time working then doing nothing. He is decided to save a little money in the Government saving scheme.’

Good news, and it may be possible soon to reduce the amount of grant if, as a result of him becoming able to live with his illness, Deepu can continue to work regularly and continue to save small sums in the ‘safe’ Government deposit scheme.

-The regular monthly grants to Jysha and Jithin’s mother has meant their schooling has been at a good standard for several years, and their school examination results are regularly monitored not only by mother but also by Mr George both of whom are determined the two of them understand the opportunity being given to them by this grant.

Jysha openly said at the Forum:

‘We cannot use words to express our thanks; there was no expectation of such a thing, and we never thought such help would come.’

-Rice packets are given monthly to 8/9 families (about 25 people) number of 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’ subsidised rice allowance which is not reliably operating in this area I understand, and it is enough for about 10 days of rice used in meals.

Kattakada

The Old Age Home continues to provide a real home for (currently) 18 – 10 ladies and 8 gentlemen. The building is being kept in good condition although the firewood store suffered roof damage during a heavy storm some time ago and there has not been the money to fix it. We spent time with the residents and although there were some new faces, many of the ‘old faces’ are still there!

There are photos on the ‘gallery’ page of the website – look out for Leshmi, 108 years of age, with all her ID papers to prove that Peter told me!

Matthew has his photo in the gallery too. Some of you will remember Matthew from earlier newsletters; he is thought to be in his late 70s and is deaf and dumb. He was found wandering in the forests nearby with no papers on his person. Peter named him ‘Matthew’. It is difficult to think about what might have become of Matthew if the Home had not been open and able to offer a home.

Peter’s message to KP supporters is: 

‘Now we are very happy and grateful for your continuously help. Your support, we are gratitude and thousand thanks. Every day we remember our benefactors.’

You will remember KP supports two main initiatives in Kattakada: Old Age Home and a Food / Rice kit project for 30 families. I spent time with Peter and discovered the need to make changes to the Food / Rice kit project. The Government’s subsidised rice programme enables people holding a ‘below poverty line (BPL)’ card to buy rice for the subsidised price of Rs1 per 1kg, and this programme is now fully available in Kattakada. Therefore KP will stop providing its Food / Rice kits for two reasons:

There are other people in the area who have greater welfare needs, and as the Government scheme is now in place KP should not duplicate it.

During the visits it was clear that many people living near to the old Age Home are bed-ridden and housebound; some are elderly and have become frail and immobile through age; others are younger who typically have suffered accidents or who have had to undergo amputations as a result of ling-term illness. Many of these people have no basic government pension (which can be Rs100 – 200 per month if it is paid) as they are not old enough to qualify; and with no other income they rely on charity. They may have a place to live and they do receive food from family or neighbours but their illnesses go unattended and untreated.

As a result of discussions, KP will work with DMT Trust (partner- charity for Old Age Home) and its manager Peter, to start a very basic ‘district nursing service’ for 10 domiciliary patients. A nurse will be appointed for 3 days per week to visit the 10 once or twice each week, spending several hours with each one providing care, treatment and time to talk.

KP will monitor this new venture to see how successful it is, and what differences it makes for the 10 people. If it goes well then we can think about increasing to 4 or 5 days and so look after more people.

An added advantage of this initiative is that the nurse can attend Old Age Home residents if required and this might reduce the total being paid for hospital treatments if one of the residents has to be taken from Old Age Home for attention. Again, this possible activity – and any ‘savings effect’ – will be monitored.

I have looked at the monthly accounts of Old Age Home and the continuing support that KP is able to give in 2013 /14 as a result of the generous donations received from our regular donors / supporters. These grants, made monthly via internet banking, together with the regular donations made by a group of German supporters, means the Old Age home seems financially viable for 2013/2014. It will not be easy as the income / expenditure is presently tight, but it should be ok.

Kalluvettankuzhi

KP has supported this area and the Vizhinjam / Venganoor / Kazzhakuttom localities since 1998. As other comments (please see ‘news’ page) have explained the area continues to undergo significant change; many would say these are changes for the better in terms of local economic growth. For this reason the volunteer committee have been advised to stop all current schemes (pensions; medical; welfare grants) that are currently provided to 60 households.

It has been agreed (early May 2013) that details of 15 households assessed by the volunteers to be in the greatest need should be to KP. The plan is to provide grants at higher monthly sums per household with the emphasis on assisting those who are bed-ridden / housebound and not in receipt of any significant income.

Early discussions have started about running evening tuition classes for able young students who are approaching the GCSE equivalent exams (‘10th Standard’ exams). There should be more information on this idea in later ‘updates’ to be given on the ‘NEWS’ page.

The work of the volunteer committee (SVP Group) has always made excellent contributions in the overall plan to provide some relief to the hardship being suffered by local people and KP will continue to help in that work.

Neyyattinkara

The village of Neyyattinkara and the smaller villages nearby became KP partners in 2012 and so it was a pleasure to see how the initial projects have been working. The December 2012 newsletter included photographs taken by the recent visiting volunteer (Elizabeth Melling, Cheshire).

The schemes are being well run and are delivering tangible benefits – I know that reads a bit like a Department of Health report, but please be assured it is true! The current projects / schemes are:

– Two ‘pension schemes’ (each for 10 persons / households); 2 villages involved;
– 24 goats given to 24 families; 2 villages involved;
– 2 lots of 15 hens / chickens plus coop given to 2 families; 2 villages involved.

(6 villages are receiving support)

One of the crucial factors that led KP to provide grants to the volunteers is the existence of a strong ‘structure’ that oversees the work of the volunteers in each village. The charitable organisation that oversees the volunteers is called Neyyattinkara Integral Development Society (N.I.D.S.)*see footnote. The NIDS group in each village has a membership which includes volunteers and an elected ‘local Councillor’ (local Panchayath member).

The group is well connected with the local people and knows how to access Government welfare support if possible, as well as efficiently using charitable monies.

KP funds can then be focused on helping to relieve unmet areas of identified need. I visited 3 of the 4 areas and each time I was met by members of the NIDS group who introduced me to some of those who had received KP support. The majority were elderly people – the photos on the ‘gallery’ page show some of the meetings!

As a result of the visits and several discussions with the Director of NIDS and group leaders in the 3 villages visited, it was agreed to provide grants for 5 types of projects in 2013 / 2014 as follows:

    1. ‘Pensions’ in 4 villages (continue the 2 existing and extend to 2 new villages) – 40 persons / households.
    2. Chicken project – 15 hens and coop to 1 family in a new village.
    3. ‘Petty business projects’ **– 9 schemes to be funded. Each scheme will provide the chance for an individual to start their own very modest business for themselves or their family. A grant will be given of approx Rs 5000 (£60) to act as ‘working capital’ and a typical scheme might be to start buying / selling food items. The person would use the ‘working capital’ to go to a main ‘wholesale’ market and purchase (say) vegetables and then transport these back into their own village for resale at a very modest profit. The ‘profit’ would be enough to cover the persons own food / daily living costs. The person uses the ‘working capital’ to do the same thing the next day and so on.


Many tears ago KP ran a ‘micro-credit’ / community Bank scheme in which the grant was repayable over a one-year period; I talked with NIDS about that approach but for the moment the level of management and supervision needed to ensure recovery of the loan sum is more than the volunteers can provide. The volunteers will select the recipients of these ‘petty business’ grants with care to make sure each person is well placed to keep their chosen initiative / business going, and the volunteers may well select those who are receiving currently a ‘pension’, and so freeing up a pension payment for someone else.

** I checked with the volunteers how they would spell ‘petty business’ and indeed it is as I have just typed it; I had wondered if it should have been ‘petit’, but no French influence here it seems!

  1. General assistance for school children; Rs 9000 – 1 village schools (£110 has been granted so that small scale grants can be given to parents in real hardship to help with school costs such as uniform, stationery, dinner money! The money was given in full at the end of my visit as the new school year starts in June and so it made sense for the grants to be used as soon as possible. 
  2. Food for infants attending 2 ‘kinder garden’ centres. The problems arising from malnutrition affecting infants in Kerala had been reported in the State newspapers and I asked the NIDS volunteers about this and whether this was present in their areas. It is the case that ‘nursery schools’ are supposed to be provided by the State Government through the local Panchayath but this is not always the case (refer back to earlier comments on ‘news’ page about the problems of inconsistency in coverage of such initiatives). If there is provision, then the budget is small and there is not enough for the staff to give a lunch. Where there is no coverage of a school then voluntary organizations are able to act and NIDS has done so in a number of its villages but again with no budget at all available, no food can be given. KP will fund the provision of food on 2 days each week at 2 ‘kinder garden’ schools as a pilot project. On one day 40 children will be given a cooked egg, and on the other day each will receive a glass of milk. The cost of this for the 10 months in the ‘school year’ is Rs 30,000 (£365) so the daily cost per child is about 7p. The volunteers groups will try to think of ways of assessing the benefits arising from these 2 pilot projects. The 2 kinder gardens will be selected from the villages where hardship is most evident.*see reference to NIDS above:(The aim of NIDS is: ‘The vision of NIDS is the formation of a just society through participatory social action programmes. The mission of NIDS is to interact with the poor and needy to realise their need and to plan and execute appropriate programmes through direct intervention. NIDS concentrates its activities on six basic segments namely socio-economic development, agriculture development, health and antialcoholism, women and child development, dalit development and labour justice peace commissions’.)

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