Whenever I go into schools in our villages I am always so struck by the dedication of our teachers and staff in bringing learning to our children and young people. This is often appreciated but sometimes assumed to be a right and not received we’ll particularly as our children become young people. I was like that as a young person, I looked down sometimes at the teachers, but responded well to those who took their time to try and understand and we’re not ground down by complaint or boredom. I see the joy of teaching in my wife and daughter who are not wonderful teachers who connect well with the children and young people in their care.
In India I have seen an education system that is very diverse meeting the needs of the communities. The Blind School with their staff and Principal provide a safe place to learn which is encouraged andI saw some very complex teaching which sighted people would struggle with. These pulls have been involved in winning some very prestigious sporting awards and a number going onto vocational courses. They are working in banking, education, and the medical field.
One long hot day we went into the hills and met some wonderful children and staff who worked to bring education to those in most need. One such place a day care centre with educational basis for children from the ages of 4 through to 22. This was developed by Bishop Jacharia James Terom in Hebrom, we went to the school with his lovely wife, the school is called called the Children Development centre. We went there with Miriam Agarwal, and Mrs Pinky Summer (Principal of the next school we went to).
We were met by Revd David a lovely smiling happy Principal who leads the school with deep joy and pride in his children and young people. You are always met with smiles, a sprinkling of water with mayo leaves and water and then your hands are washed and dried as honoured guests. The children had been there since 6.30am and had waited for our arrival at 11am, they were so well behaved and attentive and happy to see us even though we were late. The school choir confidently sang hymns, a piece in their own language and then an English hymn with prayers interspersed with prayers. We were then invited to tell them something about ourselves, and I was invited to close this with a prayer and benediction. We saw young people dancing a traditional dance which was beautifully done and very moving. Afterwards we were taken to the Principals office and given chai with milk and sugar,and lots of nuts and sweets. We heard about how the children live within 20 minutes walk to school and home each day, again they achieve so much, they come because they see it as a way of developing. They are sponsored by an American church but they go onto achieve so much. We left after meeting the Catechists and so many staff, helpers and children waving us off, asking for prayers as they continue their work.
We then, after a diversion went to another educational establishment, at Merinhader and were met by teachers, the head women of the village and school, the Local Priest and his lovely family. He has been there for one month, and his family live in Ranchi as they attend the Westcott school I went too. The welcome was overwhelming as they sang a beautiful song of welcome, with flowers presented and led into the school by the young children and staff. This was again so moving I can assure you tears were wiped from my eyes, even as I write this I can see them greeting us!
The school consists of a primary school, a middle school and a high school a total number of 300 children. The school had been built with local materials with the handsome the teachers who were present. The government does not recognise this school but their achievements are amazing wit high levels of A, B results. Because they are not recognised the pay is low,a driver in Ranchi can get 8 times more than a teacher in the school receives which is about £5-£6per month, but it would cost so much to put into place the things needed to achieve Government wants. They teach with love and consideration for the needs of their pupils and it achieves results The High school is built in memory of a missionary from Us(PG) And is called the Barker Memorial High School and the Primary and Middle St Luke’s after the nearby church.
Here again we were fed with local mango juice, curry and sweet cake, they have little but give so much again prayers were offered and will continue be done so.
We then went to Pinky Summers home in Ranchi where she lives with her husband and other family members including their 90 yr old mother who sprinkled us with water our hands were washed lovingly, and we were offered and ate samosas, chai with milk and sugar! In this lovely house reached by a road like something out of Indiana Jones the weather changed from extreme heat to an incredible lightning thunderstorm and we were cooled by beautiful breezes. I was asked by the mother of the home to pray for their home and we left with the rain stopped briefly, a golden sunshine turning into a pink sunset.
We returned home exhausted, andI look at my wife with thanksgiving for her kindness and her ability to teach in the same way as those I have met with kindness and love. We stop and then and head out again, to celebrate our hosts best friends son acceptance by two colleges and we finish with family celebration about 11.30pm.
One thing we have come across is the Street children, something which my wife has not come across before. It has hard not to give them something, but we are told that the Government and all the schools will provide free education, but their families want them to beg as a means of income. So hopefully next week I will be going with the YMCA to see what work they are doing in the slum areas to help bring about change in attitudes
Finally at St Luke’s the young daughter of the priest asked me why I was so happy, well I told her because I was able to come home, to be there and just to see her smiling face
Revd David Messer