Four days in Kalyan, Maharastra

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End Feb 24, 2013

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Where I stayed
Saga International Hotel

Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Monday, December 3, 2012

We have just finished 4 days in Kalyan, Maharastra. Kalyan is only 2 hours from the centre of Mumbai but a world away in so many ways.  Kalyan is a major railway intersection and many runaway children get caught up here on their way to the bright lights of Mumbai. Riannas Fund's local partner Pastor Raju Ram has been working with street children here for over 16 years and we have been supporting him since 2008.   

The most exciting part of our trip – the chance to see the completed Children’s Home in a village outside Kalyan and attend the official opening.  Once fully licenced, this will be home for 25 street children.   It looks great and is in an amazingly peaceful place, a wonderful haven for these children whose lives will have been so difficult

Our usual hotel was full as this is wedding season so we are staying in the Saga International Hotel next to the railway station.   Anything less like an "International Conference Centre" is hard to imagine.  We got very little sleep there and Terry has a wonderful collection of bites!  

During our stay we visited the projects supported by Rianna’s Fund here.  They include :

-          Pre-school in the slums.    This keeps young children off the street in the mornings while their mothers are working and starts them on the road to education.  They also get daily nutritious snack and regular health checks.

-          ASHA Hope Project.  This is a new project based in the slum community who live and work on the rubbish dump in Kalyan sorting and selling litter.  We were so distressed when we first visited this community so are excited that the project is now up and running as a nursery school in the mornings, teaching tailoring to the teenage girls in the afternoon (giving them another skill to earn money) and an informal school in the evenings for older children (these children have to work during the day so an evening school is the only option for them.    We visited in the morning and corrugated hut was full with around 30 children for the nursery class.   We met the teacher Mrs Patil who is doing an excellent job in very difficult conditions.   The children have many medical problems from living in such toxic conditions, we met one child with a tumour.  This is quite a common problem.

The highlight of our stay here was the official opening of the new Vijay Ashram Children’s Home.  Some of the orphans who will be the first to move in are already living with our local partner Pastor Raju Ram and they were so excited about the school opening.  We were delighted that Simon Ling from Ashtead was able to join us as his support has enabled us to complete this home.

There is no such thing as a dull journey in India, there is always so much happening.  People are so industrious and, in a country with no safety net, there is not time to sit around waiting for help – you have to find a way to help yourself.   

What’s In the News :  There is a lot of press coverage of the arrest of two young women for a Facebook post criticizing the government.  The girls were released and the police who arrested them are currently suspended but it is causing a huge debate around India’s new internet laws.     In the lifestyle pages of the Hindustan Times (targeted at the emerging middle classes) there are reports of a number of childcare options for the busy working Mum in Mumbai.  You can drop your child at the “Over The Moon Night Creche” and leave them overnight for less than 10 a night and the Book Buddy Reading Service sends a clinical psychologist to your home to read your child a bedtime story!  

What makes us laugh:   We saw a great looking restaurant today but, once we read the name, were not inclined to eat there.  Our driver wanted to know why Delly Belly was such a funny name for a restaurant!
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