New Project for the Lepers’ Colony and the School in Puri
RECOSTRUCTION OF THE LEPERS’ HOUSES
Fr. Joseph had completed 16 houses in the colony before he left Puri. We have funds for 16 more houses. I completed 9 houses last June and presently 8 are under construction. They are nearing completion and will be handed over by 1 May, 2018. 16 more houses have to be completed in the next phase. And I am looking out for funds to build these 16 houses. Each house costs Euro 6000 (@ 1 Euro + Rs.75). I would be very happy if someone shows interest to help for the housing project.
COWS AND THE MILK PRODUCTION
We have 20 cows now – Including 10 lactating cows and their calves. We produce on an average 60 liters of milk daily. 15 liters goes to the colony for the mercy kitchen and for the children in the colony and another 12 liters to the hostel for the children. We get 3 liters for our use at the Ashram and the rest of the milk is sold to customers, earning some income. Fr. Joseph had made a project to Catholic Mission Australia for the expansion of the dairy farm. They are coming in the last week of April, to finalize the project grant which they have agreed to support. The plan is to have 20 yielding cows producing on average 75 liters of milk a day, to make it a viable enterprise.
About the eggs in the school: presently the government is providing nutritious vegetarian mid day meal for the children in the school. Hence there is no egg supply to all the children in the school. All the colony children from nursery class to Class V are provided an egg and a cup of milk daily at the mercy kitchen. The hostel children are provided with egg and milk daily at the hostel. So in all, 120 children in the colony and 85 children in the hostel get one egg and cup of milk daily.
THE WORK AT THE LEPRES’ COLONY
The Jute and coir unit is functioning. The coir mat unit is a sick unit for various reasons. I have tried my best to revive, make it more productive, but the women are not cooperative. There are no new women joining these units, due to poor wages for their work/production.
The tailoring unit was not functioning for a few years. I revived it last year and had one batch of 9 girls trained. Then again due to a number of factors like poor pay to the teacher/instructor also lack of interest on the part of trainees to pay the minimum charges it is discontinued. I have contacted an agency who is interested to help us revive it. I am to present them the proposal by end of April and hopefully it will be revived during the year with some financial support from this agency in Poland.
THE HOSPITAL AND THE MEDICAL CARE
The hospital is running well. The number of patients is more or less the same. On a given day, there are about 35 dressing of wounds. On the day of Doctor’s visit (every Monday & Thursday) between 22-35 patients meet him with their aliments. They come for their regular medication for BP, sugar, acidity, gas problem etc. Due to the heavy expenditure on medicines which are given free for everyone coming to the hospital, since 6 months, I have restricted the treatment to leprosy patients only. Patients from the colony and from in and outside of Puri are treated freely.
The shoe unit is also functioning. Here special shoes are prepared for the lepers. Last week we purchased supplies like tire, rubber, glue etc. worth for our shoe workshop.
Again the Dental Unit has not been functioning for the past few years. The dental chair needed some repairs. After discussion with the local dentist and with his help, the chair has been repaired last month. The local Dentist - Dr. Pradhan will visit again from April 2018, twice a month on a regular basis.
THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND THE BIO-GAS UNITS
The Bio-gas and solar power system both are working and are very useful. We plan to install a bio gas plant at the Ashram when we do the dairy expansion work. We have installed 10 KW new solar power system at Ishopanthi Ashram and are installing 5 KW solar system at Karunalaya office – Father Marian Museum in the next few days.
THE YOGA PROGRAM AT THE SCHOOL
The Yoga program is still continuing in the school. The children attend faithfully and regularly. The staff has been resisting it from the time I have joined here. The staff wants it discontinued, because they are expected to reach the school half an hour earlier than the teachers in other schools of the area. But Fr. Simon is very strong on it and he does not give in to their demand to cancel the yoga class.
THE NEW CONSTRUCTION OF THE DORMITORY HOSTEL
I have a serious problem coming up that I need to attend soon. With the up gradation of the school into high school, the boys were sent home after class VII while girl students continued to study at Beatrix school up to class X. Number of WAF sponsors who supported the boys in the hostel were not happy about this practice of sending the boys away after class VII. We also observed that most of these boys on whom we invest so much for VII years, become way ward and drop out of school when they are out of our hostel. Some of them may even become anti-social due to the surroundings they come from, like the leprosy colonies in different places. Due to these reasons, Fr. Simon and I discussed the matter with the community here and decided to keep boys in the hostel for high school studies, instead of sending them home after class VII.
Now you know our hostel set up. We have boys living on the ground floor and girls on the first floor of the hostel. With teenage boys/girls in the same building, Fr. Simon is finding it very difficult to manage them. In spite of his spending long hours there even until 10 pm to over see their study and discipline, he is telling me there are cases of love letters and boys and girls, and their meeting privately at odd hours. We have partly anticipated this problem. We need urgently to provide separate accommodation to the boys away from girl students. You will remember the hall at the entrance to the school. I have proposed to build a dormitory on top of that structure by erecting columns outside the existing walls of the hall to provide separate accommodation for boys. Then we will have to engage a male staff to be with them. I have not worked out the building plan or the cost of this new structure. If we are not able to provide separate accommodation for boys within the next 2 years, we will have no choice but to again discontinue keeping boys in the hostel for high school classes.
There is a government directive to install CCTV camera in the school premises. I have been resisting this pressure from Fr. Simon and the staff purely due to financial constraints. I am afraid, I won’t be able to resist it for long. This is an urgent need. Since we have a large number of girls in the school, and also hostel with growing children, it is becoming a necessity. We have collected few quotations with the purpose of hunting for funds to install the cameras. We can also install them in phases, if funds do not permit to cover the whole campus and hostel at the same time. It is best we install this during the summer holidays, provided we get some assistance somewhere. I request our friends to give a serious thought for this urgent need of the School. I appreciate all your concern and care for us and for the children in our care.
Thanks Fr. Baptist