Our Madurai site in India first began in 1997 in partnership with the Sisters of the Cross of Chavannod. “We aim to empower the poor and downtrodden,” says Sr. Amala, our site director. “We work to identify the capabilities hidden within students and to find creative strategies to convert them in to very useful and relevant skills!”
Today, our Madurai site sponsors over 700 children. Two hundred of these live in the subsite area of Kodaikanal. In this area, many children faced barriers that prevented them from attending school.
St. Theresa School, the main school in Kodaikanal, initially only taught students up to grade eight. High school students who wished to continue their education had to travel up to 12 kilometers a day to attend a different school. Because of the long distance, many students were dropping out. To fix this problem, St. Theresa’s School was upgraded to a high school in 2009!
This upgrade solved the issue of distance, but created an issue of space. With now over 1000 students attending the school, the Sisters quickly realized there wasn’t nearly enough room for everyone. They used corridors as makeshift classrooms for six different classes, and three classes were held together in the open auditorium. The school became noisy and congested. Teachers weren’t able to speak clearly over the noise, and students were having trouble with their lessons.
After a meeting with government officials regarding overcrowding and safety concerns , the Sisters were told they had to construct a separate building for the elementary school students.
The Sisters wouldn’t be able to fund this project on their own, so we spread the cause to as many Canadians with a heart for the poor as we could. The incredible response from our loving donors allowed us to raise $218,703 CAD to construct the new building!
The beautiful building was completed nearly three years ago, and is a treasured addition to St. Theresa School. “The atmosphere of the new building is so lovely,” says Sr. Amala, our Madurai site director. “the classrooms are more spacious and ventilated. Teachers have room to teach not only on the blackboard, but by singing and dancing!”
The school benefits the students in ways outside of the classroom, too. Every day at noon, students gather for yoga, and have space to sing, dance, and play throughout the week. There are also hygiene classes for older students who help younger students wash their hands and keep the school clean!
“Many of these children come from poor families with different and difficult home situations,” Sr. Amala explains. “A good atmosphere at school helps them to forget their issues at home and unite the students as one. They learn with more enthusiasm and joy!”
Thank you to all of our supporters who helped this school break the barriers to education. God bless!