India News

In January, three of us - India rep Edmund Plummer, chairman Ron Prosser and supporter Eddie Donald - went to southern India to monitor the work of HHI there. We spent ten very busy days, reviewing all aspects of the work done by our dedicated Indian partners, as well as identifying a number of needs we could support when funds permit.

A piece of good news is that the Indian government has agreed to provide substantial support for children with leukaemia and other cancers. While we may still need to supplement this care, it does mean that, in the future, we will have additional funds to release for other projects.

One of the things that had been concerning us was the lack of progress on the project to build a home for Thejas orphanage, for which Newport and Strathaven Scouts had raised a lot of money. This has generated a lot of unexpected opposition from members of the local community, which finally culminated in violence. Having reviewed all the options with Pastor Anthony, we concluded that there was no way to continue the project, and we have terminated our involvement.

Pastor Santhosh

Despite this disappointment, we have re-directed the funds to an exciting new project in Tamil Nadu, where Pastor Santhosh will build and manage a residential and day centre for disabled children, mainly those with mental disabilities. There are many such children in the area; Santhosh believes that there are about 5,000, of whom ess than 1,000 receive proper care. Santhosh has the experience he needs to make a success of this project. He has good relations with the villagers. Because he has a disabled son of his own, he has a very good understanding of all the issues involved.

We have agreed a clear programme with him. As you read this, the foundations are being put in. Eventually the project should provide for the most severely handicapped children like Maralavika, who is completely disabled by cerebral palsy.

Newport and Strathaven scouts have kindly agreed that the money that they raised can be used for this project.

Another highlight was going along to the distribution of medicines to kidney transplant patients.

HHI supports about 20 of these by providing half of the very expensive immuno-suppressant drugs that they need. Even financing half the medicines is very difficult for some of them - they may have to go without food and get into debt, and one has died as a result of not being able to provide his half of the drugs. Despite this hardship, they are very grateful for the support given.

“HHI has given us a life back”, one of them said.

Another very happy evening was at Dyabhaven Orphanage, which we fund. Many of the children are not true orphans.

Two of the girls, for example, that we met last year had been there because their mother had been widowed and had become unable to support them.

Manju is a typical resident of the orphanage. She doesn’t know her father and her mother has had to resort to prostitution. Pastor Bovas and his team provide a loving home for these and also for the longer-term residents.

During his visit, Eddie spent a week at a Mission India Bible College, teaching the “Christianity Considered” course in the mornings, and computer skills in the afternoon. For most of these students this was the first time that they had had a chance to use a computer. They also benefited greatly from the Bible teaching, which showed them how strong a historical basis there is for their Christian faith, as well as giving them an excellent overview of the basics of Christianity.

A final memorable day was when we went to Kollengavu, a Christian village that has fallen into disrepair over the years. When we visited last year, a palpable sense of despair hung over the place. With the villagers, we identified the lack of toilets as the most significant problem particularly for the ladies.

A year on, the village is far more positive; everywhere there are brightly painted outbuildings housing simple pit latrines-cum-washrooms. These have been funded by Six Bells Church, Abertillery. We have also provided or repaired several wells, which now provide families with much needed supplies of safe drinking water.

During our stay we were able to meet a number of people who had been helped by HHI over the years.

We first met Tommy John when he was a patient in a dismal ward with a number of other multi-drug resistant TB sufferers; now he is a smartly dressed young man, working as a medical technician. Sulorjena is a woman who used to make a living by collecting rubber from a nearby rubber plantation, but had been unemployed since the plantation was cut down. A grant of just £13 from HHI has enabled her to set up in business selling fruit and vegetables.

Chammookan is another person that we have set up in business, who has been very successful, and has been able to re-roof his house out of his profits.

Life in India can be very tiring, especially for the chairman of HHI, Ron Prosser. Here he is taking a well deserved nap!