Challenges in Education, Vaccination and Survey begins of the impact of COVID on low-income families in Bangalore, India.
Vinay Samuel continues his Lockdown Diary from Divya Shanthi Christian Community Services
In-person classes for 8,9 and 10 standard children in the school commenced three weeks ago. Many students could not attend in the first week as they had paid no fees since March 2019. We were able to come to some agreement with the parents of Std 10 children and all have started attending classes. The State high school examinations are scheduled for June 16 and so we have 5 months to prepare them for their first big state exam.
Our Christmas appeal raised about £2000 from local donors and we have allocated it for helping students with their fee arrears. The first allocation was to Std 10 students so they could return to classes. Most students of Std 8 and 9 have started attending also. Only around 50% of the students from 5,6 and 7 have started attending in person classes. In person classes for stds 1 to 5 will start next week. We agreed on payment plans to clear fee arrears with parents and expect to find at least 50% scholarship support to enable the parents to clear all the arrears by June this year. If the parents do not meet their commitments the school will face serious financial challenges till June when the school year ends.
We celebrated “Uncle” John Jacob’s 97th birthday yesterday. John led the Scripture Union in India for 50 years. Our Sunday service featured him and there was a Christian movie John wanted screened for the children. It was Patricia St. John’s Treasures of the Snow. We also prayed for Christians in Armenia from where John’s parents came to India, John gave his evangelistic talk and we all had chicken biriyani for lunch. It was a lovely time for the children and all of us.
Covid Vaccinations are done in our health centre on Monday and Tuesday every week. We send about 100 names to the central authorities who select between 20 to 50 people for vaccination and send us the vaccines usually on Monday morning. We have not had any adverse events so far.
Survey of income of pandemic on low income families
We are part of a survey jointly conducted by the Institute of Development Studies , University of Sussex, Brighton (U.K), the Stella Maris College University of Chennai(Madras) and Divya Shanthi studying the impact of the Pandemic on the low income families in relation to the education of their children and to the health needs of their families. 15 of our staff have had 15 hours of training online. We hope we can produce some trustworthy data. It will draw on our work with over 4000 families we have assisted in the past year. Our participating staff are delighted that they will receive a certificate from the University of Sussex!
Lenten Study Groups
Our Spiritual ministry continues to be an encouragement and shows steady growth. Our focus for Lent will be Lenten study groups using the studies we have developed drawing on the meditation on the Lord’s Prayer by our friend Dr Patrick Sookhdeo of Barnabas Fund. We are making these studies available to over 100 independent church pastors as the studies are meant for people from low income backgrounds. The studies are translated into Tamil and Kannada languages.