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Pondicherry News - Mrs MacLauchlans Visit

Message from Mrs MacLauchlan
Dear Members of the Westfield Community 
Many of you contributed to the collection at the end of the summer term 2019 to raise funds in order to make improvements to St Mathias Primary School and Nursery, Pondicherry India.
I have recently returned from a trip to India with Mrs Maryann Fox (a former Governor) and wanted to take this opportunity to once again thank you for your generosity and to update you on how the funds have been used.
The photographs will hopefully give you a clear idea of what a lot of improvements have been made thanks to your generous donations. Whilst we were there some of the developments were being completed and it was wonderful to be able to see the joy on the faces of the children when they saw the new equipment and resources.
Below is a brief outline of the developments you have supported:
Fire Safety System
Several schools, including Westfield Infant School raised a substantial amount of money to fund the building of an extra classroom at St Mathias Primary School. During a visit in February 2019 I was able to see the new classroom. However, the Inspectors had given the school an ultimatum of having a Fire Safety System installed. If this was not completed within 6 months the classroom would have been closed.
I am delighted to tell you that the work has been carried out and although not an exciting photographic opportunity we can all feel satisfied that the class of  children in that room are safe and that the whole school now has a Fire Safety System that will meet the legal health and safety requirement for years to come.    
New Classroom Furniture
When I was there in February the children were using plastic tables and chairs. The position was not good for sitting properly and for doing beautiful handwriting. Thanks to your support the plastic tables and chairs have been replaced with wooden benches and tables the same as the children in all the other classrooms have been provided with over the years. The class teacher was very keen to point out that she has also had a new table!  The children were very proud of the new classroom and the furniture. They explained to me that they wanted to keep it clean and tidy and are all taking their shoes off before going into the classroom.   
Play Equipment 
Over the years Westfield Infant School has supported several improvement projects. One of these was the fantastic new surface in the playground. Before this was provided the children were playing and eating their lunch on sandy, rough ground that flooded in the rain and was very dusty in dry weather.
Whilst Mrs Fox and I were there a double swing, rope swing and see -saw were being installed into the playground. In fact, Mrs Fox took over the management of the installation and was soon putting the workers right on the required height of the see- saw and the position of the swings! Meanwhile I was reflecting on the health and safety differences as the children played in the area whilst the work was taking place. We also noted the limited tools and equipment they had for the job and the fact that the female worker was digging the holes in the ground by hand. The children were VERY excited about this development and thanks to your generosity I am sure children attending the Primary School for many years to come will have great fun using the new playground equipment.  
The Primary School now accepts 3 and 4-year-old pupils and before starting at St Mathias Primary School there is also a nursery for 2- and 3-year olds. The Nursery does not receive any Government funding and is dependent on charity donations and contributions parents make if they can afford to contribute. Whilst we were there 4 out of the 20 pupils on roll were orphans and the rest mainly come from families who have very little money. Many of them live on the street in temporary shelters. Funding is therefore limited and the nursery has very little equipment.
Mrs Fox and I went shopping with Sister Rose in the Auto and we were able to buy a variety of resources. The next day we were able to see the children’s faces as they saw the new equipment. It was very special for me personally to be able to spend time with these children and to help them develop more confidence in playing on the new equipment. Some of the children had come to nursery that morning feeling sad and hungry. By the end of the session we saw some wonderful smiles! These children were without doubt the most difficult to say goodbye to.  
I have left Christmas treats with Sister Rose of bubbles and chocolates for all the Nursery children so they will at least have something to take away with them at the end of term.
Rahmqvist Donations
Finally, I would like to share with you the resources kindly provided by Lloyd from Rahmqvist.  The children at Westfield Infant School have an abundance of exciting art and craft resources, lovely pencil crayons and a lot of other exciting art and design materials. Thankfully Mrs Fox and I had a generous luggage allowance and managed with not many clothes during the trip! We were therefore able to take the resources Lloyd from Rahmqvist provided and of course a lot of chocolates for Sister Rose to share with the children and her colleagues.
The children were very excited by the new resources and we left them with the Year 1 teacher who is renowned for being organised and looking after school equipment! Thank you, Lloyd and everyone at Rahmqvist!     
When it was time to leave St Mathias and the beautiful smiling faces of the children who had made us feel so welcome, we were all feeling very emotional. Sister Rose will be leaving the school in May 2020 and is currently waiting to hear what her next ‘retirement’ post will be.  I know that both St Mathias Primary School and Nursery, as Westfield Infant School is will always be in my thoughts and prayers. However, life moves on and it has been a privilege to have been linked with St Mathias over the past decade and to have developed a positive working relationship with staff. We agreed we have learnt a lot from each other and I will never forget the happy and easily pleased children I met during my visits. 
Thank you to all of you who have supported the developments at St Mathias over the years and especially the collection made in the summer of 2019. You may not realise the difference you have helped to make. I hope this brief account and the photographs will give you a taste of what has been achieved.
I would like to conclude by wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year
Jill MacLauchlan