One of the most exciting plans about the trip to India for Brumas and Mrs MacLauchlan was the thought of actually meeting the Westfield Infant School Sponsor Students at Loyola Primary School. These pupils come from very poor families and they live in a hostel. This means that every day when school has finished they walk back to the hostel and they live at the hostel whereas the other children at the Primary School go home at the end of the school day to their families who live in villages near to the school.
Some of the children who live at the hostel are orphans so they do not have a family at all. The Sisters and the staff look after these children not just during term time but also during school holidays. They make sure that they have a really great time, especially at Christmas. The hostel is not far from the Primary School and the children walk to school. However it was very hot and Father Dominic decided that we would go in his vehicle so it did not take us long to get there.
The children were busy doing jobs when we got there as they have to keep everywhere very tidy. The floor has to be swept lots of times every day because it is so dry and dusty. They have a lot of trees around the building and the leaves fall off and they also have to be swept up.
All of the girls sleep in one room and the boys in another. They have a shelf to keep all their belongings on. Can you imagine keeping all your toys, books, clothes, school things and everything you need to keep clean on one shelf? The children are all very independent from a very young age and they also have to be very resilient. Brumas noticed that he has got more clothes than the children but he also noticed that even though the children have very few possessions they always have a big smile and were very cheerful.
The first thing we did was sit and talk to all the children who live at the Hostel. We wanted to make sure that we got to know them all as Father Dominic had explained that it is difficult for the children who do not have a sponsor to understand why some of their friends are getting letters and cards and they do not. Mrs MacLauchlan and Brumas thought that in future children we must remember to write to all the children and to send them all one big Christmas Card.
We went through one of the folders that we had taken to show the children all about Westfield Infant School. They loved looking at the photographs all around school and they thought you looked very funny in the Christmas Plays! They were also very excited to see the photograph of Jet in his Westfield coat. They have got a dog at the hostel but he is brown and he seems to sleep in the sun all day.
We sang the song ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ and after we had sang it a few times the children were all joining in especially when we got to the words ‘We are’! We then asked them what made them happy and he are some of their replies;
‘playing with friends’
‘learning at school’
‘reading and writing’
‘growing things in the garden’
‘the Christmas tree’
‘speaking in assembly’
Once again it was very helpful to have Father Vincent there because he translated for Mrs MacLauchlan and the children.
Can you remember the name of the Sponsor Student for your Year Group children?
Sathish is the student sponsored by the Reception Classes
Santhosh is the student sponsored by the Year 1 Classes
Aishwarya is the student sponsored by the Year 2 Classes
Saraskumar is Mrs MacLauchlan’s very own sponsor student
They were all pleased with the folders and they have promised to share them with their friends and their teacher said she will help them to learn more about Westfield Infant School.
The children were then very excited to show us round the hostel. They have a play area and they do some very adventurous things on the play area! Brumas also spotted that there was rather a lot of litter at the back of the play area so he picked up some litter to help. However the teacher explained that in India there is a big campaign to recycle but it is still very difficult to recycle as there are not yet any recycling bins and they do not have dustbin collections like we do.
The buildings around the hostel are like the school surrounded by trees which at this time of year provide shade. They also have a large garden area where they grow ground nuts, tomatoes and a lot of different vegetables which helps to feed everyone at the hostel. They get fruit from the fruit trees and a group of girls were very keen to show us a Christmas Tree they planted which is growing very well.
After looking round the hostel and grounds a group of pupils treated us to an informal dance performance. They looked very happy and the teacher explained that dancing is something they spend a lot of time doing together in the evening. The teacher uses her phone to provide the music they dance to.