It’s a very small world!

For the past two weeks we have been living in a village just outside of Auroville.   Our first few days here, In looking for ways to get involved, I found an Indian couple, Amudha (her) and Sundaram (him) who manage a large project to help villagers go to school.  The project is funded through an organization in France, Les Enfants de PondyPatch.  The project started 14 years ago when a French couple partnered with Amudha and Sundaram to set up a local workshop to make  items to sell at private parties in France.  From that a sponsorship program sprang that supports around 120 children ($240/year can cover almost all their school expenses). This region, Tamil Nadu, is the second poorest in India and in the rural villages there is almost no income and many of the men are alcoholics. They spend what little money they have on alcohol and are often physically abusive to their wives and often children too.  This program is giving these kids a chance at something different.  Children were selected from the poorest families, amongst those doing well and working hard in school.  Many of the students have had the same sponsor for years now and lots of them are in college.  They are becoming engineers, teachers, nurses, etc.

I started by helping Amudha translate and type thank you letters to sponsors.  The letters, with their personal stories, are very touching.  I can clearly see that this chance at an education is changing lives.

The week before last, the French couple, the Flattards, came for their yearly 3-week stay.  Francine brings new ideas for products to make, Jean-Paul reviews the financial records (he’s a retired banker) and most importantly for them, they take photos and interview all the students to keep the sponsors up to date on their students’ progress.

We knew the Flattards were from the Basque Country (across the Pyrenees from Spain on the Atlantic where we lived for three years and our younger daughter Brett was born) but we quickly found out that they lived right across the big road from where we lived, in a small village outside of the metro area, St Martin de Seignanx.  They were only a few minutes away walking. What a small world!  Francine is very involved with quilting (I used to be too, especially at that time).  She had heard I was teaching quilting and  even came to our house looking for me but, alas, only after we had already left for the US.

Two days into their stay (and what a pleasure connecting with them), Francine got a call that her mother, who was due for surgery, was not doing well at all, and she feared for the worst.  With much regret for the project and what they came here to do, they arranged to leave right away.

Could it possibly be a coincidence that we were here looking ways to be useful and this couple, with whom we had so much in common, needed us to step in for them?  How could it be?

Amudha and I have been continuing the interviews and Gerard taking photos.  I am so impressed with these students.  As poor as they are, they come in their best clothes and are so dignified, intelligent, and sincere.

Below is a photo of some students.  The Tamil people are beautiful; just about everyone has perfect teeth. Orthodontists would have no work here!

Left to Right: Jean-Paul Flattard, Gerard, Sundaram,
Amelie, Francine Flattard

Saguna sewing at the workshop

Serala at work

A few of the sponsored students

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amy Stevens
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 06:43:57

    We are missing you here, but so glad to hear that you are settling in an finding such meaningful work. A true “God” moment indeed!


  2. Donna Krasnow
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 20:46:15

    What a wonderful coincidence – on all levels. Your descriptions of the school and children take me right back to my work with school children in India – I had similar thoughts about them and the impact of their education. Enjoy every minute.


  3. Kylie
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 05:15:33

    What an amazing coincidence!!!

    Also, I have to ask… is the water there naturally fluoridated?


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