Mahendra started by mentioning that he had met with the parents of the students at the LBCS (Lord Buddha Charitable School) and impressed on them that the kids need to attend regularly. He didn't go into detail, but he did say that since this is the "agricultural season", the children are being put to work. When I was there in December and January, the older children were working the harvests. My guess is that for planting, it's an "all hands" situation.
He also writes that some of the kids come in dirty clothes and has stressed the importance of cleanliness to the parents.
Another issue is building maintenance. After school, some of the children hang around to play and unintentionally damage the masonry. The quality of concrete in India isn't the highest and it's not hard to imagine even little kids chipping the structure. Consequently, Mahendra notes that they're relying on people to keep watch over the property and that one of the major projects will be to erect a protective wall around the school building itself.
Teaching is going well, but unfortunately, the regular donation coming in from Finland isn't enough to cover the teachers' salaries. The Finnish monthly allotment is only 3,300 rupees ($59.89, at this moment). In January, the LBWF was budgeting $150 per teacher (2), but Mahendra notes that the accepted salary for each teacher should be 3,000 rupees ($54); so if anyone's interested, this would be a good area of support.
Lastly, they need a hand pump, toilet and a white board. Costs for this will be listed below.
I think I mentioned last winter that the LBWF has also started a computer school which Mahendra was really excited about. However, he writes:
"The computer class is running here but here is the problems of electricity so we are not able to keep it regular.We had bought the Inverter in March but it is not much helpful [sic] for this we need generator. We got funding from Shindo association for the teacher salary and maintainanance for the computer class for 2012-13.There are 18 students are studying computer."
Lastly, they are moving ahead with the FCRA process. They need to gather their past three years of paperwork together for the audit, then build up the school's infrastructure; this needs to happen first, because once the application is submitted, inspectors from the home ministry are sent from Delhi to sign off (or not) on the application. Thus, the funds that the LBWF have been broken out as follows.
Disbursement of funds from Finland for the Choraha school
No. Of teachers
LBWF's needs assessments:
For the record, 97,000 rupees = US $1,755
In other news, I've accepted the Harvard Medical School's offer, so personally, I'll be throwing in little support and my next step will be to set up a Facebook page for the LBWF so Mahendra, Dinu and Kapil can post updates globally and hopefully, relatively frequently. It's important to bear in mind (because I forget this, too) that Internet connectivity is sometimes very, very spotty.
If anyone is interested in helping out, feel free to post a comment. I'll respond ASAP, and I can give you details on who to contact or you can get in touch with Mahendra himself by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.