Saturday, March 9, 2013

How can you help?

They look to us with great hope
At Prerana, the staff there are trying to provide comfort to a great many families, but there are many hurdles along the way as we can imagine. With your help, with our help, its possible we can make a huge difference in the mission field of the Lord by helping these special needs children become fairly independent in their lives.

Your prayers and thoughts are much needed and most appreciated.

Financial help from individuals is what sustains the working of Prerana. Establishing a personal contact with the staff there, knowing the details of the working there, paying a visit, trying to understand the needs, providing feedback and advice, helping them with your contacts and knowledge are all some simple and effective ways by which you can help Prerana. They rely on our individual reaching out and help, we got to be there for them.

If you can get orders in bulk for the greeting cards and other art work being created by Prerana, it could be of great help. Pictures of such items are shown here.

Another important way for you to help is to get involved in the channel ICON Charities is trying to establish with Prerana to provide help as noted here.

Here is a link to their current website. It has not been completely updated lately but it is well designed, if you go through it, you will get more information about Prerana.

Visiting Prerana

The walk into Prerana is not distant
Nagpur is one of the major cities in Maharashtra State about 16 hours by train from Mumbai. Nagpur also has an airport. Prerana which is at walking distance from Nagpur Seminary, could become a destination for you. A few hours,  a day, a week or month spent there could result in a life changing experience, it could be an opportunity to get involved in some of the great works undertaken by dedicated and committed individuals to serve the society and the nation.

There are a few guest houses in Prerana which could be made available for your stay. If you could contact Fr. Yohannan, Fr. Bijesh Philip or others at the Seminary, they would gladly go out of their way to welcome and take care of you during your stay there. If this can be planned in advance it could be a heavenly experience. It could also be a time for you to share your experiences and help out with the working of Prerana.

ICON's plan and hope

Indian Christian Orthodox Network (ICON) Charities which is a non profit organization in the USA, has been able to do some work with Prerana in 2012, where several godly individuals and volunteers came together to help Prerana, the details of which we can see here. There has been a strong push from ICON to try and get involved with Prerana at a more substantial level and try to make a difference in the future. To explore this possibility was part of the reason for my visit to Nagpur this January.

I was able to discuss this with Fr. Yohannan at length and am hopeful some good will come out of it. We are hoping that ICON can be a facilitator and a platform for connecting the children at Prerana directly with the many potential donors world wide who may want to help them. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a transparent process put in place which is professionally managed and maintained, where the work flow is smooth and followed through in a timely manner, and a feedback loop created such that the benefeciaries get directly connected with the donors, with minimal involvement of ICON. It is our hope that with God's guidance, and help from the ground staff in Prerana, this becomes a reality.

Once this process is put in place, it is envisioned that it should work similar to how the REAP projects of ICON Charities have worked with some bit of success in the past as seen here. Once this process is put in place, it is hoped that many volunteers such as readers like you, get involved to help Prerana and the children there. ICON Charities works on the strength and courage of will shown by simple and sincere individuals wanting to make a small difference in the world.

Friday, March 8, 2013

We make things beautiful...

Achen opened out to me the beautiful work that the children at Prerana, with help from their teachers, are capable of doing. The beautiful greeting cards, art work all showed to me the hours of care and love that these children and their mentors put into it.

Each of these were numbered, they had carefully built them using a template and could be replicated. "If you give us bulk orders and select the number, we can build those for you as per your requirement and ship them to you" achen explained. This was results of their work at vocational training showing.

The numbering can be used while ordering.
I could see they had a variety of art work on beautiful Christmas cards and seasons' greetings. Birds, flowers, trees - all very skillfully done. Boats, lamps, houses all made with perfect imagination expressed in art. They get orders from churches and organizations all around India. But they need more work and more orders. They do quality work. Hope there are more orders that come in future years.

Besides they have done very beautful work on canvas, using leaves, bamboo and such. All are professionally done. I hope their work gets the visibility they deserve, I hope they get recognized world wide. Their professional work ethic is seen in their work. Kudos to their teachers and the staff that is behind all this hard work.
A template design for making the final product


The Prerana School in session

A class at Prerana in session
I went to each of the classes in session in Prerana that day. The children were being taught different aspects of basic math and letters. I later learnt from achen that these classes are designed specially for the kids as per their aptitude. The teachers who also come from the local area are specially trained to cater to the special needs of the children.

After a couple of basic level classes, and as they grow up, they are then given some sort of vocational training so that they could fend for themselves as they enter into society in a fairly independent manner.

It is the result of such vocational training that they are able to make different things such as candles which the Seminary buys from them, greeting cards and other art work which different churches and organizations give them orders for. They are also involved in learning the mechanics of screen printing.

one of the students
Also I read in their website that they were planning to buy some orchards near by to support its operations, as well as to give some training to the older students as they pass out.

As I saw them repeat what their teachers were teaching them, I noticed some of them were indeed enjoying the classes and having fun. I watched them for a while as they played and studied together, forgetting for  a moment the daily challenges in their lives for many things we take for granted. And I thanked God for Prerana and I thanked God for the staff and the teachers there.
They have fun too in class!

The monkey business that is hurting

long cracks on the dorm ceilings
Achen showed me the set of mattresses kept at the far end of the main assembly hall. "The boys also sleep in this hall" achen said. "I will show you why when we reach the dorms".

As we walked into one of the dorm rooms, one of them which was unused, achen pointed to the ceiling - I could see long and wide cracks on the sheets on the ceiling. "The monkeys running all over the roof did it". achen explained. There were such cracks in multiple places visible. Because of the leaks, the dorm, which was previously used by the girls was now unusable. They were then moved to the boys' dorm and the boys to the assembly hall.

Prerana had been in consultation with the local company ISPAT with which it has nurtured good relationships for some kind of help with this. When I called up recently (March 2013) I was told that ISPAT had agreed to supply them with sheets for the ceiling at discounted rates. This would still cost them over Rs. 50, 000/- but atleast there is hope that they maybe able to use the dorm once again soon. Most probably the work on the roof would be done after the current school year ends mid April.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prerana School - the place

Board announcing Prerana's mission in Marathi
The main gate to the school has the board of Prerana in the local language Marathi. As we walk inside, we see the foundation stone laid long back in 2002 by the saintly Theodosius Thirumeni and also the inscription bearing the innauguration by the saintly Osthathios Thirumeni, both of whom have now  finished their earthly race and are with the Lord. We pass the main office of Prerana, pass the play yard for the children before we come to the main building and the class room and living area of the children.

The main assembly hall is on the ground floor where the assembly of the children are held. This area, as I learnt, also doubles up as the sleeping area for the boys.

Currently there are 42 students of Prerana who also live in Prerana. Out of these the boys have to sleep in the main assembly hall because of a problem in their living quarters, which I explain here.

The kitchen and dining areas for the children are adjacent to the main assembly hall. On the first floor there are living quarters, one of which is used by Fr. Yohannan and his family. Apart from these there are a couple of guest rooms in this area. Besides these there are a few more guest rooms in the adjacent building, (which were used by the German students who had been on a project work there and were leaving when I had arrived)

play area
On the first floor also is the way to the adjacent building which is the living quarters for the children. Currently this building hosts the living area for the girls only.

Outside there is a beautiful orange orchard.  There are several classrooms where the individual classes are held during the day. According to the aptitude of the children, they are placed in different classes.

There is a bus that takes the children who are day scholars to school in the morning and back to their homes after the classes. The play area has a slide, and other equipments that the kids use in recreation.

A section of the girls' dorm