Our 2012 Building is Done!

December 31st, 2012

It seems as if we had just started our school project with Lumkyntung Village and here we are two years later joining the village in celebrating the completion of the second floor classrooms. 

When we first started this project, there were only 48 students in this school. After our first classroom additions in 2011, the number of students went up from 48 to 83.

With the second floor classrooms we just completed in 2012, another 40-50 children will have access to an education – this is very exciting and we are very grateful to our generous donors for making this happen. 

It takes a tremendous amount of community coordination and cooperation to make all this happen and the residents of Lunkyntung  are a perfect example of what our vision and mission is about, taking to heart their responsibilities in getting this building completed so their children can have access to an education and a better future.

On Nov 13, 2012 the village community hosted a gathering to welcome my daughter, son-in-law and myself,  and the local representatives who have been key components in coordinating the completion of this project to inaugurate this building and to join them in a late afternoon lunch of delicious, local delicacies.

We were so touched by the children who lined up to welcome us as we walked down the hill towards the school. 

The beautiful faces of some of the children…

 

We distributed little gift bags to each child filled with school supplies and Christmas treats.

 We also gave the school some soccer balls and other items for play.

And lastly, after all the festivities, food and gifts were distributed, we sat with the village committee members to plan the final year of help needed for this village (every village is a three year plan).

This included plans for sustainable income so they can support the costs for additional teachers moving forward, as the school and student body grows.

2013 is the last year we will be working with this village before we move on to help another community, and our final year of help has some exciting things that will be happening for Lumkyntung school and village. Stay tuned for future updates on what we are doing as well as posts of our next project. 

 

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Village Project Completion Date in Sight

October 20th, 2012

Contractor and village moms and dads have been very busy trying to get the classrooms for their children finished by projected completion date of Nov 2 and it looks like they are going to make it! 

On Oct 16th we handed them with the balance of the funds to finish the work.

According to Bah Clement, our local liaison who is overseeing this project, the hollow block walling work is in full swing, the window grille work will be done on the 22nd or 23rd of this month and thereafter, plastering work would follow.

By the end of the 1st week of November, all the work should be completed.  I (Connie) and Destiny Marshall (Board Member) will be there the week of Nov 12 and will have the opportunity to see the completed building as we will be in the area for another unrelated village project that we are involved in. 

Again here are some pictures of these beautiful children who are attending the little village school we are helping build. 

We thank you kindly for your support so we can provide these children with a better future.

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Two more grades…

October 2nd, 2012

Our Lumkyntung village classrooms are scheduled for completion by Nov 2012. Woo Hoo!!!

According to my friend and local project liaison Mr. Pochister (and I am quoting him below):

“A ‘community in action’ has indeed been amply manifested by Lumkyntung today!..

43 menfolk and 8 womenfolk were working at the school. The village has 62 households and, barring a few households which had genuine reasons for being absent, a representative from each household had come out today. That’s the Khasi tradition – ‘marwei man ka iing’ for their ‘dorbars’!

Your ‘vision for villages’ is strongly, steadily and speedily taking shape in Lumkyntung!”

I feel so blessed to be working with such a group of people to provide better opportunities for children in these rural communities.

According to Mr. Clement, the local site inspector for this project, on Aug 13 the Lumkyntung Community held the ceremonially important “casting the slab” of their second floor School building.

What he said he observed was that the Community as a whole worked cooperatively and diligently all through the day to get this done.

Because slab casting is a culturally auspicious section of any building done in this region of India, custom requires that it be completed within one day.

Although there was some rainfall since this is monsoon season, the community worked together until everything was completed which went into nightfall.

This next section of pictures were taken in mid Sept and as of my last update with my team in India, the hollow block walling is being completed and the installation of doors and windows will be next. I will be sure to post more pictures as I get them.

Two village helpers on the second floor roof

In 2011 we completed two classrooms which raised the number of children in this little village school from 48 to 82.

Now with the completion this November of two more classrooms on the second floor we should have another 30-40 students starting out in the lower grades in Feb 2013 (which is the start of the new school year in this region of India). Next year we plan to help with a new teacher for the additional classrooms.

Please enjoy a few pictures of these delightful children and their happy smiles. And thank you so very much for your support in providing an education for these children.

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Bright Smiles from our Village School…

July 17th, 2012

I just love the smiles on the faces of these beautiful children from the village school in Lumkyntung, India that we are helping in 2012.

According to our construction engineer Bah Narry and our site inspector Bah Clement, the village school classrooms are coming along very nicely in spite of the heavy monsoon rains. In fact, the casting of the slab may be done this week if the weather permits and it appears there is one big tarpaulin already in place for that.

According to Bah Clement, the crew is eagerly waiting for one or two bright sunny days so that heavy truck carrying sand and chips can ply up a very narrow, unpaved road to the school premises.

The building is scheduled to be completed by end of Oct 2012 and the Lumkyntung Village community conveys their best wishes and KHUBLEI (Thank you and God Bless) to our sponsors and donors for their generosity in providing these classrooms for their children.

(Using the word “Bah” for men or “Kong” for women before a first name is the traditional way to respectfully address another person in the Khasi culture).

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Classrooms are going up…

June 26th, 2012

The building of the second floor Lumkyntung classrooms is in full swing.

As we had mentioned in a previous post, after adding two classrooms in 2011, the number of students in this little village school almost doubled, going from 48 students to 82.

We also anticipate a large turnout of new students when the new school year starts in Feb 2013 after the current classrooms we are building right now are completed.

Our goal is to enable this little village school to have enough space to eventually provide the students opportunities to attend higher grades, and eventually up to Matriculation from high school.

Between now and the end of August 2012, the team is working on completing the following milestones:

  1. Casting of slab.
  2. Hollow block walling.
  3. Plastering of all the walls both inside and outside inclusive of partition of two rooms in the 2nd floor.

The final phase which is targeted for Sept-Oct 2012 includes the fitting of doors, windows, skylights, painting and general cleanup.

Below are pictures of some of the children as ell as the work in progress… (Keep in mind that some of the small posts in building are being used as placemakers, they are not the actual materials for construction of the building).

If you like what we are doing and would like to be involved in helping these children get an education, you can Donate Here. (Thank you in advance).


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Second story building has started

May 31st, 2012

I am very excited to announce that the second story addition of the Lumkyntung Village School has started.

The reinforcement steel, planks, cement, sand, stone and other building materials have been purchased and team is ready to go.

Under the supervision of the building contractor, the distribution of labor and collaboration by the village residents and parents of the students to get these new 30’X15′ classrooms built is now in progress, scheduled for completion by Oct 2012.

The two classrooms we added in 2011 have already increased the number of students from 48 to 82 – almost doubled in just a few months!

A little help goes a long way in these rural communities and it is really rewarding to see the difference we are making. We are grateful to our donors for this important contribution which is creating educational opportunities for these children.

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Mother’s Day in India…

May 11th, 2012

A Cause for Celebration!

If you live in India, you truly have cause to celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a gift to still have mom around! And as a child, it is a gift to still be around to enjoy Mom!

(Creative Commons Photograph from rahukdulucca’s photostream)

Why am I saying this? Because Save the Children just released on May 8th, their 2012 State of the World Mothers report (SOTWM) with some very interesting facts.

This comprehensive report shows the best and worst of 165 countries for mothers and children, using health, education and economic conditions as criteria for measurement.

For example, Norway ranks #1 as the best place to be a mom, The United States ranks #25, Niger rates last at #165 and India rates at #76.

So why is India #76? Here are some statistics from the report:

  1. One in every 140 women run the risk of dying at childbirth while 1 in every 7600 runs this same risk in Norway.
  2. Only 53% of births are attended by a skilled health professional.
  3. The mortality rate for five year olds and under is a whopping 63 out of 1000 births. In the United States this number is 8.
  4. Malnutrition kills as many as 2.6 million children and 100,000 mothers every year and India is one of 30 countries in this report with stunting rates of 40% or more due to malnutrition (actual number for India is 43%).

Aside from the statistics, the pain and trauma for a mother losing a child is severe. I cannot even imagine that pain, and it can be prevented.

One of the recommended solutions that is the least expensive to combat malnutrition, is to encourage breastfeeding which could save as many as 1 million lives according to the report.

What was surprising to me was that the United States is the only economically advanced country where employers are NOT required to provide any paid maternity leave for moms.

It also ranked LAST on the breastfeeding policy scoreboard in the industrialized world for moms who want to breast feed.

Norway moms get 80% of their salary while on maternity leave and 36-46 weeks of maternity leave. Wow!

You can refer to this report for additional information on India or any of the other countries in the list.

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A Himalayan Village Ropeway

May 6th, 2012

While I was in India for the 2011 inauguration of the Lumkyntung village school, my mom told me about a very interesting little village she had visited a couple of years ago that she felt I might enjoy seeing.

So one sunny afternoon, we decided to take a short drive (1.5 hours from her house) to this little village, called Laitlum.

Laitlum is a tiny village located in Meghalaya, India, in the Northeastern foothills of the Himalayas. The residents of this little village are part of the tribal Khasi hill people (like me)

However, unlike anything I have ever seen, these villages in this area literally farm on the edge of these cliffs, which plunge sharply into the valley below, where we saw more isolated and scattered villages at the bottom of these mountains where people live and farm the land.

Even more interesting was the smallest little ropeway I had ever seen, manually operated and dependent on gravity, that is still being used to transport food and supplies up and down these steep mountains between these villages.

There is a little hut that houses the pulleys and equipment below, operated by one person who literally moves what looked like handles back and forth to help propel the wooden crate above to move it up and down the mountain.

A steep, stony path leads to one of the villages at the bottom of these mountains, which sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by mist-covered hills.

The residents, while effortlessly going up and down these mountains on these narrow paths, appear to use the ropeway to transport anything that needs to come up to sell at the local markets such as bananas, or for sending down building materials such as one bag of cement at a time.

I felt as if I was going back in time, seeing this simple, remote lifestyle while the few villagers we met along the way were quick to smile and say hello.

It was one of the most memorable afternoons I have spent in a long, long time as I enjoyed a late afternoon lunch with my family on the grassy hillside, overlooking this beautiful, silent and peaceful valley.

(My mom, sister and I with a friend, enjoying some delicious lunch)


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The Village Education Project – A Video

February 8th, 2012

Please enjoy this short video (4 mins) of our village education project in India that we did in 2011. We were blessed to have so many of you help us in multiple ways to make this happen. Thank You!

And if you like what you see and what we are doing, do let us know in the comment section beneath the video.

YouTube Preview Image

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Village Education Project Phase 1 done!

January 27th, 2012

 

I recently returned from a six week trip which included the inauguration of Phase 1 of our village education project in Meghalaya India,  and a 14 day cultural excursion – part of the travel services offered by our sister company and business sponsor of Visions for Villages.

 

Phase II will include a second story addition to the building above, scheduled for 2012.


After saying goodbye to my family in the United States, I found myself 25 hours later in New Delhi amidst the chaos of buses, cars, cows, goats, camels and rickshaws in a city vibrating with the energy of 17 million people.

The next few days were spent with some clients who met me in Delhi for my Silver Legends excursion package, before we flew on to Bhutan for 8 days of bliss in this tiny Himalayan Kingdom.

As my guests flew back to the United States, my work continued (if you can consider it work as I am having so much fun!) as I made my way to Northeastern India to check on my village school project.

I was very touched with the special celebration the residents of Lumkyntung village planned for Dec 2nd as their show of appreciation for the classrooms we helped built as part of our village education project.

When my family and I arrived, we were seated in a specially prepared and shaded area on the verandah of the school where we were served tea while we enjoyed the festivities they had prepared.

The program, which lasted about an hour and a half, included special music by the local moms and children, cultural dances, and speeches by different people in the community.

The festivities culminated with a late afternoon lunch of local and delicious delicacies specially prepared just for us. We felt blessed by their gratefulness and appreciation.

I will also continue to post clips of some videos I took as well as pictures every now and then that I think you will enjoy.


I also have a video of the work we did in 2011 and the children we helped on our website under projects. Do check it out.  I believe the children will touch your heart.

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