Journey to India which the President of Native Onlus Frances Finch, made together with her husband Paul Finch,  3rd – 19th August 2007


In India education is key!


Despite what we might think, poverty is not the decisive ingredient for a good life. When we saw the light shining out of the students’ eyes at the elementary school we knew something was totally different from the melancholy we had seen on our journey through so many obscure and forgotten villages.

 We had  finally arrived in the village of China Mukthevi.  The bustling and enterprising town of Hyderabad with its 7 million inhabitants was now well over 200 miles behind us. The drive had been tense. For  about 7 hours we had zigzagged our way along the tortuous road avoiding over-loaded old trucks, tiny three-wheeled taxis with as many as 15 adults on board, ancient buses, motor-scooters, bicycles and even the odd buffalo (not to mention  the monkeys alongside the road!). We had travelled through Vijaywada to the more coastal town of Machilipatnam. The following morning  we left our familiar civilised society behind us and made our way to China Muthevi.  Water would now only come from a well.  The familiar world of banks, post-offices, shops and coffee bars were far away. As we turned from the asphalted road onto the mud tracks of the village, there stood the headmistress of the school, the teachers and the entire student body of 86 smartly dressed youngsters from the  Upper Primary Elementary School which was started 11 years ago. We were greeted with animated songs,  rhythmic stick-knocking, beautifully decorated banners, hand clapping, and an atmosphere of joy which rang out across the nearby rice fields. This festive reception was just the beginning of our intense week among the 300 inhabitants of this village.

 Into our two extra suitcases, which Air Emirates had given us special permission to take free or charge on our flight from Venice to Hyderabad,  we had jammed all kinds of teaching materials for the teachers and children. Many of these “treasures” had actually been given to us by the students of our English Courses in Vicenza, members of our church and other friends. It was fantastic  to see the first basket ball pole being erected  in the centre of the playing area outside the school and share the noisy enthusiasm whenever anyone could actually get the ball into the basket.

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 Despite the fact that the principal language of the area is Telegu a large part of the teaching actually takes place in English. The wonderful knock-on effect of this is that, in India, English is one of the vital ingredients which frees the untouchables from their prison cell in the caste system. One of our most precious memories is that of visiting Deelip’s tiny thatched hut where we listened to his mother, Salomi,   formerly illiterate , actually read from her Bible. She had learned to read and write from her son! Tears literally flowed from her eyes as she so movingly described how the school had brought to her family and their 3 children a life which she had thought impossible.  In another overcrowded minuscule hut, we were impressed to see how neat everything was. Their son, when he began to go to school had asked for a place to keep his new school clothes. The home was reordered and so too was their life because now the parents had to make sure he was punctual at the school. We were amazed to see such cleanliness in the tiny thatched hut where there was no running water and outside mud tracks which can even become quite treacherous when the monsoon rains set in. The following day, when we went to visit another family in a nearby village,  as we turned the corner onto the mud tracks of  Nidomulu, all of the families with children in the school had set-up an ambush in the form of a surprise reception for Edgar Sathuluri, the director and founder of Native.  Even the mayor had come and he made a speech expressing his thanks to Native and the School for the immense benefits his village had received through them.

 Throughout the week in the village of China Muthevi, we tangibly saw the benefits the school brings to everyone.   As our NativeOnlus motto states, it is “A light in the darkness”. Clearly, through the school,  poverty is being overcome by a new and better hope. The families are still materially poor but the joy which sparkles in their eyes reveals a hope. The homes that lack furniture and the typical western kitchen comforts have a profound sense of happiness and optimism fills the air.  If, as we here in Native Italy state,  “In an ocean of need, every drop of water counts”, then we are thrilled for all the drops which folk in Vicenza and Italy have channelled to the Upper Elementary School in China Muthevi.

 Our sincere “thanks” go to everyone who has shared in this initiative which, God-willing, this autumn will further advance with the construction of a new building.  Even better - we are hoping and praying that through the kindness of an Italian business man it will have running drinking water!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (Presidente Native Onlus Italia)

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