Back to school again November 2019…or the RC Middle School in the mountains of Tamil Nadu, tucked in a mountain approximately 7,000 above sea level. (…/kombais-in-the-palani-hills ).

A recap: The school is owned and run by the Society of Servants of God, a voluntary nonprofit organization affiliated with the Catholic church. There is a total of three Sisters (including Sr Ancy, principal) and one lay teacher, all of whom stay on campus at least during the week. There are 130 full time students and 30 “irregular” (those enrolled but with sporadic attendance): 14 Muslim, 12 Christian and 25 Hindu Dalits (, 40 tribal ( and 71 DNC (I was told that DNC (Denotified Communities) is the same as MBC (Most Backward Class – it can be confusing) (…/short-speech-on-ba…/4082 ). A majority of the 50 children who stay at the school, however, go home on the weekends or at least between the 3 terms. Sr Ancy made a point that the school embraces all religions and cultures.

We made this trip May 2019 at which time we saw the effects of Gala Cyclone ( ). None of the children were injured, however, the school suffered severe damage, including metal roofs which were stripped from the buildings by the winds. The worse destruction occurred in the kitchen, the outdoor covered structure which the Sisters used to prepare and feed the children three meals a day. Only the stone stove remained, where they continued to cook meals using firewood and three large pots. They temporarily attached a roof to protect the stove and the cook from the rain, using provisional beams to support the metal sheets and securing them with stones. We are now assisting them to not only to repair the outdoor kitchen but to convert it to an indoor facility in order to provide shelter during the monsoon season, as well as withstand the winds and rain of a cyclone. See the pictures on how this is progressing. Project Starfish believes that the healthcare of children extends beyond clinical medicine.

I enjoy visiting this school as the Sisters do so much with so little. Brigette Farrell from Faceplant Dreams ( donated over 130 pairs of knee high bamboo socks (…/faceplant-bamboo-socks) for every child to wear at night (it gets cold in the mountains). Many of the children do not have shoes…we are looking into that. You will not see them with their socks yet – they will be given as Christmas gifts.

In addition we started our Preventative Dental Care Initiative, spearheaded by Rajiv Kalra, DMD ( from Agota Dental, USA ( Dr Kalra donated toothbrushes and toothpaste for every student. Stay tuned for how this was done (how Dr. Kalra plans to make it sustainable) and how you can join in this endeavor!

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Published by

Josh Osmer

16 Dec 2019

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