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Supporting families in India during Covid-19

19 May 2020  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

Kath Lawson, Director of Inclusive Support for Yes@Areté Learning Trust, who delivers training and support to teachers, families and students, is a keen advocate of a charity in India. Mrs Lawson is a trustee of the Indian charity Friends of Mettupalayam a project that addresses the main poverty and social problems in the area around the village of Mettupalayam.

The current crisis is as a result of the actions taken by the Indian Government in trying to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. All non-essential work has been suspended and as most rural families rely on daily wages, paid in cash, the impact has been a return to the levels of food poverty last seen many years ago. Additionally, all local vegetable markets are closed. To support the families, facing immense hardship during these very frightening and uncertain times, the charity is raising funds to provide fresh vegetables bought direct from the wholesalers and rice for around 300 families, each week. Soap and facemasks have also been provided, together with guidance on social distancing!

The Foodaid programme will continue at least until the end of May and the charity currently pays out around £400 each week, however, it is likely to be needed for some weeks afterwards.

Donations are gratefully received and can be made through their  facebook page or directly to the charity’s bank account at NatWest Bank sort code 54 10 41 account no 30120268

Mrs Lawson said: “I have been involved in Friends of Mettupalayam (FOM) as a trustee for over 30 years. Fundraising started when I was a primary teacher at Bedale Primary School. A colleague, Adele Eldridge and her husband David Eldridge, went to spend time at the project in Mettupalayam, South India, having already raised £2,000 whilst at teacher training college. This was donated to the charity in India to build a very small, two-room primary school. A Mr Venkatachalam (Venkat) started the Indian charity, The Institute for Rural Development Trust, with Actionaid assistance, who were funding the programme for its initial period.  When David and Adele arrived in India they realised more support was needed. Working together with the staff of Bedale Primary, I set about fundraising to support them. This was in 1992. On their return, and following some longer-term commitment, a small group of teachers and friends decided to register the charity, Friends of Mettupalayam so that we could receive Gift Aid support.

“Most of FOM’s trustees regularly visit the project and spend time there helping to develop the teaching skills, and helping with English language teaching. Whilst I haven’t been able to visit myself, due to family and work commitments, I am involved in regular committee meetings, organising and helping at fundraising events and liaising with our supporters.

“I was inspired by my very good friends, David and Adele, and also by Mr Venkatachalam on his occasional visits to the UK. Over the years, we have raised enough money to expand the project to address the main poverty and social problems in the area around the village of Mettupalayam. We have built a new school, started a second primary school in a coastal area with similar issues regarding poor access to education, and work closely with several tribal communities in and around Mettupalayam that experience significant discrimination.

To find out more about the charity visit their website or their facebook page .

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