Park Grove Methodist Church

Our New Girl

For years now we have been hoping that the Indian government would begin to improve the care provisions made for the poorest of their people and particularly the children. Well slowly by slowly things have been improving and in their efforts they did what all governments do -----they passed lots of new laws. The result of one of these new laws was the tightening of the regulations covering the care of children in residential homes which was a good thing: but laws are only as good as the people who implement them and India like all other countries has its share of officials who just love to be in a position of power. One such official told us in July that young K.Nithya no longer met the new criteria and so had to leave our Madurai Sevashram Girls Home even though she liked it there and was doing well at the local school. Some of the other girls at the home were without sponsorship and we agreed that we would become sponsors of one of these. So without further ado let me introduce you to 11 year old D.Gopika.

Gopika is from the village Kulamangalam which is near the large town of Madurai. Gopika’s village is 6km away from Madurai Sevashram Girls Home (MSGH). There are 400 houses here and the main employment is agriculture, with rice, vegetables, roses and jasmine being the main crops grown. Gopika’s father, Dhamotharan, is a construction labourer. Her mother, Ramaprabha sadly committed suicide when Gopika was only 10 months old. Gopika is an only child but her paternal grandmother is a housewife and lives with the family
Due to Gopika’s mother’s death, her father cannot give Gopika a good standard of living and education. Therefore MSGH have given her the opportunity to have a happy home life and good schooling..

Despite Gopika’s family situation, her father visits her monthly at MSGH.

Gopika’s family owns their own house which consists of three rooms (bedroom, kitchen and a multipurpose hall) for three people.

The walls are made of brick and the roofing is made from cement.The photo is not of Gopika’s home but is typical of that sort of dwelling and as you can see is not really palatial.

Gopika is a gently spoken and polite young girl who attends Balamandiram higher secondary school in Madurai where she is studying in the 6th standard. Her favourite subject is English where she ranks first out of 32 classmates. Gopika would like to be a teacher when she is older because she would like to help other children. Gopika’s favourite colour is red; her favourite flower is a rose, her favourite animal is a rabbit and her favourite food is poori (deep-friend Indian bread).

Gopika is happy at the girls’ home because she enjoys all the other girls’ company and her best friend is Santhiya who is also in the 6th grade. Gopika’s favourite activities are chess because she finds it interesting, skipping and kho-kho (Indian version of tag). Her favourite festival is Diwali (Hindu festival of light) because of all the lights, sweets, firecrackers and she also gets a new dress. If Gopika could visit anywhere, she would like to go to Ooty to see the mountains. She has seen the sea in Rameswaram when she went with relatives but cannot swim. Gopika spends her pocket money on stationary items.

India's progress is real and obvious, but abject poverty lurks just below the surface.

The families and youngsters turning to MSGH are caught in this trap. For some, poverty is aggravated by increasingly prevalent social ills stimulated by development - alcoholism, child abuse, impact of HIV/AIDS, family breakdown. Supported primarily by JHC (but with local involvement increasing slowly), MSGH provides the safety net these vulnerable children need, to flourish and change their lives - permanently.

No child is turned away, so funding always struggles to catch-up.  Every donation, sponsorship, gift or legacy helps to ensure that our doors never close on children in need. Currently over 1,000 children are in our residential projects, of which 20% are without a sponsor. That's our act of faith. Please help us to justify that faith in any way you can - by raising awareness, giving support or both.  Remember, your sponsored child might have Mother's nose and Father's eyes but her smile and future depends entirely on you.

Gopika would like to say ‘thank you’ to her sponsor for supporting her through her schooling and giving her the opportunity to study; is really invaluable and will make a tremendous difference.

(With thanks and acknowledgement to  D.Gopika’s profile written in July 15 by Lisa Melillo one of our volunteers)

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