Park Grove Methodist Church
Madurai Sevashram Girls Home
Anual Report 2016/2017
Page 1 of 4
North of Madurai, the temple city of Tamil Nadu, is Madurai Sevashram Girls Home in a gated, walled compound off a busy, noisy main road. This is home to 95 girls from primary school through secondary to the apprentice schemes where they can thrive in a home environment whilst achieving a better standard of education (and for some home life) that would previously have been denied to them.
MSGH is run by a management committee of women with the Administrative Manager, Mrs Seetha having been in the job for 23 years. Seetha is a person of enormous integrity with the welfare of the girls the absolute main focus and objective of her everyday life. Other full time members of staff are the Wardens: Ms Jothi - 20 years in the role and Mrs Srimangalam. There are also 3 full time carers, 2 cooks and 2 watchmen covering day and night shifts. Working part-time is the tailoring instructor, the computer instructor Sharon Angel (still under JHC supported apprenticeship) who is Seetha's daughter, and Mr Ravi and his wife who are tutors, but on a volunteer basis. They come in to tutor 1 or 2 times a week for a minimum of 2 hours to help all standards. Career guidance is given by the committee members regularly and Mrs Malathi Pitchaimani who is Secretary of the committee gives emotional counselling and support.
The maximum capacity for the home (allowed by the government) is 100. Last year there were 105 girls but some were sent home due to the Child Welfare Committee's (CWC) ruling that if a child has parents then that child should be sent home regardless of whether or not that environment is suitable for a child, eg alcoholism or domestic violence. Of the current capacity girls are in Primary education (1st to 5th standard), secondary (6th to 10th standard), and 11th and 12th standard (equivalent to A „levels). Others have completed full time education and are now classified as 'Apprentices' – with courses ranging from Nursing to Accounting.
When entering the compound there is an L shaped building to the right which houses the main office and library downstairs and box room for the girls in 1st to 5th standard. Across from there is a spacious two storey building that has the kitchen out the back, a study space with black board downstairs which doubles up as the sleeping space for 1st to 6th standard.
The rest of the older girls sleep in the room upstairs. In each dorm space there is low shelving for the girls to keep their trunks which holds their meagre and most prized possessions which they are delighted to be able to show off to enquiring eyes: a picture of a favourite god, their newest dress, a special necklace, for a few the precious photo of their sponsor. Every staff member has their own room but they are mostly used as storage for their belongings as they all sleep in with the girls. A couple of years ago I met a Belgian volunteer staying there who described sleeping in the dorm as “everyone is everyone else's pillow”, now the sleeping areas are much more spacious. All the windows have mosquito grills on them but the level of mosquitos (and their ferocity) is much higher in Madurai than in the more rural areas of Tamil Nadu.
Behind this building is the newly built dining hall with a large rack by the entrance which is home to the girl's large round metal dishes, each personalised with their initials. Breakfast is served in here at about 7am. The girls all sit in rows according to their standard and then come up in groups to fill firstly their tiffin boxes for their lunch and their dishes for breakfast. It is a very well organised affair with even the youngest of the girls organising themselves and taking what is given to them and eating the lot with gratitude.