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STOP International Project Spring 2006

Planning for the project began in November 2005. Students from Stanborough School, and independent school in Watford, Hertfordshire, submitted their applications to participate in the humanitarian trip to India, to decorate and conduct maintenance and improvements to the BESSO Children’s Home, and orphanage built by STOP in 2002 [link to Project 2002]. Meetings with parents and students to advise them on the project, travel plans and conditions were completed. Finally the departure day, February 12, 2006 arrived and all students and staff met at Stanborough School at 5 am for the journey to Heathrow Airport.

Four years of daily living by the 75 young active children living at the BESSO Children’s Home inflicted wear and tear on the living facility and the building required a much needed face lift both internally and externally. The team got to work on Tuesday, the day after they arrived in the town of Hosur, Tamil Nadu, painting the girls dormitory, the kitchen, the boy’s dormitory, the Director’s office, the dining room and by Friday the large utility/storage room was painted too. By the end of the first week all the walls, doors and windows of the orphans’ accommodation was completed. Three of the more artistic members of the team went to work on painting beautiful cartoon characters to give the dorms a more homely look. In the second week the Director’s flat was painted and the team put up floor-to-ceiling shelves in the storeroom and had the toilet and bathroom doors repaired. The outside of the large orphanage building was painted by three hired labourers. Due to the high temperatures, in excess of 38°C, the team mainly worked indoors. When it cooled in the late afternoon, however, and when the children returned from school, everyone engaged in a game of cricket, with great enjoyment before returning home.

The daily routine was intense, starting off with a 6 am wakeup call, breakfast at 6:30, followed by a fifteen minute walk to the BESSO Orphanage. Work began soon immediately and continued until 5 pm and then a weary walk back to the campus where the team stayed for the two weeks. All of this helped to strengthen friendships and bond the team together to successfully accomplish the objective.

The team visited two other orphanages built by STOP International. On the last Friday the team spent the day with twenty-seven children aged 4 to 14 and staff of the Blessing Home and treated them to a picnic and games in the beautiful Nandi Hills, nearly 6000 ft above sea level, an event we take for granted but is a rare occurrence for these orphan children.

Is there a value of a trip such as this to the students and staff of Stanborough School? It does teach the students the value of community service through practical experience, which came across in the farewell speeches to the orphans. “This is the best experience I have had in my life,” said one. Another student commented that he now knows what his direction in life is – to be a humanitarian worker. Another promised to raise 10 sponsors to support the orphans when he got back to England. Everyone expressed a sincere desire to return to do more for children either in India or some other developing country.

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