From 24th of Feb until 6th of march 2017 Paul van Gulick and Hanny van der Schoot from the Foundation Youth Welfare South-India have travelled to Vellamadam in South-India. They have visited many projects that are supported by the Foundation, e.g. the girls home where nomad girls are given shelter, the Children Development Centre in Dindigul, the physiotherapy centre in Mylaudy, the centre for multi handicapped children in Radhapuramand the Francis Xavier school in Alanchy.

It has been an impressive  journey. Many discussions and conversations were conducted, e.g. with Reverend Bishop Paulsamy of Dindigul, Fr. Hieronymus, the director of a children hospital of Vellamadam, where we were lodged, and Mr. Johnson Raj, director of ProVision, an organisation that is occupied with prevention, early Identification and intervention in Childhood Disabilities and Disorders.


From the members of the choir 'JeroenBosch Koor' from Den Bosch we have received money for the nomad girls in order to buy something for them, so we have visited this home during our travel at the third day of our stay. At this moment the children in the home are the first generation nomads that go to school. With the sisters that run the home we decided to buy a/o slippers and  suitcases for the children.


After having picked up the things we have bought for them they invited us in. They had a programme prepared for us. They were dressed beautifully and sang and danced for us. One of the girls told the story of her life. It was amazing to see that she wanted to share her story in front of the whole group. And all children listened with great interest. For us the story was shocking. Probably all these children had this kind of traumatic experiences. In spite of this the children sang and danced with a big smile on their face and were encouraged by Selyne, one of the sisters, to join. The children were happy and cheerful. They longed for attention and received it from the sisters in a positive way. They were very disciplined and could spend their energy through singing and dancing. Great !


The most impressive of this journey was the discussion with the parents of multiple handicapped children. One girl was 22 years of age and got her first child at the age of 16 (child marriage). She was told to throw the child in the fire as it would have problems with growing up later. Another mother told that the doctor, after the first halfyear checkup of the bay , was of the opinion that she better could kill her child, because it never would be able to achive something in life. A grandfather took care of his grandchild with the Down-syndrome, his own daughter had an arranged marriage but was sent home to her father after the birth of her child. Now he takes care of two daughters and two granddaughters.

Asking about their view about the future a few mothers started to cry. They all had a pessimistic view and worried what would happened to their child when they wouldn’t be on this planet anymore. They belong to the lowest caste so they had no hope that their child would be taken to a home for children and would be begging nearby the temple. It was awful to hear all these stories. All mothers and fathers are very proud about achievements of their children but have a very difficult life, rejected from their direct environment. Again we realised how happy we are that we were born in the Netherlands instead of India. But also how unfair this really is……


Hanny van der Schoot

© 2018 Paul van Gulick 

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