No sooner had the Corona year 2021 come to a good close - under the circumstances - than major new challenges arose at the beginning of 2022 in terms of the economy as a whole and global politics. These are clearly noticeable both here and in India. Nevertheless, our partner organizations in India were able to achieve amazingly positive results with the help of your donations. In addition to these positive developments, the enclosed newsletter focuses on the Environmental Care Program, which was recently launched, and portrays the story of the young teacher Kalpana. She has decided to return to our school to teach after her studies.
Corona case numbers are at a stable, low level in India and the pandemic has faded into the background for the time being. Despite the difficult financial situation during the Corona pandemic due to lost donation income, no one had to be laid off. The Hybrid Learning project, which we reported on in the summer, got off to a good start. The range of learning materials has been expanded to include a colorful mix of online content, and the 12th graders have been equipped with tablet computers. The school's digitization project has been so successful that it has been adopted as a model by other local schools. We are also pleased to report that Shanthimalai has successfully established the previously announced "We Are One: Environmental Care" work area. Under the leadership of Dr. M. Rajasekar, an environmental engineer, cooperation with local authorities and business associations is being intensified. The situation in the areas of waste, energy and water in the community is to be significantly improved.
Dr. Durai Ganesh, project manager of our school development, is quite satisfied with the improvement of teaching quality and learning equipment (smart classroom, online learning content, laptops, WLAN, etc.). With great effort, technical problems in particular could be solved. Such joint project work promotes cooperation among teachers. In the future, students will be instructed to work together more independently and creatively. However, the focus is always on supporting the students who are less able to learn due to poverty. For this reason, the psychosocial situation of the children and young people should always be kept in mind. In this way, they receive support in the event of stressful family problems that make learning difficult. Two social work positions have been created at the school for this purpose.
Kalpana (picture at the top) from the remote village of Meyyur, together with her two sisters, was raised in poverty by her parents under great difficulties. She was enrolled in our sponsorship program as a seven-year-old child and was supported up to and including her master's degree in mathematics. She is steadfast and dreamed of becoming a math teacher as a child. When her friends looked for jobs elsewhere or got married after graduation, Kalpana decided to become a teacher at SRM School. She has been teaching at SRM School since June 2022 and is already an inspiration to many of her students. "Many village girls need guidance early on," she says. Her extraordinary life journey allows her to take on the important role of leading the counseling team at Shanthimalai Schools. She helps many children become interested in their career goals early on and learn about their options. Her conviction is that she can change the lives of many girls in the villages. Her story shows that the promotion of women enables them to lead independent and self-determined lives.
In addition to digitization and improving the quality of teaching, school development for our employees and managers in India involves other important aspects that affect all people who learn, teach and work at the school. A team of six teachers has come together to address personal development, quality of life, communication skills, and English language proficiency in the context of school. They meet regularly to work on this broad agenda. A particularly important goal is to support students with learning difficulties by viewing school not only as a center of achievement, but also as a space for life and development. Such a perspective is unique in India, as it contrasts with the common practice of "selecting the best." Two positions for school social work have been created for this major task. This should help to keep an eye on the psychosocial situation of the children and adolescents and to support the young people in stressful situations.
The impact of climate change and environmental pollution on people and vice versa is also a key issue in India. That's why, in addition to existing programs, our partners there have started the Environmental Care project in 2022 and have earmarked a substantial sum for it. For the first time, environmental issues are being visibly developed as part of an initiative coordinated with local authorities and business decision-makers: clean roads, clean water, better air, more intensive use of solar energy are goals that we want to work towards in the future. The first concrete measures include training and a broad information campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the problems related to the handling of waste. The aim is not only to highlight the negative consequences of waste handling, but also to provide information about concrete alternatives such as waste separation and recycling.
Another pillar of the initiative is the improvement of water storage. For this purpose, a new open well was constructed to store rainwater. It is planned to breed fish in this body of water and use the water for irrigation. A third project is the reforestation of a barren area. With the help of such efforts, large fallow areas, which are particularly threatened by drought, can be transformed into green forests. This is not only a measure to combat climate change, but also helps to meet the major challenge of water scarcity.
A final initiative addresses the challenge of energy conservation. Solar cells will provide the energy for electric vehicles, making the transportation of our partner organization cost effective and climate neutral. All this is only possible through your generous support and therefore, also on behalf of the people in India for whom your help makes a crucial difference, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and loyalty.