It is May 3rd and I am putting the finishing touches to my ‘Around the UK Virtual Cycle Challenge’
I have been trying to think of a serious challenge that I could take on to raise funds for New Dawn India without leaving my home.
I considered cycling the equivalent distance to Madurai……. Too far!
The charity is fortunate to have sponsors across the UK and that gave me the idea to ‘visit’ each postcode where we have a sponsor.
Now, because I am doing this challenge on an exercise bike, I have been able to shave off a fair few miles by travelling ‘as the crow flies. I am still left with plenty.
June seemed as good a month as any plus there will be the Euros and some test match cricket for me to watch while the miles go by.
I will have the bike positioned in the lounge so if you are walking past you will be able to see me in action. For those of you further afield we are working on a webcam so you can check on my progress.
We will update you each day with my progress and are hoping that some of the sponsors and supporters might want to meet up and maybe record a short message for your sponsored child or the team in Madurai.
The children know that I am going to be doing this challenge so I cant let them down.
Our target is to raise £1453 – £1 per mile!
If you would like to support New Dawn then please visit my Just Giving Page or contribute in your usual way (but please mark your gift ‘cycle’)
We would like to share our latest update from Jim with news which is more encouraging in spite of the present dangers of life in the slums.
“Here at Vidiyal we’re fine and safe. You will be pleased to hear that Chandran is back to normal health and thank you so much for your prayers and moral support at this difficult time. Our volunteer S.Mani’s mother has returned from the quarantine centre yesterday. She is fine but is asked to stay home for another week. I spoke with Mani this morning and they seem to be fine. He asked me to send his love and thanks to you all, especially for the prayers offered. The number of positive cases in Melavasal is stabilizing as some house blocks are quarantined which helps in containing the spread. Many got cured and returned back. Our other partnering communities are fine and safe.
Our sponsored children’s families expressed their gratitude for the support of Rs.5000/- each from NewDawn/Vidiyal at this crisis time, so that they can pay their rents and keep their homes. We managed to find a donor to supply a 3rd round of relief supplies to another 110 families whose children are not sponsored yet. Yesterday we did this distribution and the families were very appreciative of this gesture showing concern at the time of distress. Many said that only Vidiyal gave such a quality of relief materials that too for the third time in the past four months.
As there are no children’s programmes at the moment, there is still money in the allocated budget. I thought of requesting for utilising the budget for ‘supplementary food’ for making a child specified relief supply to sponsored children. This would cost Rs.1000/- per child which would cover an energy drink, fruits and toiletries. As we haven’t utilised this budget I thought this would be appropriate to provide at this time. I am enclosing a budget for the same.
I am pleased to let you know that we are involved in a consultation regarding Young Voices Working group at the state and national level, regarding age of marriage for girls. Our girl volunteers and adolescent girls participated in two Focus Group Discussions which will be sent to the national platform. We have done one FGD through a conference call and the other in three places with social distancing.”
This message, just received from Jim, gives an update on the serious situation in Madurai.
(Chandran is a key worker in Jim’s team.)
“Chandran’s fever has gone which is a relief but he still has headache and from Monday he also has diarrhoea which is a concern. He went to the hospital but there was no test conducted and the doctors gave medicines only for fever. He came to the office today but I advised him to stay home and get back only after full recovery. We have to be really cautious as the virus spread has reached all 100 wards of Madurai city. Confirming our worst fears now it has reached the Melavasal slum. Yesterday two women were tested positive and today one more added to the number. They are all scavengers and might have caught the virus from the work environment as they are not provided with any protective gears. Recently we joined an advocacy on this matter and approached the high court to direct the city corporation authorities to provide protective gears to frontline workers, especially the sanitary workers who always work in most unhygienic conditions.
Please share the above information with our New Dawn supporters. I don’t want to plant worries in the minds of our friends but I do appreciate the prayer support in this regard. Now our only hope is God’s intervention in protecting the Melavasal community as there is no scope for social distancing either in the family or in the community. I was surprised to learn that even in the UK social distancing is not maintained. If this is the reality just think about thickly populated slums that we partner with. Everyday we see a spike in the cases. Our lockdown has been extended till July 31st and the public transport will not resume. This lockdown again caused loss of livelihoods. The sponsored children’s families are blessed as we have now started transfering Rs.5000/- to each family from the special grant that we received from New Dawn. Many families called me and thanked us for this timely help. So far we have done 67 such transfers and are working on the rest. Unfortunately the banks are closed during this lock down which again caused lots of trouble. We’re not very sure of the impact of lock down in containing Covid.
We don’t know when we’ll be able to get the children’s letters to you as the overseas postal service hasn’t yet resumed. We’re thinking of providing a nutrition kit to each sponsored child in the middle of July. We’ll be able to open our centers only after the reopening of schools and other educational institutions. It looks like it may be in the end of August or the first week of September.
Our office is fully functioning and our Childline and Reception Home is also in operation. We are taking every precaution to protect the children in the Reception Home. Please do pray for this that our children’s home is protected.”
During the lockdown in India, parents of our Vidiyal children have been unable to earn any money for food. Jim sent us an urgent request for help and, with the generous help of many supporters and sponsors, we have been able to send out support to the Vidiyal families. After the first round of distribution, we were also able to help other families in the slum. It is now time for a second distribution and the following is an email from Jim.
Dear Friends in NewDawn India,
Loving greetings to you from Vidiyal family!
How are you? Hope this email finds you all in good health and everyone in the family is fine too. Our lock down is much relaxed now. The threat of Covid 19 is still there but there is so much good work happening and people are willingly supporting each other. I am pleased to let you know that none of our communities are infected, Madurai is in the red zone though.
I feel highly elevated to share this happy news that yesterday we began the 2nd round of distribution of relief kits. The total cost of each kit is Rs.1250/-. This is a good price we got from a wholesale supplier who has been our supplier since 1997. The real value may be up to Rs.1,500/- During the first round of distribution he couldn’t supply due to the lock down.
More good news is that this time we got a donor for vegetables and he was good enough to offer support for adding snacks for children in the kit. Yesterday’s distribution covered 103 sponsored children’s families.
Every family thanked Vidiyal and New Dawn for this timely support that’s too for the second time. Many said that only because of Vidiyal they coped with the lock down with lesser difficulties. Many asked me to thank New Dawn and inquired about your well-being. I could meet a few children too who asked the same question that when will be the centre opened.
They are all very appreciative of the quality of the materials supplied by Vidiyal. We are planning for the next distribution on the coming Tuesday. Take care and stay safe.
Thank you very much for your encouragement and emotional support.