Dewi Saraswati - An opportunity for children in South India
For several years, we have supported the children’s village "Dewi Saraswati" in the South India and this programme has since become very dear to WISKA and all our employees. The “Dewi Saraswati” Association seeks to offer educational opportunities to children, particularly disadvantaged girls, from Chengalpattu in South India. The Association is also committed to providing the children with adequate nutrition and basic medical care to improve their chances of a healthy childhood and a self-determined future. Dewi Saraswati is currently home to approximately 150 girls and boys. A further 370 children from the region come to the children’s village every day to attend its primary school and high school.
In 1992 the association "Dewi Saraswati" first began sponsoring children. Since then they have bought a plot of land, built a school and accommodations for the children and created more than 30 jobs. To date about 300 members and donors provided different kinds of support to the project. Due to the low administrative costs, over 95 % of donations go directly to fund the project's aims.
Reconstruction after the monsoon
In 2016 South India and also the state of Tamil Nadu, where the children's village is located, were affected by a monsoon. Many new-planted trees and the garden were swept away, rice fields were also destroyed. The already difficult supply of food even got worse by the consequences of the monsoon. The donations were mainly used to finance food both for the children and also animals. Meanwhile, the destroyed rice fields and the garden have been re-planted; other items, for example, the school furniture had to wait for renewal and now are finally planned to be exchanged with our new donation
Independence through self-sufficiency
In 2015, WISKA demonstrated its commitment by making a major step towards improving living conditions in Dewi Saraswati. We decided to invest in improving the children’s nutritional standards as it cannot be taken for granted that children in Chengalpattu have enough to eat every day. In fact, milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and meat are still not a regular part of the children’s diet.
The helpers in the village were finding it increasingly difficult to provide a healthy and balanced diet for the children because food prices have been rising rapidly in India from year to year. To help lessen the impact of this ongoing trend, Dewi Saraswati is stepping up its efforts to be more self-sufficient. By keeping livestock, growing its own fruit and vegetables and running a small dairy, the children’s village has been able to guarantee a basic level of provision on a small scale to date. Its level of self-sufficiency has now risen even further thanks to our investment in the acquisition of more cows and chickens and a selection of mango, banana and moringa trees. This development has made everyone very happy – not only the children in Dewi Saraswati, but also the whole WISKA family.
Investments in education, health and safety
Our commitment to Dewi Saraswati has enabled us to achieve a great deal in recent years. The most important stepping stone out of poverty is education. For example, in 2013, WISKA’s donation towards the full renovation of the village’s computer facilities provided new workstations and a secure power supply. The computer room has been well received by the students and teachers alike and is in almost continuous use due to the high level of interest.
In 2014, we focused our efforts on building a water treatment system and a solar energy system. The new water treatment system shall produce sufficient clean drinking water to protect the little ones from harmful bacteria and infectious diseases. The new solar energy system increases safety in the children’s village by providing adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors. Another important improvement is the development of the outdoor sports facilities. Since most of the children walk barefoot, there were frequent injuries. The redesigned fields are now covered with several layers of sand and thus no longer pose a risk.
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