Trip to Mitraniketan, Kerala, India (July 2018)
Despite the fact that the English School Trip to India was cancelled due to the fear that emanated from the unfortunate outbreak of Nipah Virus in North Kerala in May; a small group of volunteers, connected to The English School, decided to venture to Mitraniketan, Kerala, regardless of the possible risks and challenges involved.
A group of ten volunteers set off to Kerala on the 30th June for two weeks and arrived safely back in Cyprus on Sunday 15th July. Their motive was to support the children of Mitraniketan and to take, in person, the many donations and items purchased from the fund-raising initiatives undertaken by many English School students, staff and members of the English School community.
The volunteers were comprised of three English School Graduates: Christos Pantzaris, Elli Petridou, Lambros Asvestas; four current students: Marisa Hadjichristofi, Ilaera Georgiou, Vasiliki Karagianni and Dimitra Asvesta; and were accompanied by an ex English School Teacher, Ms Renna Karia; a parent of a current student, Dr. Nedi Hadjichristofi; and English School Assistant Head, Ms Maria Asvesta.
They stayed at the Guesthouse in Mitraniketan, an NGO in the village of Vellanad, South Kerala; and spent two weeks teaching English to the students of the school/ hostel as well as undertaking other volunteer work. The children of Mitraniketan are aged between three to sixteen and come mainly from tribal communities whose families are not able to provide for them an education. Mitraniketan offers them the opportunity to receive primary and secondary schooling and break out of the cycle of poverty. The ten volunteers had a truly unforgettable experience and were humbled by the warm welcome and hospitality displayed by both the staff and students of Mitraniketan. They had the opportunity to learn about rural life in India, the rich and varied culture, and to enjoy the breath-taking scenery of Mitraniketan and the surrounding areas of Kerala. Above all, they had the opportunity to form connections and friendships with the people they met and believe that this may be just the beginning of a longer-term partnership between our institutions with many opportunities for meaningful cross-cultural collaboration in the future. The volunteers have been invited back to Mitraniketan next year to continue to teach the children and to train their teachers to use more modern, child-centred pedagogy.
The group of volunteers would like to thank the many people who supported this initiative. Special thanks to the English School Parents Association (ESPA) for their kind donation which was used to purchase a range of sports equipment including badminton rackets, nets and posts; and the generous donations of books and educational aids from The Early Learning Centre and The English School Bookseller, Solonion. The educational materials were used extensively and creatively in their teaching and were left to resource the soon-to-be established library. The sports equipment gave enormous joy to the children of Mitraniketan, especially the girls who will now be able to attend afternoon games. Lastly, the volunteers would like to express their gratitude to the many members of ESOBGA for their kind donations and support, particularly Christakis Partassides and George Georgiou (Law Associates) for the sports equipment, as well as the many English School students, parents and teachers who supported and donated to this cause. A sum of €1000 was raised from student-led, fund-raising initiatives and will be used by Mitraniketan to employ the services of a nurse and to purchase much needed medical supplies for their medical centre.
We are all very proud to be have contributed to this cause and to be part of the English School community!
For more details and snapshots of this life-changing Trip, please see the photos attached.