Visit by Drs Arun and Rita Aggarwal, December 2019

Panscheel school  is set in a poor tribal area of Maharashtra, on the border of Madhya Pradesh. There are now 600 children, aged 5-18, boarding in this school, set up by Bajirao and Sheila Gawai( who are christian). The school has grown over the years, with a lot of support from the Indian government, ourselves, a donor in Germany, as well as Dr Noel Roy and was twinned with a primary school in Wooler. We flew to Nagpur airport and were welcomed warmly by Bajirao himself, with garlands, followed by a 4 our car journey up to the ‘jungle’ area of Madhya Pradesh. When we arrived at the school we received a wonderful royal welcome, with all the children lined up on the sides of the path into the school, bearing flowers and shaking our hands, as well as big smiles! We stayed in a very comfortable guest apartment, above the Gawai family residence. There were 3 guard dogs to protect us from animals and people, as well as protect the school premises! The next day we visited  each classroom to observe what teaching was taking place and to talk to some of the children. Apart from the amazing discipline engendered, we saw how the children helped to clean the large premises, wash their own clothes, their plates after eating, tending to the garden, etc. The following evening, many of the children performed a cultural show for us, which was rehearsed with 1 teacher (and you-tube)! In addition to academic teaching, they also encourage sports and fun, as well as skill the children up for leaving school, eg with sewing and metalwork/carpentry. We visited the newer Felix school, a new English speaking day school in Paratwada 10 miles away. This was set up with loans, and grand sports facilities, supported by us and Dr Gemen from Germany. They were truly amazing facilities built to impressive international standards. The school excels in sports.T he Felix school should be self sustaining but have a knock on benefit to the talented tribal children. Panchsheel school has been so successful that some of the children have gained admission to engineering college and nursing, well above norms for such poor tribal children. Social mobility achievements that will impact whole communities. We met 3 of the ex-Panchsheel trainee nurses in Nagpur as we were returning, who were enjoying their training. Tribal students doing well enough in exams get free tuition at college, but still need to meet living costs. We felt very reassured, as we do every time we visit, that the money sent from the UK was being spent directly on the children. We are thrilled that Christians Aware are able to maintain the UK charitable status of this school, so that money donated is enhanced by government Gift Aid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *