Report on the boys hostel opening ceremony by Kathleen Bardell Director/Secretary HEAL UK
The Boys Hostel, our latest project was completed in December 2005.
Opening Ceremony Saturday 3rd December 2005
This was a great opportunity for me to visit the Village, a dream that I had held for many years.
Together with Dr Prasad and two more Directors of HEAL UK we flew out from Heathrow Airport on the 1st December 2005, eventually arriving in Guntur on Saturday the 3rd December early in the morning following an extremely long train journey from Bangalore to Guntur.
Waiting to greet us on the platform in Guntur were Dr Manga Devi HEAL India Secretary, Vijayalakshmi Sponsor Secretary, Marudhwathi, Co-ordinating Officer and a few of the young girls from the village, looking beautiful in their colourful saris. It was a wonderful welcome and soon we were on our way to the Village.
Having never been to India before it was an amazing experience for me, heat and dust everywhere, I found the traffic quite frightening but had every confidence in our driver on the 15 kilms. drive to the village.
Andhra Pradesh is a vast State, tucked away in 3 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, with magnificent trees and an abundance of flowers, is The Children’s Village. I can only describe as “a little bit of heaven.”
Making a tour of the grounds and the cottages, meeting all the children, housemothers, teachers, and staff took up quite some time. I was overwhelmed with the kindness of everyone; eventually making our way to the newly built Boy’s Hostel which will house at least 50 boys.
A team of drummers and a brass band, young Army Cadets (made up from the children from the School) lined the route for this special occasion, giving it a carnival atmosphere; nothing had been spared to make this a memorable day…
The official Opening of the Boy’s Hostel took place, Dr Manga Devi gave a warm welcome to the Directors of HEAL UK and invited Dr K S Prasad, Matthew Glover and myself to unveil the Plaque.
The Hostel which was quite impressive, two rooms on the first floor complete with beds, lockers etc. ready to receive the new visitors.
After a short respite for a welcome fresh fruit drink we progressed to the arena and stage for the official welcome to us by Manga Devi and her team of Directors. The children then entertained us with dancing, a Karate demonstrations, singing and readings.
It truly was a delightful day, very moving to actually be with these children who all looked so well and happy and certainly very well cared for. One just had to look at the faces of the children – it said it all.
I felt as though I had come full circle…
Twenty five years ago I met Dr Prasad when he first came to Practice in Peterborough, England, where he used to tell me about this “dream” he had of building a village somewhere in India to make a home for destitute children. As a founder member of HEAL, I feel very privileged to be part of this dream, which is now a blue print for perhaps more villages to be built in the future
This is a credit to Dr Prasad, Manga Devi and all who look after their welfare and all the supporters and sponsors everywhere, without whom, these children would have no future.
Kathleen Bardell Director/Secretary HEAL UK
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