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November 2021

Covid Jabs for Rural India


Nurses from Sylvia Wright’s college give Covid jabs in rural India

Student nurses from The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing are active in the drive to vaccinate the people of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, South India. The nursing school was built by The Sylvia Wright Trust.

Weekly vaccination camps, usually on Sundays, are run under the administration of the local government health department.

The student nurses and some teachers also supported special “camps” for the disabled, working alongside staff of local government health units. Patients who were unable to attend were visited at home. 

Vaccinations were free of charge to all those attending. No injection was given without the free consent of the individual or his/her guardian.

Nurses from Sylvia Wright’s college on the front line of the Covid vaccination drive in rural India

In India state governments are responsible for providing health care to their citizens. Provision includes hospitals and health centres.  The service is free of charge to serve the poorer sections of society.  The bigger hospitals, known as medical college hospitals, are responsible for training both doctors and nurses.  In cities and large towns there are a number of such hospitals – all free of cost to the patients.

In addition to their training at The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, our nursing students attend specialist training at local hospitals and clinics, in such departments as paediatrics, ICU, cardiac surgery and maternity.  Our nursing school is registered with the Indian Nursing Council. 

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October 2021

Bursary Awards for 2021 Leavers

Students receiving bursaries, back row, are pictured with their parents.

Leavers from the Rangammal School for children with hearing loss have been awarded bursaries. Our 2021 leavers attended a ceremony to collect their awards before moving on to studies in further and higher education.

Each year some 12 students at Rangammal School complete the Indian equivalent of A-levels.

In previous years most of these learners would have gone on to seek employment but, for students with hearing loss, jobs were hard to find.

Now the majority go on to further education. Some attend a university college for the deaf and others non-specialist colleges or universities. Commerce and IT are popular courses.

Most of their families have limited means, hence finding the tuition and hostel fees is a struggle.

In 2014, the family of Denis Macaulay, the first treasurer of The Sylvia Wright Trust, set up a fund to give bursaries to the most needy. Denis and Frances Macauley’s daughter Colette and her husband John made a substantial donation which is held in the UK, ring fenced within the Trust assets.

Each year, the Trust sends an amount to be distributed. Usually, six students are chosen by staff and an award is made.

Courses normally last three years. Recipients of the award are given a further grant at the end of first and second years of their course, subject to sound academic progress.

Usually there is a fairly even mix of female and male students.

Students completing their further and higher education courses benefit from improved quality of employment and a noticeable enhancement in their personal and social skills.

Pandian, far right, and his mother Thavamani, are presented with a bursary award.

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September 2021

Celebrating Teacher’s Day

Children greet staff at ceremony to mark Teacher’s Day

As education gradually returns to normal in India, students at the nursing
college and pupils at the school for deaf celebrated Teacher’s Day on 5 September.

The residential school accommodates 200 profoundly deaf children and the nursing college 120 students in the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Children at the education and therapy centre have yet to return.
 
Long service certificates were issued to teachers. Pupils and student nurses staged performances of drama, dance and mime.

Although the senior children had only returned to school three days previously, they managed to put on a very enjoyable entertainment for learners and teachers.  The nursing students who had returned earlier were able to give a more practised performance.

Senior boys stage a mime

School governor Mr. Subash was a guest of honour and kindly gave a donation towards a celebratory meal. 


A meal of celebration

Long Service Certificates were awarded to staff members who have given 12 years service. 
It was a most enjoyable way to launch the new school year.

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August 2021

Sylvia’s projects start to reopen

India along with many countries has had a hard time during the COVID Pandemic, though things are at last starting to improve a little.
Sylvia’ s projects have all been in lockdown for almost 18 months, though the staff have done their best to stay in touch with the children, the student nurses and their families and to provide what relief they can
Buildings and equipment have been carefully maintained and all staff have been retained and paid a fair proportion of their usual salaries.
At last, things are starting to open up again.
All of the student nurses have returned as have the older children in  the school.
Older ones have been vaccinated and scrupulous routines and tests and checks are regularly carried out.

The returning nursing students


Returning students in the School for the deaf


Interviewing returning students with parents

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March 2021

Lockdown Resumes


Heading Home Again

Unfortunately the school had to be closed again in February as Covid infections rose in Tamil Nadu. All pupils, apart from the top exam class, returned home. 

Keeping In Touch


Meeting for Parents 

School staff are doing their best to keep in touch with the pupils and their parents.  All are desperately hoping for a resumption of education.

Nursing Recruitment 


Nursing Education Continues 

The nursing college has remained open since January. The number of students has increased: 35 new students have joined this year. The college is getting nearer to its target roll of 120 students (40 in each year group) taking courses lasting three years.

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February 2021

Education Continues Despite Lockdown

As the lockdown continues staff keep in touch with pupils via online classes, telephone calls and, where the area is free of Covid infection and families show no symptoms, occasional home visits.

Staff visit pupils at home during lockdown.

Many children are telling staff how much they miss not only their education but also the social life they experience in school.

Christmas, New Year, Pongal and birthdays have been marked despite the lockdown.

Maths teacher Mr Elanchezian places the Christ child in the crib.

The President of RMRS, Mr.Pugazhenthi, generously hosted a special meal for staff and their children on New Year’s Eve.

New Year celebration meal for staff

For the Hindu festival of Pongal the traditional dish was prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery (raw sugar). Staff telephoned festival greetings to pupils.

In the absence of pupils Sylvia’s 83rd birthday in January was celebrated on a smaller scale than usual: the children of the staff stood in for all the others who had not been allowed back by then.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- January 2021

Hearing and speech for the very young

Learning speech through play

Fitting a hearing aid

One of Sylvia’s projects, which often goes unnoticed, is her early intervention class for 3 and 4 year olds.

These children do not board at the school but come in each day with their mothers to try to improve their hearing, their listening and their speech at an early age as is possible.

Early intervention is very valuable and effective and some of the children go on to main stream schools at the age of 5, others join Rangammal School which serves children with severe hearing impairments.

Plans are in place to enhance this service by the provision of digital hearing aids and enhanced speech therapy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- December 2020

Remembering

Every November, a service is held in Sylvia’s school for the deaf, to remember and to pray for all those who have helped make her work possible, especially those who have passed away.

For the last 38 years an army of supporters and well wishers have encouraged, advised and funded the school, the day centre, the nursing college and all the other services in this still poor area of Tamil Nadu.

In the school’s small chapel photographs of benefactors are displayed when available.

The children could not be present this year but the service was attended by many of the staff, representing all the main religions.

Deceased students, staff, supporters and benefactors and their families and friends were remembered.
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October 2020

Schools Remain Closed


Classrooms are still empty.

Sadly the Covid-19 virus is still rampant in India, albeit with tentative signs of some lessening. The school, day centre and nursing college remain closed and are unlikely to reopen before January.

Home Learning and Deliveries

Staff member delivers essential supplies

Sylvia is doing all she can to provide some remote learning and essential supplies for the poorest and to maintain contact with staff and pupils.


Pupil taking part in an online class via WhatsApp


A socially distanced staff meeting

Keeping In Touch

Sylvia on a Zoom call

Trust members are keeping in regular touch with Sylvia by phone, e-mail and Zoom – all a far cry from her early days in India when mail took four weeks, phone calls were unreliable and the first fax machine was a miracle”.  Nevertheless Sylvia is very much isolated by social distancing requirements and is very appreciative of calls and mail from supporters.  

Virus Spreading

The virus has spread from the big cities into the rural areas, including Thiruvannamali.  There have been a number of serious infections, a few of them amongst staff and their families. Fortunately these have not resulted in any deaths to date. 

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June 2020

India in Lockdown 

India, like the UK, has been in lockdown since March. Statistics on the virus have been a little uncertain due to limited testing and as medical facilities have become stretched. However it is clear that the cities have suffered most, with many, many migrant workers trapped without jobs or income and desperate to make their way to  home villages.Things have been somewhat better in the rural areas but even in small towns the new norm has become empty streets and closed shops.

Sylvia herself is well and as resilient but all three projects are closed until further notice.The nursing students are getting some structured online tuition but have been unable to take their end of year exams. The children in the school for the deaf and in the day centre are all at home with few facilities for continued learning but each member of staff has been allocated six children with whom to keep in touch by phone. These contacts and the food parcels sent to the most needy have been much appreciated by families.