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.
The project is now in its 28th year. During this time, the association has accomplished a great deal together with its donors and partners. Thanks to assistance from the Dewi Saraswati association, many boys and girls have been given the opportunity to graduate from secondary school and attend university. The best part, however, is that by accomplishing these things, the boys and girls are now role models for the next generation of children in the village. They offer tips and show the kids just how much they can achieve.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone globally – also for the children of Dewi Saraswati Children's Village. Due to the Corona pandemic, schooling for the children could not continue as usual. Although the teachers tried to send school material to the children by post. The new tablets, which could be purchased with our donation at Christmas 2020, help to make access to education possible even under these challenging conditions.
The lack of pure drinking water is a growing problem in a lot of countries. This also affects the children’s village Dewi Saraswati. The wells that supply the children with fresh drinking water used to be filled to the brim in the past years, but now they are gradually drying and have dropped to only a few metres which causes even poorer water quality. For Christmas 2019 we committed to the renovation and the additional excavation of one of the wells to ensure a more steady drinking water supply for the children.
For Christmas 2018, we were committed to ensuring that “Dewi Saraswati” gets new solar panels that can reliably supply the village with electricity. The boys can now enjoy hot water in their rooms and the girls can enjoy bright light that illuminates the dark corners in the evening. Thanks to the new panels, it was also possible to equip the mini dairy and the sports fields of the primary school and high school on the site with new lamps. The donations were used to purchase new bookshelves and books for the children’s lounges.
Heavy rainfall repeatedly causes power outages in the village or even breaks the transformers entirely as a result of the overload. Sometimes it can take hours for the power to flow again without issue. During this time, life at the Dewi Saraswati children’s village becomes more difficult. This is because power is needed for light so that the children can complete their school work, to cook warm meals, or to keep the mosquitoes out of the dormitories.
For Christmas in 2017, we are arranging for Dewi Saraswati to receive a generator which will keep the power up and running during these situations, ensuring that activities in the children’s village can continue uninterrupted.
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 destroyed. The already difficult supply of food got even worse by the consequences of the monsoon. The donations then 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 have now finally been exchanged with our new donation.
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.
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.
Anja Rachow and Annie Wojczewski are welcomed with great pleasure by the students of the primary school.
If you would like to know more about the "Dewi Saraswati" Association or would like to support its work, go to www.dewi-saraswati.de.