Everyone knows that Holi is the festival of colours, and probably the most fun you can have in India. The boys of shuktara and their friends always meet at Anna Bari to throw paint powder at each other and put it on each others faces. We all laugh – a lot. This festival is a wonderful beginning to spring and a welcome break from work and studies.
Saraswati Puja came early this year – the date varies according to the cycle of the moon but typically falls in late January or early February. This year the puja was on Wednesday 29th January and is the first puja of the year celebrating the goddess of wisdom and learning, Saraswati.
At shuktara this occasion is marked by a statue of the goddess Saraswati on the roof of Anna Bari, usually surrounded by bright floral decorations. Everyone dresses up in their best clothes and the young people from both homes gather on the roof to talk, eat kedgeree (a creamy savory rice dish) and, as seen in the video to the right, dance.
Everyone loves Sunil and we all love watching Sunil celebrate by dancing. Happy Saraswati Puja!
Three specially designed chairs with toilet and standing support were purchased for Aakash, Subhash and Bappa. Now they can eat and do their studies while sitting on their new chairs.
Along with Muniya, all of us at shuktara want to wish you a very happy new year!
David Earp BEM
We have wonderful news to share with you – on Saturday 28th December 2019 it was announced that David Earp, founder of Shuktara Trust was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his work with vulnerable children in India.
The BEM is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. David was nominated by shuktara friend and supporter Patrick Tissington who says:
“Two years ago I was ranting about the honours system and why so many undeserving people get them. Why didn’t people like David get rewarded? For me, the attraction of David’s example is that he saw an awful situation that he decided he could not ignore. The extent of the problem was such that he must have known he couldn’t completely solve homelessness in the world or even solve it in Kolkata. He could provide a loving home for at least some of the children whose families couldn’t support them.
So I asked myself what I personally could do. I don’t feel able to be as brave as he was and I don’t have huge spare wealth or a massive media following. So I decided I could perhaps try to see if the honours system could be used for the purpose it was really supposed to – provide public recognition for people for doing great things.
The work of shuktara is an inspiration to me and my family every day. And so we have David Earp BEM! I’m so pleased for him and can’t wait to see him presented with the honour. And there must be a party!”
Congratulations David – what an amazing honour and a brilliant way to start the new decade!
On Saturday morning 23rd November our friend Kate Barton landed in Kolkata.
She spent 24 hours at shuktara and it was a wonderful day.
Most importantly Kate spent the afternoon at Lula Bari – named in memory of her friend Lula Gibson.
She made some great heart connections in both Lula Bari and Anna Bari, our boys home and in the evening she returned again to see the girls with a delivery of pizza that she organised for everyone at shuktara.
Thanks to your generous donations to shuktara we have been able to fund a tutor for Anna Bari.
He will be working with Aakash (here), Subhash, Bappa, Bablu and Sumon. But already we can’t keep some of the other boys away!
We were able to find Joydeb through Priyanka who is the girls’ tutor at Lula Bari.
He will come to Anna Bari three times a week on the days the boys don’t have physiotherapy.
Last weekend Pappu took the girls from Lula Bari to the seaside resort village of Mandarmani.
This is a good time of the year to visit the beach because the weather is sunny and the monsoon rains have usually finished. Everyone enjoys the beach and the fresh sea air is a welcome change from urban Kolkata.
Sunil went also because no one likes a holiday more than he does.
There was a lot of excitement yesterday evening at Lula Bari.
The girls had just received a bundle of winter clothes from a local supporter and were frantically choosing which outfits to pack for a short two-day trip. Moni was busy in the next room catching up on some last minute homework with Priyanka. A neighbour was celebrating his son’s first birthday by delivering food packets to everyone.
Prity wanted everyone to see this photo of her and Puja (on right). It’s not often we are able to capture Puja because of her stimming, but in this moment, Prity asked us to click quickly!
After the madness of last night this morning Pappu and the girls are happily on their way to Mandarmani for a beach weekend.