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.
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.
For 20 years now we’ve been celebrating Diwali on the roof of shuktara. Diwali is celebrated with fireworks and crackers all across India. In Kolkata Kali Puja signifies the end of the puja season and usually takes place the night after Diwali. This year both festivals were on the same night so everyone set off their fireworks together.
Sunil loves pujas but this is perhaps his very favourite one because it involves extremely loud noises he is able to hear despite being profoundly deaf. Pappu took him to choose the fireworks and the choices were overwhelming – just take a look at this shop selling only fireworks (below).
Last Sunday (27th October) at dusk small clay containers were filled with oil and a wick and placed all around both homes. As darkness fell the lamps were lit and the feeling was absolutely magical.
Then the firework show began with rockets, pinwheels, fountains and sparklers. All over the city colourful lights and sounds continued for most of the night.
Happy Diwali from all of us at shuktara!
Denise Deering is a long time supporter of shuktara, formerly a trustee of Shuktara Trust UK and a visitor to the shuktara homes.
Recently she made this artwork out of Scrabble pieces for us.
Pappu, chairman of shuktara, decided that the best place for it was Lula Bari, especially as we have a newly painted and decorated home.
It is now on the ground floor in a place chosen by Muniya, but before it went up on the wall Lali explained all the words to Guria and it appears that she expected something to happen as she tapped the glass. Guria loves playing with phones and tablets and was perhaps disappointed to see this one go up on the wall.
Thanks to Denise for her constant support and love.
Guria's interaction with the Scrabble gift
Prity and Lali going over the words
On Tuesday 27th of August 2019, Pappu (chairman of shuktara in India) received the news that shuktara, Kolkata now has permission to receive donations electronically from outside India.
This is the news we have all been eagerly awaiting for the last four years.
We have managed to keep both our homes running and we have been able to do everything we wanted to do over the last years, but are now looking forward to being able to do so much more for the future of the young women at Lula Bari and everyone at Anna Bari, our boys home.
Thank you all for sticking with us, supporting us and helping us out when we needed it most.
If you now wish to donate directly to shuktara, Kolkata please use the details here:
Swift Code: PUNBINBBDCA
IFC Code: PUNB0008500
Account Name: shuktara
Account No.: 3187000100080165
Bank Name: Punjab National Bank
Branch Name: Kolkata Ballygunge
Branch Address: 18/1 Gariahat Road, Kolkata 700019, West Bengal, India
Our general running costs, staff salaries and expenses including school and tuition fees will still continue to be paid quarterly by Shuktara Trust UK.
If you live in the UK and pay tax then donating through Shuktara Trust UK is the very best way to donate. If you’re a UK taxpayer, Gift Aid increases the value of your charity donations by 25%, because the charity can reclaim the basic rate of tax on your gift – at no extra cost to you.
As far as we remember, this never happened until this year – Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan are both today, 15th August.
Lula Bari girls celebrated Independence Day by raising the flag on their new pink roof while the boys (led by Sunil of course) also raised the Indian flag.
Then as Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of any brother-sister like relationship everyone exchanged rakhi, the beautiful bracelets that are given to sisters and brothers to show your love and respect.
Definitely a day of devotion for everyone at shuktara – to India and to each other!