Letter from Volunteers

Saba Nader & Jean Butel
Saba Nader & Jean Butel

When we decided to go to Pathway together we honestly did not know what to expect. I had been to India once in my life, at the age of 10, for the inauguration of the farm, but that was as far as my experience with India and specifically Pathway reached, and for Saba it was his first time. The only real expectation we had was to make some sort of difference at Pathway. How and what, we would find out once we got there.

Under the direction of Dr. Prasad and Chandra we planned to teach Science, Mathematics, English, and Computer Class to various standards from IV to VIII. In addition to teaching, we were assigned to take some of the boys for swimming class.

Our daily life for the five weeks we were at Pathway therefore consisted of time in the classroom, time at the pool, and time spent playing with the kids during their recesses and free times. What we learned, however, stretched far deeper than just playing and teaching. We knew beforehand that the children had come from backgrounds of profound poverty. But it was not until we were able to spend real time with them that we truly realized how little they had had in their life and how much Pathway was providing for them. What is more, by spending meaningful time with the kids we wanted them to know that we believe in them, have hope in their future and faith in their ability to make something of their lives, irrespective of their very humble beginnings. We wanted to instill in them a belief that they could do it if they tried and that even though they did not start in life in favorable circumstances by any standard, they could have a life of fulfillment and joy and that they had the support and love of people from entirely different backgrounds in far away countries.

The most rewarding aspect, therefore, was not reading English poems or learning about different kinds of animals together. The greatest reward was the relationships we formed with the kids we spent time with learning, playing, and laughing together. We love the children of Pathway, and look forward to returning in the very near future!

Jean Butel and Saba Nader

Featured Student: Monisha

Monisha
Monisha

Monisha is a 10th grade student who has become indispensable in helping the younger children. Brought to the school at age 7 after the death of her father, a Pathway security guard, Monisha was later joined by her younger sister Monika and her brother Naresh.

An excellent and responsible student, she also often assists her classmates with school assignments. Basically a quiet girl, Monisha shines when she is teaching and working with small children, whether in music, academics, or just providing guidance and support.  She will be a wonderful teacher and organizer wherever she goes.

A Great Soccer Experience

Soccer at Pathway
Soccer at Pathway

It was a thrilling experience for the boys from the Pamela Martinez/Pathway Matriculation School and Orphanage to participate in a friendly match of soccer (Indian football) with a team from “Goals for Girls.” The contest was arranged by and played at the Rising Star Outreach of India (RSO), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children and adults affected by Hansen’s disease (leprosy). The US-sponsored NGO, “Goals for Girls,” is an international initiative of girls helping girls through the game of soccer. This organization connects girls from different countries and backgrounds with their peers around the world in a forum that addresses social and health challenges through cultural exchange and soccer. The aim is to help disadvantaged girls by providing access to health and education; one campaign has been in Africa to spread awareness on HIV-AIDS. Soccer was chosen because it provides exercise and encourages good team spirit among participants both on and off the field, as well as promoting discipline, commitment, and peer communication.

The boys from the Pamela Martinez School were led by captain Aravindhan and the able goal keeper Charles with assistance from Raju, G Pandian, E Pandian, Kumar, Ajith, Deva, Sugumar, Vijith, Ayyapan, and substitute players Vijay, Akash and Lakshman. The Pathway team gave a tough time to the experienced traveling team from the U.S. from ‘Goals for Girls,” who were led by its International Programs Director Jackie Skinner and fabulously supported by U.S. Olympian Cindy Parlow. The girls have been trained from the age of four years, whereas the Pathway boys received training in soccer for only a week, since cricket, not soccer, is India’s major national sport. By half time the boys from Pamela Martinez School were leading, 5-2, but finally lost narrowly to the girls’ team, 7-6. This experience increased the students’ enthusiasm for soccer, and even more importantly, has built feelings of camaraderie and fellowship between Pathway and RSO.

Pathway Greeting Cards

Greeting Card Making at Pathway
Greeting Card Making at Pathway
Greeting Cards Designed at Pathway
Greeting Cards Designed at Pathway

Just recently Pathway had an interesting visitor, a handsome young man, recently married. With great enthusiasm this young engineer from a top U.S. university described his new bride, asking Chandra to create a special card which “no money can buy” and which “cannot be found anywhere.” In a few days he was presented with an exclusive hand-made card and matching envelope and was thrilled with the results, paying an unheard-of price for a greeting card and also making a modest contribution to Pathway.

Greeting Cards Designed at Pathway
Greeting Cards Designed at Pathway

Chandra started designing greeting cards 29 years ago, shortly after her marriage to Prasad, hoping to augment Pathway’s income. Creating and selling cards was also proposed as a vocational skill or trade for the children and adolescents with disabilities, as well as an effective method of therapy. Having artistic ability and an eye for minute detail, Chandra, along with the children, produced cards which have been well-received by some top organizations, such as the Life Insurance Corporation of India, the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and other respected organizations and individuals in India and abroad. Cards are made with recycled paper, paper mache, cardboard, dry leaves, fabric, beads, waste products, etc. Using Indian ethnic designs and interesting colors, Chandra and the children of Pathway produce thousands of greeting cards for Diwali, Christmas, New Year, birthdays and special events. The operation has helped the children become trained in silk screen printing, vegetable design printing, die cutting, bead knitting and weaving, block printing, etc. Pathway has specialized in exclusive hand-made cards which are custom-made for every occasion. Pathway also designs and supplies bulk offset cards based on artwork and original paintings, and has enabled the boys and girls earn a living since they receive wages for their labour.

During the last season Pathway received the following message from Ms. Jennifer Sattley of Excel Trust in San Diego, USA:

“Our company ordered greeting cards from Pathway to send to all of our clients this year. When the cards arrived, their detail and beauty far exceeded my expectations. Each and every card is so exquisite in its own right and was made even more beautiful by knowing they were meticulously made by such talented children. We are so grateful for the children at Pathway for helping make these holidays special.”

Pathway is grateful to Excel Trust and Ms. Jennifer Sattley for their patronage.