It was time for fun and frolic, a day of celebration, as the staff and children of Pamela Martinez School prepared for Children’s Day, a day to remember Jawaharlal Nehru, free India’s first prime minister, with love and fondness. The excitement grew as the enthusiastic children all assembled to celebrate the event. Ably led by principal Annadurai and a team of dedicated teachers, great treats were prepared for the children. The faces of the tiny tots from kindergarden beamed as they saw their favorite snacks dangling before their eyes. Breaking the jetty and seven pins caused great excitement. Cheers broke out when boys and girls were involved in specially crafted ‘incoherent rhetoric’. There were balloons and decorations which contributed to the festive atmosphere. Children took part in various games, mime shows, puzzles, painting, and singing. Ganesan and Zakir presented a cute play. At the end of the day the children appeared to be exhausted from their activities while thoroughly enjoying their cakes and traditional Indian sweets. Such childhood delight made the adults realize that children are indeed precious gems and are divine gifts from above!
Arokkiaraj is a pleasant, friendly, and helpful tenth grade student. Having lost both his parents, Arokkiaraj has been at Pathway since 2007 and is the youngest child of five in his family. Very proficient at English, he often interprets for others and has become a trusted leader, teaching the small children in the Primary, leading singing, organizing meetings and preparing agendas.
Newsletter editors Jim and Karen Dosdall, affectionately known to the Pathway children and staff as Grandpa and Grandma, spent three weeks in October visiting at the Pamela Martinez School. From 2008 until 2010 the Dosdalls served at Pathway as humanitarian service missionaries. Now residents of Utah, they were thrilled to return and to see the children, noting numerous improvements in Pathway’s facilities. “Having new functioning computers and access to the internet is fantastic,” exclaimed Jim, “and is a wonderful opportunity for the children to become more computer-savvy. Thanks, Keith & Mandi Wisbaum.” Karen added that another fine addition was the periodic Skype conversations and classes which the children are able to have with American educators and older students.
The Dosdalls were appreciative of the time and many kindnesses shown to them by the Directors and the staff. It was the smiles and love of the children which really won their hearts, however. While here, they were able to assist with English Communication classes, piano and choir, as well as interview some of the older children for future Pathway newsletters. They also met with at least eighteen Pathway graduates in Chennai and listened to their stories. There was a common theme among the graduates: A sense of gratitude and appreciation for the care, education, and values training that they received from directors and staff during the years they lived at Pathway.
India’s biggest holiday, Diwali, occurred during the Dosdalls’ stay so they were able to enjoy the sweets and fireworks display providing by the Directors. With this holiday and a “rain day” (cautionary government-directed non-school day because of a nearby cyclone), the children also enjoyed a couple of U.S. movies during the visit. Many were heard in the following days singing, “Let It Go!” from their new favorite Disney movie, “Frozen,” though it is hard to envision in a place where the coldest nights of the year rarely drop below 70 F (20 C).
Pathway Directors recently participated in meetings with the Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS) of Bangalore, seeking to expand vocation training for the disabled. Dr. Prasad was invited to speak at the “Skill India” national convention, as CEO’s from networking organizations explored job training and placement for persons with mental disabilities and related conditions. International Catholic funding and the development agency Misereor of Germany sponsored the conference, with participation from the European Union, International Labour Organization, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and others. A large number of representatives from this group visited Pathway, observing the work done at the Chennai facility as well as at the Sabin Centre for the disabled.
Representatives from FVTRS and Pathway also discussed the possibility of collaborating with a community college to help children from the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School to receive further education. There was great interest in Pathway’s outreach program to remote villages as well, a program conceived by Sudha Subramaniam, which can empower non-school goers and dropouts. Chandra Prasad and Dhuli Patnaik took part in these discussions.