Ramnagar School and Home for Disabled Children
Children with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsey through to Down’s syndrome living in villages near Ramnagar, some five hours north-east of Delhi, now have a new special school and home. That is thanks to Women in Travel (WiT) and the many individuals and companies in the duty free and travel retail industry who raised funds to build the residential school in less than 13 months. The inauguration of the Janet Sheed Roberts Residential School for Children with Special Needs took place on November 29th 2012. It proved to be a big event for the local community with over 1,000 people in attendance.
Situated in the small village of Basai, some 10km from the small town of Ramnagar, the school is in the grounds of a secondary school, built and administered by local NGO USR Indu Samiti with whom Lotus Flower Trust has partnered to manage the construction of the residential school and who will take over the day-to-day running of the school.
This is a poor area. The land here is fertile but there is little work beyond backbreaking labour on the roads – when available – or in the fields at INR100 (€1.40) per day and the people live primarily from their own vegetable crops.The Janet Sheed Roberts Residential School for Children with Special Needs is named after the doyenne of Wm Grant & Sons whose Bottle no 7 of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, donated to WiT by Rita Greenwood, Wm Grant & Sons Global Travel Retail Managing Director, and sold in Mrs Roberts’ memory for charity, was purchased by World Duty Free Group for £42,000. It is currently on sale at Edinburgh Airport where, again, any profits will go to the School. Age is respected in India and a wonderful photograph of Mrs Roberts, aged 110, dominates the school foyer, flanked by her picture as a young woman, and the Lotus Flower Trust and WiT texts which record our good wishes and the contributions made by the many companies and individuals in the duty-free and travel retail industry who made the residential school possible.
The school consists of 3 very large classrooms of 60 sqm each, 3 similar sized dormitories, a kitchen, dining room, teachers’ quarters, toilets and shower units, a large outdoor terrace and an inner airy atrium. All the rooms have plenty of natural daylight
50 children are registered so far with a spectrum of challenges from cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, club foot, cleft palate and lip, deaf and dumb, partial blindness through to general mental challenges. Each child has a medical record with photo, family details, diagnosis, medical and hospital record, health and education plan. During the ceremony a further 50 children were registered by families who had come from up to 90km away, which is a long distance on public transport, some of them travelling overnight.
Many of the children are being integrated in society for the first time. Some of the children with physical disabilities are already having lessons in the secondary school, leaving more time for those with mental challenges to receive the help they need in the classrooms of the Janet Sheed Roberts School. Among the highlights of the opening ceremony, which featured songs and dance by children from the secondary school, were two very moving performances by ‘our’ children. Particularly moving was a musical tableau with each child dressed as a star, led by an angel, Bharti, who has no arms much below the elbows. Her hands were blown off by dynamite planted to scare off the wild boar near her home, and thanks to you she has just had prosthetic hands fitted.Sarah Branquinho, attending the opening ceremony on behalf of WiT and as chair of Lotus Flower Trust, accompanied by Rajiv Bhatia and Neeraj Sharma of Wm Grant & Sons, John Hunt our CEO and Erik Juul-Mortensen, a trustee of Lotus Flower Trust, says, “It was a simply amazing day – very emotional. It is impossible to describe the difference this will make to 100 children who have had no access to education, or in many cases to society. Women in Travel (WiT), working with Lotus Flower Trust and local NGO USR Indu Samiti, has completed this project which fulfils a desperate need in this remote rural community in a record 13 months – I just wish that everyone who contributed so generously could meet these wonderful children whose lives they have changed.” With special thanks to the many companies and individuals who contributed to the funding of the Janet Sheed Roberts Residential School for Children with Special Needs, and to the following companies for major donations: Heinemann, Dubai Duty Free, IAADFS, World Duty Free Group, DFS, Furla, The Moodie Report, Maxxium, Travel Retail Business, Travellersshop and of course Wm Grant & Sons, whose Bottle no.7 has driven so much of the fundraising.