Every year as part of our exposure cum extension programme we are organising annual camps for our students of classes III to XII around these villages. Our students learn the art of living in harmony with nature and thereby extend their enthusiastic support to the less privileged people of this area. In response to the request by these villagers, a Community Project was started at Koravankadu on a very moderate note on 10th December 2001. To start this project, we acquired nearly 10 acres of land at Koravankadu. We collected around 100 children – boys and girls in the age group of 3 years to 16 years. Later, the numbers swelled up to 410 within 3 years under the leadership of Bro.George K.J.
These children have never been to school or are dropouts from the single teacher schools situated in the hills. There were 5 teachers and two health workers to take care of the children. A well equipped mini-hospital is also functioning in the premises. This mini hospital was built by the 1986 batch of past students of Montfort under the leadership of Mr.Vinodhan Kandiah and Mr.Suresh Kamak. Periodical medical camps are organized with the help of various organisations and Medical colleges such as the Vinayaga Missions, to create health awareness among the tribals and to take caer of the medical needs of the people.
A special feature of the Community School is a free nutritious meal served at noon and a cup of tea and biscuits in the evening. Text books, note books, uniforms, canvas shoes, slippers and warm clothes are supplied to the students free of cost.
In order to bring the children from remote and interior villages who cannot walk the to and fro distance, we have stated a hostel for boys and girls. Presently there are nearly 90 students in the Community School hostel (40 girls and 50 boys). The school also acquired a bus to transport children who can reach the motorable roads from their villages. They are picked up in the morning and dropped back in the evening after the class.
On 29th September 2002, Thiru.Thambidurai, the Hon’ble Education Minister of Tamil Nadu, inaugurated the Community School in the august presence of Bro.Rene Delorme—Superior General, Brothers of St.Gabriel. The Hon’ble Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Tamil Nadu, Thiru.Semmalai inaugurated the Health Centre and lauded our humanitarian efforts to improve the lives of these poor people bringing education and health to their door steps. Initially the Government of Tamil Nadu had recognized this school up to Std V. Later in 2007, it was upgraded as a High School and in 2008, the Government has given recognition up to Std XII.
The first batch of 22 students appeared for the SSLC exam as regular students in March 2007. All of them came out in flying colours giving a good start with 100% success. The first batch of students who completed their Std X as private students in 2005 (5 girls + 1 boy), appeared for the Higher Secondary Public Exams as private students in March 2008. In March 2008, 13 students appeared for S.S.L.C. exam and they too had 100% success. Presently, we have classes upto Std.XII and the strength of the School has reached 780, with 37 dedicated and well qualified members of staff shaping and taking care of them. It is heartening to note that more than 50% of the students are girls. A unique feature of our Outreach Programme is to follow our students even after the completion of +2 course (Std.XII) till they are able to stand on their own legs. They are admitted to Professional colleges and technical institutions for further studies. We arrange financial support for the same.
We also educate the illiterate adults (non-formal education) by organizing evening classes for them. During these classes the elders are taught to read, write and speak in their local language viz. Tamil. These classes are organized in the evenings as the elders have to go for their daily labour in far away estates scattered all over the mountains. By and large, women education is not encouraged by the people of this area. In the case of the tribals, female infanticide and early marriage of the girl child is very common. Under such circumstances, girls are not encouraged to attend schools by the tribals. Hence, we are planning to have a six months training for young girls in the following courses: housekeeping, art, tailoring and embroidery, handwork, sericulture, gardening, health and hygiene, awareness programs on AIDS and other associated diseases. Periodically we are also organizing a number of empowerment programmes for the youth of the area. Twice a month, movies based on social themes and cultural values are screened in our Community Centre. As part of the empowerment programme, the centre also organizes Self Help Movement programmes for tribal women. At present there are 29 SHGs at our centre. A large playfield is being developed by leveling a nearby mountain terrain.
Scouting activities in Community School has taken a big stride. All the four wings of scouting is introduced –viz Bulbuls, Cubs, Scouts and Guides.
A Fancy Fete is annually conducted in the Montfort campus, to raise funds for the Montfort Community School children and other projects at Koravankadu. The fete is entirely organized by the students and staff of Montfort and the response from our parents and well wishers is overwhelming.
We intend to perpetuate this centre and its activities by creating a “corpus fund”. Hence, we need more funds from friends like you. So far, we have carried out all the above mentioned programs and works mainly with the generous contribution of our students, parents, benefactors and friends. To sustain the above mentioned activities and also to meet the ever growing demands of the centre, particularly for the new plans we are evolving, we need a lot of help and assistance in a big way through funds and materials. Therefore, we appeal for your generous contribution and assistance. If you are not able to help financially or with other items, you may inspire others to help these children.
On the street I saw a naked child, hungry and shivering in the cold.
I became angry and said, “Why do You allow this? Why don’t You do something ?”
God did not reply. But that night God said softly into my ears, “I certainly did something, I made ‘You’. You are blessed.”
When you give more than what you receive, you get more than what you give.
For further first hand experience…Why don’t you visit our Centre ?…
Where the heavens stoop down to touch the earth.
To see for yourself God’s own children at work and play.
Come and see for yourself …(John.1:46)
GOD EXPERIENCE IN MONTFORT
God is the centre of all our activities. Day after day, Montfortians live under the shadow of its wings. The daily morning and evening prayers, the Eucharistic celebrations and other important religious functions add to our God experience in Montfort. A resident Chaplain takes care of the religious needs of the children.
National and Religious Festivals are celebrated to revive Nationalism and Spiritual values. The Patron’s Day—The birthday of St.Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort is celebrated on 31st January. Christians who desire to receive first Holy Communion and Confirmation are prepared for the same and are blessed with these sacraments in the presence of their parents and relatives on this special day, i.e. 31st January.