Rickshaw Run fundraisers make detour to Paradise Village

Sam Sinclair and Ian Dickson at Paradise Village

HEAL fundraisers Sam Sinclair and Ian Dickson at Paradise Village

Two Air Traffic Controllers from the UK with a passion for adventure took part in the famous Rickshaw Run to raise money for HEAL – and called in at Paradise Village along the way.

Air traffic controllers Samantha Sinclair, from Aberdeen, and Ian Dickson, from Manchester, made a detour to Thotapalli on the way from Shillong to Kochi to visit the HEAL children they were fundraising for.

“We met so many lovely and friendly people along the way and our trip to HEAL was definitely a highlight for us,” said Sam. “After going to the wrong Thotapalli (about 300 miles away) we eventually turned up two days later with a broken clutch cable in our rickshaw!

“We had no idea there were two places called Thotapalli, but it was a hilarious detour to our trip. Those poor people in the ‘other’ Thotapalli were just looking at us as if to say who are you and why are you here?

“After driving around their village for about an hour we left, but we somehow ended up at an Indian wedding that night, so all was good in the end!

“Ajay [HEAL Paradise CEO] was so welcoming when we finally arrived at Paradise Village and we had a great tour of the school and met all the kids. We were all amazed at the great facilities and how happy all the kids are. We really hope to visit again some day. And one of the team there even fixed our clutch, which was much appreciated!”

fundraisers

In total, Sam and Ian managed to raise £1,325 for their chosen charities – HEAL and Cool Earth – while enjoying what Sam describes as “an amazing experience”.

“We met another rickshaw team, William and Greg, after arriving in India, got chatting, and all became good friends on our epic trip,” she said. “We ended up doing the whole Rickshaw Run with them and they joined us on our visit to Paradise.

“The Rickshaw Run was an amazing experience; we saw parts of India that most tourists just don’t get the opportunity to see. The rickshaw behaved relatively well, but sadly the same can’t be said for our travel companions who broke down a lot!

“However, it added to the adventure and we still made it in time for the finish party!”

College boys do HEAL proud as they pass exams with flying colours

Vikas boys

MESSAGES of congratulations have been pouring into HEAL Paradise Village following the academic success of its group of senior college students.

Eight senior boys based at Paradise in Thotapalli excelled themselves in their recent end-of-year exams, achieving marks which placed them all at or near the top of their college rankings.

Each day, the eight friends – based at Paradise thanks to a partnership with the Vrushamani Foundation – catch an early bus to Vikas College, returning to Paradise at the end of a long day of studies.

The Paradise-based college boys receive some words of wisdom from HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru

The Paradise-based college boys receive some words of wisdom from HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru

“I spent six months at Paradise recently and have seen for myself what an inspiration these hard-working lads are,” says HEAL Communications Officer Jem King.

“Every morning they would set off early before the other children had gathered for breakfast and they would always be the last ones into the dining hall late at night.

“These fine young men were all hand-picked for their leadership qualities and I have seen them give inspirational guidance to the younger Paradise children after being honoured for previous success at Intermediate level.

“Having walked to the bus stop with them in the morning it was obvious to me that they were not only bright and intelligent, but clearly enjoyed each other’s company. I’m sure their very presence at Paradise will motivate and encourage the younger children to be just like them.”

College student Vasu gives a motivational talk to children in the Paradise dining hall under the watchful eye of Vice Principal Ramesh Ravuri

College student Vasu gives a motivational talk to children in the Paradise dining hall under the watchful eye of Vice Principal Ramesh Ravuri

Nagendra achieved top divisional place with a score of 480 out of a possible 500 marks in M.E.C. (Maths, Economics & Commerce), a feat matched by Govinda Kumar. Rajasekhar was top in his college with 410 out of 440 in Bi.P.C. (Biology, Physics & Chemistry), while Satyanarayana (459/470), Vasu (458/470), Tirupathireddy (448/470), Venkata Narayana 433/470), Mallikarjun Yadav (433/470) also aced their exams in M.P.C. (Maths, Physics & Chemistry).

Among the first to offer his congratulations was HEAL’s founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, who said: “This is great news. Congratulations indeed! They make us all proud. I wish them the best of health and happiness to reach their full potential.”

Describing the boys’ performance as “outstanding”, HEAL India’s DS Rao added, “They are the pride of Vrushamani Foundation and HEAL”.

The college boys have also benefitted from extra learning opportunities in recent months, giving up their free time to link up with UK teaching volunteer Colin Charlton via Paradise School’s e-Learning programme.

Fully functioning Institute for Visually Challenged in sight for HEAL

Children were welcomed into the classrooms for the first time at the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged. Sponsor a Child, HEAL, India,

Children were welcomed into the classrooms for the first time at the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged

HEAL Paradise Village reached a significant milestone recently with the arrival of the first children at the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged.

The building, kindly donated by Dr Dhanumjaya Rao, Mrs Vijaya and Miss Jyothi Chunduri, from Birmingham, England, in memory of the Chunduris’ late son, was officially opened back in January, but this was the first time children were welcomed into the classrooms.

puja ceremony

More than 30 blind or partially-sighted children have been identified in the region and 12 of these were invited, along with family members, to try out the new facility.

Members of the Chunduri family and some of the children themselves took part in a ribbon-cutting and puja ceremony as the classrooms were opened up for the first time and the children were able to try out some of the educational equipment provided for their needs.

The first children to attend the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged cut the classroom ribbon, watched by Dr Dhanumjaya Rao Chunduri and family

The first children to attend the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged cut the classroom ribbon, watched by Dr Dhanumjaya Rao Chunduri and family

In an emotional speech given to families, children and staff, Jyothi Chunduri, from Harbourne, Birmingham, said: “This facility will prove that these children, and all blind children, can achieve their dreams just like a sighted person.”

Her uncle, Krishnababu Chunduri, from Fort Worth, Texas, who has donated the Ramaseshamma & Kotaiah Chunduri Skills Development Centre next door to the Institute, translated her speech from English into Telugu and added further words of encouragement to the assembled children that a brighter future awaited them thanks to HEAL.

speeches

UK volunteers Colin Charlton and Jem King and staff spent time playing with the children, helping them to get the most out of their new learning tools, including braille alphabet cards, counting toys and puzzles.

“It was an honour to spend time with these wonderful children and a very emotional occasion,” said HEAL UK communications director Jem.

“The children were so full of fun and so quick to learn new skills, it was amazing. This facility will offer so much in terms of education and allow them to blossom like the other children already living at Paradise Village.

Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, HEAL Paradise Village

“Even in such a short space of time in the classroom, these children demonstrated a great propensity for learning and I can’t wait for them all to come back and get stuck into lessons full-time here at the Institute.

“I was blown away by how quickly they picked things up and I am sure they will get so much out of the learning space here, which will eventually include sensory gardens, a computer room and a braille/digital library.

“They will also be able to take advantage of new technology, such as tablets with the ability to download apps containing hundreds of books and stories. We have already started identifying stories which will interest and stimulate them in their new learning environment.

Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, HEAL Paradise Village

New classrooms at the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, HEAL Paradise Village

“Our Institute organiser, Abraham, has been busy identifying children with little or no sight and registering them for a place here. The aim eventually is to offer space for 100 visually challenged kids and I know our HEAL children are looking forward to making them all feel at home here at Paradise.

“I saw Jyothi become emotional during the speeches and one of the most inspiring parts of this story is that the Chunduri’s sponsorship of this Institute arose out of the personal tragedy of the loss of a loved one.

“It just goes to show that it is possible to turn such a terrible event as the death of a son into a life-changing experience for hundreds of often overlooked young people and I know Dr Chunduri and his family will draw tremendous comfort from that knowledge.”

HEAL student sings with voice of an Angel at national competition

Angel Vennela receives her runners-up prize for singing at Balotsav 2015

Angel Vennela receives her runners-up prize for singing at Balotsav 2015

HEAL is celebrating a spectacular success after one of its Paradise Village students, 13-year-old Angel Vennela, achieved a second-place finish in a prestigious national schools competition.

On the weekend of Children’s Day, the 24th annual Balotsav children’s festival attracted 5,000 competitors from 300 schools across India and a team from HEAL Paradise Village School was entered for the very first time.

Paradise only opened its doors to an initial intake of 50 children last summer and student numbers have risen to almost 200 5 to 15-year-olds since then.

A team of eight was sent to Kothagudem, in the neighbouring state of Telangana, to take part in an array of cultural competitions ranging from story-telling, writing and poetry recital to drawing, model-making and singing and it was a pleasant surprise when Class 8 student Angel qualified for the final stages of the Telugu song event.

Angel Vennela runner-up for singing at Balotsav 2015

It was a daunting experience for the Paradise girl amid fierce competition from far more experienced singers and performing for the first time in front of a large audience.

Encouraged by Paradise School head teacher Mrs Jyothi, Angel not only made it into the last 10, but sang her heart out in the final to claim a wonderful second place.

“She was very nervous, but showed a great deal of courage to perform so well in such a high standard of competition,” said Mrs Jyothi.

“The other finalists all looked very confident and had clearly done a lot of preparation, many coming from a classical music background. They came with friends, music teachers and parents, whereas our Vennela was on her own and had only practised briefly just two days before the Balotsav festival.”

The HEAL Paradise Village team at Balotsav 2015

The HEAL Paradise Village team at Balotsav 2015

HEAL School vice principal Ramesh Ravuri was bursting with pride at his students’ excellent performance and promised to send an even bigger team to next year’s 25th anniversary event.

“The HEAL students who took part have inspired the other children and everyone will be striving to participate next year,” he said.

“They want to learn and perform, not only in the Balotsav, but in wider society, and show they can produce something special in the arts. Many of our students are very interested in music and dance and, inspired by this success, we hope to include more and more learning opportunities in these disciplines for our children.”

The vice principal added that he was full of praise for the way his young students had conducted themselves and represented HEAL during the three-day Balotsav competition. “I am very proud of them. They had less time to prepare than most of the other children, but acquitted themselves well in the face of strong competition from across India.

Paradise School classmates Sai Keerthi and Angel Vennela at Balotsav 2015

Paradise School classmates Sai Keerthi and Angel Vennela celebrating Children’s Day during Balotsav 2015

“We had really entered largely to observe the competition and didn’t expect to have finalists, never mind win second place. Our Paradise children love singing and dancing, but we do not have regular music lessons, so we are incredibly proud of Vennela’s achievement.

“She fought against her own nerves to sing beautifully and performed her prize-winning song for our whole school at morning assembly following her return to Paradise Village.

“Overall, it was a really good experience for all our children to be up against such tough competition and will have given them inspiration to prepare well for next year.”

Jyothi Vikas, at just six years of age, was Paradise School’s youngest participant, Bhuvaneswari represented Class 6, Samvidha, Jyothi and Venkatesh Class 7, and Angel Vennela, Sai Keerthi and Daya Vardhan Class 8. Jyothi Vikas, Bhuvaneswari and Daya Vardhan are all awaiting child sponsors and more information on how to sponsor a child can be found on the HEAL website healcharity.org.

The HEAL pupils enjoyed some cake to celebrate Children’s Day while they were on their trip and there was another surprise for Angel on her return to school. She was voted joint Class 8 winner of a ‘Design a Christmas Card’ competition in her absence and was presented with her prize of a watch by the team of judges, Paradise Village volunteers Colin and Barry Charlton and Jem King.

Livvy and Katherine: A day in the life of a HEAL volunteer

HEAL Paradise Village volunteers. Sponsor a Child in India.

Livvy Jefferson, from Cardiff, and Katherine Pickles, from London, spent three weeks volunteering at HEAL Paradise Village during the summer.

They each wrote accounts of their time teaching and interacting with the children and staff on campus, which can be seen in full in the Volunteering section of the HEAL website.

Here is a flavour of how they described their experiences at Paradise:

Katherine takes up the story: “I’d wanted to visit one of the HEAL villages for a long time and, having known [HEAL founder] Dr Prasad since I was four and having attended the fabulously decorative India Night in Peterborough last year, I was determined to finally go.

HEAL Paradise Village volunteers. Sponsor a Child in India.

“My initial apprehensions were the remoteness of the village we were visiting; I’d never even heard of Vijayawada, and the nagging in the back of my mind that I wanted to experience other parts of India. I compromised and arranged a whistle-stop tour for my last week of the month around Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.

“It’s safe to say my experience at HEAL Paradise shrouded my previous angst. My HEAL experience in general was, above all, inspiring.

“I began to strip away my egoism and the desire for my own experience and discovered how we, in fact, were genuinely helping others. It was refreshing to distance myself from the privileged ‘gap year’ outlook and to realise the power we have to influence, even if that simply involves a 10-minute chat.

“Despite people’s initial confusion over my degree choice of modern European languages and thus the lack of relevance to teaching in a school in India, it was of no importance to me. You don’t need a degree in education in order to influence some excitable underprivileged kids and encourage them to expand their minds.

HEAL Paradise Village volunteers. Sponsor a Child in India.

“Teaching was always a pleasure and what I looked forward to most each day. The brightness of the children’s expressions, their constant smiles, concentration and energy filled any room with joy. Our task was to improve their conversational English, which I feel we definitely achieved.

“There was even an opportunity to be dressed in traditional Indian dress, with which the housemothers occupied themselves meticulously, and this happened on the day of a health camp one Saturday.”

Livvy describes a typical day at Paradise: “The cooler early mornings are the best time for a walk. Katherine and I stroll along the track to the small village of Thotapalli and back, enjoying the sites of paddy fields and grazing buffalo. The 15-minute round trip is not lengthy, but by this time the sun has risen higher. The red and green hues of the hilly terrain that surrounds HEAL Paradise become more vibrant in the sun’s blaze. And we cool-climate dwellers are happy to retreat back into the shadows of the dorm.

“The school day passes in a blur of classes, break bells and lunch. At 4pm, the rushing around pauses and the school gathers in one of the school’s open-air auditorium areas for snack time. On this occasion, one of the teachers, Syam, has been persuaded to put on an impromptu comedy showcase and is doing various impressions, much to the delight of the students.

“As snacks are doled out in newspaper cones, the students chat to us excitedly about plans for their upcoming Independence Day celebrations. It looks set to be a riot of a day, with a showcase of poems, songs and dances by students of all ages. There are even some very impressive human pyramid displays. Having sat in on a few practice sessions of some of these activities, it is safe to say that their meticulous planning and rehearsal will pay off. Me and my camera are very excited.

“In the early evening the school divides. The younger children head to the playing field for some games. The older students continue with their studies. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and we wander between classes, chatting as we go.

HEAL Paradise Village volunteers. Sponsor a Child in India.

“The students tend to be more reflective at this time. They enjoy asking about our daily lives and families. They love to learn about different cultures and their customs. However, they always seem vaguely bemused that we cannot offer them a cultural tapestry as rich as theirs. They seem particularly baffled by our lack of traditional British dances. Their expectant faces make me wonder if I should have learnt some Morris dancing, or even an Irish jig, at some point in my life. But HEAL students are more than graceful, and they accept our meagre offering of the Macarena as if it were a Foxtrot.”

And we leave the final word for now to Katherine: “All in all, three weeks at HEAL Paradise Village felt like an out-of-body experience, despite often feeling at home there. The hospitality was exceptional, as was every member of staff, the food was delightful and the location was a dream. But most importantly, the children were unforgettable, already drawing me back.

“I cannot wait to return and be surrounded again by the richness of colour and the sparkle of young faces.”

* The children enjoyed interacting with Livvy and Katherine during their stay at Paradise Village… read what it meant to them, in their own words, at HEAL Children’s Voice.

HEAL Paradise Village stages successful Mega Health Camp

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

HEAL Paradise Village hosted a Mega Health Camp, conducted by Siddhartha Medical College alumni, as the showpiece campus welcomed more than 30 doctors into its newly-constructed Skills Development Centre recently.

The inauguration of the centre was presided over by the central Minister of Science and Technology Sri Sujana Chowdary and the state Health Minister Sri Kamineni Srinivas.

The event itself was created and organised by Florida student Krishna G Bellam, son of HEAL USA’s Dr Radhakrishna Bellam, whose family have donated Rs 1 crore for the Navaratna Siromani Bellam Memorial Health Care Centre.

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

This centre, soon to be constructed on the Paradise Village campus, will provide on-site health care for children, staff and volunteers, as well as incorporating an artificial limb centre for the support of child amputees, consisting of a workshop where prosthetics will be manufactured and a fully equipped fitting and rehabilitation space.

All visitors to the Mega Health Camp were given an extremely warm welcome from the children, who performed a variety of cultural activities such as colourful dances and patriotic songs. The visitors were also given a tour of the site, including the new dormitories funded by HEAL’s principal partners The Hans Foundation.

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

Some 720 local residents from 15 nearby villages benefited from the HEAL Paradise health camp, which involved check-ups, X-rays and sight tests. Many specialist doctors gave their time for the cause, including paediatricians, gynaecologists, orthopaedic surgeons and endocrinologists.

Each visitor was assessed for their specific needs and those who required treatment obtained a free 30-day supply of medication. The 200 children of HEAL school also received health check-ups and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

Dr N Ammanna, senior nephrologist at the Aru Kidney Centre in nearby Vijayawada, kindly agreed to return to the school a month after the camp to complete the children’s second round of inoculations.

HEAL is particularly proud to be at the forefront of a new joint initiative aimed at helping vulnerable young amputees get back on their feet, following a funding agreement with Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope (ELoH).

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

Beneficiaries will be able to blend in to life at Paradise Village and have access to other services offered at the health centre, such as receiving a full medical check-up.

Combining HEAL’s local knowledge and ELoH’s expertise in providing prosthetic, educational and psychological support, this project is designed to serve the needs and promote the independence of child amputees across Andhra Pradesh.

HEAL Paradise Village health care

Mobile clinics will allow patients to be identified in some of the most inaccessible rural areas in and around the Krishna and Guntur districts, enabling the development of a register of amputees in the region.

Meanwhile, work is well advanced on the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Impaired, a building which will become a learning space for the schooling and vocational training of 100 visually impaired children.

The Institute’s facilities will include a low vision lab, braille computer lab and printing facility, as well as purpose-built sensory gardens.

HEAL Paradise Village Mega Health Camp

The new Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre, which is ready for use, will provide annual vocation-related training to 900 students in 10 different courses, including electrical installations, plumbing, welding, carpentry, computer repairs, electronics repairs, tailoring and computerised embroidery, para-medical and artificial limb technician training.

HEAL puts health and education first for vulnerable children in India

THE right to learn has always been at the heart of HEAL’s mission in India, with the unshakable belief that education is the key to helping the most disadvantaged children break free from the shackles of perpetual poverty.

But, as the charity’s full name – Health and Education for All – suggests, health care always goes hand-in-hand with the education mantra for HEAL’s growing army of volunteers.

One such volunteer who recently spent time at HEAL Paradise Village, Becky Curbishley, was delighted to be able to share her medical knowledge with the staff and children at the Thotapalli-based campus.

HEAL Paradise, sponsor a child India

“I feel really honoured to be involved in such a worthwhile cause and seeing all the children benefiting from it,” said Becky.

“On this visit I’ve been involved in developing the Paradise Village health centre, having very recently finished my own medical school studies.

“We’re in the very early stages and it’s great to see this project coming together, It’s something I’ll be able to carry on being involved in from home in the UK, staying in touch via email, but regardless of that I’m already planning my next visit and hoping to be back at Paradise Village very, very soon.”

HEAL, sponsor a child India

A dental health clinic paid a recent visit to HEAL Paradise Village

Becky has happy memories of her first HEAL volunteering trip three years ago, when she stayed at the Guntur Children’s Village, and has been itching to return ever since.

“I immediately fell in love with HEAL, the concept and most of all the children. After 10 days staying at the Village, teaching the children songs and dances, I definitely did not want to leave.

“So three years later, coming back, it’s been wonderful to see how HEAL is growing, expanding, and how more and more children are now benefiting from such a fantastic cause.

“What I love about HEAL is the ethos. The atmosphere is always positive, the children are always smiling and it really does feel like one big HEAL family. Volunteering for HEAL is a really humbling experience.”

Institute for the Visually Challenged at HEAL Paradise Village, sponsor a child India

Institute for the Visually Challenged at HEAL Paradise Village

As a former medical student himself, HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru could not ignore the misery and deprivation which he used to see being experienced by people around him on a daily basis.

In 1967, as a first-year student, he founded his first charity project, his strong desire to make a difference leading him to establish the PSS project in Guntur with the help of fellow medical students and local peers.

It took a year for Dr Prasad to gather enough spare cash to register the organization as a charity and from there the project was developed to include a mini medical centre for slum dwellers, book banks for poor children, midday meals and a rehabilitation centre for the blind and disabled.

Years later, HEAL was formed and when the Guntur Children’s Village became home to more than 200 orphaned and destitute children, the Makineni Padma Subba Rao Health Centre was established adjacent to the Village to provide health care for the children and the local community.

HEAL have joined forced with ELoH to support vulnerable child amputees, sponsor a child India

HEAL have joined forced with ELoH to support vulnerable child amputees

Fast forward again to the present day and the emphasis on health care is even more pronounced at the newly-created HEAL Paradise Village in Thotapalli, Andhra Pradesh, exemplified by the recent visit of a mobile dental clinic to the campus.

“We believe strongly that the only way to get out of poverty is through education and good health. Both of these things are important for everyone,” says Dr Prasad.

Meanwhile, work is well advanced on the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Impaired, a building which will become a learning space for the schooling and vocational training of 100 visually impaired children.

The Institute’s facilities will include a low vision lab, braille computer lab and printing facility, as well as purpose-built sensory gardens.

The second phase of building at Paradise Village, planned for completion by December 2016, will include healing spaces such as a health centre and an artificial limb centre, as well as an indoor sports stadium for the children to stay fit and healthy.

HEAL is particularly proud to be at the forefront of a new joint initiative aimed at helping vulnerable young people get back on their feet, following a funding agreement with Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope (ELoH).

Prosthetic limbs will be built and fitted at HEAL Paradise Village, sponsor a child India

Prosthetic limbs will be built and fitted at HEAL Paradise Village

Together, HEAL and ELoH are expanding Paradise Village’s medical provision to support some of the most under-supported disabled children in the region – child amputees.

Attached to the health centre at Paradise Village will be a limb centre consisting of a workshop where prosthetics will be manufactured, and a fully equipped fitting and rehabilitation space.

Beneficiaries will be able to blend in to life at Paradise Village and have access to other services offered at the health centre, such as receiving a full health check-up.

Combining HEAL’s local knowledge and ELoH’s expertise in providing prosthetic, educational and psychological support, this project is designed to serve the needs and promote the independence of child amputees across Andhra Pradesh.

Mobile clinics will allow patients to be identified in some of the most inaccessible rural areas in and around the Krishna and Guntur districts, enabling the development of a register of amputees in the region.

In this way it is hoped to raise awareness of the issue of amputation in Andhra Pradesh and aid collaboration between different government authorities, charities and NGOs working to support amputees in the area.

HEAL – The Journey

HEAL Paradise Village

The Stirring: It all started nearly five decades ago when a teenage medical student in Guntur, a large town in Andhra Pradesh state in India, was touched by the sights of misery and deprivation being experienced by people in poverty around where he lived. This stirring in Satya Prasad Koneru led to the first step in organizing Praja Seva Samithi (People Service Society) along with his fellow medical students and like-minded friends and peers. It was 1967. A sapling has been planted.

It took a year to gather enough spare cash to register the organization as a society for helping the poor and from there the concept took concrete shape in setting up a medical centre for slum dwellers, book-banks and mid-day meals for poor students, and a rehabilitation centre for visually impaired and the disabled. The young man’s inspiration to serve and to achieve impressed many around him and it encouraged him to take it up as his life’s mission.

HEAL UK: In 1976, Dr Prasad travelled from India to the UK to hone his skills further as a medical practitioner. After completing further training in the UK through the National Health Service, he set up a family health practice in 1981, in one of the UK’s most deprived areas. With his concern for the deprived and a strong desire ‘to make a difference’, Dr Prasad decided to deliver his services as a doctor to the people that would benefit from them the most. He recognised that people’s needs are the same, regardless of the specific country that they live in and so continued his original mission in the UK – and it is here that the first HEAL (Health and Education for All) charity organisation was formed and was registered in 1992. Several empathetic volunteers started giving him a helping hand to take this movement forward.

HEAL India: Next, Dr Prasad wanted to create a base to continue his original work back in his home country and thus HEAL India was established in 1993. The first project was started with the donation of his family home ‘Ankitha’ in Guntur to HEAL India to establish an orphanage. This first orphanage was home to 26 children for about five years, until the first custom-built HEAL children’s village was created in a nearby village. Today this village is a home and a health-care centre for 225 children, accompanied by 16 house mothers. HEAL USA (2008), HEAL Australia (2014), and HEAL Spain (2015) were established in order to widen the HEAL family.

HEAL Children's Village, Guntur

The aim was to spread awareness and encourage more people to be involved in this laudable effort. There was need to widen the sphere of contributors and offer opportunities to philanthropic minds to give a meaning to their concerns, develop further resources and donations to support the work of HEAL. Today, HEAL is an international charity, registered in each of these individual countries with tax exemption status. It is unique from other large charities in that HEAL is entirely run by volunteers. This means that there are NO administration costs and so the money received from donors goes directly towards the projects.

The Mission: HEAL is a family and believes that all mankind has a right to seek equal opportunities. HEAL is committed to providing health and education to all children in their care with the strong belief that education of the children is the best tool for them and their families to escape from the ‘poverty trap’. Maintaining good health is a prerequisite to achieve any goal. When a child is taken into a HEAL project, he or she joins the HEAL family – surrounded by nurturing love and care – the same as one would give to one’s own children. All HEAL children will continue to be supported until they are able to support themselves in society. HEAL currently has well over 1,000 children in its care and aspires to raise this number to 10,000 children by 2020.

Projects across the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
HEAL Children’s Village, near Guntur, is currently home to 225 children and providing healthcare and education to all these children;
HEAL-Makineni Health Centre, also at Chodavaram, Guntur, provides healthcare for 300 children of local farmers and quarry labourers;
HEAL School at Bhadrachalam, in Telangana State provides school fees, uniforms, books and lunches for
300 of the most needy children at this remote rural school;
HEAL-supported ASNRAZP School in Vijayawada takes care of 350 underprivileged children living in a deprived area;
HEAL Paradise Village, near Gannavaram Airport, of Vijayawada City, is the most recent and ambitious project to date.

HEAL Paradise Village 2015 exams

HEAL Paradise Village is built on a 27-acre site next to the village of Thotapalli at a scenic location adjoining a picturesque lake, surrounded by hillocks, paddy fields and gardens. This will be home and a holistic learning centre for 1,000 children – orphans and the most underprivileged and uncared-for children from across India. In addition, the Village will be a homogenous residential community with staff and volunteers living together with children.

Construction of Phase I is due for completion by the end of December 2015 and Phase II by the end of December 2016. Once completed, the Village will create a safe haven for the most vulnerable children of India to be nurtured to their full potential under the loving care of the HEAL family. We are also committed to establishing a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community with the best available methods to minimize resource usage and reduce and recycle waste. The Village will comprise of four distinct kinds of spaces:
> Living,
> Learning,
> Healing,
> Recreational

Phase I of the Village is substantially completed and by December 2015 it will be entirely in place. This phase includes learning and living spaces for boys and girls from pre-school through to secondary school, as well as specialised learning spaces for vocation-oriented skills development and an institute for the visually impaired.

The first building to reach completion was the school building which has been put to good use since June 2014, concurrent with the academic year. This building facilitates a variety of different learning environments besides the spacious and airy classrooms, which include a computer lab, a hobby and craft centre, science labs and a virtual classroom and open-air atrium, classrooms/performing arts areas.

HEAL Paradise Village school

Also completed is the Hans boys dormitory, supported by The Hans Foundation. This building provides accommodation for 414 boys in the first and second floors. After the soft launch of the school wing in the 2014/15 academic year, 60 children were housed there along with their house masters and this number continues to grow. On the ground floor is the campus dining hall which can seat up to 750 children and staff at a time. This space can also be used flexibly as an assembly hall or as an examination hall. A modern kitchen supported by solar power and hygienic cooking facilities is an adjunct to the dining hall.

The Rajeswari girls dormitory, also supported by The Hans Foundation, is getting ready for use soon. It will be home to 526 girls as well as providing living space for 14 female staff and volunteers. The design of this building also includes flexible learning and recreational spaces.

The completed institute for the visually impaired will be a learning space for the schooling and vocational training of 100 visually impaired children. Facilities will include a low vision lab, braille computer lab and printing facility and sensory gardens.

HEAL Paradise Village progress

A skill development centre, which is also ready for use, will provide annual vocation-related training to 900 students in 10 different courses, such as electrical installations, plumbing, welding, carpentry, computer repairs, electronics repairs, tailoring and computerised embroidery, para-medical and artificial limb technician training.

The primary and preschool centre, expected to be ready by September 2015, includes facility for 160 children below five years of age to provide modern pre-school education, in addition to primary education learning spaces. Further, there will be living accommodation for 60 orphaned children under five years and for a caring mother for every 10 children.

Phase II of the Village, planned for completion by December 2016, will include healing spaces such as the health centre and artificial limb centre, as well as more living spaces for staff and guests, an indoor sports stadium for the children and an administration building.

HEAL Paradise Village envisages:
* Eco-friendly practices
* Solar power energy
* Bio waste converted to fuel
* Organic food farming
* Grey and rain water harvesting
* Industrial waste used for construction

Backing the journey: Donors, sponsors, volunteers, supporters, media, governmental support, friends and well-wishers – all are backing this journey. The merit is in the good deed – backing it is the innate good sense in every human being. HEAL is helped at every step by this spirit and with this confidence, HEAL looks forward to the future on this road ahead with enthusiasm and a sense of fulfilment.

The Journey of HEAL has so far been a great rewarding experience, not only for the inspired founder, but also to the numerous volunteers, contributors and beneficiaries. All the trials and tribulations met on this journey vanish when one looks at the beaming faces of the young and promising children who are the most valued members of this unique family of HEAL. What remains and sustains is the happy feeling that this Journey is full of lasting rewards for all.

HEAL Paradise children

What lies ahead on this journey?
HEAL Paradise Village takes shape as a model to be replicated in many rural settings of India, bringing hope and opportunity to the several bright and sharp-witted but indigent children of our society waiting to be discovered – ‘the diamonds in the rough’.

HEAL is inspired by the warm and ready response from members of the caring society who are keen to be a part of this journey. Setting its sights higher, HEAL now plans to establish a dedicated HEAL university to serve and to motivate the orphaned and underprivileged children to reach their full potential; not merely escape from the ‘poverty trap’ but excel in what they do and set an example to all. Each one, in his and her turn, will lead and ‘light a thousand lamps’. The Journey is just beginning…

First HEAL Day celebrations at Paradise Village

HEAL founder Dr Prasad is presented with a birthday cake

HEAL founder Dr Prasad is presented with a birthday cake

CHILDREN from all of HEAL’s projects across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states came together recently to celebrate a regular new fixture in the charity’s calendar – HEAL Day.

And there was a big double celebration on February 16 as this is also the birthday of HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, who was visiting HEAL Paradise Village for the big occasion.

Part of the HEAL Day celebrations

Part of the HEAL Day celebrations

“From now on February 16 will be a special day for us all,” said Dr Prasad. “To have all the children together there at Paradise Village enjoying themselves was simply wonderful.

“We had children join us all the way from Bhadrachalam and then stay overnight, and also from our Children’s Village in Guntur and our other main Poverty Trap school at Kanuru.

First HEAL Day, February 16, 2015

First HEAL Day, February 16, 2015

First HEAL Day, February 16, 2015

“Our first ever HEAL Day was a truly memorable occasion… and it’s going to be even bigger in future years as more and more children arrive at Paradise.”

Using the school’s blog, one of the Paradise pupils, Srikar, reported on one of the most exciting day’s in HEAL’s 23-year history.

“We were able to have lunch at the boy’s dorm and we had a cake-cutting celebration there to mark HEAL day,” he wrote.

Taking the HEAL pledge

Taking the HEAL pledge

“The branches of HEAL from Guntur, Bhadrachalam and Kanuru visited with us to join in the HEAL Day celebrations and we were very pleased to have HEAL founders and sponsors with us to make the day more special.

“At the day prizes were handed out to the winners of the games which were held three days previous.”

The HEAL welcome tree at Paradise Village

The HEAL welcome tree at Paradise Village

Another element to HEAL Day was the new ‘HEAL pledge’, which is designed to encourage good values and self-confidence among children and staff. All Paradise children took the oath with great confidence on the eve of HEAL Day celebrations.

To encourage children to practice the pledge, a competition was held and everyone took part with enthusiasm. Competition winners included Mahesh, Srikar and SaiKeerthi, along with house mother Ms.Hemalatha.

On display at Paradise was the new HEAL ‘Welcome Tree’. Under the guidance of visiting volunteer teacher Anjana, from England, all the children and staff drew pictures of themselves to go on the tree.

HEAL Paradise gardens

The ‘tree’ was officially unveiled on the day of the HEAL Day celebrations and provides a welcome to all visitors to Paradise Village.

HEAL Paradise gardens

Much landscaping work has also been done in the area surrounding the primary school. “The children have been actively involved in much of the gardening and planting,” said HEAL India’s Mrs Jayasree Devineni.

Children in computer lab at HEAL Paradise Village

HEAL children surf the net in new computer lab at Paradise Village

The first ever computer lab class at HEAL’s flagship new site, Paradise Village, was held this week by visiting HEAL volunteer, Colin Charlton.

Children in computer lab at HEAL Paradise Village

After a lot of preparatory work in setting up the computer room which is equipped with 30 terminals all connected to the internet, Colin took a class of 21 children for their introduction to Google and the wider world – literally, as their first task was to discover facts about a different country for each student, and write a short report about that country, in English.

There was much excitement as the children also viewed a satellite image of their new school set in beautiful lakeside surroundings near Vijayawada, and several students went on to discover aerial views of their home villages.

Children in computer lab at HEAL Paradise Village

Because of its rural setting, the Paradise school has set up a microwave link to the nearest town to receive sufficient broadband for the students to use the internet successfully.

Children in computer lab at HEAL Paradise Village

The computer lab was kindly donated by Air Charter UK and another HEAL volunteer, Mark Jacobs, visited over Christmas and New Year to organise and set up the equipment.

Green-fingered children grow their own food at HEAL Paradise Village

FROM the very outset in its planning, HEAL Paradise Village was always intended to be an eco-friendly site, providing a home and meeting the needs of 1,000 orphaned and underprivileged children from Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India.

The children help by picking leaves and vegetables in the gardens

The children help by picking leaves and vegetables in the gardens

The key ethos behind the village development is the focus on creating a safe haven where children can be nurtured and realise their full potential as part of a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community.

To this end, as well as leading the way in eco-friendly construction, Paradise Village will make full use of recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies for electricity, water, sewage and edible plantations.

The children enjoy spending time outside learning about the plants and vegetables

The children enjoy spending time outside learning about the plants and vegetables

An array of sustainable techniques and systems like solar and wind power, hydroponic vegetable gardens and solar cooking have been incorporated into the site’s design, including the recycling of waste materials to create energy.

Now that the buildings are taking shape, there will be increasing emphasis on providing extensive green cover around the site. Planting of fruit-bearing and shady trees, which will increase the scope for self-sustainability, is already well under way.

The children enjoy picking fruit, herbs and vegetables which will be used as food

The children enjoy picking fruit, herbs and vegetables which will be used as food

HEAL has built fruit and vegetable gardens adjacent to the school buildings in the grounds of Paradise and the ultimate aim is that produce grown there will be used to sustain not only the village, but any surplus can be taken to a daily market that will be set up and sold to the locals as both fair and organic.

Furthermore, locals will be encouraged to grow their own produce which they may also bring to the market and sell, strengthening the links with local villagers.

Trees, shrubs and plants need regular watering in the hot sun

Trees, shrubs and plants need regular watering in the hot sun

The children at Paradise are given the opportunity to play a part in growing and picking their own food and enjoy getting involved in tending to the plants and vegetables.

Paradise is nestled amidst beautiful surroundings, its borders demarcated by the expanse of stunning Lake Brahmalingam to the south east and canals to the north east and south west, which provide irrigation for the local farming communities.

Tree-planting at HEAL Paradise Village

HEAL is keen that Paradise Village will be a haven for wildlife and is already in the process of planting hundreds of trees around the site to help achieve this aim.

If you would like to donate to the cost of planting and maintaining a tree at HEAL Paradise Village for £100 we will be happy to add a plaque to the tree with your name, or the name of a loved one on it.

To donate a tree click on: http://healcharity.org/uk/make-donation
To learn more about HEAL Paradise Village and ways to donate, please visit http://www.healparadise.org

HEAL children at Paradise Village

HEAL Paradise Village is buzzing with activity

IT has been seven months since HEAL welcomed the arrival of the first children at its ground-breaking Paradise Village project in Thotapalli, Andhra Pradesh… and there has been hardly a dull moment!

Towards the end of 2014, the primary school celebrated Children’s Day amid much excitement when staff took the opportunity to distribute gifts to winners of various class competitions.

Children's Day celebrations

Children’s Day celebrations at HEAL Paradise Village

The children also love receiving visitors to the ever-growing campus and child sponsors and volunteers are welcomed with open arms.

A recent guest at the Village was Caroline George, who has not only donated funds towards a guest cottage at the complex, but sponsors children both at HEAL Children’s Village in Guntur and now Paradise itself.

HEAL supporter Caroline George meets the children

HEAL supporter Caroline George meets the children

More special guests were welcomed over the Christmas and New Year period, including the family of Hoshil Mehta, three of whom were preparing to set off on New Year’s Day on a ‘rickshaw run’ across India to raise funds in memory of the much-missed Mumbai student.

The money raised – in the region of £25,000 – will go towards the cost of completing and equipping a science lab in Hoshil’s name.

Gifts for the children

Gifts for the children

Hoshil’s family called in at Paradise on Christmas Eve and were greeted by the children, primary school staff and members of HEAL India, as well as the charity’s founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru.

Calling themselves ‘The Mindions’, two of Hoshil’s relatives, cousins Nishma and Nikhil, plus family friend Avel, successfully completed their two-week rickshaw run from Cochin to Jaisalmer.

Opening of the science lab

Opening of the science lab

“We visited Paradise Village on 24th December to inaugurate the science laboratory,” said Nishma. “It is an incredible place. My little brother would be proud to have his name associated with such a wonderful project.”

HEAL founder Dr Prasad said he was moved by the family’s story and their determination to turn a tragic loss into something positive and meaningful through their fundraising challenge.

Paradise Village

“I wanted the whole family to visit Paradise Village and see for themselves the impact their fundraising efforts will have on many hundreds of young lives,” he said.

“It is quite amazing how they have responded with such energy and strength to a tragic situation, throwing themselves into this fundraising in Hoshil’s memory. We are so happy to welcome them all into the HEAL family.”

Boys in their uniform at HEAL Paradise Village

Boys in their uniform at HEAL Paradise Village

Dr Prasad was delighted to join members of the family to plant trees in the Paradise grounds as well as officially opening the science lab with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Christmas proved to be a busy time for the children and staff of Paradise Village and another highlight was a performance put on by the children in the presence of guests who were there to attend a special inauguration ceremony for two of the newest buildings on site.

A welcoming hug from HEAL founder Dr Prasad

A welcoming hug from HEAL founder Dr Prasad

The Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, kindly donated by Dr Dhanumjaya Rao, Mrs Vijaya and Miss Jyothi Chunduri, and the Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre, generously donated by Dr Krishna Babu, Mrs Rani Chunduri, Smitha & Dr Sruthi, are both near to completion.

Members of the Chunduri family had travelled from as far away as England and the United States and waiting to greet them was HEAL founder Dr Prasad, as well as the 50 or so pupils already attending the Paradise Village primary school.

The children put on a show for their guests

The children put on a show for their guests

Many of the visitors took time to help plant new trees and greenery in the rich red earth which makes up the grounds around the impressive new buildings. The Village will have extensive green cover and the planting of fruit-bearing and shady trees will help increase the scope for self-sustainability.

Meanwhile, work is pressing ahead to complete both the girls’ and boys’ dorms, as well as the pre-school and its accompanying residential cottages as Paradise Village finally takes shape in the stunning, secluded setting alongside the expanse of Lake Brahmalingam.

Members of the Chunduri family

Members of the Chunduri family

Plans are afoot for a dedicated ‘HEAL Day’ to be held at Paradise Village when competitions, games and sports will bring a new buzz to the complex in what should become an annual event for the entire HEAL family.

Also in the pipeline is an official grand opening of HEAL Paradise Village, which could take place towards the end of next year, or possibly be held to coincide with the arrival of the fifth Cycle India party early in 2016.

For information on how to take part in Cycle India 2016 please click here: http://healcharity.org/uk/events/cycle-india-2016/

Dr Prasad meeting the new HEAL children for the first time at Paradise Village

Paradise found as rural wasteland is transformed by HEAL

HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru has spoken of his great pride at seeing a piece of rural wasteland transformed by his charity into a home and school for orphaned and severely disadvantaged children in India.

What seemed an impossible dream to many has already become a reality, with the arrival of the first group of 50 children at HEAL Paradise Village this summer, and British GP Dr Prasad, who founded the charity 22 years ago, could not be more thrilled.

Dr Prasad meeting the new HEAL children for the first time at Paradise Village

Dr Prasad meeting the new HEAL children for the first time at Paradise Village

Dr Prasad recently spent several weeks visiting with the children, who have already started lessons at the Koneru Lalitha & Rama Krishna Rao Primary School at Thotapalli, Andhra Pradesh, the same state where he studied medicine before leaving India and settling in the UK city of Peterborough.

“When I was there with the children, you forget all the hard work that has brought us to this point,” said Dr Prasad.

“There is so much happiness. The kids are so lovely, so enthusiastic and full of life.

The children assemble outside the school as part of their Independence Day celebrations

The children assemble outside the school as part of their Independence Day celebrations

“I am so proud of what our small teaching staff and the children at Paradise have achieved in just eight weeks since they arrived.

“Some of the staff have given up higher-paying jobs to come to Paradise which goes to show there are a lot of good people around who want to do something special with their lives.

“This is a big project and it is wonderful to see it taking shape. Hopefully, next year we’ll have everything in place construction-wise ready for many more children to come in.

Children in their new uniforms at HEAL Paradise Village

Children in their new uniforms at HEAL Paradise Village

“We still have a long way to go and need to raise at lot more money to complete everything that we want to achieve at the Village, but it inspires me and all of our volunteers to see what an excellent job is already being done in the circumstances.

“Many obstacles have been overcome to bring us to this point where we now have 50 children being educated and cared for at Paradise. Even now, their accommodation is not quite ready, so children and staff are carrying on by staying on the first floor of the school. The staff are doing a wonderful job and have achieved such a lot in a short space of time.”

Aided by dedicated volunteers in India, USA and the UK, Dr Prasad has been at the forefront of a remarkable fundraising effort, with many fellow countrymen coming on board to sponsor everything from classrooms to entire school buildings.

Dr Prasad inspecting ongoing construction work at Paradise Village

Dr Prasad inspecting ongoing construction work at Paradise Village

Principal partners The Hans Foundation have thrown their weight behind the project and are looking forward to the completion this year of the Rajeswari Girls’ Dormitories and The Hans Foundation Boys’ Dorms & Dining Room.

“Hans coming on board was so important for us,” said Dr Prasad. “Their support has been invaluable and HEAL is proud that they are helping us as partners.

“That said, there is still a long way to go and we still need sponsors for some buildings in the second phase of construction, so we need to continue fundraising in a very focused way to allow us to fulfil all our dreams and ambitions for HEAL Paradise Village.”

Construction work progressing at HEAL Paradise Village, with the primary school building in the background

Construction work progressing at HEAL Paradise Village, with the primary school building in the background

With the dorms nearing completion, work is already under way on an Institute for the Blind and a Vocational Centre, built with money donated by brothers Dr Krishnababu Chunduri and Dr Dhanumjay Rao Chunduri.

For more information on how to make a donation to HEAL Paradise Village visit <a href=”http://www.healcharity.org” target=”_blank”>www.healcharity.org</a> and click on Make a Donation, or to find out about sponsoring a child please go to <a href=”http://www.healcharity.org”>www.healcharity.org</a> and click on How to Help.

HEAL and Hans Foundation work hand in hand at Paradise Village

HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru has paid special tribute to principal partners The Hans Foundation, describing their support for the charity’s Paradise Village flagship project as “wonderful”.

Members of the Foundation have visited the Paradise Village site to follow progress on the building of The Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys & Dining Room, as well as the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls, both due for completion this year.

Hans visitors at the site of the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls

Hans visitors at the site of the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls

The Hans Foundation is a charitable trust fund, set up to offer financial assistance and work alongside not-for-profit organizations across India which cater specifically to the needs of underprivileged people in their localities.

Construction work was hit by delays and disruption last year, but Hans stayed firmly behind the project and gave HEAL the encouragement needed to see them past those early setbacks.

Since The Hans Foundation members Ms Sukanya Das and Ms Jagrity Sharan came to the site earlier this year, work has carried on unabated, allowing Paradise’s new primary school to open its doors to a first intake of 50 children.

Work progressing on the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls

Work progressing on the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls, with the newly-opened Primary School in the background

Dr Prasad and members of HEAL India were delighted to have the opportunity to give their friends from Hans a detailed tour around the development before inviting them to watch a presentation by HEAL India president Ram Yadav.

“We have developed a wonderful relationship with The Hans Foundation and they have quickly become our primary supporters at Paradise Village,” said Dr Prasad.

The Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys

The Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys

“It was a big day for us when our initial grant application to Hans was approved, allowing us to move forward and proceed with the construction of boys’ and girls’ dormitories which will become home to almost 600 children.

“Hans are in tune with our objectives, focusing on health, education and rural development, and it is wonderful to be in a long-term relationship with their organisation.

“Our partnership has transformed our ability to deliver on such a substantial project as Paradise Village, which will allow us to achieve our goal of providing healthcare and education to 1,000 severely disadvantaged children in India.

An artist's impression of how the completed Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys will look

An artist’s impression of how the completed Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys will look

“Hans have shown they are keen to be involved with HEAL on a long-term basis and I have to say their support for the biggest project in our 22-year history is the best thing that has happened to our charity.

“It was a great pleasure to be able to show the Hans representatives how work was progressing on the Hans Foundation Dorm for Boys and the Rajeswari Dorm for Girls.

The first children in their smart new uniforms at HEAL Paradise

The first children in their smart new uniforms at HEAL Paradise

“They were able to see that significant progress has been made on the boys dormitory, which also incorporates a dining room on the ground floor, while, alongside, the foundations for the girls’ accommodation were being laid.

“Thanks to Hans’ magnificent support we now know that we will be able to press on and complete this unprecedented project, which is a great thrill for everyone involved in the Paradise Village dream.

“We have had delays and setbacks along the way, but now I am optimistic and excited to think that this project could be fully completed by 2015, with more children arriving at Paradise before the end of the current year.”

The Hans Foundation logo

Children parade at Paradise to celebrate Independence Day

Independence Day celebrations bring excitement to HEAL Paradise Village

There was much excitement when members of HEAL India visited Paradise Village to share in the Independence Day celebrations with the children at the Koneru Lalitha &amp; Rama Krishna Rao Primary School.

Children parade at Paradise to celebrate Independence Day

Children parade at Paradise to celebrate Independence Day

The India flag was raised as the 50 new pupils at the recently-opened site paraded in front of the school in their smart new uniforms and later performed songs and dances to entertain their guests.

HEAL children entertain their guests at Paradise

HEAL children entertain their guests at Paradise

As well as joining in the celebrations, the visitors were delighted to hand out new books, dictionaries and equipment to the children.

Pupils are presented with schoolbooks and equipment

Pupils are presented with schoolbooks and equipment

They were also shown the latest developments on the Paradise site, where finishing touches are being applied to the main school while work is progressing towards completion of the Hans Dormitories for Boys and the Rajeswari Dorms for Girls.

The children were excited to welcome their guests from HEAL India

The children were excited to welcome their guests from HEAL India

Building work is also under way on the next stage of the development, including the Phanendra Chunduri Institite for the Visually Challenged and the Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre.

For a full gallery of photographs from the HEAL Paradise Independence Day celebrations and more information on Paradise Village, please visit the gallery section.

 

HEAL Paradise Village seeks more donors

CONSTRUCTION work on Phase One of HEAL Paradise Village has been moving along well, with these latest pictures showing progress on the boys’ and girls’ dormitories, the vocational training centre and the institute for the visually challenged.

Finishing touches are also being applied to the primary school building, with lessons having already begun for the first children to arrive at Paradise earlier this month.

Work progressing at Paradise Village

Work progressing at Paradise Village

Among the recent visitors to the site have been members of HEAL’s partners, the Hans Foundation, who were keen to see progress not only with the main school building, but the Hans Foundation Boys Dormitories and Rajeswari Girls Dormitories they have been helping to fund.

HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru himself will be arriving at the village shortly to ensure that work continues at a steady pace and to meet the newly-arrived children for the first time.

The Hans Dormitory for Boys

The Hans Dormitory for Boys

“An awful lot of work is being done as we press ahead with Phase One, which we hope to have finished by the Spring of next year,” said Dr Prasad before setting out from the UK.

“Children and staff are having to cope with temporary accommodation for now, but the boys’ dorm is scheduled for completion by September and we estimate the girls dorms will be ready by the end of the year.

Vocational Training Centre

Vocational Training Centre

“Around 30 children from disadvantaged backgrounds have already been registered and hopefully we will be up to around 100 by the start of 2015.

“Delays early on in the construction have been costly for us and we are very much in need of new donors to step forward and help us realise the dream of a fully-functional village catering for 1,000 children in the next few years.

“We are seeking donors for pre-school classrooms, for example, and sponsors for the pre-school cottages where the younger children, some who may have been abandoned as babies, will be housed. Only one of the 12 cottages is fully funded at a cost of 15 lakhs at this point, so there are opportunities for businesses and individuals to make a major contribution to the project going forward.

Foundation work for the Institute for the Visually Challenged

Foundation work for the Institute for the Visually Challenged

“Other buildings, such as staff accommodation, will also need funding so that our teachers and carers can live on property and become part of the village community.

“There is still much to do, but everyone involved with this unique project can feel proud of what has been achieved so far and I am excited to return to India to meet with the children who have already arrived and will make Paradise Village their home for many years to come.”

Celebration time as first children arrive at HEAL Paradise Village

HEAL is celebrating one of the proudest days of its 22-year history with the long-awaited arrival of the first group of children at Paradise Village.

The first class at Paradise Village

The first class at Paradise Village

 

Members of HEAL India were present at today’s inauguration of the Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao primary school, the first building to be completed at the site of the charity’s ambitious flagship project in Andhra Pradesh.

But most important of all was the presence of the first intake of children, boys and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who have become the first to be registered as pupils at Paradise.

 

Children, staff and members of HEAL India at the inauguration

Children, staff and members of HEAL India at the inauguration

They were greeted in their new classrooms and addressed by Dr N Manga Devi, founder of Sri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer school in Guntur – the site of the original HEAL Children’s Village which opened back in 1999, caring for more than 200 orphaned and destitute children aged 5 to 18.

Paradise Village has been designed as an eco-friendly safe haven for 1,000 orphaned and underprivileged children, with all costs being met by donations from HEAL supporters, and is leading the way in construction, using recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies for electricity, water, sewage and edible plantations.

 

The class is addressed by Dr N Manga Devi

The class is addressed by Dr N Manga Devi

In addition to school buildings and housing for children and their care workers, there will be a health centre, sport and art facilities, rooms for visiting volunteers, edible gardens, a care home for the elderly and community buildings. A school for the blind is also being built as an integral component of the model development, along with a vocational training centre.

Construction work is well advanced on the Hans Foundation boys’ dormitories, a three-storey block incorporating dining and kitchen facilities, and the Rajeswari girls’ dorms. Temporary dining and living facilities are being provided until their completion.

 

The children enjoy their first meal at Paradise

The children enjoy their first meal at Paradise

“It has been a memorable day for all of us,” said Paradise site manager Mastan. “It was so pleasing to see the children here for their first day at HEAL Paradise school.”

This was echoed by HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, who is preparing to fly out from his home base in the UK to visit Paradise Village in July.

 

The Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao Primary School

The Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao Primary School

“We can all feel proud that this project is now finally taking shape and knowing that the first children have arrived at Paradise is so exciting for everyone who has helped along the way,” said Dr Prasad.

“It is a modest start with just a few teachers and a small number of children registered so far, but hopefully we will have as many as a hundred by the end of the year and, in time, Paradise will hold 1,000 kids.

 

The Hans Foundation Boys' Dorm is due for completion in August

The Hans Foundation Boys’ Dorm is due for completion in August

“There is still much to do and an awful lot of work is being done, but knowing that children are there running around and being looked after and educated on what was once nothing more than a piece of wasteland fills us all with fresh optimism and energy to push forward with this huge project.”

Construction has been hit by delays, including severe weather, which have increased costs and HEAL are hoping businesses and individual donors will come forward to sponsor individual classrooms, pre-school cottages and staff housing. More details of how to make a donation to HEAL’s Paradise Village scheme can be found at www.healparadise.org.

 

Paradise primary school ready for the patter of tiny feet!

We are so excited to share the news that the primary school building at HEAL Paradise Village is ready for occupation and our first intake of underprivileged children will arrive in the next few days!

primary school june 2014

The Koneru Lalitha & Rama Krishna Rao Primary School is the first phase of HEAL’s incredibly ambitious dream to offer 1,000 orphans and destitute children the shelter, healthcare and education they need and deserve.

Still to come is a secondary school, dorms, a health centre, an institute for the visually impaired, a vocational centre and more to make up an eco-friendly children’s village which will benefit the poorest in society for generations to come.

We could not have achieved this without the support of our amazing donors – thank-you to you all on behalf of the children under HEAL’s care.

primary school classroom

However, there is still much to do and we need more support to help the final dream become a reality, so please explore this website to see some of the ways you can help.

For example, we are aiming to build 12 pre-school cottages which will each house 10-12 children plus a house mother. These cottages are vitally important to allow us to take in the youngest children and babies from five months old, some of whom have been abandoned by their poverty-stricken parents.

We still need donors for 11 of the 12 cottages and these can be funded at a cost of 15 lakhs each ($25,000 or £15,000), without furnishing. If you wish, these buildings can be built in the name of a loved one or family member and will carry a plaque as a lasting reminder.

There are other ways to get involved, of course, either by donating a smaller item such as a solar street light (£350/$600) or even a tree (£100/$170), each with a plaque thanking the donor, or by sponsoring a child from as little as $20/£11 per month via the main HEAL  website at www.healcharity.org.

Finishing touches to Primary School as it prepares to open its doors this summer

THIS summer will see the first children welcomed into HEAL Paradise Village – and the finishing touches are being applied to the Koneru Lalitha & Rama Krishna Rao Primary School in readiness for their arrival.

Work is ongoing, too, on a number of other buildings at the Thotapalli site, including the Hans Foundation Dormitory for Boys and Rajeswari Dormitory for Girls which will soon become home to hundreds of underprivileged Indian children.

We have added more than 70 photographs to our gallery page to show how work has been progressing in recent months.

Work is already under way on the Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre, closely followed by the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged.

We will bring you more picture updates as work progresses, as well as information on how to get involved in sponsoring a child at Paradise Village as soon as the first boys and girls are identified.

 

Dig deep and donate a tree for HEAL

WITH progress being made on the building front at Paradise Village, attentions have been turning to landscaping and tree-planting in recent weeks.

Flowers and shrubs have been placed along the borders and fences of the village grounds and HEAL is giving potential donors the unique opportunity to pay for the purchase and upkeep of fruit trees at Paradise.

 

Shrubs and flowers will be lovingly cared for at Paradise Village

Shrubs and flowers will be lovingly cared for at Paradise Village

Keen to encourage local wildlife and offer shade from the hot sun, HEAL will be planting hundreds of trees around the site and this gives an opportunity for donors to come forward and help cover the cost of this operation.

“My mum wanted to give me £100 to put towards something at the village and a fruit tree seemed the perfect choice,” said HEAL UK’s Jem King during a recent visit to Paradise.

“We agreed that planting something that will bear fruit which can be eaten by the children, as well as sold for profit at market, was the ideal choice.

“I suggested planting a tree bearing a plaque with the name of my mother, Jean, and late father Gordon would be a nice idea and we hope it will produce fruit for many years to come.”

Jem King plants a mango tree, carrying a plaque with the name of his mother and father

Jem King plants a mango tree, carrying a plaque with the name of his mother and late father

With the assistance of Paradise site manager Mastan Ann and two of his team, Jem identified a piece of land alongside the existing edible gardens and planted a tree, the first of what will now become a small orchard of mango trees.

“I’ve seen other volunteers and visitors planting trees and shrubs and wanted to leave something at Paradise that I know will be lovingly nurtured in the coming years,” said Jem.

“I may get to return in the future to see how well it has grown and hopefully try one of the mangoes myself. I hope other people will donate fruit trees at Paradise, perhaps in the name of loved ones, as it is a great way of contributing to HEAL.”

The charity will build fruit and vegetable gardens on the Paradise grounds, increasing the scope for self-sustainability. Produce will be used to sustain not only those living at the village, but any surplus can be taken to a daily market and sold to the locals as both fair and organic.

Those wishing to donate £100 towards the cost of planting and maintaining a tree will be able to add a plaque carrying the name of the donor or possibly in memory of a loved one.

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Paradise will provide a home for 1,000 orphaned and underprivileged children from Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India and the first intake of children is expected in early summer.

The village, which is located in a beautiful rural setting at Thotophally in the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh, will be a safe haven where children can be nurtured in a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community.

Using recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies, Paradise will be made up not only of a school and accommodation, but a health centre, a care home for the elderly, an institute for the blind and facilities for sports and art.

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An array of sustainable techniques and systems like solar and wind power, hydroponic vegetables gardens and solar cooking are incorporated within the site’s design proposals, including the recycling of waste materials to create energy.

If you are interested in further information, please click on the ‘Donate Online’ button at the top of the www.healparadise.org website and one of the trustees of HEAL UK will be happy to contact you to discuss your donation to the HEAL Paradise Village.

 

 

HEAL members go back to school at Paradise

MEMBERS of HEAL India and HEAL UK found themselves going back to school recently when the new £5m Paradise Village development received its first delivery of desks and chairs.

Guests at a special ‘puja’ ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Lalitha & RKR Koneru Primary School, they were invited to try the new furniture out for size in one of the school classrooms.

Dr Manga Devi imparts her wisdom to members of HEAL India and HEAL UK in a new classroom at Paradise

Dr Manga Devi imparts her classroom wisdom to members of HEAL India and HEAL UK

And on hand to deliver the very first ‘lesson’ at Paradise was Dr Manga Devi, from the HEAL Children’s Village in Guntur, where she has run Bala Kuteer School for almost half a century.

The light-hearted moment came at the end of a day of ceremonies in which the school and classrooms were blessed in readiness for the first intake of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in June.

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Workers have been busy applying the finishing touches to the primary school building, while pressing ahead with The Hans Foundation Dormitory for Boys, including a dining hall, and preparing the foundations for the Rajeswari Dormitory for Girls.

Steps have also been taken to raise the level of surrounding land to ensure no repeat of last year’s floods which delayed construction during the monsoon season.

HEAL founder Dr Prasad and wife Usha at the Puja ceremony

HEAL founder Dr Prasad and wife Usha at the Puja ceremony

Groundwork has also begun for the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, alongside the Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre, which will also form part of Phase One of the construction timetable.

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Children bring a buzz of excitement to Paradise

FOR the past two years, Paradise Village has been little more than a construction site, with cement mixers and other machinery drowning out the sound of the birds from the neighbouring open water.

But for the very first time during a visit by the fundraising team of Cycle India, the grounds of HEAL’s unprecedented £5million educational development at Thotapally in Andhra Pradesh rang out to the sound of excited children – giving a taste of things to come.

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After some delays, the Lalitha & RKR Koneru Primary School is now close to completion and the many guests in attendance for the Cycle India welcoming ceremony were able to get the feeling of how the new building will be when fully occupied by hundreds of children.

“There was a genuine buzz of excitement at Paradise that day and it wasn’t hard to imagine the sight and sound of kids running freely around the Village complex in the very near future,” said Cycle India 2014 organiser Jem King.

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“It made it such a special day that schoolchildren supported by HEAL at poverty trap projects in Koneru and Bhadrachalam had made the long journey to Paradise Village to welcome the cyclists and they were joined by local youngsters from nearby schools in Thotapally.

“It was wonderful reward for the Cycle India team, who had come from as far away as Australia, USA and Kenya to help raise around £50,000 for HEAL – not just to see how the money is being spent, but to enjoy time with the children.”


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Guests, including members of HEAL India, were given a rousing welcome to the Paradise site, which will become home to more than 1,000 impoverished and severely disadvantaged children over the next few years. Every visitor was presented with a sweet-smelling garland and showered with flower petals.

The children paraded in front of the primary school and performed songs and dances to the obvious delight of their audience.

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An impromptu volleyball game was even held on a temporary court marked out on the bright red earth alongside a giant tent erected for the occasion, and some members of Cycle India joined in the fun.

After a few speeches, the cyclists were thrilled to be asked to present new school bags and books to some of the local children and were then shown around the new school building and taken for boat rides in the picturesque lake which surrounds part of the Paradise complex.

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Work is now well under way on the boys’ and girls’ dormitories and finishing touches are being applied to the primary school in readiness for the first intake of children this summer.

“It was a truly memorable day for us – one we won’t forget – and I know there were a few tears from some of the cyclists as well,” said Jem. “It means so much to know that the hard work they put in cycling all the way from Mumbai to Goa will go to benefit such wonderful children who, without HEAL, would undoubtedly face a very bleak future.”

HEAL Paradise Village taking shape

CONSTRUCTION workers at HEAL Paradise Village have been toiling night and day to have buildings in readiness for the first intake of children early in 2014.

The £4.75m project has been hit by unavoidable delays, but the team on site have been making up for lost time and work is now at an advanced stage on the main primary school building.

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Latest pictures from the Paradise site in Thotapalli, near Vijayawada, also show significant progress on the Hans Boys’ Dormitory and pile marking being carried out for the Rajeswari Girls’ Dorm, the next step in Phase One of the building plans.

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An education committee has been set up and is already liaising with local orphanages for children to start using the facilities some time in the new year.

The Village complex will also include a vocational training centre, pre-school cottages, a health centre and an institute for the visually challenged, while additional funding is urgently being sought for staff quarters. 

Late night landscaping around the primary school

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Paradise Village is combining state-of-the-art ecological and environmentally-friendly design, and will become home to a thousand children from underprivileged and impoverished backgrounds in Andhra Pradesh and beyond.

Paradise Village update

 

Primary School at roof level

Primary School at roof level

Primary School nears completion

Primary School nears completion

Wonderful view from the school

Wonderful view from the school

Progress on the Hans Dormitory for Boys

Progress on the Hans Dormitory for Boys

 

 

These latest pictures from the HEAL Paradise Village site show work in progress on the Hans Dormitory for Boys and the Lalitha and RKR Koneru Primary School, which is now at an advanced stage.

Site manager Mastan Ann reports: “HEAL founder Satya Prasad’s recent visit (third week of June) to Paradise Village allowed many issues to be resolved in both design and implementation.

“Earlier design changes had left us behind schedule, but progress is now being made and the new elevation of the primary school looks wonderful. The whole building is nearly finished and will be ready for occupation by mid-September.

“The ground floor (dining hall)  of the Hans Dormitory for Boys is also making progress and our contractor hopes to complete the building before the end of the year.

“In addition to the building work, RailTel have been carrying out a feasibility study into supplying an internet line to the Paradise site and estimates have been drawn up by Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution for our electricity requirements. We hope to have this grid line by the end of August and, eventually, this will help us to sell our own solar-produced electricity.”

While construction work moves forward at the Village, work has been going on behind the scenes in preparation for the first intake of children at Paradise later this year. A headmaster has been appointed and he is busy recruiting staff and making arrangements for the school to open its doors during October.

“It is a very exciting time – so many good-hearted and excellent people are getting involved in our Paradise project and a lot of hard work is being put in by everybody,” said Dr Prasad.

 

 

 

Adventure-seeking Aussies sign up for Cycle India 2014

AN adventure-loving family from Australia admitted they simply couldn’t resist the challenge when they became the latest recruits for UK-based charity HEAL’s major international fundraiser, Cycle India 2014.

HEAL (Health and Education for All) has raised £220,000 from three previous Cycle India events in 2008, 2010 and 2012 and already has cyclists from India, Great Britain, Germany, United States and Australia signed up for 2014.

All monies raised go to help HEAL’s projects in rural Andhra Pradesh, southern India, where the charity offers many hundreds of impoverished, abandoned and orphaned children education and health care, as well as a roof over their heads. The charity, set up by UK medical practitioner Dr Satya Prasad Koneru 20 years ago, will shortly open the doors to its most ambitious project yet, HEAL Paradise Village, which will become home to one thousand needy children over the coming years.

Participants in Cycle India 2014 will stay at Paradise Village, near Vijayawada, and meet with the first intake of children, as well as visiting existing projects such as HEAL Children’s Village at Guntur.

When Australian Ben Pratt, 27, was looking for a new challenge after taking part in a 200km charity cycle ride in Perth, he came across Cycle India and quickly signed up, along with friend and work colleague Prateek Dua.

Excited by the prospect of a 400km bike ride along a stunning coastal route from Mumbai to the popular tourist destination of Goa in west India, Ben soon shared the details with mum and dad Stuart and Shirley … and they were hooked!

Stuart and Shirley Pratt from New South Wales

“What can I say,” says Shirley, “we’re Aussies, and we love challenges. Stu and myself are both in our 50s and live in a little country town in New South Wales called Quirindi. We moved here about 18 months ago, as we now have a beautiful granddaughter to care for.

“Ben, however, lives in a remote area of the Kimberleys in western Australia, about 5,000km from us, so we are unable to catch up with each other all that often.

“We went to visit Ben in February and one afternoon we started to talk travel. He told us all about Cycle India and we just thought we could combine everything – travel, give to a charity, meet wonderful people, and have some family time as well … there were only positives as far as we were concerned. So for us from that point on it was ‘let the challenge begin!’.

“Stu and I have always loved travelling and have already done a few challenges along the way – trekking Fox Glacier in New Zealand, jumping out of a plane, trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda – all these exciting adventures were done with our daughter and son-in-law, so it’s going to be wonderful to be doing something with Ben.

“He competed in a bike ride last year to raise money for a cancer charity. At the time, he was living in Ayers Rock in central Australia, so training in 45-degree heat was very challenging, to say the least. It was extremely testing at times but when you have the reward at the end it, it is all worthwhile.   “The bike ride of over 200km in two days was held in Perth and it was a huge success. He enjoyed the challenge so much, he started looking further afield for another one to do, this time overseas, and that’s how Cycle India became his next challenge. His friend Prateek worked with Ben at the time and, coming from India, he also became very keen to do the bike ride.

“Ben loves riding, as does Stu, although he hasn’t ridden for many years. I never had a bike as a child, so I will definitely have my ‘learner plates’ on, but I’m ready to give it a go for the kids, or maybe walk some stages and help out at feeding stations along the way.”

Ben Pratt, who has signed up for Cycle India 2014, along with friend Prateek Dua

HEAL founder and president Dr Prasad said: “I was very excited to learn that we will be welcoming a group of cyclists from Australia to Cycle India 2014 as this comes at a time when we are close to finalising the creation of a new arm of our charity, HEAL Australia.

“This event will be a chance to bring together not only supporters from HEAL USA, HEAL India and HEAL UK, but now HEAL Australia and other countries too.

“It promises to be a truly multi-national event and those who will benefit are the children in India, who will be given a chance of a brighter future by receiving an education which will allow them to stand on their own two feet.”

Cycle India 2014 volunteer organiser Jem King is already in talks with another group of potential cyclists from Hong Kong and is delighted to see the fundraising event attracting so much global interest this year.

“We are thrilled to have our friends from Down Under on board for 2014 and I’m hoping other like-minded Aussie cyclists might consider signing up as well,” said Welsh journalist Jem. “We’re aiming to assemble a group of around 30 cyclists for the ride from Mumbai to Goa. After all, the more participants, the more money HEAL can raise to get kids off the streets, out of the rubbish dumps and slums and into school where they belong.”

To learn more about Cycle India 2014, next year’s itinerary and how to register, go to www.heal.co.uk/about-cycle-india.html or get in touch via our contact page at www.heal.co.uk/contact-us.html

HEAL Paradise Village taking shape

HEAL founder and president Dr Satya Prasad Koneru recently returned home to the UK after spending time overseeing the Paradise Village development and remains confident that the Paradise school will be ready for its first intake of children later this year.

“I am satisfied with the rate things are taking shape,” says Dr Prasad. “I had two days of meetings with the architects and the rest of the team in Hyderabad and Vijayawada. I am more happy now and everybody is content with the new designs.

Building work progresses on the primary school

“There has been some redesign work, such as changing the main roof to a flat roof to allow us to install the panels for solar power. It is a big financial layout, but all part of our commitment to an eco-friendly environment at Paradise Village.”

HEAL hopes to attract support from a specialist solar power company interested in funding or part-funding the cost of installation, estimated to be in the region of 1.45crore.

“Our vision for HEAL Paradise Village is that it will be fully self-sustaining and embrace green technology wherever possible,” says Dr Prasad.

“As for the construction work, we aim to complete the whole primary school building by the end of June 2013 and are hoping to start the academic year with 100 children.

“Dorms should be ready by the end of this year and until that time some of the classrooms will be used for accommodation and offices.

“We will have 16 classrooms, an arts room, a computer lab, staff room, library and a laboratory. In addition, there will be a lobby/gallery, head teachers office, as well as three outdoor classrooms. It is a very large building which will also house stores and laundry on the lower ground level.”

Project manager Mastan Ann reports that work on the dorms has been started and landscaping is going ahead with bougainvillea plants and 150 coconut trees providing a green-wall boundary.

“Each coconut tree will produce hundreds of fruit and each fruit contains a litre of coconut water which contains sugar & minerals, so the children will be able to have a healthy glass of coconut water every day,” says Mastan.

Meantime, while the construction is being carried out, HEAL India’s educational committee will be responsible for buying furniture and stationary and recruiting well-qualified teachers in the coming months.”

Students form fruitful partnership with HEAL

A GROUP of international students are on the verge of creating a social enterprise scheme aimed at helping impoverished young people in rural India to grow their own food on a commercial scale.

The London-based students, who are drawn from far and wide across Europe, South America and Asia, came up with a proposal to enter into partnership with HEAL (Health and Education for All) after they heard about the charity’s ambitious plans to create a new self-sustaining village, near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.

Construction is already under way on Paradise Village, which will become home to hundreds of severely disadvantaged and orphaned children, giving them shelter, healthcare and an all-important education as part of the ever-growing HEAL family.

The £3million project will comprise of a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly complex of buildings, including – in addition to the main school – health facilities, a vocational training centre, a school for the blind, a care home for the elderly and edible plantations and gardens.

The village, according to HEAL founder/president Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, is designed to create “a safe haven where children can be nurtured and realise their full potential, creating a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community based on the pursuit of happiness through the common good”.

Dr Prasad, a Peterborough-based GP who founded the charity 20 years ago by donating his former family home in Guntur to create a school for needy children, said he was impressed with the students’ proposal to grow food on a commercial scale as a volunteer pilot project at Paradise.

“The village is leading the way in construction, using recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies for electricity, water, sewage and edible plantations, so I felt that their idea fitted in perfectly with the Paradise project,” he said.

An artist’s impression of the school block at the HEAL Paradise Village

“Such a social enterprise, which will involve using grow bags to produce natural, wholesome food such as mushrooms, tomatoes and aubergines will help our children become self-sufficient, as well as involving the local villages.

“I was delighted to meet with such an energetic, bright and enthusiastic group of young people and look forward to developing a fruitful partnership with them. The added benefit of their scheme is that profits will be re-invested back into the project.”

Hult International Business School student Raiana Chowdhury explains how the scheme was born: “Myself and Max von Luttichau initiated the idea of mobile farming a year before we made this group.

“The aim of the enterprise is to educate children and young people how to grow their own food in an alternative way, provide them with essential material needed and see them grow together with the project.

“The food grown through our ‘bag farming’ method may then be used by the local people for trading amongst each other, which we hope will lead to community formation and an additional sense of belonging.

“Vegetables will be grown in recyclable bags, using a minimum amount of soil, water and solar energy and can then be sold in the market or traded within the local community and surrounding villages. Unsold produce will not be wasted, being used as the primary element to grow more new and fresh vegetables.

“We went along with fellow Hult students Maria Camilla Sierra, from Colombia, and AnaMaria Meshkurti, from Albania, to meet with Dr Prasad to discuss our collaboration. It was an honour to meet the founder of such a wonderful charity and we were highly interested to learn more about the HEAL village and the Paradise project. We look forward to working closely with him in the future.”

For more information on the HEAL Paradise project visit www.healparadise.org

HEAL Paradise reaches out to the community

 

HEAL founder/president Dr Satya Prasad Koneru paid a visit to the Paradise site to check on recent progress and attend a foundation stone-laying ceremony at the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Challenged, Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre and school dormitories.

“That was a good day for us,” reported site manager Mastan Ann. “We were pleased also to show that the primary school building has been raising up and up, while locations have been marked up for the dorms ready for piling work to start.

“In addition to that, HEAL has been conducting activities to develop a good local relationship, including a free health camp and the distribution of school equipment to local children.”

Dr Prasad was pleased to report back to this month’s HEAL AGM on the progress being made with the Paradise project and announced his intention to return early in the new year.

He said that despite delays caused by a shortage of raw materials and poor weather conditions, Paradise remained on course to take in its first batch of students in the summer of 2013.

During his stay, Dr Prasad joined members of HEAL India and other guests in planting more than 40 fruit-bearing plants in the Paradise grounds. Plans are also in hand for the plantation of a banana garden.

Dr Prasad was also delighted to present equipment, including free books, bags and geometry sets, to impoverished government schoolchildren as HEAL continues to forge strong links with the local community.

He also dropped in at a free HEAL paradise health camp, held in association with Ayush Hospitals, Sankara Eye Care and Partha Dental Hospital, and utilized by around 200 patients from surroundng villages.

Paradise project is shaping up

WORK is moving ahead on several fronts at the Paradise Village construction site, ahead of a visit by HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru and two major donors to the project for a stone-laying ceremony later this month.

Paradise site manager Mastan has reported progress on construction of the primary school building, as well as landscaping of the grounds and preparations for work to begin on the school dormitories.

“The project is shaping well now,” says Mastan. “Work on the buildings has been a bit slow over the past two months after the government stopped quarrying sand in July and August.

“But we have an operational team to execute the project, we have manpower in hand and materials, such as bricks, cement and steel, in stock. We are sure we will finish the project as per the schedule.”

The first floor of the primary school building is due for completion this month and preparation of the foundations for the dormitories was due to begin upon arrival of the structural drawings.

On the suggestion of the project’s landscapers, a drip-watering system has been installed before tree planting began around the site boundary. A 17-foot high fabricated water tank structure has been erected for this purpose.

Discussions are also under way with regard to the acquisition of furniture for the buildings and a feasibility study has been arranged for the purpose of operating broadband at the Village.

Dr Prasad will see the latest work for himself when he accompanies Dr Dhanum Chunduri and his brother Dr Krishna Babu Chunduri at a ceremony to mark the laying of foundation stones for two new buildings at Paradise – the Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Blind and the Ramaseshamma Chunduri Vocational Training Centre – for which they have donated funds.

“On the whole, a project of this size is not easy and we must be happy with our progress so far, bearing in mind we rely heavily on volunteers,” says Dr Prasad.

“A contractor has been appointed, with a full-time engineer on site, and the team is shaping up slowly, including the recent appointment of good quality bricklayers from Kerala. It is important that we have a strong operational team on site and I am looking forward to seeing the latest progress for myself.”

 

Donate a tree at HEAL Paradise Village

WORK is well under way on the first phase of construction of HEAL’s eco-friendly children’s village, named ‘Paradise’, which will provide a home for 1,000 orphaned and underprivileged children from Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India.

The village, which is located in a beautiful rural setting at Thotophalli in the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh, will be a safe haven where children can be nurtured in a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community.

Using recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies, Paradise will be made up not only of a school and accommodation, but a health centre, a care home for the elderly, an institute for the blind and facilities for sports and art.

But the village is not just about bricks and mortar. Those fortunate enough to have visited the site nestled between the stunning expanse of Lake Brahmalingam, a haven for wildlife, and canals providing irrigation for the local farming communities, quickly realise where Paradise found its name.

Entirely self-contained and secluded from the busy highway that connects the village to the city of Vijayawada, the site provides a perfect setting for the harmonious growth and development of the children who will come to call it home.   An array of sustainable techniques and systems like solar and wind power, hydroponic vegetables gardens and solar cooking are incorporated within the site’s design proposals, including the recycling of waste materials to create energy.

The village will have extensive green cover and planting of fruit bearing and shady trees has already been started, increasing the scope for self-sustainability.

During a recent visit to the site, HEAL volunteers Becky Curbishley and Charlotte Boardman were delighted to be asked to assist with the planting operation.

Volunteers Becky and Charlotte plant coconut trees at HEAL Paradise Village

“We were among the first volunteers to visit the developing Heal Paradise site – and what a paradise it is, a perfect location in which to expand the Heal family,” said UK medical student Charlotte.

“We felt extremely privileged to be asked to plant some of the first trees on the site. Of course, we will now have to return in the future to see our flourishing coconut trees!”

HEAL will build fruit and vegetable gardens on the Paradise grounds. This produce will be used to sustain not only the village, but any surplus can be taken to a daily market and sold to the locals as both fair and organic.

Keen to encourage local wildlife and offer shade from the hot sun, HEAL will also be planting hundreds of trees around the site and this gives an opportunity for donors to come forward and help cover the cost of this operation.

Anyone wishing to donate £100 towards the cost of planting and maintaining a tree will have a plaque with their name on it placed alongside the tree.

The vision for Paradise Village is that it will be fully self-sustaining, embracing green technology wherever possible. Therefore, HEAL is also looking for donors to help purchase 40 solar street lights at a cost of £350, or $600, each. Every street light will have a plaque mounted on it thanking the donor.

If you are interested in further information, please click on the ‘Donate Online’ button at the top of the website www.healparadise.org and one of the trustees of HEAL UK will contact you to discuss your donation to the HEAL Paradise Village.