With the beginning of the new millennium, Neneta Herrero, a friend from Vigo, started a dream. After having spent many holidays in India, a natural disaster would completely change her life. She happened to be at the beach in the region of Orissa, south of Calcutta, when terrible floods inundated the interior of the region and devastated villages. Being in the area, she visited the people trying to give a hand in these dire situation. She asked them what she could do for them and they replied that the school had been demolished by the floods, so the children didn't have a school anymore. Knowing perfectly well the immensity of the task she was undertaking, with her adventurous spirit and a lot of courage, she promised the people that she would build a school for them. She came back home to Vigo, where she worked in a bank and, with the help of friends, her own commitment and determination, like a laborious ant, she collected the money to start the school. Initially the project was smaller, but the dream grew bigger with every visit to India.
Although her original plan was to make the school and leave it at that, her heart was so fully in this magnificent project that her involvement only increased with time.
In the last few years, Neneta decided to retire from her job and now lives half of the year in India.
Luckily, she found Umesh, a wonderful person, also dedicated to this fantastic project, who lives in the area and is a big part of the initiative.
In the middle of November we visited the school "María Soliña", whose name refers to a woman in the town where Neneta actually lives. In the 16th century, an Inquisitorial Tribunal condemned María Soliña and she became the symbol of suffering of the people and this is the reason why Neneta chose such an iconic name in our local culture and transferred it to the region of Orissa in India.
As the school has become so successful in every way, Neneta and Umesh decided to expand, so that the children, who up to now can study 8 grades in the school, could continue there for further education a few more years. In order to achieve this goal, by law they need to have a certain amount of land, which the school didn't have.
So we decided that this could be our contribution to the project. We gave them the money to buy the extra land they needed to be able to extend the school. Here you can see a picture of the area of expansion.
We fell in love with this school so much that we want to get more actively involved. We want to contribute to this amazing school by donating musical instruments and creating a more profound musical education for the students there. We have committed to doing that and we will gladly pursue this passion.
Some of the older girls have learnt to sew and they now make their own dresses. Dance and music are an important part of their culture and it is implemented at the school.
They touched us deeply singing some songs in Spanish for us.
Here is Antonio Valiente, a friend from the south os Spain, who has an NGO called "unplatodecomida.org" ("a plate of food"). He is a successful doctor and a caring person. He helps with the supply of food for the children.
We were fortunate enough to be able to share lunch with the children several of the days we visited them. After lunch, the children dutifully wash their own plates.
They play different games during recess.
On weekends, the children can rest after lunch and this is their siesta time.
We left Orissa with the commitment to return next year and start the project of the music workshop.
We thank Neneta, Umesh and the children for taking us into this special "family".