“Our girls’ home provides a safe haven to girls from broken homes and allows them to go to school.”
Sabine Schillinger-Köhne, patron of PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar
PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar, India
PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar in southern India was opened in the summer of 2019. The new building currently provides much-needed accommodation to 240 girls in need, aged 5 to 17. They all come from poor and difficult family backgrounds. Many are half or full orphans.
A new two-storey building was erected for PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar, complete with sanitary facilities adhering to western standards. The home provides the girls with a safe roof over their heads in a family atmosphere, as well as structured lives and special responsibilities.
The inner courtyard features a large playground and plenty of space to play and romp around. The girls also meet several times a day in the dining room for joint activities. And thanks to the fertile soil in Porayar, the new garden will soon provide the girls with rich, healthy food.
Sabine Schillinger-Köhne, patron
It became necessary to build new accommodation after the old building became infested with termites and there was a risk that the school would lose its permit to operate the home. It was at this point that the PATRIZIA Children Foundation became involved in constructing the new building. It currently offers shelter and security for 240 girls. In the long run there will be room for almost 280 young women.
Not a matter of course: school education
The adjacent school provides the girls with an education and thus the chance for a better and self-determined life. In India, girls from impoverished backgrounds often face limited education possibilities with many families electing only to allow their sons to attend school.
At PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar we go one step further: a guard from the dormitory accompanies the older girls on their way to the next town, where they attend the upper two grades. This enables both the younger and older girls to safely benefit from education.
Strong partnership with ELM
For this home the PATRIZIA Children Foundation partnered for the first time with the Evangelical Lutheran Missionary Work in Lower Saxony (ELM). As a joint partner church in Porayar, the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) has been running the children’s home since 1994.
Director Katherinal Punithavathy and her 13 staff members educate the girls of all denominations according to Christian values, but without strict dogma. The aim is to give the girls access to education and for them to leave the home to receive a subsequent training or university education.
The current pandemic has an impact on our facilities worldwide. As an immediate measure, we have established the CORONA FUND EDUCATION HEALTHCARE in the amount of €100,000 from our reserves. We use 100 per cent of this amount as immediate aid in our Children Centers. However, since there is a lack of help in all facilities worldwide and the need is constantly growing due to the Corona measures, we also offer you the opportunity to support us in continuing to provide access to education. Find out more!
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Watch the video for more information about the PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar
Padmavathi’s tale of happiness
With 1.3 billion inhabitants, India is the most populated democratic country in the world. It is a nation of many different religions, languages, standards of living and ideologies. Although the middle and upper classes are expanding rapidly, they live in stark contrast to millions of Indians who survive on less than two dollars a day. Children in such families grow up in abject poverty. As was the case with Padmavathi – until life took an unexpected upward turn.
Padmavathi’s father abandoned her family when she was very young. Her mother did everything she could to scrape together enough money to buy food by collecting and selling rubbish.
But it was never enough. To give her daughter the opportunity of receiving a proper education, Padmavathi – who turned 16 in 2020 – was sent by her mother to PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar. The home only takes in girls with a proven need of urgent support. Padmavathi was fully aware that this was a golden opportunity to put poverty behind her. She is currently in Year 11 at the school and is a diligent pupil who particularly enjoys learning English.
Padmavathi loves the fact that she has made new friends in the girls’ home, who she plays with regularly and shares her time with. As well as having a safe roof over her head, Padmavathi now eats regular meals and will have every opportunity to put her knowledge and new-found confidence to good use one day as an independent woman. And she makes no bones about what she wants in life: once she’s finished school, Padmavathi plans to study and become an engineer.
Travel report: Sabine Schillinger-Köhne, June 2019
Reaching our goal with warmth and joy
“Raising girls is like watering your neighbor’s garden.” This is how an Indian proverb drastically and clearly sums up the position of girls and women in large parts of the populous South Asian state. This is precisely why the work of the PATRIZIA Children Foundation is so important here. On the occasion of the opening of its 17th Children Center, Sabine Schillinger-Köhne, the project traveler got her own feeling for the PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar, and life in India in general. Here she talks about her impressions.
Overwhelming: The girls welcoming us at the Child Care Porayar
In our new girls’ home in Porayar in southern India, we help girls from poor, broken families. Many are half or full orphans and need a roof over their heads. It is essential to them to have a new family environment in order to grow up sheltered and protected. This also means having permanent structures, regular meals and schooling. After a termite attack, the old girls’ home threatened to collapse and was forced to be close. With the support of the PATRIZIA Children Foundation, a new two-storey building for 280 girls was erected.
Everyday life of the girls in the PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar
From the very first day I was thrilled how warm and friendly the tone was in the dormitory. The 13 employees meet the currently 240 girls aged between five and 17 at eye level. They give the young women of various denominations self-confidence, they distribute tasks and duties within the group and protect them on their way to school. Many of the girls attend the adjacent school. The older girls that go to school in the next town, where they attend the final two grades, are accompanied by a guard from the home for their safety. Everyday tasks such as washing clothes and dishes help the young residents learn to assume responsibility. They can also simply let off steam in the large square behind the dormitory and on the playground.
Our new project partner for long-term cooperation in India: ELM
Porayar also marks the beginning of the cooperation with a new project partner, ELM – the Evangelisch Lutherischen Missionswerk in Niedersachsen, and their local partner TELC (Evangelical Lutheran Tamil Church). Our contact person Ute Penzel from ELM is very connected to the project and has lived in India for many years. During my on-site visit she is always at my side to get more insights into the everyday life of the girls.
The position of the woman in India
As a woman, it is important to me to shed light on the topic of women´s standing in Indian society. We have all heard the alarming numbers of rejected, raped and aborted girls in India. Through conversations with the girls and with those responsible for offering them a better life, I learn about many individual fates during the days on site. Those fates are the reason why we support those who need our help most urgently in the PATRIZIA Child Care.
Welcome party with more than 200 guests
Our reception is overwhelming: girls standing in line, little flags and thundering applause await Ute Penzel and me upon our arrival at the girls’ home. The home´s director Katherinal Punithavathy warmly welcomes us. In the large meeting room I officially welcome the girls and explain to them how we at the PATRIZIA Children Foundation are “building the future together” worldwide. Someone must have given away the information that it is my birthday, as this is followed by a huge birthday cake, and I receive a sari as present. I am deeply moved by so much consideration and warmth!
Sharing the birthday cake with everyone
We cut the cake into numerous small pieces and distribute them diligently to make everyone happy. After the official part, the girls gather around me and overwhelm me with questions. We communicate in English, and with hands and feet – it works out beautifully.
Lesson at the adjoining school
From school attendance to crocodiles and nail polish
On the next day we have the opportunity to visit the children at school and learn what is currently on the curriculum. Afterwards we eat together in the big kitchen of the dormitory. I get to know Indian cuisine in all its diversity. The girls’ nutrition is primarily vegetarian, once a week they get fish or meat. As common in India, we all eat with our right hand.
It is important for the PATRIZIA Children Foundation to dive into the everyday life of the girls. So, I use my spare time in the afternoon to play with them on the big square near the dormitory. Here, I learn that “Brennball” is called “Crocodile” in India and that many games are popular across different cultures and countries. Topics like nail polish and jewelry also come up, but as a mother of three boys perhaps I am not the best qualified to advice girls on that.
The opening day of the 17th PATRIZIA Children Center starts with happiness ritual
Following an Indian ritual we being at sunrise: Milk is cooked in a traditional pot until it boils over and refined with numerous spices to bring luck to the opening of the house. The pot is then painted and decorated with flowers.
From 5 o’clock in the morning, many helpers peeled the ingredients for the evening meal in the courtyard of the girls’ home: Peas, beans and bean-like “drum sticks” are processed into various sauces and dips to be eaten later from traditional banana leaves with rice. The official opening begins with numerous guests from the region, representatives of the local Tamil Church and the responsible administrator. The girls perform cheerful dances to common songs, followed by several speeches. In mine I emphasize the positive signal of the opening for the girls and the importance of investing into their future.
Porayar in India: Celebrating the opening of the 17th Child Care
The snowball effect triggered by the new building of the dormitory demonstrates what help can achieve in the local community: The girls’ home was given a new outer wall, equipment for the playground and plants for the garden.
This will encourage the girls to truly live something they have already been able to teach me: It is not solely the circumstances that decide whether your life is good or bad, but the attitude. And in Porayar the attitude is optimistic and positive – this is my conclusion from this journey.