During the Christmas holidays 21 pupils travelled to India to visit the Loyola Kapepaladi School at the Manvi Pannur Mission in Karnataka. The school was established by the Jesuit mission with assistance from the UK based charity, Supporting Dalit Children.
The Dalits, also known as the Untouchables, sit on the lowest rung of India's social caste system. They make up a quarter of the population and yet have suffered extreme discrimination and oppression for centuries. The Loyola schools aim to provide education opportunities for Dalit children who have been excluded simply due to poverty. The schools receive no government support and rely on capital development and funding from independent donors.
The intention of the trip was to build relations between Oundle School and Loyola Karnataka and the Loyola Xavier Schools, and to raise money for new projects. In preparation for the trip, the pupils worked toward raising a target of £250 each for the project. Many pupils easily surpassed this figure with some impressive fundraising events. Sarah Boyle (L) and Molly May Keston (Sn) organised the memorable Concert for a Cause in September, Annabelle Lee (K) organised an Afternoon Tea Classical Concert, and Thomas Lambton (B) broadcast continually for 12 hours on Oscar radio.
The group spent time with the children at the school, taking part in the school sports day and Balamela, a day of fun activities for rural village children. Some pupils spent time helping Slovakian doctors with their clinics in the villages, and others spent time painting a huge mural of animals for one of the primary classes.
Being so close to Christmas, many said that they had felt the true spirit of Christmas in the friendship of the Indian pupils. The director of Loyola School, Father Francis said that he felt that the group’s presence at the school had helped to raise the ambitions of the Indian children, and their friendship demonstrated that centuries of prescribed social barriers could be broken.