Leprosy Mission — Rainbow Children’s Home, Vizianagaram, India

Helping People to Help Themselves

The Leprosy Mission logo

Rainbow Children’s Home, Vizianagaram, India

Thank you, Caterham Overseas Aid Trust, for giving hope and joy to children
affected by leprosy in India!

Project Background

Rainbow Children’s Home is a sanctuary for children affected by leprosy in Vizianagaram, India. The home cares for children from nearby leprosy colonies, and offers nutritious tasty food, medical care, education and most importantly, the opportunity to have a childhood. In 2023, your kindness provided a loving home for 55 children. They stayed with us during term-time and returned home during the school holidays for valuable time with their families.
Can you imagine not being able to care for your child? If you’re out working as a field labourer, low daily wages mean it’s often difficult to put a meal on the table each day. And if you need to have treatment for leprosy which stops you from working, who will earn that day? For many, a leprosy diagnosis means rejection by your husband or wife. Then, as a single parent with the additional stigma of disease, life cannot get any harder.
Many children who have parents affected by leprosy face the prospect of either begging at local temples or being left alone all day while a parent works. This leaves them vulnerable to danger and abuse. Sometimes there is money for school, but this doesn’t last long, and the children have at best a broken education.
Children come into our care malnourished and sometimes fearful because of their experiences.
But with care, love and friendship, these precious little lives are turned around! This year alone we have seen five nurses graduate and many more are at university studying for the future. It just shows that every child has potential, they just need an opportunity. Thank you for providing this.

Orthopaedic prosthetics

You’re changing futures!

Thanks to you, we’ve had a wonderful year at Rainbow! Louise Timmins, our Head of Fund raising, visits annually (at her own expense – she loves it so much!) to monitor activities, finance and of course safeguarding. The latest visit was in February, and here are just some of the amazing things you have done for the children:

Food glorious food!

“I have never seen children eat so much!” says Louise. At every meal there are two rice dishes
(biryani is the favourite) and plates are piled high! There’s chicken curry, egg curry and plenty of
vegetables too! Everyone comes back for a second helping of rice. The home runs a small sustainable farm, growing lots of organic vegetables. The plan for 2024 is to buy fruit trees to add to the harvest.

Chickens and cows are also kept on some land locally, so there’s a good supply of
eggs and milk. The children have three nutritious meals each day, all designed to
ensure a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. There are school snacks and also treats.
Ice cream is rare but a real treat when brought in from the town. Drinking water is always filtered to avoid any nasty bugs.

The children take part in_ meal preparation, learning about nutrition and how to cook. This is such a valuable life skill. It’s great to see everyone washing up after themselves too!

Life skills

It’s not just cooking and farming, the children also learn how to look after a home and have the opportunity to help out with office work. Regular sessions on health, hygiene and expressing how they are feeling are held too. Safeguarding workshops include the children, as this is essential across all activities.

Caring for health

The House Mother at Rainbow, Rajeshwari, is a trained nurse and the first point of call for any minor incidents. Rajeshwari has worked with the children for over a decade, and knows each one individually. She ensures that they are eating well and taking their daily vitamins, and she
also keeps an eye on sickness. If a doctor’s visit is necessary, she will accompany the child and monitor any medication, such as antibiotics.
Last year, you helped to fund both medical and dental camps to identify and treat any issues promptly.

Education

School isn ‘t free in India, and last year you funded uniforms, schoolbooks, equipment and fees for the children in our care. Every child went to school and it’s wonderful to see how much they love studying- especially compared to lots of children here in the UK! The older children had additional tuition in IT and in written and verbal English.

For many of the children, broken or no schooling means it’s really hard for them to catch up. An evening tutor comes into Rainbow to sit with the children and help them. They take part in debates and presentations to boost their confidence. And the system works, as we
have more young people in college now than ever before!

Fun!

Louise joined the children on a special day out to the park and the beach. It was a day full of joy and laughter on slides, swings and running into the waves. At times it seemed worrying to let
55 children run wild, but the older girls joined the team to count them in and out of every activity!

In the middle of the day everyone stopped for a picnic, and out of nowhere curry, rice and lots of snacks appeared!
The older boys and staff waded out to waist-level and made a semi-circle in which it was safe to splash about.

A wide range of activities was organised to bring children together and make them feel like one big family. These ranged from big games of cricket to evening and weekend entertainment including games, quizzes and film nights.

Dancing isn’t reserved for birthdays and special occasions. The girls and boys alike love listening to music and learn all the Bollywood moves!
In the evenings, they often put on their best clothes and put on a show. Whooping and clapping can be heard all the way down the road!

Meet Aman!

Aman’s story is one of real transformation, thanks to the wonderful support of people like you. We first found Aman and his brother when we were carrying out village surveys nearby. They were playing naked in the dirt and were very obviously hungry.
Their father had contracted leprosy, and their mother was so ashamed that she abandoned her family. Can you imagine the rejection these two little boys felt? Their dad did his best, working as a day labourer in the fields. But he understandably became depressed and then sadly turned to alcohol. He spent what little he earned on feeding his addiction rather than his children.

Despite being confused and alone, the boys often relied on neighbours to feed them. They roamed the streets, taking shelter in cattle sheds. Thank goodness they came to no physical harm.
When we met their dad, he knew he was unable to care for his sons properly and gave permission for them to come to Rainbow. It was important that their relationship continued, and he visits the boys regularly when he hasn’t been drinking.

When Aman first arrived with his brother, he hadn’t been to school. He hadn’t had regular meals, and he didn’t really understand what to do with toys. With the love and care of staff and the other children, Aman began to grow in confidence and adapt to this new way of life.
Today he is thriving! Aman is excelling at school and is particularly passionate about English.
He’s incredibly intelligent and we’re confident he’ll go to college for further studies. Aman and his brother love cricket, and their favourite food is chicken curry! He dreams of one day becoming a pilot. How wonderful to have such a big dream!

It’s no wonder that Rainbow has won awards for being the best home in the region. But we can only continue this wonderful work because of partners like Caterham Overseas Aid Trust. Thank you so much for your love and kindness for children in need.

Thank you for your kindness. Your amazing support is changing lives!

Feedback report for Caterham Overseas Aid Trust
Rainbow Children’s Home, Vizianagaram, India