Today we are very proud and happy to say that it has been 6 years to the day since we first set up JPP in Pushkar to help local kids to go to school, have a decent meal a day, and be shown the respect that they deserve. Most know the story already, but the briefest of summaries seems in order with this latest milestone.
Edd, Baggie, Vandana, Mukesh, Vijay & I created the Joshua Playing Project on the 25th October 2010 to get local kids who were begging off the streets. We started with 12 children, and the challenge was to get those kids to come to school as near to every day as possible. We had, like all charities, various setbacks and struggles along the way, but we managed to achieve our goal of getting a core group of children to attend JPP every day – and most importantly, do so because they wanted to, not because there was an incentive for them to do so.
Since then the project has grown and evolved – we now have 55 children from all different walks of life, all of whom JPP sponsors to attend private school, as well as continuing to support them from within JPP itself. A few of the original children have unfortunately left us, most for good reasons (e.g. family moving away after father finds a good job), but a few for less good reasons (e.g. parents insisting their child must bring in money) – I write this not to put a dampener on our 6th birthday, but to demonstrate that while we are making a great impact, there’s always more to do – and our need to support the children of Pushkar is as strong today as it was 6 years ago.
We have huge plans for the future which we will no doubt be excitedly telling you more about as they begin to materialise. We are already making great steps towards making JPP even stronger within the local community, and stronger as a charity as a whole. We became a registered UK charity earlier in the year, something we’ve been aiming towards for the last 6 years, which makes all of our fundraising efforts that much easier now that we can get 25% gift aid on all donations (hint hint).
We’ve moved to what we think is going to be our final home, after a few different buildings after vacating the temple due to space and the family wanting use of the space during the day, and we love it (there’ll be a new post in a couple of weeks with loads of photos and videos so you can see what it’s like for the kids). The new place is much closer to Madam G (Vandana), is cheaper rent, has a better kitchen, fully indoor and functional toilets, and close to the food shop that we get all our supplies from. We really couldn’t be happier with it.
Along the journey this last 6 years, we’ve had different people integral to the JPP team who have now moved on on a day to day basis, but who will still always be a part of the family. JPP really is embedded in the local community, we couldn’t operate without the continued support and help from the parents, caste leaders, suppliers, and of course the wonderful Vandana and Baggie.
Yet we are also a community here in the UK – since we began we have had unbelievable support from friends, family, strangers, businesses, schools … you name it. We can’t express our gratitude enough to all those who have helped out, whether through financial contributions, fundraisers, or both. We truly do rely on your continued membership of the JPP family – what is comparatively little time, effort and money in the UK makes the hugest of differences over in Pushkar. Just £60 is all it takes to put a child through school for the year, and you continue to help us to finance not just one child, but 55, and to do so much more than just allow them to attend private school.
All of your donations allow us to give the kids an educational experience that does not compromise or make sacrifices due to their financial situation – a lot of our kids may live in tents in the desert, but they still get new dresses every Diwali, get to help out at the JPP stand during the Mela Camel Fair, go on school trips, get a healthy full meal every day, receive medical attention whenever they need it, and more importantly than anything, get to play with their friends every single day safe in the knowledge that they are being looked after and do not have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.
So thank you, from all of us here at JPP, for everything that you have done, and that I know you will continue to do, for the kids in Pushkar.