Site Index
People
Health
Leisure
Events
Councils
Crime
Court
Business
Farming
Motoring
Property
Letters
Columnist
Nostalgia
Calls
Education
Carlisle Utd
Sport
Pictures Of The week

Local News
Aspatria
Carlisle
Keswick
Longtown
Penrith
Silloth
Wigton
Cumbria Wide

Local Guide
Find a Car
Find a Job
Find a Home
Find a Date
Find a Holiday
Find a Business
Find out What's On
Find a Home
Find a Film
Golf in Cumbria
Walks in The Lakes
Cycle Cumbria
 
 
 
Search this Site!
Searches this site for keywords.
The Cumberland News
  The Full Story...
JOANNA'S DREAM TO SET UP FREE SCHOOL IN INDIA
A CUMBRIAN woman determined to educate poor children in India is appealing to her home county for help.

Twenty-five-year-old Joanna Harma, from Thursby near Carlisle, went to India in March intending to stay for just a few months.

But after seeing the plight of local children, she decided to stay and set up a school offering free education to young girls who would otherwise go without.

Now she is looking for sponsors to help her achieve her dream.

Joanna, whose parents, Risto and Rosemary, live at Curthwaite Road in Thursby, and whose grandmother lives in Carlisle, is now living in New Delhi and working for an organisation called Global March Against Child Labour.

While travelling in rural areas around the city she met local youngsters.

"We started talking to four children about 12 years old, who were not able to go to school," she says. "One started crying because she was so upset about her situation in life. They all work stitching footballs at stitching centres and earn about 20p a day.

"The fact is that their families could have supported them while they went to school, if only the school itself was affordable to them."

Schools charge a variety of fees which, though amounting to only 10 per year, are too expensive for most rural families.

Now, with the help of her Indian boyfriend Gaurav, and two local teachers, she plans to set up a charity school in the village of Chakarsi about 130km from Delhi.

They are close to completing the legal process which will see them registered as a charity under the name Free Schools India.

"We hope to start building work on the school next month and it should take around five months to build, costing about 4,000 in total," said Joanna.

The school will cater for girls, at the villagers' request, because girls most often miss out on education.

"We are going to have as broad a curriculum as possible including art and sport," said Joanna. "We also want to have a free clinic provided once a week by a visiting doctor and we will be education our pupils on things like health and hygiene, family planning and about AIDS and HIV.

"We want to achieve literacy and broaden their minds, as well as teaching them practical things like why open sewage in the village street is bad."

She says in future they hope to open more schools across the country for both sexes, and send girls to university.

The running costs for the school are 10,000 per year, catering for around 60 children. They have already raised 6,000, but now Joanna is hoping some of her fellow Cumbrians will contribute too.

She said: "I've seen how terrible the conditions are in schools all over India. I want to make a small difference, and to do that I need contributions from the general public.

"It's going to cost me around 100 to buy 300 text books.

"Every penny will go to the school. Contributions from people in Cumbria can make a real difference in the lives of these children and their families."

l If you want to help, contact Joanna on joanna 01228 711651.

l You can also visit her website at www.free-school.org

l Joanna will stage a display in Carlisle Library, in the Lanes, from 16 to 30 December.

Click here if you have a story to tell our newsdesk.
Alternatively you can send an email.