Poynton High School India Project

    In the Beginning

    Poynton High School has supported India Direct since early 2005, a direct response to the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. The school contributed £3000 as immediate relief, which helped to pay for land on which Joy Home was built.

    Ryan Cooper, then a student in Aletta Ashmore’s Year 7 form , suggested sponsoring a child at Bethel to free up resources to help a child who had been affected by the Tsunami of 2004.

    Form ACA started to sponsor Meena, continuing to support her for their whole time at PHS. When they reached Year 11, another student, Dan Clouston, suggested visiting her. The 2009 trip was life-changing for many of the group, both students and staff. We decided that this was an opportunity which we wanted to offer to a greater number of students, so in 2011 we set off again with a group of 16 new students plus 3 from the original group, including Ryan and Dan.

    A third trip took place in July 2014, including some members of previous trips who wanted to go out and visit the children in India again.


    Since the first trip

    Aletta Ashmore and Helen Milligan were invited to become trustees of India Direct in 2010. Poynton High School has raised over £23,000 for India Direct which has provided:

    –      play parks and equipment for Bethel and Joy

    –      bunk beds and storage cupboards for Joy Home.

    –      all the school expenses for the Bethel and Joy children for a year, including fees, books and uniforms.

    –      funding to help finance the running of the homes.

    Members of PHS staff, groups of students within the school and students who have visited Bethel and Joy have taken on personal long term sponsorship of children in the homes.

    Our 2009 Trip

    The original aim was to enable some of our students to meet Meena, the girl they had been sponsoring. It all seemed a bit of a dream, but with the vision and determination of Mrs Ashmore, and the support of teachers Mr Keifer and Mrs Milligan, and parent Liz Cooper, they made it!

    3 staff and 14 students, 10 of them from ACA, visited Bethel and Joy Homes in 2009, along with former India Direct trustees, Paul and Grace Nadin-Salter. However, before the trip the team had to work hard on fundraising, to enable the whole thing to go ahead.


    The team packed bags, washed cars, sold cakes and cookies, completed a mini triathlon, organised curry nights and generally showed what a great bunch of people they are…

    sponsored headshave

    Ewan even had his head shaved by Ryan to raise money through sponsorship and charging people to watch!

    working at Bethel

    But they wanted to do something useful for Bethel and Joy during the trip, so they agreed with Annie that they would do some painting…

    The workers

    …and start vegetable patches to enable the homes to be more self-sufficient…

    Poynton Play Park

    …as well as playing with the children and formally opening the play-park we had paid for at Joy Home.

    2009 mural

    They created murals to commemorate the trip.

    And they of course also met Meena, the girl who had started it all. They gave her and her sister gifts, and trusted that they would continue to help her continue a safe and happy life in Bethel home.


    Our 2011 Trip

    Although many people doubted their sanity, the leaders thought the trip had made such a lasting impression on the students that they decided to take another group to Tamil Nadu.

    The fundraising began again, not just to enable the trip to take place, but also to give the Joy children a luxury already enjoyed at Bethel: sleeping in a bed rather than in the floor. The target for this was £7500! Thanks to a really determined effort, including new ventures like organising a full scale dinner dance (mainly for the chance to dress up), and a generous donation from John Lewis, the target was achieved!

    conga in flip flops

    This time they took the children for days out (a very rare treat) to a water park (Bethel)


    and to the beach (Joy),

    johnson and garden

    …marvelled at the change in the Joy vegetable garden, thanks to the hard work of Johnson and some of the older boys…

    bunk beds

    … inspected the new beds and lockers …


    …and bought a cow named Paul (after Paul Nadin-Salter (former trustee), and because it means “milk” in Tamil!) and her calf Pip (for Poynton India Project).


    They also visited the temporary new home of the Bethel children at The Lord’s Garden, and painted an upstairs room for them (drips of paint and sweat everywhere!).

    medical camp

    Another new venture was the funding of a medical camp near Joy, in a village with no medical facilities at all. By paying for a doctor, a pharmacist, and some very common medicines, hundreds of people got access to basic medical care in one afternoon…

    ellie and widow

    and dozens of widowed or elderly people also received a sheet, mattress roll and a sari.


    We made different murals, and this time brought one home to hang in Poynton High School’s library.


    But the mural is not the only thing we brought back with us, we also brought saris…

    boys dressed up

    and other interesting outfits…

    mark and G

    firm friendships and new sponsors…

    And many happy memories… 


    Our 2014 Trip

    With the success of the previous two trips, the leaders of PHS India Project bravely decided to take a third group of students to Tamil Nadu in July 2014.

    bag packing

    After numerous bag packs,


    curry nights…

    christmas baking

    and lots and lots of baking, our fundraising target of £10,000 was achieved!


    This time as well as playing with the children and running various craft activities,


    they also took the Bethel Children out to the zoo


    and the Joy children out to a temple!

    painting work

    The group also visited the building site of the new Bethel home and were able to paint a wall adding colour to the place  – Annie even commented that she was impressed!

    med camp queue

    Inspired by the success of the 2011 medical camp, the group had raised enough money for another medical camp to take place. As a result they were able to provide some basic medical care to around 300 people…

    bedsheets 2

    and helped to distribute bed sheets to the widows and elderly in the village.


    We created a mural with the children’s fingerprints which has been brought back to hang in Poynton High School’s Sixth Form Centre.


    Having already provided practical gifts such as a play park and beds, this time the PHS Team would like to establish a scholarship fund, enabling India Direct to support more of the children from Bethel and Joy homes to go on to Higher education; a really life changing opportunity.


    The trip has given the whole team a taste for Indian culture, firm new friendships and long-lasting memories!

    But the big question is…. Will they be coming back for more?

    Find out more about the Scholarship Fund!

    PHS India Project have a new fundraising target, they want to start a scholarship fund to pay for the children's higher education. Can you help?


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