I first learnt of the school when I meet and married my first husband Bill. He had spent several years being homed and schooled at Dr Grahams school in his younger years as had both his parents before him. It wouldn’t be until much later in 2001 when Bill passed and I was looking for a way to honor his memory that the school would become a pivotal part of my life.
A journey starts with a single step and at the time I had no idea I would end up here……..writing this blog to tell you all about this amazing place called Dr Grahams Homes. The school was founded in 1900 By reverend Dr John Anderson Graham. He was at the time a missionary of the church of Scotland. It has homed, fed and educated underprivileged children for almost 120 years. That alone is an amazing feat.
The place is something to behold and on a scale that is almost unfathomable if you have not seen it with your own eyes. Its like stepping back in time. Grand in scale with a sprawling campus over 500 acres while being humble and somewhat basic.
In 2005 I traveled to India for the first time and that is where my personal relationship with the school, culture and people of India truly began and I fell in love with the vibrancy and energy of this kinetic place. I was hooked.
At least once a year since that first visit in 2005 I have visited the school and myself and my second husband Craig currently sponsor four children at the school. As a family we have also funded special projects at the school like hot water systems in home cottages for the children. Did I mention facilities are still basic in some ways and in much need of assistance to bring them up to a standard you or I would consider livable.
The school is academically recognized by the Indian government as a Christian school, but the school is completely independent, and its only income is derived from school fees and sponsorship money donated by us and others like us.
With around 1400 students you know the school is a huge undertaking in unto itself, but there are also the boarding cottages spread around the campus that are supervised family style with paid staff acting as Aunties and Uncles to the approx 360 sponsored wards creating a feeling of an extended family. This is sometimes referred to as the “children’s city”. There are seven girls’ cottages and 10 boys’ cottages and a couple of hostel style dorms for the older senior students. The cottages have names and I currently sponsor children in Barissa and Lucia King cottages. Lucia King cottages holds a very special place in our hearts as this is were the youngest children start there Dr Graham's Homes life.
Once a year they partake in a competition to see which cottage has the best garden. They have an immense amount of pride in all they do be it education, sports or the appearance of themselves and their cottages.
I would encourage anybody remotely interested in visiting India to do so. I would implore you to take the time to seek out Dr Grahams school and see this for yourself. The experience is almost impossible to communicate through written word. The contradictions are always there with every visit. Basic living but such joy at the small things. It’s hard to reconcile internally how having so little can still produce such joyous youth. But these children are the lucky ones. They are the ones not forgotten. They have the opportunity education can provide and that is a gift for the underprivileged in India.
As many times as I have departed, I will always miss the cry…….Aunty Aunty Aunty and long for my return from the moment I leave.