Frankie Pringle, daughter of former RIBA president Jack Pringle, reports.
A4A has been helping the El Shaddai Charitable Trust in Goa and I visited them to learn about their situation and see how the project work is progressing. The trust is involved with many projects in the south of India, from children’s homes to non-formal schools. Projects are funded mainly by donations and by small enterprises set up within the schools selling little things to local communities.
For example, the El Shaddai organisation in Goa runs several enterprises manufacturing craft items, which are then sold at the Anjurna Flea Market. Being a big tourist attraction, this also helps promote the work they do, and was the place where Maxwell Hutchinson (founder of A4A) first came into contact with the El Shaddai Trust and its work.
The El Shaddai schools employ most of their staff; however, they also rely on a strong basis of volunteers to run the day-to-day life of the projects. For larger operations, such as new developments and buildings, they also need architects and engineers who donate their time and skills, and this is where A4A came in.
All the projects El Shaddai runs are constantly growing. Every year the schools and homes take in more children, and every year the eldest class gets a year older. They therefore need a new grade, a new teacher, new material and books, and of course most pressingly a new classroom for it all to take place in. Sometimes they also need a new dorm for the new children to sleep in. This costs money and demands skilled people. If these skilled people volunteer it makes the possibility of this development so much more attainable.
Typically A4A volunteers come for a period of a few months, donating their time and precious knowledge to design something that could make a huge difference. Other volunteers help out with the kids for their summer or even for a whole year. In the future Mathew, the director, hopes that A4A volunteers will be able to help train some of the local builders or even the students at the schools, making it possible for them to become more self sufficient and providing them with more employment opportunities.