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Toilet installation in Ajmer, Rajasthan

The Jansen Foundation - School Improvement Program

As well as supporting projects close to home in the UK, The Jansen Foundation, are very keen to support initiatives in India where, founder, Paul Jansen’s family herald from. 

Our first project in India was to sponsor a yearly school feeding program, through the Akshaya Patra Foundation, at a girls‘ school in Rajasthan ( Feeding Program ). Akshaya Patra have the world’s largest school feeding program and provide upwards of 2 Million meals per day from their hi-tech kitchens in India and the UK.

Following a visit to the school from AP representatives it was reported back to us that although the provision of school meals was a huge success there were only five toilets for the 1000 girls that attend – a quite shocking statistic. There are  many many schools in a similar position and unfortunately this leads to children either going home to use the toilet and possibly not returning or in some cases using the surrounding environment. The fact is that the lack of facilities leads to an enormous amount of school absenteeism which in turn leads to a detrimental effect on children’s education. 

The detrimental effects on education are also felt when dealing with the taboo subject of female menstruation with millions of school days lost each year and some very antiquated attitudes surrounding this subject. Another part of the project was to install some incinerators in the toilet block and assist in funding the education of girls and parents alike in trying to ensure a more open dialogue and better understanding of this difficult topic. This is part of an existing RASM (Right to Access Sustainable Menstruation) initiative which we will discuss in a separate article.

We decided to embark on the building of a toilet block to not only make life more comfortable for the girls but hopefully reduce absenteeism and ensure the girls were benefiting from a more consistent education. 

There are a number of hurdles to negotiate when donating funds to projects in India the main being the restriction by the FCRA (The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act), put in place to ensure that donated funds are used for the intended purpose. Fortunately for us we partnered with CAF India (recently rebranded as  One Stage), a registered not-for-profit organization established in New Delhi, India in 1998, to ensure our donated funds were going exactly where our project scope said they were.

With a project management team overseeing everything and work allocated to local builders we were delighted to visit the school in February to meet the school principal and school children to see the wonderful job that had been done and to know what a difference it would make to everyday life for them. 

We were so warmly welcomed by everyone from teachers, food providers and of course the school children. It never ceases to amaze how cleanly clothed school children are in many incredibly poor areas. The facilities we had built, including some sanitary incinerators, looked great and before we left we also had time to sample the food that Akshaya Patra provide on our behalf.  

Afterwards we visited a number of other schools in the area some of which really had no toilet facilities, very poor levels of sanitation, dirty classrooms and poor general infrastructure and really brought it home as to the urgent need for improvements to be made. 

Our huge thanks to One Stage and Akshaya Patra (in both the UK and India) for between you identifying the opportunity for us and ultimately overseeing a very successful project. 

A really satisfying , rewarding and at times emotional start to our work in India and we look forward to this School Improvement Project evolving as we more forward. 

Our success in expanding this program is, of course, reliant on funding being available. We would love others to join us on our journey and if you would like to know more about how you can contribute and what projects we are currently looking at then please do get in touch.

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