This is the story of the Maya School project, told by the notes we posted at the beginning and the end of its realization.


Maya School project

2009 February

In Orchha, northern India, we are supporting Eeva Maya Schult from Finland, a great woman who is building a school for the poorest children of the area. We have been to India and visited Eeva several times. We have met the students, sat on the ground and talked with them. Currently we are in touch with her every day. Her project has become our project. And we’d like it to become yours too.
A school has already existed since 2005. It consists of four rented rooms in a rather unhealthy, tumbledown building, where, despite the conditions, the youngsters can attend daily lessons and have a meal. Now we need to build a proper school. The land has already been purchased and now the work needs to begin. We are looking into the best way to raise the funds necessary to build the school. In the meantime, there is a sponsorship programme devoted to each child. With just 13 euro a month you can guarantee that a child has school lessons, books, clothing and a daily meal.
If each one of us does one small thing every day, together we can do something special: we can give these youngsters a real chance for the future. We look forward to working with you!

Eeva Maya Schult

Eeva Maya Schult aged 63, is a retired nurse from Finland. Ten years ago, she visited India on holiday and happened to come to Orchha.
“I came to a poor colony where some small children with swollen bellies were sitting in the dust covered in flies, putting mud and cow dung in their hungry mouths. I felt really out of my depth and couldn’t stop crying. But that helped me galvanize!”.
Since that day Eeva has worked to realise her dream. To give these children food, clothing and a school to have the chance to build a different future.

Maya School

The Maya School. The following year Eeva started up an open-air version of the Maya School in Orchha: in the very place where she had first seen the poor street kids with swollen bellies sitting in the mud amongst the cow dung.
Eeva and other volunteers worked tirelessly for a year. And now there is a school house opposite that site: an old building rented by Eeva. The school is crumbling and unhealthy, with seven rooms: four for the school and three where Eeva and the other teachers live. The conditions are very basic indeed. Eeva works without any salary at all. The other teachers, who are Indian, are really very poor. They work for a salary of 1200 rupees, which is equivalent to around 18 euro, a month.

Orchha

Orchha. The school is on the outskirts of Orchha, an ancient town founded in 1500 AD. Many palaces and fine buildings still in existence are a reminder of its architectural glory during the reign of the Mughal Emperors. Now these palaces are falling into disrepair.

First class

First class. Around 80 children, aged between 4 and 14, attend the Maya School. Their parents belong to the under-privileged caste and are below the poverty threshold.
Here are the youngest kids in the first class. They have to study sitting on the floor.

Second class

Second class. Many villagers can’t afford to let their children attend school, as they need them to help with the work in the fields and to do household chores or care for their younger siblings. To accommodate these needs, the Maya School has flexible class times.

Third class

Third class. At the school, Eeva and the other volunteers teach Hindi, English, Mathematics, Science and Yoga. The children are split into four classes, not only based on their ages, but also on their learning levels.

Fourth class

Fourth class. At the end of the fourth year money needs to be raised to enable as many gifted children as possible to carry on studying. The best way out of poverty is education.

At lunch

At lunch. To give you an idea of the kind of deprivation the children were suffering on a daily basis, some of the children’s stomachs were completely swollen due to lack of protein. They urgently needed a daily serving of lentils. So Eeva rented a small room to use for cooking, found a cook and arranged for a local woman to carry the food to the school on her head. Now the children have their midday meal every day at school: rice, lentils, vegetables and fruit.

Eeva, Romano and teachers

Eeva, Romano Ravasio and the teachers. Romano Ravasio, Art Consulting’s founder and partner, has visited the Maya School several times.
Eeva says: “I fully understand and appreciate your desire to know exactly how your donations are spent and on what. And I’m well aware of the malpractice of many disreputable organisations. You are all welcome to come and see the accounts and we are ready and indeed keen to disclose to each donor exactly how we spend your contributions”.

Maya school's pupils

The Maya School pupils. Just looking at these children’s eyes is enough to make us want to help them. You can support one of them for a full school year, providing him or her with books, clothes and a midday meal, with just 13 euro a month. You can keep in touch with him or her too.
Giving could be an experience to treasure for you too.

Going home

Going home. During the monsoon season it can sometimes be very difficult for the children to get to school, since some have to walk for kilometres. So Eeva has hired an auto rickshaw to pick the children up and drop them off home from school. We have seen as many as 17 kids squeezing into this tiny rickshaw!

New place for Maya School

A new location for the Maya School. Our target now is to start using a new building for the school, in an existing property in Orchha that has been donated to the school. Eeva has been collecting donations for this new building for the past year now and has gathered together a small sum. She also has all the necessary permits in her possession. But we need to collect more money.

Romano with pupils

Romano with some pupils. Going to visit the pupils at the Maya School has become an eagerly anticipated appointment for us. Like you, we were hesitant about the idea of donating. Too many cases of fraud, too much money disappearing into somebody’s pockets. Now we know exactly what we can do to help the children in a concrete way. We look forward to working with you!


The new Maya school

2011 July

The building of the school was finished in July 2011. The auction organized to raise funds for the building of the school in Orchha was a great success and raised € 40,000. After paying the overhead costs, we had € 25,000 available. The costs included the artworks purchased from the artists and 10% of the net amount donated to a charity association which helped us organize the auction. The association is “Amici dell’Ospedale di Merate” which supports an Italian hospital.

The religious ceremony of Havan, which is held in India every time something new is begun, took place on February 7th, 2010. On that day the first stone was laid. One year after Havan the new school was complete and the kids and their teachers were already inside.
A new phase of the project will be to start up cooperatives providing poor people with opportunities to develop new jobs through microcredit. But this is another story.

The Havan The foundation The art auction by Porro Romano Ravasio and Eeva Schult at the new school

The new Maya school The new Maya school, a class The new Maya school, the playground art-for-life-maya-school-thank-you

Here’s the catalogue of the charity art auction organized by Art Consulting to raise funds for construction of the Maya School.

Thanks to: Dario Arcidiacono, Angelo Baiguini, Fiorenzo Barindelli, Paolo Bellavite, Paolo Berra, Thomas Berra, Anna Bianchi, Andrea Bianconi, Matteo Boria, Chiara Canali, Gianluca Capozzi, Felipe Cardeña, Alberto Casiraghy, Daniela Cerutti, Cinzia Chiari, Marco Cingolani, Romina Comi, Ettore de Conciliis, Georges de Canino, Claudio Costa, Rebecca De Marchi, Loris Di Falco, Julie Duddridge, Giancarlo Ferrario, Giovanni Frangi, Federica Girolami, Jonathan Guaitamacchi, Alfredo Imparato, J&Peg, Irma Landi, Enrico Lombardi, Aldo Mari, Andrea Mastrovito, Corrado Minussi, Paola Montagna, Barbara Nahmad, Cris Nulli, Maria Alessandra Panbianco, Alessandro Papetti, Giovanni de Peverelli, Manuela Pizziolo, Alessandro Porro, Dolores Previtali, Nicolò Quirico, Leslie Ray, Matthias Ritter, Ugo Riva, Bianca Maria Rizzi, Orfeo e Alice Scarpellini, Antonio Spini, Velasco, Flavia Villani, Sabina Zotti, Amici dell’Ospedale di Merate.
Sponsorships: Comune di Merate, Provincia di Lecco, CNCC (Centro Nazionale Centri Commerciali), Rotary Club Colli Briantei, Soroptimist Merate, Banca Credito Cooperativo, La Casa dei Sapori.
Media Partner: Porro & C., A.G. Bellavite, Giornale di Merate, WhyNot, Copigraf, iN Europa.