Aventures missionaire

The School of Smiles

Publié le 21/03/2019

Here at Kiran, we do not use the term handicapped, but rather differently capable. From kindergarten to professional schools, there are 400 children, teenagers, and young adults who come everyday to the village. Situated et 20 km to the south of Varanasi, it is here that we have been sent on mission, along the Ganges River and in the middle of rice paddies.

Kiran ? It is simply INDIA-scribable. Here, the children can come to school and recieve re-education or special care, while the older ones can recieve training for carpentry, baking, gardenning, or tailoring. It is a school where these children are encouraged to develop their skills and competencies to become autonomous and be able to succeed and be integrated into society. At the entrance of the village, there is a rehabilitation center where numerous professions are represented in order to guarantee that the children have a personal follow up included in their school time. At Kiran, everything is home made : from the orthosis and prothesis to the wheelchairs, and including the bread, jam, and peanut butter.

Beyond these concrete missions, Kiran is a school of joy, mutual help, in other words… a school of life. Never will you catch a child being left behind because he is a slow walker ; you will simply see him sitting on the knees of his friend who uses a wheelchair. A few minutes later, you will find him on the cricket pitch catching a ball thrown by their specialised educator.

Kiran is also a home of life for 80 children and young adults, giving a homely dimension to the center and making it very welcoming. Here, everyone looks after their next, under the caring eye of Sangeeta, the founder. It’s been 27 years that, day after day, she makes sure that each member of the Kiran family finds their place in the village as well as beyond it’s walls.


A day in the heart of the Kiran village

The day begins at 9 a.m., with the childrens’ voices united in prayer, accompanied by the tabla and the gong. A few minutes later, Sushil, Pryianka, Anshu and all their classmates disperse in good spirits to go to their classrooms. In the program, there are english lessons, hindi lessons, science lessons and even computer lessons, alternating with sessions of re-education according to each ones’ needs. While the deaf students continue in their special classes, the more heavily handicapped children also follow adapted classes.

In addition to their re-education sessions, the children can also to go to the clinic where Madeleine, called didi (« big sister ») works as the doctor of Kiran during her volunteering mission. Joined by Moreno, the neurologist, and Usha, the nurse, they are in charge of the care of each member of the Kiran family.

A few offices further, Philippine didi selects the pictures with the best smiles and portraits she has just finished to make the 2018 calendar and redesign the website.

At 1 a.m., with much noise, everybody meets at the canteen to eat rice, paneer and chapati.

At 3 a.m., the yellow school buses leave, honking their horns, to go to the four corners of the countryside to drop the schoolchildren at their homes. But the day continues at the village for the residents who, after a time of recess, must concentrate on their homework. Since our mission does not end with the closing of the offices, we meet with the girls in their homes. Although it is impossible to help them in their hindi homework, a math equation is still an equation, and the Indian Santa Claus is still colored in red and white. After having dinner with the girls, it is with the boys that we spend the beginning of the evening, exchanging an english phrase with a hindi phrase. Fortunately, humor is a universal language, which results in much joyous laughing.

When we are not at the village, it is on the ghats of the Varanasi that we continue our immersion into indian culture, by observing cremations and ablutions in the holy river : « Mother Ganga ».

Thanks to Suryoday, the bakery of Kiran, implanted in the city, we find fresh bread and cookies.

We will always repeat it : at Kiran, smiles and joy are at the heart of our mission.


Philippine Barthez et Madeleine de Morel, MEP volunteers