[A] sell-out crowd of curry fans raised almost £900 last Saturday to help build a new school for slum children in India.
Guests at the Curry Night at Maulds Meaburn Village Institute (MMVI) were treated to a mouth-watering selection of homemade beef, chicken and vegetarian curries, along with a chance to see inside the Jaipur slum school and learn more about the students and their lives, in a short talk and film by Blencarn resident Jaki Bell, who had volunteered at the school during a trip to India in 2013.
Although MMVI’s food events are always popular, some of the guests at this year’s Curry Night were particularly keen to come and lend their support to the small Indian charity, travelling from across Eden.
Maulds Meaburn resident Ann Longbone lent her support to Shrestha by choosing the event for her birthday dinner, joined by two tables full of friends.
“I enjoy the events at MMVI because they’re always so well done, and particularly the food events, which are amazing,” said Ann, who’d also been to the recent Italian Night at the hall.
Among Ann’s guests was art teacher Tony Myler from Appleby – one of several diners to have visited India.
“I spent three months there and I was interested to see that Curry Night this year was in aid of an Indian charity,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea.”
The money raised has given a boost to Shrestha’s long-term plans to build a new school, to replace the existing rented basement at the edge of the slum area.
“It will take us a long time to raise enough money for a new building but we are very happy because, thanks to the money raised at Maulds Meaburn, it is our hope that this summer we can purchase land,” said Nitesh Paliwal, who runs the organisation. “In the basement, we have just one room and so all the children are in one class learning together, even though some are just five years old and some are teenagers. It’s very hard to help them learn in one group. With a new school and more classrooms, I could hopefully have another teacher helping me and we could give the children a better education.”
In the meantime, Nitesh has tried to find sponsors for as many of the Shrestha children as possible, so that they can attend a proper school. Three of the children have found new sponsors thanks to Curry Night.
“We don’t appreciate how lucky we are and everyone in the MMVI team has been pleased that we could make a real impact on other people’s lives by supporting a grassroots charity working directly with the children in this slum area and their families,” said John Wood, who’s among the sponsor parents. “I’m very grateful to all the volunteers and guests who made it such a great night and a big thank you to Jaki and her partner Nigel Jenkins for helping us to get involved.”
Jaki noted she was overwhelmed by the amount of money raised in one night and by the kindness of the MMVI’s team of volunteers, who gave up their time to put on such a special evening.
“Everyone was so determined to make it a success and raise as much money as possible,” she said. “Tim Smith, the previous vice chair at MMVI, made all the curry sauces from scratch, despite still recovering from his recent illness, such was his determination to help Shrestha. The catering team worked incredibly hard to produce the food, with the Institute’s new volunteer chef Tony Barnes at the helm, assisted by Sue Rymer, Margaret Jarvis and two students from the Kendal College catering department. With all the donations and new sponsors, it just shows that curry can change lives!”
More information about Shrestha is available at www.edenlighthouse.co.uk/slum-kids or by contacting Jaki on 01768 88266.