Celebration time as first children arrive at HEAL Paradise Village

HEAL recently celebrated one of the proudest days of its 22-year history with the long-awaited arrival of the first group of children at Paradise Village.

The first class at HEAL Paradise Village

The first class at HEAL Paradise Village

Members of HEAL India were present at an inauguration ceremony for the Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao Primary School, the first building to be completed at the site of the charity’s ambitious flagship project in Andhra Pradesh.

But most important of all was the presence of the first intake of children, boys and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who have become the first to be registered as pupils at Paradise.

Children, staff and HEAL India members at the school inauguration

Children, staff and HEAL India members at the school inauguration

They were greeted in their new classrooms and addressed by Dr N Manga Devi, founder of Sri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer school in Guntur – the site of the original HEAL Children’s Village which opened back in 1999, caring for more than 200 orphaned and destitute children aged 5 to 18.

Paradise Village has been designed as an eco-friendly, safe haven for 1,000 orphaned and underprivileged children, with all costs being met by donations from HEAL supporters, and is leading the way in construction, using recyclable materials and ‘green’ technologies for electricity, water, sewage and edible plantations.

The class is addressed by Dr N Manga Devi

The class is addressed by Dr N Manga Devi

In addition to school buildings and housing for children and their care workers, there will be a health centre, sport and art facilities, rooms for visiting volunteers, edible gardens, a care home for the elderly and community buildings. A school for the blind is also being built as an integral component of the model development, along with a vocational training centre.

Construction work is well advanced on the Hans Foundation boys’ dormitories, a three-storey block incorporating dining and kitchen facilities, and the Rajeswari girls’ dorms. Temporary dining and living facilities are being provided in the school building until their completion.

The children enjoy their first meal at Paradise

The children enjoy their first meal at Paradise

“It has been a memorable day for all of us,” said Paradise site manager Mastan. “It was so pleasing to see the children here for their first day at HEAL Paradise school.”

This was echoed by HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, who flew out from his home base in the UK to visit Paradise Village in July.

The Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao Primary School

The Koneru Lalitha and Rama Krishna Rao Primary School

“We can all feel proud that this project is now finally taking shape and knowing that the first children have arrived at Paradise is so exciting for everyone who has helped along the way,” said Dr Prasad.

“It is a modest start with just a few teachers and a small number of children registered so far, but hopefully we will have as many as a hundred by the end of the year and, in time, Paradise will hold 1,000 kids.

The Hans Foundation Boys Dorm is nearing completion

The Hans Foundation Boys Dorm is nearing completion

“There is still much to do and an awful lot of work is being done, but knowing that children are there running around and being looked after and educated on what was once nothing more than a piece of wasteland fills us all with fresh optimism and energy to push forward with this huge project.”

Construction has been hit by delays, including severe weather, which have increased costs and HEAL are hoping businesses and individual donors will come forward to sponsor individual classrooms, pre-school cottages and staff housing. More details of how to make a donation to HEAL’s Paradise Village scheme can be found at www.healparadise.org.