11th November 2018

'Parents Day' at an orphanage sounds like it belongs in the definition of oxymoron; it just sounds impossible... but we assure you it is a real thing. You might wonder: what type of parents would give their child to an orphanage anyhow? What type of organization would split up a family? These are legitimate questions, and ones we are more than happy to answer for you this week.

Parents Day at the mission.
Less than half of our kids have no living or known relatives, so for those who do have family we set aside special days twice a year in which they can visit, share a meal, some laughter and a whole lot of love. The program starts at lunch time as a steady stream of visitors enter our gates and join our kids out on the playground for the day. Our kids often group together by the office, looking out over the yard, desperate to see a familiar face.
Roshni (left) with her five sisters and mother.
For 11 year old Rampal the wait was unbearable, the possibilities of a visit from family seemed more and more unlikely as he watched the sun set across the sky. Finally, at the eleventh hour, his white bearded grandfather hobbled into sight. Rampal ran across the yard and launched himself into his grandfathers open arms, hugging him with all the strength he could muster. His grandfather, who was a regular on Parents Day, had missed his bus and had to find other transportation to the mission.

For others, like Roshni, Saloni, Shivani and Cynthia, their mothers visits were a pretty sure thing: as members of our local community Priscilla had traveled to their homes the previous day to ensure their presence.

However not everyone has family coming to visit. Even some who do are overlooked, forgotten or ignored by those they share blood with. Parents Day can be a reminder of abandonment or loss and while we make every effort to affirm our love to all our kids, while we give out snacks and treats to every child who has not does not take away the pain. Many children sit waiting on the side-lines, holding on to hope as they look to the front gate for Uncles, Aunties or Parents who never arrive. It can truly be hard to endure.
For Jyotika, Malika and Indro having their Grandfather and cousin come was a wonderful treat.
Jyotika shows her Grandfather her photo album, sharing with him what her life is like here on the mission.
Saloni and Shivani sit with their mother.
Clifton hands out date sheets for next years Parents Days.
Parwat, Sonia and Pinky with their Mother and Uncle.

Princess Diana said “Family is the most important thing in the world” –here on the mission we cultivate a culture that teaches that family is so much more than just who you share blood with. It is the people in your life who love you, who care for you. It is the ones who pick you up when you are hurt, the ones who hold your hand as you walk to school, the ones who you share breakfast with every single day.

Family is what makes an orphanage like ours a home.

Breakfast together in the Dining Room is the best way to start each day.
Rick shares a small teaching thought each morning before the meal begins.
Breakfast is healthy home made bread (from our wheat), jam, cream (from our dairy), porridge (from our wheat again) and of course chai tea!
Kamal getting ready to enjoy his jam.
Vishwajeet and Raj as bright as buttons early morning.
The Nursery Table is always a scurry of activity.
The most important meal of the day.

With our win in the courts last week we were able to continue construction of our new staff accommodation building. The new building is being constructed with the support of the amazing people at S.Group and some caring friends from Launceston, Tasmania through Project Banbasa. The double story building will be home to 6 families including long term staff members Eugene & Filly George, Peggy and Anil George and Esther Kashyap. We are super excited to see the work continuing after more than 18 months on hold.

Girdhari, the building contractor is happy to be back at work.
A 3D rendering of how we plan for the new building to look.
Watch this space.

The staff accommodation is not the only construction project underway on the mission, in fact there are a number of them at the moment. A new public toilet and shower block is being built over by our workshop, a giant septic tank is being dug at the school and the Big Boys Hostel is receiving a new tin roof to solve leaking issues which have gotten worse over the last decade. It's a hive of activity.

The public toilet under final stages of construction.
Flippy cutting up metal in the workshop for construction of the Big Boys Hostel roof.
The Big Boys Hostel.
The old, cracked roof leaks so much we have to close almost half the rooms in the monsoon. Not for much longer!

To install the new tin roof on the boys hostel the old parapet walls had to be removed. This was a tedious job that we expected to take several weeks. Rick and the Hostel Boys were able to get the job done in just 9 days. Incredible work guys!

Scraping up the left over rubble after the parapet was removed.
Rick and Gordon breaking down the internal parapet.
A trolley load of iron arrives for the Big Boys Hostel roof.
These soon will become the support trusses that hold up the new tin roof.
Unloading the massive load took all the daylight we had to spare.

This whole week has been holidays here in India. It has been Diwali season here (which is sort of India's equivelant to the Christmas season in the West). School is closed, banks are closed and most everyone spends time with their friends and families just enjoying life. For us this has meant trips to the jungle, fishing, games, movies and fun.

Malik enjoying a ride on his bike.
Kids playing '7 Tiles' a very popular game here on the mission.
In this game teams compete to knock over tiles with a ball and then stack them back up before the opposing team can hit them with the ball.
Kevin, Rampal and Danny race to build back up the stack of tiles before getting hit.
Clifton making a successful shot at the tiles.
Anish casting a net into our fishpond.
Most of the small fish were put back so they could continue to grow.
Fortunately not all the fish were small!
Shane showing Dylan the 'catch of the day'.

And thus ends yet another week here on the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission. Last week we promised you some photos of Clifton's adventure in North East India as he traveled as a photographer along the Bhutan, Bangladesh and Chinese borders with Indian motorcycle company Royal Enfield. You can find his photos here on RE's website:

Tour of North East

We thank each one of you for your continued prayers and support. It was great to get so many wonderful replies to last weeks newsletter, it is always great to know that so many people are joining with us on this journey.

Blessing on you,
Rick, Clifton, Eugene & Priscilla

Copyright © 2018 The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission
The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission is a registered non-profit and society in Uttarakhand, India that undertakes the care of around 75 orphan and destitute children. The Mission works to be as self-supporting as possible through income generated internally by it's farm and school. For more information see our website.

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Strong Farm
PO Banbasa
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Uttarakhand, INDIA, 262310

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