Earlier this year, Stuart Porter visited The Deepti Special School and Rehabilitation Centre in Kerala, India, which was founded by Dr. Mathew Vargheese and Dr. Susan Mathew.
Mathew and Susan attended Emmanuel Church for several years during their studies in Durham. They have four sons, their youngest who is now 13 years old, has cerebral palsy. On returning to India, Mathew and Susan set about to help other children with special needs and their parents, who often face hardship, with much needed support.
Stuart's son Michael, had just completed three months volunteering work at Deepti.
Stuart said: "I went to visit my friends, Mathew and Susan who run the school, and to see my son Michael who was mid-way through his six-month volunteering trip in India. I was blown away and brought to tears by what Mathew and Susan have achieved in helping so many children, and the life changing experience it has been for Michael. They are giving so many families and children hope, practical help and education".
What started out as a small play group, has now grown into a school, which educates and supports 172 children. Helping all the differently abled children, is entirely funded by donations and no charge is made upon those that attend. As well as educating the children, there is a range of daily special care facilities, such as, speech, physio and occupational therapy.
Stuart explained a problem: "When I visited Deepti, it became very apparent that this centre for caring has outgrown its current rented premises. It is now in need of land and a school building of its own." Stuart has been involved with a North East charity, Candle for India, which was setup to work with and provide assistance to the Deepti School.
Deepti and Candle for India are working on a goal of securing a one acre site which has become available, that is very near the existing school, and it is suitable to build the new school. The cost of the land is £105,000. Candle for India have a promise of £60,000 from a donor charity, plus some other donations, and it leaves them with a target of £18,000 to fund raise before 31st march 2018. It is important to reach this goal by this date, as some of the financial pledges that we have had will not carry over to the next financial year.
Stuart is doing a 40+ mile sponsored cycle ride to raise awareness and funds towards this land and building project. He and some friends will cycle from Durham along historic disused railway cycle paths to Consett, onto the Waskerley Way to Parkhead Station and back. It will take them up to the very windswept yet beautiful Stanhope Moor. The planned start is from Broompark picnic area DH7 7RJ, Saturday 21st October 2017 at 9:00am. Any supporters are welcome, with or without bikes! Stuart and others cycling with him will be at Parkhead Station Cafe at about mid day before returning back to Broompark.
Stuart said: "I would be delighted if you could help support what Deepti are doing and to sponsor me. If you would like to, then you can do so via this web page. https://www.givey.com/cycling4deepticentrechildren . All donations and sponsors are very gratefully received. Thank you so much and bless you."