Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The Farm"

For the first month we are staying at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission aka GSAM but everybody here calls it “The Farm”. It was started in 1948 by an American, Max Strong who died in 2003. Since then it has been run by his daughter (Maxine) who grew up on the farm, her husband (Rick)- a Tasmanian who came to stay in the 70’s and worked at the farm, eventually marrying her and later he and Maxine went to live in Tassie. In addition to these two their 25 year old son (Clifton), his wife Priscilla and a dedicated team of Indian staff all work together to keep the place running.

The primary focus of the place is the orphanage which looks after about 100 kids ranging in age from 18 months to adulthood. Many of the staff who work here for little or no wages have actually grown up on the mission. There is a school on the premises which teaches grades 1-9 with 10-12 offered via correspondence. Currently there is a big push for accreditation as they have a new school building planned for next year which will cater for many more students.

These operations are supported primarily by donations and the 60-acre farm that is on the premises which provides much of the food for the children and also an income which assist the day to day operations.

I’m constantly blown away by how these guys have devoted their life to these children and sunk every penny they have into them. They are constantly short of funds and recycle everything. The children are so happy here despite having so little and I think that this has impressed on me how unimportant possessions really are. There is a great sense of community here and a shared vision to see these children have as many opportunities as can be provided.

The kids here are great – we have so far helped out at the school a few times and I have shown countless kids my I-Pod and I’m getting well-practiced at soccer with the older boys. It is too wet for cricket at the moment but I did manage to sneak in 1 game. I have started to learn their names and I hope I can get them all sorted out in the month we have here. They are so friendly, inquisitive and well-behaved. They have school from 8-12, tuition (homework) from 1-3 and then some chores. Things start winding down around 5pm and 6pm is the official knock-off. That is when the soccer ball comes out….

No comments:

Post a Comment