Leatherhead Methodist Church

On the weekend of 13th to 15th May 2023 we were delighted
to have a return visit from
Rev J Jeyapaul and his son Charles.

Rev J. Jeyapaul works to support Dalit children and families in Devakottai, Tamil Nadu South India.
Devakottai is situated east of Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India. Tamil Nadu is hot, dry, flat and barren, with only one monsoon each year.
The majority of the population, from the untouchable 
Dalit caste, work the land, living in extreme poverty in remote rural villages. Landowners view their labourers as property. Housing for many is basic, without electricity, running water, or sewerage. Without education, children can only follow their parents’ footsteps, leaving school at the age of 9 to work in the fields

Amidst this deprivation, the project stands as a beacon of hope. It provides board, lodging and an education for Dalit children until they are 16 or 17. It gives them the opportunity to study for a profession or go on to college or university and so the chance for them, and their families, to escape grinding poverty.

The project runs a school that serves the poorest slum area of Devakottai.

Most of the children studying at the school are from families of daily labourers, unskilled stone workers, and scavengers.

Their aim is to give a good education to children who are below the poverty line.They offer English medium education, and the school is approved by the government of Tamil Nadu.

Some of the families are able to contribute a little to the costs of education, but most of the funding of the school comes from the project.

In India, there used to be a strong family support system. This is now breaking down, and as a result some widows are finding themselves completely unsupported by their families.

So Joan’s Grace Home offers support and accommodation to a group of elderly widows. At present there are twenty ladies enjoying living in a brand new accommodation block.

They share in the same compound as the girls’ hostel and enjoy the sense of community that this generates.

It has been a privilege for us to have another visit from Jeyapaul and Charles, and to hear how their project is progressing. Some of our members have been able to give ongoing support for many years, and this year we were pleased to be able to contribute to the project. We were also able to have them share in the morning service.

On the Monday, before they left us. we were able to share in assemblies at Trinity School, Leatherhead, then at St Michael's, Mickleham and finally at Newdigate Primary School. This has helped the children gain some knowledge of the caste system, and an appreciation of the life of Dalit families.

We look forward to hearing how the project develops over future years.