Orphans’ delight at donated toys from Islington Gazette readers
PUBLISHED: 13:03 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:03 03 February 2016
Children at an orphanage in India are “enthralled” after receiving toys donated by Islington residents – including Gazette readers.
The toys were delivered to children at the Astha orphanage in the tribal region of Koraput, Orissa, by photographer Anne Heslop, who lives in Islington, in January.
Ms Heslop, who has fundraised for the charity that runs the orphanage, Sova (South Orissa Voluntary Action), for 11 years, had appealed to children in Islington to donate their toys to the orphanage in the Gazette last year.
Speaking to the Gazette in December, she said she had decided to collect the toys after visiting the children in January 2015.
“I could see their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and education were being met,” she said.
“But it seemed the previous management had been very strict and the children weren’t encouraged to play – I couldn’t see any toys at all.”
Locally, very few toys were available – just a few wind-up plastic ones, she said. So she decided to appeal for educational toys.
The response to the appeal, she added, was overwhelming, and with just two suitcases to fill with toys, Ms Heslop had to be selective.
“The children were enthralled with them,” she said. “They already had some toys like balls and dolls – but nothing that encourages their development. It was so lovely – even with some of the toys they didn’t know how to use, they just made up their own games.
“They played with them for four hours until the sun went down and they had to go to bed. Somnath, our two-year-old boy, played with a toy that speaks the numbers one to 10 when you press a button. He loved it and was repeating the numbers after the machine.”
The new toys will fill a “room for play” about to be constructed beside the orphanage.
Ms Heslop is hoping to raise additional funds to add an extension to the playroom, which will be used as a hostel by older students who need access to colleges without three hours’ difficult travel each day. She would also like to concrete the area immediately outside the hostel to create a safe playground for the children, and build a small wall to enclose the orphanage.
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