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November 2006

 

Roy’s Boarding

- Dianna

Roy’s Boarding, as it is affectionately known in New Creation, is home to ten village children who have come from very poor or difficult families in Kuilapalayam village.

Roy is an Englishman who came to New Creation School eighteen years ago. Seeing the desperate need of some of the local village children, he built a house in a quiet corner of New Creation Community which could be a home for himself and up to nine children. For the last 18 years this has been known as Roy 's Boarding. He funded it with his pension and the rent from his house in England . Donations also came from sympathetic visitors and he was able to find sponsors for several of the children.

Roy himself, though he had no experience of teaching, eventually became the headmaster of New Creation School . He was loved and respected by all.

Three years ago an old rugby injury on Roy 's knee flared up and he underwent surgery in a Pondicherry hospital. Unfortunately, the knee did not respond well and he had to return to London and have three more operations. For reasons which have never been explained, the Indian immigration authorities refused Roy re-entry into India and he now lives in England while his case is being reviewed.

The responsibility of running the boarding house now falls on Tixon, a young Tamil man who has been living in the house since he was six. He is supported by Roy 's Boarding Support Group, consisting of a some Aurovilians who do not live and work in New Creation.

Roy 's Boarding is tucked away at the back of New Creation. The house was painted by the boys last year. Outside, chickens and a pet goat roam the garden.

I asked Tixon how the house was running in Roy 's absence. “Well, we obviously miss Roy a lot. He was like a father to us, but we have had to learn to manage on our own. As the oldest, the responsibility falls on my shoulders and there is an awful lot to manage, but Ramalingam, the art teacher at the school, moved in two years ago and is a great help.

The seven youngsters of Roy’s Boarding, together with Ramalingam (back left) and Tixon (back, right). Photo by Priya Sundaravalli.

The four oldest girls are in the process of leaving and we are very proud of their achievements: Ramya and Manjula are doing a degree in commerce, Vanitha is studying for a degree in maths and Sathya for an English Literature degree. Selvam has just finished a two- year apprenticeship in farming at Buddha Garden and is now working full-time on an Auroville farm.” Tixon himself works with computers at the Town Hall and is doing a computer-animation course.

Sathya told me how happy she had been living in Roy's house and what a big change it will be for her when she leaves next year to start a teacher-training course. “It has always been like a big Indian family here,” she told me.” The older children help the younger ones and there is always a lot of give and take and affection. Visitors from all over the world come and stay with us and have added a new dimension to our lives and we have been able to give them an experience of living in an Indian house. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if I had not been lucky enough to come to Roy 's Boarding.”

“We take great care in choosing the new children,” says Tixon. “After the school has given its approval, the parents have to sign an official consent form in Tamil which is explained to them very carefully. The children then have a health test at the Health Centre; everything is done officially as it is a big responsibility. The new kids are usually lost for a few days but they tend to quickly settle down. We noticed they are given a lot of affection by the older children. I explain things to them five or ten times, check to see they are doing their homework and teach them the rules of the house.”

While Tixon explained the state of affairs, food was bubbling on the stove. Several children were sprawled on a bed reading and doing homework, others are watching TV, the younger ones snuggled up to the big ones who have their arms around them.

There was a general air of happiness and contentment. Then huge pots were placed on the table and twelve hungry people lined up for dinner. Evidently, the rules and habits established by Roy for this large family are well kept.

 

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