Peach Tree Crèche, located in the village of Attuvampatti, about 5km from the town of Kodaikanal, was opened by the Ecolint India Team in 2003. Located on the edge of the village, it was within easy access for mothers who dropped off their children before a day’s hard labour in the fields and quarries. The crèche had two classrooms, a kitchen and an outdoor toilet. The new crèche was named Peach Tree after the peach tree in the garden.
The crèche today serves 55 children, aged 2-5. As the creche’s sole donor, the Ecolint community funds the annual running costs of this crèche, from children’s uniforms, three meals a day and basic healthcare, to classroom resources and teachers’ salaries.
In its first ten years, Peach Tree was located in rented buildings. One of the challenges with renting is that there is constantly a threat of unaffordable rent increases or eviction. For this reason, the crèche has been forced to move four times since its opening.
In 2012, the India Project donated funds for the purchase of the site and a building was secured in the middle of the village. Site work was started by students in 2013, and by 2014, the old building was renovated into a crèche with two classrooms and a kitchen.
Renovations improved the current building, but the living conditions are far from appropriate for pre-school children, with very limited space and natural light, and practically no outdoor area to play. No longer in line with the 2015 government regulations for pre-school buildings, Peach Tree needs a new home.
Each year during their visit, the Ecolint students purchase crèche supplies, providing blankets, floor mats and kitchenware, as well as sandals, sweaters, and caps to keep the children warm during monsoon season. The team also ensures access to healthcare for Little Lilies’ children by funding the crèche nurse, first-aid medication, and a weekly doctor’s visit for sick children.
Another important initiative is to provide the 5 year-old graduating children with a new school backpack, including notebooks, pens and the supplies they need for a positive start in primary school.
Of all the work invested to construct, renovate and provide, the most valuable experience of all is the interaction and the relationship between Ecolint students and the crèche children.
Each day is punctuated by activities that develop academic, social and life skills, as the children move from breakfast to yoga lessons, on to story time and writing, songs and dance, playtime, mealtimes, wash time, and even naptime. Our India Project students experience real life in the crèche as they accompany the little ones through their day, learning with them and from them. That bond is one they will cherish long after their time in India.
Fifteen years since it first opened its doors, the dream for Peach Tree is to have a purpose-built school with three functional classrooms and a spacious playground.