In early 2022, Solomon Daniel, Managing Trustee of Grace Charitable Trust was approached by the new headteacher of a school in a remote area of tea plantations. The tea plantations cover a vast area and provide employment for villagers who live in small settlements throughout the area. Roads connecting villages have been carved out of plantation land, following the contours of a steep and twisting landscape. The roads are narrow, full of hairpin bends and in bad repair.
The headteacher found that 30 children in a village 11kilometres distance could not regularly attend school as their parents had no form of transport. As a solution the teachers clubbed together to pay for a taxi to bring the children to school. With only one taxi in the area when someone else hired it the children had to stay home that day. The education of the children was being constantly interrupted.
Solomon, considered the project to be one that would have a great impact and approached The Tiger Tree Foundation for funding. The total cost of the project, to buy a vehicle, diesel for 1 year, driver salary, and on the road costs came to £18,000.
The type of vehicle required needed to be robust to cope with the poor roads, have a short turning circle to cope with the hairpin bends, yet be big enough to carry 30 children to school. The chosen jeep can carry 15 children and will do two runs to school each morning and afternoon. The older children will take the first run and the younger children the second, reversing the pattern on the way home.
Living in such isolated villages school is a huge benefit to the children, it gives them the opportunity to get an education, but just as importantly it allows them to socialise with children from other villages.