Bridget Horkan working in class with children in India.

Bridget working on educational projects in India

CASTLEBAR native Bridget Horkan is coordinating educational projects in rural villages in India, with youngsters and their families reaping the benefits.

Bridget has been working with Thamari Educational Projects for the past 13 years in villages near Auroville, in southern India, providing education and sports facilities for children.

Plans are afoot to open a new after-school project in August, and a sports ground, with construction on a permanent centre for the school set to begin later this year. The playgroup will move next year to a bright new building with an outdoor play area and other activities.

Bridget – who is daughter of Mary and Sean Horkan – is currently at home on holidays in Castlebar.

To support the work, a crowd funding campaign has been launched and all donations would be much appreciated (

As well as the new projects above, funds raised will also strengthen existing projects that provide ongoing daily educational programmes for 126 children.

Bridget initially went to India 15 years ago through her interest in yoga, doing courses.

She then started working on these projects with Australian Cathy Walkling and today they have a full-time team of five, with up to 18 part-timers and volunteers, and have welcomed third-level graduates, and some nephews and nieces from Mayo.

Since 2006, Thamarai Educational Projects have provided educational services in marginalised villages next to the international township of Auroville in Tamil Nadu.

Current projects support children from these villages through after-school projects for around 90 children and a playgroup project for 36 children. In addition, regular health care and well-being programmes are provided at local schools and at work units/villages centres for adults with a vision to promote conscious living.

Over the years, Thamarai has worked to counter poor literacy skills, low-income level and alcohol addiction, a major problem, leading to other issues such as debt, domestic abuse and children discontinuing education due to lack of finance. Many parents are unable to support their children academically due to English being the language of study.

Access to educational resources and opportunities change lives. The after-school project supports children with their academic as well as personal growth. Programmes include English classes, digital literacy, leadership, arts and health activities along with homework support under the guidance of facilitators.

The playgroup enables children to be prepared for the school curriculum and also allows women to pursue their careers.

The health programme brings awareness and skill to manage family health.

The projects have been running in the villages for the past 13 years. The children who once attended those after-school projects are now college graduates and facilitators of many of the current Thamarai programmes.

To see these young people coming back to work in their villages, educating the children, brings great hope for the future.

The health programmes have and will continue to improve the conditions of the villages as people become informed about health and well being, reduce alcohol consumption, focus on community development and education and see themselves as agents of change.

Bridget is reaching out to the community back home to join her in providing educational opportunities as the projects move on to this next phase.

As she and her fellow Thamarai coordinator Muthukumari Mayavan explain in their annual report, human unity is their guiding principle and it is important to them that equal opportunity is available to all.

For further details, email or phone (094) 9031809.

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