November 2020
Dear All,

Hello to you all and I hope you’re all keeping safe and well. Most of us are in lockdown at the moment and all of us are enduring an alien life we would never have dreamt of a year ago.

It’s difficult to find any chinks of light in the doom and gloom but there is one to be very grateful for: the Covid19 cases are dropping dramatically in India.  In the last five weeks new cases have come down by 52,000 a day, albeit from an alarming 97,000.  If the trajectory continues at the same rate, things should be looking a lot better by the end of the year. If so, I’m hoping it means I can go to Kovalam in January or February but I’m not holding my breath. 

In Kovalam itself, since the road blocks were removed which had prevented travel to or from Chennai and other villages, cases have gone up but to a manageable number around the 100 mark, none of them serious and none in hospital. 
The improvement has led the Tamil Nadu Government to decide that the High School (senior students) and University colleges will reopen on 16 November and it’s hoped the younger children will follow soon. Everyone will be relieved - children, teachers and parents – it’s been 33 weeks since they were closed. We are also delighted that our Sunday gatherings for the sponsored children can resume.  
The Zoom Virtual Curry Lunch
There are other cheerful things to talk about, not least the Zoom Virtual Curry Lunch on 18 October. It was wonderful to see so many of you zooming in from all over the country and overseas and from the many comments we’ve had, it seems to have gone down well. How such a lovely atmosphere can be created virtually, I know not, but there certainly was a tangible feeling of camaraderie.  We’re very grateful to all our contributors who made it so special and to Alex who master-minded the Zoom controls.  For those of you who weren’t with us and might like to look at the recording, you’ll find it at the end of the newsletter. There is a separate video for each contributor.  
The new Venkat Trust video was shown at the Zoom event which we’ve removed from the recording and can be seen here. Please circulate it to friends and family and on social media.
Goodbye Poverty, it’s called Education.
University and High School's Exam Results
Some exams were taken late, some scrapped and all results were seriously delayed. Those anxious to know if they had graduated have had a long nail-biting wait but at last most results are in. And bravo. A few are still nail-biting but all the rest – 20 of them - have got their degrees. It’s the best year ever and VMT is very proud of them. Armed with their qualifications and the confidence they have gained through our sponsorship programme, they are ready to face the world and enjoy careers they had never thought possible. Those leaving school this year had a shorter wait, but still nerve-wracking, to know if their exam results would earn them a place at university. Twenty-six happy young people have now been offered university places and their college gates are about to open. 

Here are three of our happy graduates, from left to right Amena Bee, Ashika Parveen and Santhiya. They all trained for their BSc Nursing degrees at the nursing college for Chettinad Teaching Hospital, where they are now working.  They all come from struggling homes where degrees were never considered a possibility. Congratulations to them all.  
The Hardship Fund
It’s no exaggeration to say that the response to our appeal for funds to feed families left without any income during lockdown has literally been a life-saver. We are very grateful to you. Conditions have improved as fishing and other jobs are now allowed but there are still many people suffering from the effects the pandemic has had on their livelihood. JR’s military-style operation of large-scale buying and distribution is ensuring that no family goes hungry. 

Some of our most needy families were invited to celebrate Diwali – albeit in Covid19 style – at the gaily decorated Janakiraman Community Hall. They held candles to mark their Festival of Lights and were given food parcels of rice and curry ingredients for their family celebrations. 
The Pandemic Effect on VMT
I had feared that during the pandemic, along with other charities, we would have to review our spending as we presumed our income would take a nose-dive. I’m more than happy to report that all our sponsors are still with us and donations have continued to come in, as have new sponsorships. Thank you for staying with us in these difficult times. I’m itching for things to return to normal so we can implement new plans to help more disadvantaged children and provide additional facilities for our university students. 
The Non-Christmas Shopping List
As plans are in abeyance at the moment, we haven’t got a detailed Christmas shopping list this year but all donations are always very welcome and will be put to excellent use. The new projects we’re planning when Covid permits will need financing, there are fees to be paid for our biggest ever tally of university students and, as always, life-changing sponsorships which cost £14 a month are needed. Please contact Aarthi at [email protected] for further sponsorship details. Donations can be made online at Venkat Trust, 40-24-10, 11349406, via Virgin Money Giving on our website,, or by cheque to Venkat Trust, 12 Westbourne Gardens, Hove BN3 5PP. Thank you!

If you’re an Amazon shopper you can also help us by buying through We’re registered as The Venkatraman Memorial Trust. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the cost of your purchases to VMT. We get useful payouts from time to time but it would be nice to increase them.
Let’s hope the next Newsletter will have seen normality return and lots of progress made. Meanwhile, I’ll finish as I began, keep safe, keep well.


Sylvia Holder
Founder Trustee
Venkat Trust
Acknowledgements: With grateful thanks to Sandra Huggett for her administrative help and Astrid Hunton of Expat Academy for the design and distribution of the Newsletter.
Recording of the Zoom Virtual Curry Lunch on Sunday, 18 October 2020.

Ctrl and click on each image or name to watch that item. The software used by Constant Contact, whose e-mail services we use for our newsletter postings, sometimes selects unrelated images for the video links. Where this has happened, please use the link alongside the correct photo.

1) Welcome from Sylvia.
2) Sylvia chats with JR, Ali and Aarthi.
3) Chris Walker, Director of Into Giving, talks about their involvement with VMT.
4) Kather Mytheen

Sponsored through VMT from the age of nine, Kather Mytheen is now has a first class degree and is a successful computer engineer.
5) Alex Smallman, Honorary Head of Fundraising, talks about her fundraising activities and chats to 12-year-old Thomas about his fundraising efforts.

6) Divya Sri, Sulthana and Thiyasree
7) Without supporters there would be no Venkat Trust.  Danny Bell and Naren & Bina Chetty are among those who keep the wheels of VMT turning vigorously. They recall how they heard about the Trust and their subsequent involvement.
  Danny Bell               Bina and Naren Chetty
8) Muthumani

Our naval officer in the making.
The Venkat Trust is a registered charity No.1104363
The Venkat Trust, 12 Westbourne Gardens, Hove BN3 5PP
Tel: 01273 719362
UK Trustees: Sylvia Holder, Lindsay Swan, Sarah Da Silva, Nick Goslett, John Whelan
Kovalam Trustees: Janakiraman (JR), M. Ali