Sons of William
George VI Memorial
A District of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
NEWTOWNARDS ORANGEMEN and a RAY OF HOPE
Asha Kiran Special School in Bangalore, India, is a small Christian school which offers educational opportunities to children with special needs, ranging from the hearing impaired and learning disabled to first generation learners from homes of extreme social deprivation.
The name Asha Kiran means Ray of Hope and the school has been so successful in fulfilling the promise of its school name, that the present school building is inadequate to allow for any further admissions. The excellence of the school's educational provision for disabled children has spread beyond Bangalore and inquiries about admission are being received from other Indian cities and towns.
The school has received high commendation in educational articles in the Indian press and on Indian National TV. Plans have been drawn up for a purpose built school building which will allow Asha Kiran to extend and develop the educational facilities it offers.
In 1998 LOL 240 was celebrating its 150th anniversary and the members decided to hold a gospel concert as part of their Anniversary Celebrations. In order to extend the school's ability to offer a ray of hope, LOL 240 decided to send it the proceeds of the concert. The other lodges in Newtownards District readily offered their support to the project, and as a result of the combined efforts of the District lodges £1500 was sent to Asha Kiran.
The District Lodge continued to express an interest in the needs of the children at the school, and in 1999 decided to sponsor the education of a boy at the school called Naveen. The staff at the school and the children had no idea who or what these Orangemen were, but they were full of gratitude to these men in far away Northern Ireland for their support and generosity. Since year 2000 until the present, the District has been sponsoring another child at the school. She is a teenage girl from a slum existence background.
Asha Kiran was a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the 2001 District Christmas Carol Service and the principal of Asha Kiran has repeatedly expressed her thanks to the Orangemen of Newtownards. When she was in London for a Missionary Conference in the autumn of 1999, a Newtownards Orangeman was part of a group who enabled her to come over to Northern Ireland and she met some of the Orange brethren who presented her with a cheque for the ongoing work at the school.
Members of LOL 240, on an individual basis and as a Lodge, have continued to send donations to the school. At the beginning of July 2002, one member of the Lodge received the very gratifying news that a disabled youth, whose education he has been sponsoring for the past four years, has successfully completed his secondary level examinations and will be able to proceed to University level. Thus the expression of Christian caring continues.
Through giving to charitable causes such as Asha Kiran, the Orangemen of Newtownards have shown in a very practical way the out-working of the Orange Order's Christian basis and motivation.
An interesting incidental to Newtownards District's support for this small Christian school is that an English solicitor who supports the school was at a conference in an English university when delegates made calumnious remarks about the Orange Order. He was aware of the generosity of the Newtownards Orangemen to the school and from the school Principal had received a different perspective of the Orange Order than that presented at the conference. He made contact with a member of the Order in Newtownards, and hopefully now has a better understanding of that for which the Orange Order stands.
by Billy Currie