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Heads, Hearts, Hands
The Pestalozzi Legacy and
The Story of The Pestalozzi Overseas Children's Trust
By Diana Butler, a founding trustee. (1998)
Young Tibetan scholars.
The charity is named after Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, the Swiss humanitarian and educator who, at the turn of the 19th century, provided help for children orphaned by the Napoleonic wars. An awkward child with an unusually sweet and kind disposition, Johann and two siblings were raised by his mother and her faithful servant Babeli. His father, a surgeon and occultist of some repute, died when he was only five and left them very badly off. So poor were they that the children were not allowed to join in the games of their peers as they had to take care not to wear out their school clothes, which was virtually all they had to wear.
Poor himself, Johann saw early on how some poor children were sent to work in cotton factories at the age of six. The difficulties of these children made a lasting impression on the young boy, and when he grew up and was at college he began to show a deep interest in improving the condition of his countrymen. So commited was he that even to his wife he said he would put his country’s claims before her own.
In 1798, during the Napoleonic invasion, Johann collected the children left orphaned and helpless by the war into his house and sought to convert these wild and frightened children back into young humans; to create well balanced and responsible adults by developing the whole person. He taught them academically (head), practically (hands), and morally and socially (heart).
Creativity is nurtured at Sripruetha School, Thailand;
flowers made from waste plastic!
The First Village
After the Second World War, another Swiss educator, Walter Corti, set up the first ever international children’s village at Trogen, Switzerland. Naming it Pestalozzi Children’s Village (PCV), Corti brought 120 war orphans (mostly from France, Italy, Germany and the UK) for rehabilitation and education. Inspired by the success of the Swiss example, by 1958 the second PCV was established in Sedlescombe, England, about a hundred kilometers south of London. The first group of children to benefit from this Village comprised of forty child victims of war-torn Europe. Five years later the Village extended its aid beyond Europe, bringing 22 Tibetans to the Village. By 1966, the scope of the Village included aid for poor, underprivileged children from developing countries. Through this policy, the first twelve Thai students were selected for a scholarship.
The cost of bringing children from their countries to be educated in England is great, and the re-integration process to their countries after spending their formative years abroad was sometimes difficult for the children. As a result of these considerations and the recognised need to spread the opportunity for education quickly in the developing countries, the Pestalozzi Overseas Children’s Trust (POCT) was established in 1995 as a sister charity to the Uk village, now know as Pestalozzi International Village Trust (PIVT).
It is now sponsoring nearly 350 children in India (including Tibetans
in Exile in India), Nepal, Thailand, Malawi and Zambia, and has completed
the sponsorship of over 200. In its turn, PIVT has for some years
only taken young people from developing countries to study teh two-year
International Baccalaureate diploma at nearby Hastings College.
(See Links for more on PIVT and Hastings College.)
Hands on learning at the Budhanilkantha School, Nepal
Today, many PCV graduates from the UK have returned home and are in careers as diverse as business, engineering, finance, medicine, and social work (such as Bangkok’s SKIP program). Many are parents who seek to educate their own children to a high standard, but they are credited too for the ever-growing success of the Pestalozzi aim to educate the underprivileged youngsters of their countries. This process completes the Pestalozzi principle of the Circle of Success – the "heart" part of their education, being morally responsible for giving back to their society now that they have achieved what they might never have achieved without support from their benefactors. These alumni have done everything from donating water purifiers (Thailand), setting up vegetable farms and establishing skill centers (Nepal), building hostels to accommodate children who would otherwise not be able to attend school (Zambia), and building a technical school (Tibetan Community in India).
Each year, as many alumni as are able to, reunite in one of their countries to exchange news, share developments and ideas, and keep strong the camaraderie that stems from their time together as students.
Pestalozzi in America
A charitable trust, based in Boston, was set up in 1998. The commitment in the U.S. for overseas aid is well known, and the principles of the Pestalozzi Overseas funding have garnered interest from individuals and organisations. The U.S. Trust’s focus is to assist children in Africa and Asia – to improve their lives through education and practical skills.
The Asian Village
The Asian Village reflects the multi-cultural identity of PestalozziWorld. Click here for updates on the Pestalozzi Asian Village.)
The future lies with the children of the world. Who could deny a child the chance for a better life? Johann Pestalozzi’s legacy is that he helped improve the minds and spirits of hundreds of needy and underprivileged children worldwide. As someone who loves children too, I hope - and work - to see his work grow steadily greater.
To our Circle of Success!
by Diana Butler