This Page Is Under Construction
So what happened to the early children of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village? What has become of their lives, half a century later? How did their experience within this care community affect them? Most are now parents and grandparents and have left their influences on the families and other relationships that they have developed.
This is something that we can’t clearly answer at this time – as our project is developed we hope it will become more evident. As we finished school and departed (and remember, the Village had been originally planned as our surrogate home), for most of the early children at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Sussex, there was no significant after-care. This undoubtedly continues to colour our reflection on the experience. We all dispersed throughout the UK and across the rest of the world. There was little coordinated connection between us (until decades later) . Of course, as with any group, some found it easier than others to make their way independently. Perhaps their backgrounds made them more resourceful? We are still looking for about a quarter of the original Europeans and for the majority of our Tibetan community. We think that approximately 10% are now deceased and we may never know their real stories.
What we can speak of is how those of us who are in touch today look back on our experiences at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village – and, by and large, we recognise that we were given a rather privileged opportunity in an exceptional and unconventional environment. Elements of our life there – particularly in the first 2-3 years – were wonderful. We were safe, we had a good education in a very supportive local school and we had a huge amount of freedom (along with congruent responsibilities). And the fact is that there remains a bond of affection between us and with several of the surviving staff who cared for us.
This brings up the significance of the staff. It is not the intention of this website to criticize the performance of staff who were less appreciated or less effective. We can see that not everyone working in this particular charity was necessarily suited to the task – and it was not their personal fault that they were selected for the job. What we do recognise is that many of those former staff and their families were profoundly and positively affected by their experiences at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village and their relationships with the children in care. The few surviving former staff that we remain in touch with are testament to this view and retain a close, personal connection with us.
Is this an exaggeration? Certainly not. The most convincing example of this effect was demonstrated last year (2013) when our Project unexpectedly came in to contact with a former young Pestalozzi volunteer who had spent a single term in International House in 1965. This person happened to encounter an oblique, online reference to the Early Pestalozzi Children Project and recognised a name. From the moment of re-contact, we were regaled with a living recollection of names and events from almost fifty years ago – as if they were yesterday! The Pestalozzi Children’s Village did not just impact on its wards – it affected everyone who was exposed to it.
This page will not provide answers – but maybe, as we recover some of the missing parts of our story, it will give further insight and some food for thought when considering aspects of the lives of children in care.
And, who knows what inspiration it may give to somebody – many decades from now?
To contact the Early Pestalozzi Children Project click here