What has happened since last time I wrote a blog post? I saw yet another birth, a girl. Meredith, Sophie and I were allowed to show the mother her baby. Meredith carried the little baby and it was so good to see the expression on the mom's face when she saw her baby for the first time. Meredith left on Saturday, home sweet home for her. If you define sweetness you get Meredith. Anyway, now it is only me and Sophie in the house. Atchi has been gone for a few days and it is a bit scary being home alone. It is strange and a bit funny how much comfort it is having atchi around, even though she is 70-something and almost deaf. ;)
On Sunday we went to an orphanage and painted the walls in a hall. Then we painted the walls in the hallway. Afterwards we decorated the walls with loads of colors. Was loads of fun, had paint from head to toe, and there were children everywhere.
I've had a bit of the blues, feeling homesick. Oh well, it was bound to happen. Nothing a movienight, a candy bar or a phonecall can not cure :) It is strange what you find comfort in. On the way to work I pass several shops. One of them have a candybar called Lotte Choco Pie. Little princess Lotte in Netherlands and syrran Lotte <3 Yesterday I was sick so I decided to watch National Treasure. That movie reminds me of a comfy sofa, a cup of tea, heaps of candy and the ever so charming Miriam.
I'm off again. Will update when I can :)
I took part in the journalism placement at the Madurai Messenger magazine in July 2011 for one month. The best part of this placement was that I was completely thrown in at the deep end! I was asked to do the cover story, and with only a little journalistic experience to my name, it was quite daunting at first. However, as my stay was a relatively short one this allowed me to get the most out of my placement and I appreciate a good challenge! I learnt many new skills that I know will be useful in the future. As well as improving my general communication skills, interviews were a great help to me as I need them for my university dissertation next year! Interviewing also gave me the opportunity to meet new people, unearth amazing aspects of their life and explore small, rural villages that I would never have seen otherwise. For example, whilst accompanying another volunteer to an interview, we met a woman who was a pioneering and influential figure in the field of Indian medicine and constructed a programme to give rural children adequate healthcare. I also developed skills I didn’t think I would be good at, such as photography and creating titles, photo-captions and lead-ins to articles!
It is hard to find the words to sum up my first impressions of India – chaotic, intoxicating, enriching and sensuous are to name but a few. Amid the hustle bustle of the streets, and the many stares you get as a foreigner, I found there to be a peaceful slowness to the Indian people. At times this can be frustrating as we are used to working strictly by the clock in the West, but I soon adapted to the so-called ‘Indian Time’, and I soon found I quite liked it! In particular, I found the tailor market and the streets in and around the Meenakshi Temple to be the most fascinating of places. Muggy smells, teamed with soft aromas of the jasmine flowers sold by the street stalls and decorations in the women’s hair, sift through the air, as well as the sweet smell of cooking at surrounding vendors. Yes, you will get hassled, and cries of ‘Madam! Madam!’ will become common sounds as people will try their best to sell you ankle bracelets, jasmine flowers, bindis, scarves, toys, and anything else you can imagine in a vast array of vibrant colours. I found it at first to be overwhelming and at times exasperating as you tried to weave your way through the crowds, but after a while, embracing it and remaining calm, cool and relaxed is the best way to ensure that you enjoy it.
My host family were one of the most welcoming and patient families I have ever met. Myself and some other volunteers arrived around ten o’clock at night and our host mother, Jeba, was standing at the front door ready to greet us with a giant smile. The family had two young children – Jesnitha who is five and Jeniss who is nine. I have fond memories of trying to teach Jeniss the board game, ‘Cluedo’, yet none of us had any idea and we just made the game up as we went along! I hope that he will learn the real rules one day – I’m sorry Jeniss! Jesnitha was our own personal wake-up call every morning, I found it amazing how much energy she had and how happy she was all the time. The father of the household, Kani, was a patient and kind man, who always made humorous remarks if we did something silly or he thought was funny. For example, one morning we had slept in slightly and Jeba came to wake us up and I got such a fright I screamed really loudly! Although, I only stayed a month, I really felt like part of the family after only a few days. I still laugh now, when I remember taking ‘language lessons’ with my French roommates, and I kept saying very stupid sentences in French that would make no sense and it kept us laughing all night.
The family had a dog named Lucky, who I regret not taking for a walk. I love dogs, and he was the happiest dog I’ve ever met, I swear he was always smiling! His barking also made a good alarm, and also made for some sleepless nights, but I always knew I was safe with Lucky barking away at any dangerous chickens that happened to be wandering by!
One of my most treasured memories was myself and my housemates being invited to dinner by a lovely lady who worked at one of the stalls at the tailor market. We bought so many beautiful scarfs from her almost every day and then on my last night we ate a delicious meal at her home. We sat on the floor in front of big banana leaves loaded with food. The amount seemed to be endless as we kept being topped up! I still have the red nail varnish on my toes that her mother insisted on painting! The warm hospitality and generosity I will honestly never forget.
On my last day it was also my host mother’s birthday. We ordered a birthday cake with all our names on it and sang happy birthday whilst waiting for the taxi to arrive. These are my final memories of India, and I am so grateful to have met and lived amongst so many amazing people.
Contributed by Ms Jennifer Byres - Volunteer | United Kingdom
Our Model Farm volunteers completed the construction of vermi-compost pits in the friendly farmer's plot last week.
As per the request from one of our neighbouring farmer, our volunteers and Projects Abroad constructed the vermi-compost unit for them for the future use.
It went well also it was a great success in the community! We thank all the farm volunteers for their endless support.
Contributed by Nadia Chellam - India Social Manager
Sometimes it feels like I am in a dream because beeing here in India is so surreal. Everything here is so different from back home. The thing I miss most about Norway is the fresh air because in Madurai there is lots of airpollution. Still, I like it here and am happy to be here. As expected the healthcare is also very different from what I am used to.
Yesterday I witnessed two births! It was intense seeing how women give birth here. Compared to back home there is little mental support, the women do not get any painrelief and they are on their own. They lie on a tiled bench with only a little pillow. Their families and husband are not allowed to come in during the birth. About the mental support - the doctor have more than enough to do though, so they cannot be blamed.
One of the births was extremely scary because one of the babies didn't breath for a while, so he was "slapped" (not abused or hit) until he started crying and they had to lie him down in a tiny bed and intubate him and try to get him back to life. To see this little baby come out all lifeless and the few minutes from when he was born until he started breathing was awful. Though, utterly magical when he did start breathing. After this he was carried into another room and put in a small bed thingy and got oxygen plus he had a heatlamp above him so he wouldn't be cold. He is so gorgeous, looked at me with his huge brown eyes. Did he melt my heart? Yes :) Me and the girls came home from the hospital around 3:00 am, completely knackered because we went to a fare well dinner for a guy and then after this decided to pop in at the hospital to check if something was going on, then there were two women in labour.
Oh well, I have to go. I bought National Treasure 1 & 2 today and gonna have a movienight with Sophie and Meredith. Yay for movie nights. OOOH and I found Skittles at a shop today AND I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Brand new cover. Yay for the little joys in life ;)
J-1 avant le depart.
J ai pu faire mes derniers bisous aux bebes ce matin et cet aprem est ma derniere avec les enfants de l orphelinat. Ca me fait super bizarre de rentrer en realite , je ne realise pas ce que je vis ici . Je sais simplement que je me sens chez moi et que certaines attaches qui j ai pu forgees vont me manquer .
IL y a 2 jours les enfants, lors d une distribution de gateaux, m ont offert un sari rose. En plus de mon emotion , mon visage etait rouge ecarlate .
Je suis impatiente de vous raconter mon experience en detail et de vous montrer les photos.
En esperant recuperer cette fois-ci ma valise a bon port et ne pas louper mon avion , je vous dis a dimanche soir.
I arrived safely in India yesterday evening, so far it is everything that I thought it would be - noisy, full of people, colorful and completely different from Norway. But I am loving it. It is absolutely wonderful. There are cars everywhere, people everywhere but still it is amazing.
The host family is wonderful and I am living with three other volunteers, all girls. The highlight of the journey so far have been two things: on the flight from London to Mumbai I had the most lovely flight ever. The seats were so comfortable and I had a computer on the seat in front of me, with LOADS of movie options. The second highlight is that I have a shower! YAY! Happiness :D Oh, and of course...a third highlight - mommy put a little gift for me in my bagpack. Very lovely surprise :) It is a book with poems and quotes about daughters, and lots of my family have written little messages to me in it. Will read this whenever I get gloomy.
Today I woke up early and Nirmala came to pick me up. She has given me a little tour of where things are in the city. I met my supervisor at the hospital, she seems strict but very wise. Kind of like Mcgonagall in Harry Potter ;) I am superduper excited about working, I am eager to start and learn new stuff.
I will update again as soon as I can.
Much love from me.
J-5 avant mon depart . Il faut que je profite au maximum de cette derniere semaine malgre que l impatience de vous retrouver soit tres, voire trop, presente .
Ce weekend nous avons visiter le village de Koddaikanal a 2500 m d altitudes. Nous etions avec plusieurs volontaires c etait cool . On a fait un trekking de 3 heures dans la montagne pour rejoindre une cascade, a un moment on a rencontre un Buffle Enorme qui nous a course apres. Tout le monde s est mis a courir en etant completement panique ( meme le guide..). Bref a la fin de cette course poursuite , apres avoir seme le buffle , on a tous explose de rire.Ensuite, dans l apres-midi nous avons visiter les forets.. le brouillard y etait AMAZING ( je sais je suis bilingue) et un tour en bateau sur le lac . J ai bien aime or etrangement je n avais pas l impression d etre en Inde mais plutot dans un village tibetain..( peut etre a cause du froid )
Par ailleurs pour repondre aux inquietudes de chacun , ces dernieres m allant droit au coeur, quant a l etat de mon pantalon rose clair .. il va bien merci, j ai reussi a limiter les degats.
Muchos besos Indiens saveur Tikka .
Aika and I delivered a journalism workshop on 15th August, the Indian Independence Day, to Ashwathi Deepak and Nethra Aravind, aged 11 and 13. We began by introducing ourselves and asking the girls to introduce themselves. We asked them to write their names on a card to place in from of themselves and we did the same. We chatted a little to begin with and to break the ice - about the girls’ schools, their interests, their aspirations and so on. The first half of the workshop was a fairly structured set of discussions about the art and process of journalism, and as well as giving some basic information to the girls, we made sure that this session was inclusive and structured as a dialogue – so we asked the girls lots of questions, and they were very happy to contribute.
So, to begin the workshop, we gave an introduction to journalism – we talked about the fact that people are naturally very inquisitive and like to find out about the world around them. We talked about the ways in which people can find out things and the girls gave lots of examples – newspapers, magazines, the internet, social networking sites, television, radio and we talked about how in each of these media, there are journalists providing the research and the articles that we read, watch and listen to. We then discussed what journalism involves, and again, the girls gave some very thoughtful answers – background research, interviewing people, visiting places and sites, and writing articles. This lead to a discussion about what good journalism must be and once again, we were impressed by the thoughtful answers the girls gave us. We talked about how journalism must be accurate, informative and interesting. We also talked about the differences between factual reporting and opinion pieces and the girls grasped the difference readily. We went on to talk about how journalists can make articles interesting for the readers – we discussed how journalists must know who their readers are and write with them in mind. We talked about the importance of using accurate quotations to bring writing to life, and how including unusual or interesting facts and pieces of information can stimulate a reader’s interest.
The second half of the workshop was a practical session. We told the girls that they would each interview one of us about our country of origin – Ashwathi was to interview Hazel about her home in Wales, UK and Nethra was to interview Aika about Japan. We asked the girls to consider a particular theme for an article that they would write – it could be the food of our country of origin, or its culture, its religious festivals etc – the decision was theirs. We then asked the girls to write down five questions that they would ask us in their interviews. Once the girls had done this, the girls were asked to conduct the interviews. This part of the workshop went very well and it was the girls’ chance to shine. They both asked some interesting questions, and we spent about 20 minutes being interviewed. Once the interviews had been conducted, the girls wrote their articles. We provided some guidance and suggestions, but the articles were written by the girls themselves. They were excellent – they both managed to include some of the principles that we had discussed earlier in the workshop and the articles that they wrote were thoughtful, well written and interesting.
We enjoyed our opportunity to deliver this workshop very much indeed, and hopefully, we have sparked a small interest in journalism in two budding writers!
Contributed by Hazel Manuel and Aika Saito | Journalism
India celebrates her 65th Independence day on 15th August 2011. Projects Abroad India organised some compettitions in two of our care placements - Avvai Ashram at Nagerkoil and Anbarasi Social Action Action at Dindigul.
In Avvai Ashram, the celebrations were on 13 th of August. Volunteers joined thei hands with the placement and organised dance as well as singing competition.The winners of the competition were appreciated and prizes were distributed to the Children.
In Anbarasi Social Action, the celebrations include dance competition which has been held on 15th August 2011. As a part of celebration, Indian flag has been hoisted and the independence day speech been delivered by the Chief guest.Here also Projects Abroad delivered the prizes to the children.
Contributed by Nadia Chellam - India Social Manager
Pour vous dire que mon moral est de mieux en mieux ( meme si je ne me vois pas rester ici toute ma vie mais bon..). Je trouve de plus en plus me reperes, je m habitue a la nourriture indienne et je me demande si je ne vais pas continuer a manger avec les mains quand je rentrerai..mouahh .Je n ai pas encore de poux, ni de tourista ( Pour repondre aux inquietudes de Mumu et Titon) . je suis allee visiter Madurai ce weekend avec Roxane c etait super cool, on a pris des voitures-scooter pour se deplacer, on est allee voir un temple hindou magnifique ainsi qu au Musee de Gandhi ou toute l histoire de l Inde ete retracee (donc j ai bien aime) .
cette semaine est passee beaucoup plus vite que la semaine derniere .Je me suis bien integree parmi les enfants, ils adorent jouer au Mikado que Roxane a ramene , je donne des cours de cours de danse comme je le voulais et j ai meme appris quelques pas de danse indienne. Ausssi, ceux qui m ont deja entendu parler anglais vont rire, mais je donne des cours d anglais et notamment de pronociation..humhum. Par ailleurs j ai noue de bonnes relations avec les nurses de l hopital qui sont adorables. Bon aujourd hui un bebe ( qu on m a propose d adopter et de ramener en France, bien entendu j ai accepte ) a eu la diarhee sur mon pantalon en lin rose tres clair.. j ete completement paniquee j osais plus bouge mais personne venait m aider alors j ai pris sur moi . Roxane etait morte de rire a la vision de ma tete!
Demain nous retrouvons plusieurs volontaires qui sont dans le sud de l inde pour aller dans les montagnes du Tamil Nadu.Je suis super contente de pouvoir bouger un peu . En revanche je voulais vous ramener plein de petits souvenirs et c est assez difficile d en trouver etant donne qu il n y a pas de shops aux alentours de cette region aussi peu touristique.
C est assez drole ici tout le monde nous regarde comme si on etait des extraterrestres, un petit nous a quand meme demande si on avait le sang rouge. Je prends pas mal de photos pour vous montrer, cest complique de les mettre maintenant sur l ordi donc je le ferai quand je rentre . Aussi j ai l impression de voir plein de gens que je connais en France mais avec un look et un peau d indien..on ne me changera pas.
J-10 avant mon retour, Betaoze je compte sur toi pour venir manger un steak Tartare avec moi ( non je dec) , Cest trop cool pour ton voyage en Afrique .
Plein de bisous d Amour a vous tous.
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