We made it!

We made it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 22 – Visit to ChildFund India in Bangalore

This morning we leave our accommodation at the Angsana. When we arrived after 6 straight walking days and some very ordinary accommodation at the previous hotel the prospect of a nice stop, some time sitting by the pool felt like a great idea, it was also a nice way to welcome Kate and the kids for their first visit to India. However as each day went by we (at least the adults) enjoyed the comfort less and less and longed to be back on the road doing what we came here to do. So today was a welcome change up and we were heading in to the ChildFund India national office in the centre of Bangalore.

The drive didn’t take as long as we thought and we arrived about 30 minutes early at 9.30am. There we were greeted by our good friends Prem Kumar and Antony and an opportunity to meet new friends in Esther, Peter and many other staff. Shortly after our arrival a car load of Childfund sponsored children arrived to join in our walk this morning. A couple of the staff also brought in their daughters (aged 6 and 8) so Gus was in his element with two young ladies to entertain. Fortunately the Childfund office is surrounded by a large wall and a gate at the front so Gus could run wild with ladies not far behind.

We enjoyed some tea and snacks with the staff and the children. When speaking with the children they were sharing with us about their sponsors, one mentioned her sponsor was from Sweden, another from Denmark and a third was sponsored by the Murphy family in Australia. For those of you who sponsor children these kids are living proof of the enormous value your monthly commitment makes in their lives, this is something we have seen many times on our journey already.

The press were due to arrive between 10am and 11.30am for a couple of interviews, as you can imagine they all started to show up close to 11.30am when we were going to start our symbolic walk around Bangalore. We had some quick photos taken by the press photographers and then conducted an interview with a journalist, Poppa, Indy, myself and Bec all contributed our thoughts on the walk so far. All of the children had been waiting downstairs to commence our walk, with placards and banners and buckets to collect some more funds as we walked. We made our way across the road to the Toyota car showroom and as the kids went in to receive some funds two more journalists showed up, all up we did four interviews for ChildFund.

Both Gus and Indy were feeling a little tired today so I took them back to the office and within a few minutes Gus was asleep, Indy also felt better for the rest. Maggie, Ally and Max continued on with Jen, Nick, Kate and Bec and did a walk down MG road, to Brigade Rd then back along Church Road. Again we were able to promote the work of ChildFund India as well as collect some funds along the way. We shortened the fundraising walk today as we had many other things to do, so within 90 minutes the team had returned to the offices, many rupees in their buckets and enjoyed a wonderful Indian lunch. Gus was still fast asleep on mine and Indy’s lap so Indy wriggled out to grab some lunch and later commented it was the best meal she had consumed since being in India. A mild butter chicken and some tandoori chicken as well as a beautiful chickpea and beetroot veg curry, it was delicious. Indy came running down at one stage for a drink blowing out of her mouth complaining about the fact that she loved the food so much, but it was spicy, but she couldn’t stop eating it! She also let me know she was in the middle of another interview, this time over the phone. We basically encourage the kids have a free reign with the media and say whatever they want to, after all it is their experience.

After lunch we transported Gus to the vehicle and all jumped in for a drive to visit two schools. These schools in the Kolar district have been identified by the staff at ChildFund as a personal project of the team. Out of their own efforts and funds they support this community. We drove in to a small school with children waiting. As always a sea of beautiful smiling faces await and a flurry of hand shaking and greetings taking place everywhere. We take some tea and cookies with the staff and children and have an incredible time visiting the three school classrooms, children in years 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6. We also have the opportunity to visit the pre-school kids and distribute Spirulina candies for the young children. Anthony shares with us that the community are in the middle of a Spirulina trial and recording the weights and nutrition of each of the children. Only weeks in and there are already positive results emerging much to Antony’s delight. All around the schools are evidence of the support of the ChildFund staff, water filters, books, toys, desks amongst many other items. We spent time looking at the children’s work, singing songs and once again spending time together quite informally. We have the pleasure of distributing some books for each of the children and then reluctantly we say goodbye to these wonderful kids.

We drive a short distance, perhaps 10 minutes and arrive at our second school. By now it is after 4.30pm which is closing time for school so understandably the children should be ready to go home but again the children are incredibly hospitable and we have the joy of sharing the singing of each of our national anthems, another cup of tea and a final cookie for the day. Our visit has identified the need for computers and desks for these schools and we ask our ChildFund friends to supply some further information for us regarding what is needed at each of these schools. As is always the case the staff at the schools are so committed and their enjoyment of their work as well as their visible dedication is very inspiring. We take some time saying our goodbyes, ofcourse the local families seem to come from everywhere when we are visiting and there are always many people to talk with and share our goodbyes.

The spirit in the vehicle is very positive as we head to our accommodation the SN resort, now in a more rural setting once again opting to drive out of Bangalore rather than walk through the urban construction zones. Once again do not be fooled by the term resort and as we approach Ally is quietly working herself into a frenzy of concern about what lies ahead. As always there are all sorts of accommodation types along the road and we really have no idea of what we have in store for us, other than the fact that it is at the lower end of the cost scale at $20 per room per night. As has often happened on this trip I am pleasantly surprised by what we find. Ofcourse extremely basic, two single beds per room, cold shower in the bathroom but quite clean and tidy. A bustling veg restaurant downstairs is also a good sign and after settling in, organising a couple of extra floor mattresses for the room we have a nice meal and settle in for bed. Another wonderful day organised by our ChildFund India friends.

6 comments:

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