Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012 

As this was our last day, today was always going to be one of mixed feelings.

The day started with a telephone call from Australia for Janet with the sad news that her father had passed away. We learnt that he had been doing his crossword at the time which he loved to do so Janet was pleased to hear that he had been doing the thing that he loved. Janet was able to share with us a tribute to her father which was very moving and demonstrated the strong bond that they shared together. Janet had the support of her team members and felt reassured by the love shown to her.

Janet felt strong enough to go to Assisi with the rest of the team to spend time with the children there. On her arrival she leant that sister Stella had organised for her to go to the local church with the children which was a wonderful and much needed experience for her. We had a really lovely morning playing with the children whom we did not know well but who soon touched our hearts with their keen interest to learn and colour and laugh. We said our goodbyes which was not easy but important to do well for the children and for us as well.
We really enjoyed our wonderful lunch of sambad and other lovely foods as usual. After eating, Janet and Anne found time to have one last shop at the emporium and managed to find some great last minute gifts because their is always somebody that you forget to buy for!

During the afternoon, Janet learnt that her sister had suffered a minor heart attack after finding out about the death of her father. This came as a double blow for Janet but she faced this news with characteristic resilience and continued making her plans to return  home to be close to her family at this challenging time and was looking forward to seeing them at the airport.

The evening soon came around and we were heading off to Seam for the last time. We spent some time talking and playing with the children until it was time for the show.

And what a show it was! The children had had very little time to prepare and there had been a power cut which had made things even more difficult but it did not matter because the result was amazing. We were honoured to be entertained with wonderful Tamil songs which were sung with sung with such emotion. There was beautiful dancing in the dark with candles and then exhilarating tribal dancing which really was a wonder to behold! The children had clearly made so much effort on our behalf and we were so touched and grateful for that. We returned the favour with a little dance ourselves called rinky dink which seemed to go down fairly well!

After the show all that was left was to say goodbye which was difficult again but made easier by the fact that they looked so happy after the show.

We all hope that at least some of the children have benefitted from the time that they have spent with us, even if only in a small way. It may not be obvious from the way they talk or from what facts and figures they know, but I hope that they feel safe in the knowledge that they are loved and that they are wonderful, beautiful children who deserve to be very happy in their lives wherever the path of life takes them.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

And so our transition from our life in India to our lives back home begins.

Our work began as usual around 9 o clock. Janet and I (Anne) attended an “awards” day at Grace School.  Little did we know we would be the western celebrities that got to give out the awards and be in all the class photos.  I felt a little uncomfortable as I have only taught at Grace for one week, but I know that just having a western face in the school photos will please Esther, the principal, and perhaps give the school more “clout”, so I understood.  I have to admit it was great fun feeling so needed and so important!  The children had good fun receiving their awards and it was probably a nice easy day for them.

We also did not know that today was Grace School’s last day of the week, and thus our last day there too.  We were saddened by that, as we had fabulous stickers to give to the kids on Friday and we weren’t quite prepared to say goodbye, but we and the children did our best to say our goodbyes.  I was very saddened to realize I will not see these children for a while, or possibly ever again..  It was a sad time and some tears were shed.

Angela and Many also had their last day at Assisi Illam Daycare, and thus goodbyes were said with all our school groups.  It was a sad time for them too, as I know they really fell in love with the little ones.

We visited the St Thomas Shrines in the afternoon, the places where St  Thomas performed miracles (making water flow) and also sadly was martyred, due to inciting anger by converting the Hindu King to Christianity.  It was interesting to see a place of Christianity in the middle of India where we have seen many Hindu shrines – at least today it seems a peaceful place, high up in the middle of Chennai city.

In the evening we had play time again at SEAMS, which was great fun, but all of us are preparing for our final goodbyes tomorrow.  Many of us have begun speaking about the work or family awaiting us at home, as we prepare our intellects and emotions for the move away from our great work here in India to our normal everyday lives.

Which brings me to my quote from the Bhagavad Gita (quoted by a Swami Vivekenanda, a great Indian monk we learned about from Stephen).

As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take, through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee

This quote I believe represents our team, a mix of secular folk and Christian folk, and the Indian people, a great mix of  many religions..  For a few brief weeks our streams have mingled together to experience a wonderful moment of love and service.  We will all separate soon, but we take a bit of each other as we go back to our own lives.  And may our efforts and good works bring us all to God.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What a wonderful morning, it’s nice and bright outside! I am looking forward to a full day ahead! Finally, I'm getting used to getting up right when sunrise hits, usually at 6:00 am. This time around, I’ve been getting tons of sleep, feeling very restful and content as I start my normal morning routine, keeping my friends and family updated on Facebook, with my precious iPhone! And with Wi-Fi connection, my cell phone has been very useful for me. It has definitely made my life so much easier! Guesthouse India, you rock!

As For the rest of my team, they seem delighted in their morning routines as well. Ann and Angela enjoying their Yoga on the breezy rooftop while the little cute kittens where probably being entertained by them stretching away! Janet, as always is preparing her teaching materials, being so well organized, in starting her day off with the wonderful students at Grace School.

Breakfast, here is always pleasant. We had scrambled eggs with green bell peppers and some amul cheese in the mix, along with a yummy Indian sweet kus kus dish and as always my nice sweet morning coffee, freshly made by our awesome chef, Roni! After our meal Angela and I quickly brush up and on our way to teach and play with the children at Assisi. Before we got to Assisi Illan, we stopped by the local store to get some water and some juice, so that we may have enough energy and strength to keep up with the children as they have tons of energy.

We started out with our set system which is counting numbers out loud to the kids, counting from one to ten by using our fingers and saying the days of the week starting from Sunday to Saturday. Lastly, we end it with saying all the months of the year! We repeat twice so that it gives the kids the chance to learn and to be able to follow along. By repeating it slowly, I believe this method will help them with their ability to focus more. After that, we had the kids playing musical chair, the kids ran around the chairs just having a great time. Sister Rose did mention to me that the kids really enjoy listening to music in general. “Good to know; now I know what to reward them with after class.” Kids simply just want to have fun after all, kids should be kids!

I was quite thrilled that sister Rose assigned little four and half year old , Karthik as my student for the day. I had a great time teaching little bright Karthik to write and to memorize the lower case letters. I’ve also taught him numbers from 1 to 20 which happens to be his first time learning numbers. I must say, it only took him a couple of seconds to remember the lower case alphabet and numbers. I gave him an A plus score. I was so delighted to see his sparking big smile as he ran straight to Sister Rose and shared his well done work! Rose was very proud of Karthik as well as me.

The rest of the kids played with Legos which is practically their daily activity. Looking at the clock, I realized we are slightly late with our daily chore which is folding the orphans’ clothes. There were more clothes than all the previous days too, but we managed to finish folding all the clothes just before Steven arrived to pick us up, heading back to the guesthouse for lunch.

Right after a delicious lunch, Janet, Anne, and I including Stephen, his cute little son Roshan and his lovely wife Sheeba, went shopping in downtown Chennai. While Angela decided to relax and have quality time at home. So we went on our way, Oh boy, I didn’t expect to buy more things at the Saravana store and I was thinking that I was all done with my shopping. Surely, I thought wrong. I have definitely fallen into temptation with all the gleaming Indian accessories and clothes. Everything there was reasonable priced. It seems like the rest of my teammates were also successful at getting what they wanted as well. Now, the time is up! Shopping must stop! We all met up at the store lobby and walked to our rides. The rest headed back in the car with Steven and Anne and I took the Auto Rickshaw instead because we really love riding on this another crazy version of a golf cart ride!

In the evening we all got to teach and play with the orphans over at the Assisi. They were so excited and very happy to see us. I got to communicate with them, play, color and reward them with smiling sparkling stickers and let some of the kid’s use my camera like it was their new toy for the moment. They love to get their photo taken and as well take photos and video clips. I got super tired by the end of the night. Honestly, the kids that night was quite a handful, but it’s worth the time and energy simply to see them rejoice in our company and learning from us. Their sparkling smiling eyes bring me peace and joy. They are truly the reason why I’m here serving, basically showing my love.
I must say, I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to sow encouragement, love and hope into their little precious lives!

The quote of the day!
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have. ~Jim Rohn~


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today dawned with a lovely light breeze, so refreshing on the terrace with Mumma cat and her kittens after days of stillness.

While we were appreciatively eating our usual gourmet Indian breakfast a lively discussion began about the wonders of driving in India. It seems so crazy, so chaotic. There is a system Stephen explained and it goes like this. Pedestrians give way to cyclists, cyclists give way to motor bikes, motor bikes give way to rickshaws, rickshaws give way to cars, cars give way to buses and trucks, buses and trucks give way to cows and buffaloes.  So in India it’s the cattle that rule not the biggest.

Angela and Munnie had another good day with the little ones at Assisi and except for one little boy who seemed to be coming down with something the children were more animated than yesterday

And eager to participate.

Anne and I were at Grace School. It was good to be back with the children after my day of forced rest yesterday. Our day went well with the kindergarten, 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th graders.They have got to know our routine and really love the colouring sheets but we insist on work first . I love the way they break into song while they are colouring and choosing the right colours is particularly important.After a week at Grace School I had been expecting the unexpected but all went according to schedule.

Balaji in 4th standard  gave me a letter for Susan – he is missing her so much he is crying – said with the biggest smile.

For lunch Rani had prepared a very delicious fish and tamarind curry complete with bones for extra texture.

 We were also treated to Jack fruit for the first time. Stephen had bought it from a roadside stall on the way home from our Pudicherry trip.  Barnabas and Rani sitting on the kitchen floor preparing it was excellent photo material. Another one of those unique India sights that is so fascinating for us Westerners.

After lunch Angela and Anne went to The Emporium – both came home with beautiful purchases including wall hangings and and other speciality crafts of India. Sheeba took Munnie and I to the tailors to collect our sari and Punjabi but due to the power outage today we will have to wait till tomorrow.

No water one day,- no power the next, could be difficult, but we are going with the flow and taking it  all in our stride.

When it was time for us to go to SEAMS, Stephen suggested we go in the car instead of taking our usual stroll, to conserve our energy. An hour later after playing exhilarating ball games with the children this senior citizen was very grateful that some energy had been saved. Angela had thoughtfully bought a selection of balls and skipping ropes so Stephen arranged for us to have a play session with the children. There was basketball, cricket, volleyball, football and sundry skipping and handclapping games going on over the course of the evening.

Sheeba joined in with enthusiasm showing her natural sporting ability. It was good for the soul to see them so happily occupied and hopefully the boys who missed out the session because they had not earnt enough points will mend their ways and be involved when we repeat the exercise on Thursday. It was a fun night.

We ended our night with our favourite beet dish and all enjoyed icecream except for Ann who opted for another serve of beets.

Quote for the day –for any of us volunteers who may wonder at times if we are making a difference

`A teacher affects eternity  she can never tell when her influence stops `.Henry Adams

Apologies for changing the gender to make it more applicable for group110.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Well it was back to work today for all of us.  It had been a very busy and dynamic weekend as three of  our team departed the guesthouse.  Susan and Lisa were continuing their travels to have more exciting adventures and Melissa was returning home to New York.  So after saying fond farewells,  we packed our bags as well as we were all off  to do some exploring too!  Munnie went to see the family  of her friend and Janet, Ann and myself set off  to see  the wondrous temples, stone carvings  and the amazing town of Auroville with its futuristic centre of Matrimandir.  We were accompanied by the  two Stephens – one was an excellent guide whose knowledge of most things knows no bounds (except perhaps the subject of trees) and one was  a great driver who rivalled Jenson Button in his skill in dodging the crazy cars and motorbikes that flew in our direction (especially when they weren’t supposed to).  It sounded as though Munnie also had a great time learning about the joys of shopping in Chennai and also discovering the local beach with the family who showed her such hospitality and care that she felt spoilt.   We were all well rested and rejuvenated and shared exciting stories of our adventures on Sunday night.

So all was good  but then it became  apparent that there were a few clouds on  the horizon.  Unfortunately, Janet and Anne appeared to have come down with the dreaded “traveller’s tummy” which is no fun at all.    Hence we were a depleted number who set off to our work places, Munnie and myself  were busy at day care and Anne set off to Grace school while Janet sensibly rested in her room. 

Things at the day  care were fairly hectic as I think the children seemed to have developed that   Monday morning feeling and struggled to concentrate but were keen as always to do some building work the bricks.  Anne   had a good  introduction to work at Grace school and learned the essentials of being a good teacher which included being able to rap on the  table to  get some attention!

Then it was back to the guesthouse for some much needed R& R or a spot of shopping in some cases!  There was DIY work to be done at the guesthouse which included fixing the door and also the well as it was pretty tough for us girls to cope with the lack of showering water in this heat!  

It was lovely to be back at SEAM in the evening with new students to teach and to get to know.  I think the children also had that Monday sickness which seemed to be contagious and the teachers may have caught it too as everybody was a bit subdued and quiet.  Despite this,, the time went quickly and we were soon saying our goodbyes and heading back to the guesthouse to relax and enjoy a much needed dinner. It was great to see that Janet was feeling better and ready for some food.

We had a great cause to celebrate after dinner as we learned that Stephen was excellent at DIY and had fixed the well!  So hurrah, we could all luxuriate in a shower again and realized how lucky we  were to be able to do this at all.  It was only for 24 hours that we were without  running water and that was definitely enough for all of us.

So after a slightly dodgy start to the day, things definitely improved and ended on a clean and healthy high for all.

Quote for the day:  in light of the challenges of this day, I will leave to Sri Aurobindo:

“But difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome.”


Friday, March 16, 2012

Our day today was split between our work in the morning and a celebration for Grace school in the evening.  Little did we know that our evening event would be a charming and truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Our  morning work routine was a little different today. Due to the celebration at Grace School, Janet and Susan did not teach there in the morning, so they joined me (Anne) at the SEAMS children’s  home for 1:1 tutoring.  I enjoyed observing  them as they both are experienced teachers and I learned a lot just watching them out of the corner of my eye.  Manee, Angela, Melissa, and Lisa  spent their morning at Assisi Illam daycare.  For now, the Global Volunteers work on the painting is finished, as the portion they are painting now requires scaffolding or ladders and I guess Stephen is worried about our safety.  I must confess I had a secret longing to climb the bamboo and sticks scaffolding I have seen Indian workers use…..but I guess I’ll have to climb Indian scaffolding next time I’m in India.

We worked hard and then enjoyed lunch & a break before heading out to the Grace Nursery & Primary School Cultural Program and 12th Annual Day Celebration.  We dressed up a bit for it, which was a good thing because  we were some of the guests of honor .  The programme was scheduled to start at 5 pm, and we arrived almost at that time (just a little late).  However, it was on India time and didn’t actually start til 6:30 or 6:45.   I  was very glad that it started late because we got the chance to observe the Grace children in their costumes, full of excitement, as well as the local children.   The staff set up loudspeakers and played some great Indian music,  and the neighborhood kids who weren’t in the program danced their  hearts out .  It was a treasure to witness them dancing with wild abandon, especially if they knew we were filming them with our I phones..  For a minute, they were Bollywood stars.  The Grace  School children gathered around Janet and  Susan,  their teachers, so eager to show off their  costumes, which were mostly cholis (a small top and a skirt).  They were very excited to show their western English speaking teachers their beautiful outfits.

The program itself started off with speakers – quite a few speakers, and several of them talked for quite a while. Luckily Stephen our team lead had warned us, so we were prepared.  Our very own Stephen, Janet, and Susan spoke, and represented our team very  well.  Susan & Janet even included Tamil words which won the hearts of the audience.  After the speakers came the dancers!   We watched several dances, including a fashion show with the little kindergartners (perhaps 4 years old), in costumes representing famous Indians such as Ghandi and Nehru.  The children that danced performed with grace and skill.  The Tamil children seem naturally gifted dancers…and they  truly love it.   We realized that we were witnessing a local event that most travelers would never get to see – many dances common to a specific cultural area, performed by our new friends and neighbors.   This to me seems the essence of the Global Volunteers experience.

We left on a high, and felt like celebrities as many of the local children kept asking us to write our names in English for them.  There was so much excitement and joy in the air.

Which leads me to my quote for the day, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”  So many of us in our busy workaday lives forget to just be joyous – to have fun, to listen to music, to feel so moved by it that we MUST dance.  We get so bogged down with our problems.  It is so good and right to take moments to be glad of the gift of life – to listen to the music and dance because we are so filled with joy that we just cant help it.


Thursday,  March 15, 2012

Today’s quote for the day:

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can fly only by embracing each other." -Luciano de Crescenzo

Today started super early for a few of us, as Stephen had arranged for transportation at 6:30am to take Janet, Lisa and me to the fruit & flower market for a photo expedition. Sadly (and strangely), the electricity went off in only my bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, leaving me hot and sleep-deprived by 6:30. So, I opted to stay behind while Janet & Lisa ventured off into what I’m told was a beautiful wonderland of colors & scents. The silver lining for me was that they brought back a bundle of roses for me, as today is my birthday!

The rest of our group met at breakfast, which was another delicious meal of eggs and mini rice pancakes with peanut sauce, lovingly prepared by Ronnie. After our morning meeting, my wonderful teammates Angela, Anne, Lisa, Munnie, Janet and Susan, plus Stephen and Sheeba, presented me with a musical card and colorful bangles—which I’m told were purchased during a treasure hunt on the main drag of Porur. What a lovely way to start the day!

Our morning work assignments were much like the rest of the week. Janet & Susan completed another day of teaching at the Grace School; Lisa, Angela and I worked with the toddlers in daycare at Assisi Illam; and Munnie & Anne put in a few hours of hard labor and finished off the painting of the SEAM home’s new library. It  was a productive morning, but half the team decided to forgo our afternoon siestas in the name of shopping!! Stephen, Sheeba and Roshin escorted Janet, Angela, Anne, Munnie and me into town for a few hours of treasure hunting. The street and shops were bustling, loud and chaotic, but Sheeba tells us it was actually a slow day in that area. I can’t imagine what it must look and sound like when it’s busy!! Anne, Janet and I left the shops with some lovely clothing & jewelry, while Munnie found some gorgeous saris, Roshin got new shoes, and Angela purchased a bagful of balls, jump-ropes & other fun toys for the children at SEAM. All in all, I would say it was a successful journey. J

After a quick stop at the house to freshen up, the whole team headed over to the SEAM home for the last time this week, since the Grace School has a celebration planned for us tomorrow evening. The SEAM kids had their own celebration planned, since tonight is the last time Lisa, Susan and I will see the children before we leave Chennai. To kick off the evening, Stephen taught us how to play the game of Coco (which seems like a form of tag) with the children. First we played a few rounds with the girls, and then we played with the boys. Everyone had a chance to participate, and there was a lot of laughter and fun camaraderie throughout the game. It was hot, though, so it was a lovely surprise to find that the team had brought ice cream cups in honor of my birthday. I was thrilled to be able to share my day with these beautiful children, especially Paul Anthony, since it turns out to be his birthday, too! After our yummy, cool treat, the children assembled us inside for a beautiful performance of dancing & singing to show their gratitude to us volunteers. They then thanked us individually and presented Susan, Lisa and me with cards signed by every child. Towards the end of evening, they invited us all to join them in dancing. With a flurry of handshakes, hugs, and bids to visit them again, the children of SEAM bid us adieu one last time. It was a bittersweet end to our time at the home, and I’m sure Anne, Angela, Munnie & Janet are grateful to have more time with the SEAM kids next week.

To end a wonderful and busy birthday day in India, Stephen took us out for a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant. The team shared an absolute feast of tandoori chicken, vegetable biryani, palak paneer, butter naan, chicken tikka masala, prawn fried  rice, and egg noodles. And, for one last surprise, I was presented with a gorgeous black forest birthday cake—exactly the cake I had said I wanted. I could not be more grateful or love my new friends any more for making me feel so loved when I’m so far from home. Global Volunteers definitely attracts the best people on  earth! Thank you all for a wonderful trip and a birthday I will never forget. J


Friday, March 16, 2012

Wednesday, 14th March 2012


We started out with an interesting night in our little humble room, the A.C. started to work after four days of being here. We’ve been using the fan and learning to be patient with the humidity. So far, the night has been challenging with all kinds of interesting sounds. The sounds of the busy streets, the fans running in our room, the dogs barking, the chipmunks making noises and the roosters crowing, not to mention the crickets and the birds chirping. Once the sunrise hits, India becomes even livelier! A sleepless night for me and my roomy Angela! The daily momentum from the local people here in Porur always surprises me with so much grace in the end.

Breakfast time, is always at 8:30 am sharp! I am always looking forward to every meal here at the Guesthouse because Roni and Sheeba are amazing and wonderful chefs! Yes, the wonderful aroma of Indian spices wakes me up, giving me strength to continue the duties of my commitment. Due to the sake of the precious children here in Chennai our loving support is timeless and most valuable.

My plan is to always put on a smile and try to do my best and try not to stress. Steven always reminds us to just go with the flow. Of course, I literally take it to the heart and loving his style of wisdom. I believe we are one of the best teams here at group #110 because of the mix of girls and women from different and wonderful places of the world. We definitely have “girl power!” I realized that we all come from different backgrounds and professions, but that’s what’s so awesome about each and every one of us it’s not about how much we know, it’s about how much we truly care!

At this time, it’s almost the beginning of summer in India, there are no such things as the four seasons like in the USA. The seasons are in the ‘hot, hotter, and the hottest.” However, I absolutely do not mine the heat. Knowing me, I am a big time baby when it comes to the cold weather. Even living in Washington State for most of my life, I am still not use to Seattle WA, weather.

I am starting my first assigned act of service today! My teammate Melissa and I was chosen out of the rest the seven people in our team. We got to paint the SEAM’s (South East Asian Mission) library. I’ve noticed the sun was out brighter than the previous days. Due to our friendly painting instructors, Maha and Apu being so positive and helpful, they cheered us on and because of their support, the bright sun did not affect me as much. Furthermore, they provided us with nice coffee and entertained us with nice soothing Tamil songs from their cell phone. Also, some of the little school boys came to take photos of us, which Melissa and I both loved to do. I considered myself the paparazzi since I love to capture every meaningful moment. There were some funny moments while we painted. We decided to asked Maha and Apu to start taking some funny pictures of us before we finished painting the library. I am pretty sure we left good, fun lingering moments for them to remember. “Leaving the mark”

We went back to Steven’s parent’s house for the brilliant lunch in the coolest ride, the auto rickshaw! Steven parents and his brother’s family was such a great host! They were showing us the house; basically welcoming us with their warmth appreciation. They are so filled with many expressions, of their gratitude, their beautiful smiles makes me feel so comfortable and welcome. Steven’s family was so happy seeing the rest of the team, enjoying the delicious meal that they diligently cooked for us. I ‘m sure the meal was cooked with love. What a blessing for our team group #110!

At our next assigned service project, we got to visit and teach the orphans at the Assissi Illan day care in the evening at 5:30 PM. The children there are so bright, especially for their age. There was 30 kids in total. I was extremely shocked and amazed at the children! They are so young and precious yet they were so eager to learn English with full excitement! Looking at their sparkling eyes, it’s like seeing an ice cream truck coming by. It’s was such an awesome moment to be in when seeing them wanting lots of attention from Melissa and I. In my life, I never saw children so eager to learn.

Later in evening around 6:00 pm, an older man stopped by to celebrate his Birthday with these orphans, the kids called him father. I am so touched to know and see that many of the local people (higher classes) here in Chennai have such a big heart. Investing their valuable time, expressing kindness and generous spirits directly to these orphans. I had come to conclusion, accepting the fact that there are so many wonderful people in the world, sharing their blessings to the orphanages. This kind of love really makes me feel so blessed to have this beautiful experienced ever!

Here are my two personal quotes for today:

This quote is directly to the children. “Remember God loves you so much because you are very special to Him. You are His gentle soul, you are precious, you are innocent, and you are absolutely priceless.”

“I truly believe where your heart is, there is your treasure and if it’s LOVE, anything is possible. HOPE”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


We began our day with the usual hearty breakfast –the food is brilliant here particularly the breakfasts thanks to Rani and Sheeba.

Angela shared her comprehensive journal and Stephen told us our schedule for the day Many and Lisa were no doubt anticipating a more normal day than yesterday.

Susan and I set off for GraceSchool bumping and rollercoasting. What a great way to start our day – what an amazing adventure we are sharing here.

We were prepared for 3 different groups of children of 45 minutes each, but ended up with only 2 which turned out well for me because I had a double session with six beautiful 3rd graders while Susan had the less envious task of keeping the kindergarten class entertained for 90 minutes. We never found out the reason for the change of schedule but we are learning to heed Stephen’s advice and Go with the Flow.

Although I did not feel I had achieved much with the children I am learning a lot and observing far more similarities than differences between the children of India and home.

After lunch and a little preparation time some of us joined Rani and Sheeba in the kitchen for a cooking demonstration of Vegetable Curry, Cabbage Poriyal, Tamarind Rice, Raitha and Eggplant. What a bonus for us to have an all inclusive cooking class and I spent more time than usual looking forward to dinner having watched all those lovely fresh ingredients being prepared.

After more preparation time we set off for our evening session at SEAMS. A twentythree dog and three cow walk everyone appeared to have a productive time with their three one to one students.

I had a specially gratifying night with three delightful students culminating in a great session with Kabilan having an animated discussion about cricket.

Our session at SEAMS ended with a surprise invitation to share a little boy’s birthday with the children.

Then it was home to the Guest House to devour that beautiful meal we had helped to cook. After dinner at Anne’s request, Stephen gave us a very informative explanation of India’s Caste System.

The Quote for the day.

The Smile of a Child makes it all worthwhile. (Can’t remember any Shakespear)

Monday, 12 March 2012


Well today was the first day of work some of us although it did not really feel like work most of the time. After a very tasty breakfast, we set off to our respective work sites. Ann and myself were tasked with painting at SEAM but as our Indian colleagues were on Indian Time, we had a couple of hours to wait before we could get started. We made the most of our spare time teaching two of the children on a one to one basis. So I worked with Tamil and Ann worked with Charin which was really rewarding and they both worked really hard. By late morning, the painters had arrived (although one was actually a supervisor) and we soon could get started with the work on the library. So we have made a start but there is still quite a lot to do before it will be ready for all those wonderful books!

When lunchtime came around,I think we were certainly ready for it and felt that we had earned the lovely meal! It seemed as though most of us had had a fairly full and perhaps challenging morning for different reasons so it was nice to come back together over the afternoon to support each other and share our stories. After some time spent exploring the exciting aisles of the local grocery shop, we made some preparations for the evening session at SEAM. Armed with books and flash cards, we made our way through the neighbourhood to SEAM where we were welcomed by the Pasteur Arul Pragasam who is the director at the home. It is amazing to think that he has been at the home for the past 37 years - that is what I call dedication.

Then we had time with the children which most of us seemed to enjoy the most. The children were very keen to learn some English and maths but also to show what they could do which was wonderful. They were also keen to have a go with our cameras and there seemed to be some budding photographers in our midst. Melissa was very lucky to get a gift from above during her time with the children so who knows what good luck will come to her? After some educational time, there was also time for play with games of Simon Says, running races and card games. The children really seemed to love seeing photos of our families and the places where we live and it was touching to see how interested they were in other people and places.

It was soon time to say good bye to the children as it was getting dark and we seemed to be playing a new game called guess who. So it was back to the guesthouse for some well deserved dinner and a chance to catch up on the days events. I think we all felt pleased about how the day had gone and for some of us, we had passed the first hurdle, which is sometimes one of the hardest hurdles of all, just to get started.

The quote for today continues the Shakespeare theme:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Sunday, 10 March 2012


Group 110 our first day

Three major events occurred today. Several of us ventured out for church, we spent time developing our team goals and getting oriented, and we visited the SEAM center

Our team is: Susan from the U.S., Lisa from Canada, Janet fromAustralia, Melissa from U.S., Anne from U.S., Many from US. Via Thailand and Cambodia, Angela from UK.

For a few of us going to church was our first foray into the Indian outside world! The streets were busy and we had to keep our wits about us . The Catholic church, St Joseph, was gorgeous, with lots of space available in the front of the church without pews for folks to sit on the cool floor. Little children littered the floor with fresh flowersin front the priests feet as he entered the church. This was also the moment for many of us when we realized how much the people love song, as there were many songs in church and the people sang with gusto.

We developed our goals, which were

1 to experience the culture of India

2 To grow, explore and have adventures

3 To share and serve

4 To visit Indianot as a tourist but as a member of the community

5 Result: by the end of the lessons, i would like the kids to feel special and to know that they encouraged and loved

We have the greatest goals !

So this brings us to my quote for the day. It comes from one of my movies, Shakespeare in love, when the young girl declares, “I will have adventure in my life. And love, love above all. Like a riot in the heart!”

I chose this because I believe all our team of women thinks this way. We have longed for adventure and also to experience love through service, and through our work with thechildren.

Our day ended with our introduction to the children at SEAM home. We were all touched by the childrens sweetness and their eagerness to meet us. The home is humble, but the children seem happy and are very well behaved . They also are full of joy, which was such a treat to witness. Two little boys danced for us while the children sang, and their smiles were gorgeous. A great treat to end a good first day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


I believe today is a full moon and what a FULL day.  The children at Assisi must have been affected by it. They were all riled up today.  No matter what we did you to try to calm them down they wanted to do what they wanted to do.  So Lisa did what we know best and cranked the American music and let them run free.  Although someone may have spiked their milk they were still somehow sweet and loving.

Susan had another great day at Grace School and found out that her schedule will be changed this week and next due to the dance performance next Friday.  At least the music was a bit lower today and I do not believe the kids got up on their desks to dance.  I think Susan is really rolling with all of these changes. The good news is she can recycle some old material, making her prep time less.  SCORE!

We had a great lunch and rested a bit before we headed back to Assisi Illam to spend an evening with the children there, as we were graciously invited for dinner. It was really touching to see Sheeba, the sisters and young girls work together to prepare a very large meal for almost 40 people.  While that is normal for them it is not something we/I  do not witness very often.  All of the preparation is done with great care and you can feel their sense of community. While we read, colored and played games with all new children tonight, they truly seemed like they appreciated the attention.  Many of them were very bright and so eager to learn whatever we could teach.  Before dinner the children sang for us.  It was moving.  The sisters served dinner on a rolling cart, I believe it was so it would be more comfortable for us, rather than sitting and eating on the floor. I am pretty sure they do not eat sitting down the way we did tonight.  I hope they did not go through too much trouble.  For a home that so many people to care for, they truly made us feel like special guests. It is quite magical and we cannot thank them enough. 

Everyone has been so nice to us and have made us feel very welcome during our stay.  The hospitality and sense of community and family in India is something that I will take with me when I depart this weekend.  I don’t think I yet know all that India and it’s people have taught me but I know I am thankful.

Therefore, the message of the day is GRATITUDE!!!!  I hope to give thanks today and everyday for this experience and those who have made it possible – including the sisters, the beautiful children, and of most importantly Stephen and Sheeba who have been exceptional hosts and parents to us and my new found friends and teammates, Canada and Suse. Together we found a way to get through 2 incredible and certainly unforgettable weeks.  I can’t wait to hear how the rest of it goes…

Also I can’t forget the unsung heroes, Stephen, Barnabus and Rani


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Breakfast was more quiet than usual for some reason but the quiet start of the day would soon give way to another loud and lively time with the kids at our schools. At Grace I taught kindergarten as usual and arrived in the room a little ahead of them so I could put out coloring papers and crayons. That keeps them quiet and happy until I get organized. Today went very well with these little ones and I was feeling very pleased. So now I am ready for the 2ndgraders but wait…..they have to practice their dances again for an upcoming program so in come the 3rdgraders for 2 periods today. No problem…I,m sure I have enough for them to do for 1 ½ hours instead of 45 min. We just get started when music suddenly blares out from right next to our room. The dance practice has begun. Two of my students jump up on their bench and dance. It,s pretty hard not to get up and move when the music is all around you and the rhythms are so inviting. Soon all my students are showing me their Tamil dancing moves and out comes my camera.

We try to do lesson I have brought for the day but quickly I give it up and surrender to the moment. I get the students busy with a drawing and short story to write and I go out to where all the dancing is going on. It was great fun to watch….a real little Kollywood production.

When Steven comes to pick me up, Lisa has come to see the school. She is escorted into meet Easter, the principal, first and then is surrounded by many curious children happy to meet another “mam” from the USA. On the ride home we both share that we had crazier days than usual. The quiet of the quest house is a welcomed relief.

Today we are going to Steven’s parent’s house for lunch which is a short drive away. There we are welcomed by Steven’s parents, his brother Stephen and wife Rebecca and their beautiful 1 year old daughter Monica. Stephen’s mother expresses her sincere pleasure in having us as quests in their home and shares with us a lavish meal A highlight for us is to see family photos, learn more about the extended family, watch little Monica and see how she and other babies sleep in a hammock hanging in the parent’s bedroom.

Back home for siesta and quiet time before we re-enter that special world of kids at SEAMS. And tonight at SEAMS was quiet and a regular session of reading/talking with our 3 kids. It felt productive and low keyed for all of us…..kind of nice after a random and wild ride the night before.

A message that keeps coming up for me is to slow down and move more slowly….do everything more slowly. The weather and other conditions just call out for slowing down and not trying to do too much all at once. I find this advice very helpful if and when I remember it and I feel being here in India is helping me put it into practice. So my message for the day from a wise spider named Charlotte…..Never hurry….Never worry.

Tuesday march 6th, 2012


After a busy Monday, we started Tuesday morning with the challenge of India’s key phrase ‘go with the flow’. Lisa and I learned we were going to be split up because I was going to do construction work at SEAMS and she was going to manage the orphanage on her own. At SEAMS they were tiling a new bath and library for the kids so my job was to carry all the tiles to the right place, fill a big barrel of water and cleaning tiles for the workers. Though there was a strong language barrier between me and the workers, with the help of Stephen’s translations and hand singles I was able make out to what the workers were asking me to do. It was a change from working with kids but it was good to get some physical work in, even though I was sweating buckets. When I got to the house I was curious to know how Lisa made out with 20+ kids on her own, and I was happy yet surprised that they were better behaved and quiet today. And yet again Susan had a great day with the kids at grace school, even when her day got a little changed around she handled going with the flow very easily.

At SEAMS we had some more going with the flow moments. As we walked into the gates we saw all the boys getting their hair cuts. Because of their hair cuts I am not sure if any of had any of our students to teach. But we all went with the flow and read, colored, and got covered in stickers with the other children. I even got a new hair style buy some of the girls. After seems we went to the movie theatre to see our first Kollywood movie. The theatre was very much like the theatre at home, minus the metal detectors, bag checks, and no English, but for a minute when you walked in and smelled pop corn it felt like home. All I can say for the message of the day is to continue to go with the flow. There are many moments you have to realize that what is accustomed here may not be at home. India is a place to test our comfort zones so if we keep an open mind and a go with the flow attitude I know we will make it through just fine.

Monday, March 5th 2012


This weekend we took a wild ride (led by Stephen II and his American hip hop music soundtrack, circa 2005) to visit some temples & rock carvings, we bought silk scarves at the Government store and had a lovely dinner on the beach getting to know each other even more. The highlight was probably the dog that followed us, well Susan, the entire walk from the beach to the hotel. We think Stephen sent the dog to protect us on his behalf. Oh I can’t forget to mention Phillip with a D. Even if he swindled us, he worked really hard at it and treated us like royalty in the process. Plus we are all really happy with our purchases.

Today definitely felt like a Monday after the great weekend. I was feeling very tired and unenergetic. We had a great dosa breakfast and the non natives decided to Americanize it by putting peanut butter and jelly on it. It was actually quite delicious.

Sus (as she will be referred to going forward) was ready to head to Grace School, camera in hand, and Lisa and I were off to the kiddies at Assisi. Of course, because I was feeling so tired today, it was especially hectic. There was a full house for the regular day care children plus there were a few older kids there who had off of school today. And to make it even more interesting there were two new boys in matching shirts who cried (or screamed) for the better part of the morning. Needless to say it was a bit noisier than usual. Thank goodness Rinna came by with a nice cup of black tea to give us a boost. We tried to keep them all entertained but it was challenging being they are all at different levels. We sang some songs, played with the life saving legos and duck duck goose and then blew up balloons and beach balls. Running around with the tireless children was exhausting for us all and both Lisa and I don’t think we have ever sweated so much before. Even with the extra confusion it was an amazingly fun day. The best part of Assisi for me today was seeing little Daniel interact with others much more than usual today. He is usually extremely quiet and introverted and today he was running around and playing with the other children. I think I even saw a smile. I pray that this is a new beginning for Daniel. Also little Jasmine (who I have only met once prior, as she is not usually with us during the day) sat on my lap and put my arms around her tightly. Although we did not communicate with any words she clearly was able to relay what she wanted… just some needed affection. At the end of the day they are all children and they want our love above anything else we can offer. That is why we are here and in that moment I was sweetly reminded=)

After a great lunch we headed into town to shop at the big market. The ride there didn’t seem so crazy. Is it possible that we are just getting used to it or perhaps we were especially tired from an eventful weekend and morning? Shopping was actually fun. I guess we picked the right day because the store was not as crowded as we expected. The employees there were very helpful. It was interesting to learn that a large is the “starting size.” For very reasonable prices we all left very happy, including Roshan who got a nap in and woke us just as we were heading home.

Over at SEAM’s tonight we were assigned three new children to read with. Just as we were getting used to the last group it was time to change. Nothing new these days. Also we the library construction will begin tomorrow so Canada and I will have to each work there for one day this week rather than going to Assisi. Although we will miss the children, the library being built is well worth it. Only if we knew where we could get some new books around here to help fill it? On a side note: Ezekiel’s foot seems much better today. He proudly wore his glow in the dark skeleton pajamas as his family stood around and held his hand while his wound got cared for by Sheeba. It is so touching to watch the children care for one another.

Another great dinner!!! We had traditional South Indian rice in water dish. It was very good, especially with all of the other amazing veggies. Not even enough room for watermelon. We are getting spoiled.

There is a famous saying… it takes a village to raise child. I have a greater understanding for what that means now and I think we are part of that village here, even if only for a little while.

Message of the day: Have fun!!!

Friday, March 2nd 2012


After 5 days of being here and experiencing our assignments we have settled into a definite rhythm. I know for me whenI enter Grace School I am one of the teachers anda member of their happy family. I enter my room and 4 happy, bouncy, noisy kendergarteners are eager tobegin. Goodmorning Mam they chime and it’s time to begin. Today we sing an opening song, read a story, do an action rhyme, vocabulary and lettersand end with writing skills. The bell rings and they are off to snack.

My 2nd and 3rdgraders composed and wrote back letters to students from my home town. I am impressed with their writing skills and touched by what they want to say and write to their new friends in the USA.

I am touched by so many things I see at this school. Yesterday the entire school gathered around one birthday child who was receiving a blessing from the mother of the principal. Their birthdaybegins like ours….happy birthday to you and then they add…..May God bless you…..and Happy long life to you. Then the child feeds his father and sister a bite of cake and his father offers him a bite. Then everyone receives a bit of cake.

At the guesthouse we are met with fresh coconut milk and traditional Tamil meal served on banana leaves cut from the backyard. We each take photos of this colorful display and have our first experience eating with our fingers. Over lunch we hear about the great morning Lisa and Lisa had with their little ones blowing bubbles, musical chairs and dancing.

After 5 days with the same kids at Seams, we are getting to know each other and there is a greater ease with our reading sessions. For me the one kid who had been reluctant to read with me on previous days, was the first to come and take my hand and say….sister, come read….sit here. Another boy and I had the best time laughing together as we tried to play the word game ..hangman.

Tomorrow the 3 of us are away on our own for two days of being tourists. After dinner Steven helped us the itinerary and a few dos and don,ts…..and we are ready for this.

As I reflect back on all I have experienced this past week, I,ve come to enter each day knowing it will unfold in it,s own way. There will be amazement, surprises, challenges and delights. It helps when I can lessen my expectations and accept whatever comes along. So….my message for the day is to Expect nothing…..Accept everything.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

It was yet another exciting day in Chennai India, with both going with the flow and living in the moment are our phrases to live by. Lisa and I made it through yet another day of energy filled children at assis. We are currently refreshing our memory on nursery rhymes and children’s games to entertain there short attention spans. Susan continues to have a great time at grace school and is feeling that everything is running very smoothly. On our free/prep time today we did some more shopping for some weather appropriate clothes. Though we were without our guide sheba, we did very well on our own. At SEAMS we had a great night filled with reading and games. We played our first game of their version of dodge ball and the kids were very excited to show us how good they were at it. Tonight we also got the special treat of going out to dinner at a local restaurant. We ate a whole assortment of great food, with roshon of course getting his favorite chicken lollipops.

One of the greatest benefits of joining global volunteers has been learning so much about the Indian culture. We have been very lucky to live in their everyday activities. It has both opened my eyes and heart to a brand new culture. My cousin sent me off with this quote, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes". So my message of the day as we finish our first week is to continue have open eyes and heart to such an amazing culture.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012


And with the flow we went. Shortly after breakfast the power went out. Apparently the power goes out for most of the day about one day per month because there just isn’t enough power for the area. There was no running water, no air conditioning, etc… Luckily Lisa and I were on our way to Assisi Illam and Susan to Grace School, both of which had not lost power so we were very lucky. Susan went to greet what she thought was her new lower level class. When she arrived, however, she found out that the change had not actually occurred yet so the plan she put together the night prior for the younger kids was no longer relevant. She had to change plans and teach the older students. Being a lifelong teacher, I am sure it worked out wonderfully.

Lisa and I got in the car with Stephen and Sheeba and headed over to Assisi to the darling little ones. It was another fun ride fighting oncoming traffic, motorbikes, buses, and pedestrians (including the usual cows, goats, etc…). Once we arrived we sang nursery rhymes, did the hokey pokey and played duck, duck goose. No matter what game we are playing the children are just so affectionate, not only with us but with one another. Day after day we witness these tiny people recognize when their peer is not felling well and they find a way to comfort them, sometimes without words.

And as “going with the flow” would have it, there was some construction being done on the roof so Sheeba, Lisa and I had to stop what we were doing to get the clean laundry off of the lines upstairs and fold them on a separate floor, so not to interfere with the workers and dust.

Once that was done it was long awaited balloon time. The children ran around with their balloons, throwing and kicking them, laughing but mostly biting and eating them. We then spoon fed them their lunch (they were much calmer today than earlier in the week) and said goodbye.

Back to the house to have lunch and relax before heading to SEAMs. It was slightly hard to relax since it was pretty hot. Lisa was smart enough to go to the roof to get some fresh air and discovered kittens living in the shed. We all went up there to check it out.

Off to SEAMs to play and read with the children. Our time with them was shortened today because we were heading to town to see a dance performance. The time reading with the children seemed a little easier today, maybe because it was shorter or maybe because we are starting to figure out what kind of books work for them. I am amazed at their desire to learn to read in English and am so moved by the look on their faces when you tell them that they are doing a great job. The highlight of the night for me was when I got to watch some of the donations I brought be given out to the children. It was so moving to see how excited they were by some new clothes, even if they were too big

Stephen II kindly drove us to Chennai to the theatre where the dance performance was being held. Driving in Porur is fascinating but this was even wilder. The city area is so crowded. I’m not actually convinced that two cars can fit down a road at once, but they sure do try. Through Stephen II’s patience and slick driving skills we arrived safely. It appeared as though we were the only non Indians in the quaint theatre. Right before show time they announced that the show was canceled so we got back in the car and headed home. Even thought we didn’t get to see the dancers it was definitely worth the ride.

We returned home to a great meal and were very excited to learn that the power was back. After a day of many unexpected twists and turns we were all exhausted and ready for bed. I am sure for the locals it was just another day. For us foreigners it was another great day of growth and surprises. It feels like it is all starting to sink in. We are really here and the experience is WAY better than I could have imagined.

Message of the day…

Live in the moment. Among all of the craziness there is not much we can control so maybe we can try to be present and enjoy every moment.

Tuesday, February 29, 2012


No need for an alarm clock at Global Volunteers House. Early morning arrives around 6 am with the sounds of singing birds, a few howling dogs, clanging of pots and people stirring. Houses are built close together. People live close together. The neighborhood, the city, our house, wake up together.

S o much happens in one day. At 9:15 we’re off for our 2ndday to the groups we’ve been assigned. It felt good to walk into the school today knowing so much more than yesterday. I am at Grace Nursery and Primary School working with small groups of children ages 7-9. They are happy to greet me and are ready to receive whatever I have to offer them. During their lunch time, I am brought into their room to sit as the special guest they have made me to be. I see beautiful children sitting quietly on the floor eating their lunch and it feels so special to be invited into their world.

Around 1 we get back to the guesthouse for lunch…another delicious meal. The two Lisas are laughing when telling about how they tried to guide and direct a room full of 2 and 3 year olds without the results they had intended. Tomorrow they go back fortified with balloons and more games to play.

Soon after lunch we’re off again with Sheeba to shop for Indian style clothes. She knows where to take us, how to guide us across the streets of crazy traffic and to help and guide us in every way. This experience hs been made truly more culturally rich in every way by the hospitality and attention given to us by Steven and Sheeba.

At dinner we are a bit more quiet and tired from our busy and full day. I’m having a slight schedule change at my school tomorrow which keeps things interesting. It certainly is appropriate for the message of the day I had picked which is to”Go with the flow”. There is a definite rhythm and way of doing things in India and it is helpful and fun to just jump in and swim with the current….go with the flow.

Monday, February 27th, 2012


Today was the start of the ultimate reason why we came here to Chennai India, to help and care for children. As a retired teacher Susan began her first day at Grace School teaching 7-9 year olds, and from what she has told us she had a great day getting to know all the children. Both Lisa and I went to Asissi Islam day care/orphanage to work with children 2 to 4 years old. The day started with yet another crazy ride though the streets of India. Im not entirely sure when I’ll get used to cars and scooters riding inches from each other as I watch from the back seat, but it makes for a very exciting morning. As soon as Lisa and I arrived to the orphanage, which is surrounded by slums and worn out homes, we were greeted by smiles and hugs from the beautiful children living in the home. After a brief tour we were both thrown into the daily activities of the orphanage. These activities included a game of duck-duck-goose, lego and blocks time, outside play time, and lunch time. These children were filled with love and affection, they constantly wanted to sit in our laps and hold our hands and show us there tall towers they had built. It was a wonderful day to start off the next couple weeks.

The the next part of our day after our naps and reading, was regular visit to the seams children home. The walk there is always exciting, mostly for susan who constantly was startled by the street roaming cows. At seams we spent the whole time working with three children each helping them increase their English reading skills. Even though they read at different levels it was very clear these children wanted to learn English. The most beautiful moments were when their faces lit up in excitement when you told them how great they were doing. In one day ive come to a lot of realization about what these kids need and wants from us. All they want and need is selfless love and affection from us as the volunteers. Love is a powerful key to many things in life and already on this trip I have seen in all around me. I have seen it in our host family among Stephen, sheba, and roshen and you see the love in these children eyes every time they see our faces come through the gates. So my message for the day is love. Yes, sometimes it’s that simple. All these children need is our selfless love

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

By Lisa

Today started off as a simple day. We awoke at the guest house and had breakfast together at 9 am. We were all finally here after many hours of travel— Stephen, Sheeba, little Roshan and the volunteers (Susan and the two Lisa’s). Sitting around the table over breakfast and sharing stories was a great way to get to know each other. It felt like home already.

After our meal, Stephen sat down with the volunteers to have orientation until around noon. We discussed policies and guidelines and set personal and team goals. It was nice that our personal goals overlapped, therefore, our team goals were pretty effortless.

1. To serve the children

2. Personal growth

3. Appreciate Indian culture

We had delicious dosas over lunch and learned a little more about one another.

By 5:30 pm it was time to walk to the South East Asia Mission (SEAM) Children’s Home. The moment we walked through the gates the whole day changed. All of the children rushed toward us with beaming smiling faces to greet their new friends. The extremely affectionate children came up to each of us one by one and said almost word for word, “hello, how are you? I am fine. My name is XX, what is your name?” They were so full of joy and so were we. We all walked through the dirt courtyard to the main room where the children quickly sat in lines in front of us. I think they were in age order, girls on one side and boys on the other. The volunteers sat in chairs in the from of the room facing them and the children began to sing us a song. It was magic. They were beating drums and even two of the little boys could not help but to get up and dance for us. It is such a joy to be able to witness children dancing with all of their hearts, as if no one is watching. They came directly in front of us and danced the entire song. They were so free and happy. What a gift!!! Then each child formally introduced themselves to us and we were taken on a tour of their home. I was told just three years ago all of the children all slept together in the main room on the floor. Since then dormitories have been built and they have proper rooms with beds and a working bathroom in each room. It is up to them to keep everything clean and they have a point system and are rewarded for who can keep the rooms the tidiest. Today the reward was a pack of Life Savers. The children were elated to show up their home, including the kitchen and wash area. They even brought us up on the roof to show us where are the clothes are hung to dry. They have a small reading room. I do not believe it has lights because the little girl kept pulling the chair over to the window to show us how they read. Also they are in the process of building a library.

Susan said it best while at the children's home, I have never felt so special before, I have never felt like a celebrity until today.”

After the tour we went back into the main room and the children sang us another song. We had some free time to mingle with the kids and then the bell rang and I believe they were to prepare for bed.

So we left the children's home and got into an auto rickshaw and had a wild ride to the place where we would have dinner. I am sure the ride was quite normal to someone from here but for us non-Indians it felt like something out of a movie. There were people, cars, motorbikes and animals everywhere. Plus it doesn't feel like there are many rules in the streets. There was a little anxiety but mostly exhilaration. We had a lovely dinner and then returned home. What started off as a simple day turned out to be full of life.

We were all very tired and needed to get ready for our first day of work.

Message of the day:

During orientation Stephen recited a quote that very much stuck with me… “India is a country of patience. If you already have it you will lose it and if you do not have it you will gain it.”

For me it was wonderful to be reminded of this and a good way to gain perspective in our first few days.