Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Knowledge is the true organ of sight, not the eyes.  ~

Today we had the privilege of enjoying a full and delicious lunch at Stephen's family's house. I kind of felt honored and very lucky. ... I have come to see the personalities of several of the Assisi kids and this has brought about questions of "nature vs. nurture" and how much of early childhood behavior is learned versus innate. ... Grace was a bit different today because we were late and I had the fifth graders for the entire hour and fifteen minutes. The difference in their skill level in English is noticeable but overall, their vocabulary knowledge is impressive. They answer questions quite well. ... At Seams, we get to work with different kids each night. They consistently correct themselves while reading and seem to comprehend at least some of what they read. With an obvious range in their understanding.

Jason and Laura

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  -Dalai Lama

Today we met some travelers at Assisi. They stopped by the daycare to take pictures. It was fun to see the children so interested in having their pictures taken. It proved dangerous to have a camera out with such grabby individuals, but we took a few photos ourselves. There were fewer children at Assisi today for some reason, and it seemed a bit more manageable.

Grace was fun today. The children were as wild as always, but I managed to go in with that expectation, and we got quite a few things done. It's easy to plan a lesson very carefully and find that you don't use it at all or that you must modify it entirely. It's best to go in with a lot planned, I find, and with a VERY flexible attitude. I'm always surprised with the children's desire to express such love. They love to hug on us and tell us that they love us.

Seams today was also fun. I worked with solely girls today, and it was rewarding as well as difficult. It was difficult because the girls that I have worked with  seem to be farther behind I'm their learning of English than then boys. They don't seem as driven as the boys, which leads me to wonder about gender expectations. It is comforting, however, to remember that my most driven student in the second grade class is a girl.

Dinner at the restaurant was wonderful again. I really like Gobi 65 and hope that Jason finds a recipe for it in his new cookbook.

Jason and Laura

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson - nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm

The Grace kids are rambunctious! it is a different role for me - being regarded as a sort of substitute instead of the one who is running the show. They are very sweet kids, & I think I am bonding with them a bit - especially the third graders. Even in very small groups,it seems that you have to maintain very strict discipline at all times if they are to stay quiet...& even then it might not work.  ...I am very impressed with their general vocabulary knowledge in English. There are certain sounds, though, that seem to be stuck in their heads (the way they pronounce the letters a & h and any words with those letters, for example). ...overall, I think things are going quite well with the kids.

Jason and Laura

Monday, Jul 23, 2012

Seek the lofty by hearing, seeing or reading great work at some moment every day. Thornton Wilder

We had the kids who live at Assisi today instead of the little ones. Some schools were off today. So, we colored and played a little football. It Is very interesting to see how different the kids can be even though they are in the same establishment...but I guess those who are slightly older have developed a bit more personality and are probably more in need of affection. That is something Ido not have to deal with in my everyday "job" -- small children who do not make any attempt to hide their need / desire for affection, approval, etc.

Jason and Laura

Friday, Jul 20, 2012

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.  - William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Today we had a fortunate visit from another American, Bonnie. It was very interesting to talk with her regarding her past experiences traveling in India and her many years of teaching experience in America. I benefitted from observing her in the classroom. It is very clear to me the difference in teaching between me, one who has no experience with second-language teaching, and Jason and Bonnie, two who have great experience doing so. I know that I am a benefit to the children at the Grace school, but I wish that I had more confidence, more experience, and a better understanding of the children. I am sure that just when I am feeling satisfied with my teaching here, it will be time to leave! Alas.

I love spending time at the Assisi daycare in the morning. The children are a delight, and I have read the studies that show that exposure to a second or third language so early in development is extremely beneficial. Starting my day with these children is wonderful; I love their energy and especially their smiles. It's so fun when they repeat English words back to us as we play.

Having dinner out at a restaurant in town was really great. It was interesting to order from the menu and experience specific South Indian cuisine. Jason and I have loved all meals here! We both love Indian food, and while we have enjoyed authentic Indian food in the States, it does taste different here. The combination of spices here is different than that of Indian food we've had before due to (presumably) region and ingredient variation.

Jason and Laura

Thursday, Jul 19, 2012

Thursday's message is a quotation from John Wooden:

"do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

This applies to anyone attempting to learn or improve at anything. If you are working toward something, it does no good to focus on how far you are from the goal.

Thursday was our first "real" day. The little ones in the morning are very playful, and their attention spans are about 5 seconds. They are very enjoyable to be around, and they require a certain energy that is very different than what teaching to high school students requires.  The afternoon session at Grace was fun too. Given that it was the first day, we kind of had to take things as they came. Not really knowing their level or experience, we couldn't really do it any other way. Given that, it was smooth and interesting. In the evening, we went back to SEAM, this time to read with the kids.

The kids are eager to learn, and that contributes to the overall positivity of the work. The program is so well designed too, and the hosts are very welcoming, generous and helpful.

Jason and Laura

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quote:  “To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer”.  Mahatma Gandhi

Today marked the last day of our volunteer experience in Porur.    George and I joined Lisa and Taylor at Assisi Illam with the little children.   Lisa and Taylor have spent the last two weeks at this site and for George and myself it was a special time to appreciate the work they’ve done here and to visit with Sister Rose.  We were fortunate to also visit St. Thomas Mount Hospital, a small and   remarkable hospital  conceived of and brought into existence by Dr. Sister Rexline.    We had the  opportunity to view firsthand a new program, under the direction of Sister Metilda, in which rehabilitation therapists work  with parents and children who have   behavioral problems.  For George, a special education teacher from California,  the visit  opened up new possibilities for a future volunteer experience at this site.  

Our team has experienced so much over the past two weeks working at our sites, sharing our experiences and enjoying our time together with Stephen, Sheeba and Roshan.  The thought that this is our last day together  was difficult for us all,  but our India experience once again,  blessed us  and raised our spirits with yet more celebrations!  We celebrated  Roshan’s fourth birthday one day early at SEAMS and the children at the home had so much fun and excitement decorating the hall with some of their colorings  created with us over the last two weeks   as well as the hanging of  balloons  and  placement of the cake.   They took so much pride in making sure  the hall was decorated  just right.  Roshan, such a beautiful , fun and loving spirit, has  captured a place in all our hearts.  Stephen’s parents and his brother’s family were able to join us,  and Esther the principle from Grace School, our other work site was also able to come.  This last visit  with everyone  was enjoyed and appreciated by all.    

The evening came to a close with the  SEAMS children singing and dancing for us.   George, Lisa and Taylor joined in with the dancing and it looked as if they  could possibly land a part in a future Tamil Nadu film!  The children enjoy so much  when the volunteers share these experiences with them. They presented each of us with a handmade card of colorful designs,  words of thanks and well wishes.  The only way for me to get through such an emotional experience was to know within myself that hopefully I will return at a later date, a sentiment we all shared.  Tonight I am the first team member to leave to return to Toronto and my thoughts are not of packing my suitcase but rather  of   images of this wonderful two weeks.   Lisa,  Taylor and George leave later to go their separate ways  traveling to other parts of India before returning home.  It is our wish that we   meet again on a future Global Volunteer team here in southern India.  We have the greatest respect and gratitude to our amazing team leader,  Stephen ,  his  wife and assistant, Sheeba, and   son Roshan who have provided for us in innumerable ways to make this volunteer experience one we will never forget.

Kathy D.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how
things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Today I woke up with my mom along my side, feeling Not so good. We dragged our selves out of bed and to the breakfast table at around 8:30. It was one of those mornings where you just want to hide in your bed and not do anything. Kathy, George, sheeba, Stephan and Roshon and my mom all ate together like every meal. It felt like a true family, we have all bonded and shared so much. This quaint little cottage in Porur, that was so unfamiliar to my mom and I about a week In a half ago is another home to me now. Realizing how much I have learned and the friends I have made no longer made that morning a drag. We talked, ate a home cooked meal by Ronnie the gifted and beautiful house cook and were off to Assisi day care. Getting to know the children their has been so special to see their glowing faces everyday crying or smiling. Concluding that we had some lunch with the crew and were off to Grace school. That has been the most difficult yet lovely part of the day. Today we played a bananagram game where the children have letters and a have to make English words. To be honest i did not even end up making my own words because I was so taken back and impressed by how many english words Aruna , Priya, and Barath made! I was so proud of them and felt so grateful for having the opportunity to work with them and see them day by day improve and work hard. Aruna was telling me not to talk and save my voice because that morning I had lost my voice and was struggling to teach. It made me laugh, she took over and distributed all of the letters for me and everything! I have grown so attached to this whole family my Amma, Sheeba, Stephan, Roshan, homie George, and Kathy of course with our similar form of thinking! I am so happy to have been able to come to India and see a world so different from our own it is truly beautiful. Love and peace.

- Taylor

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never have enough" - Oprah Winfrey

Taylor and I woke at 5:30am. We gathered our materials and thoughts in preperation for our day & were outvthecdoor by 6:30am. Stephans brother picked us up & took us to an amazing flower, veg/ fruit market suggested and set up by stephen. The colors were breathtaking, & the variety of fruits and veggies were limitless. We took lots of incredible pics & the locals & workers were happy to have their photos taken with us.

It was a great start to our morning.

As we were leaving we noticed several homeless families. Taylor and I decided to give some of the fruit we purchased to them not realizing how many there were. With in minutes we were surrounded, kids were begging, tugging & grabbing. Taylor & I were both overwhelmed. We finally got into the car and they continued to bang on windows & beg. It was heartbreaking. We were driven back by Stephen's brother just in time for breakfast & had our daily morning discussion. I told Stephan & sheba about our experience and was immediately put at ease." You can't save the world" Stephen said u can only do what you can do & what u are doing here matters and makes a difference. He is right.

The rest of the day I put it out of my mind and focused on what I am here to do and the children. Taylor and I started our 1st assignment with Sheba's assistance at Assisi daycare & orphanage run by sister Rose. Being welcomed by the little sweet faces is priceless yet it is a challenge to keep them all smiling and happy at once. I am happy to be a helping hand there.

we went back to house for lunch. Today we had a special guest. Sister amalda. Whom made a special visit to see Cathy. Cathy met sister on previous programs here and became very good friends, it was nice to see the ongoing bond these two have.

After Lunch, George , Taylor and I went to grace school. We all worked separately with a group of kindergartners 1st then a group of and 5th graders. Always a challenge to keep the little ones focused, but had a huge success with the 5th graders today. i really enjoy being with them all and always look forward to seeing them.

Next we were off to seams school. Sheeba, Cathy,Taylor & I kept the little ones busy with Rohan's assistance & Stephan and George dug with the older ones and started a vegetable garden.

When we were finished we went back to house to freshenen up. Tonight we had the honor of meeting Stephan an sheebas family. We went to dinner at Stephan parents house. There was enough food to feed the entire neighborhood and it was delicious. I think I can speak for the entire team how greatful we were for them to welcome us into their home and all the hard work put into that meal. We met Stephan's brothers wife rebecca and got to see his home too. Along the way we were introduced to his cousins, aunts & friends & visited roni who cooks amazing food for us everyday, at her home. It was an amazingly warm experience & we had a lot of laughs. We were finished up about 10:00 and we headed back.

It's only been lees than a week and the experiences that I have had so far I know are going to carry out with me a life time. I look forward to the week to come & I am so thankful to have the oppurtunity to be apart of this journey with my daughter & be part of an amazing team.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Quote: We don't accomplish anything in this life alone...and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. - Sandra Day O'Connor

Today was another great day made even more special as we celebrated George’s birthday. George is admired by our team for his fellowship and loved by all the children and hosts for his generous sharing so to have four birthday cakes in one day was not only fun but a milestone birthday celebration. At breakfast Stephen and Sheeba placed on the table a beautiful birthday cake with a floral candle which opened when the candle was lit. We gave George an Indian outfit ‘Nehru style’ and this he wore to his work site at Grace School where yet two more cakes were lit brightly. A happy birthday song, speeches and handshakes from the children were all showered upon Geroge. A wonderful opportunity to be one in the family of humanity. After the celebrations George worked with 2nd, 4th and 5th standard students and I with 1st 2nd and 3rd standard. Lisa and Taylor at Assisi provide many activities such as coloring, flash cards, dancing with the little ones who are not yet old enough to enter school. Later in the day we anxiously looked forward to our time with the SEAMS children. The children were so excited as they had decorated the hall for the last birthday celebration of the day only to be doubly surprised when they were treated to a special dinner of chicken briyani which included the treat of cake and ice cream. We all sat on the floor yoga style and shared our meal with the children providing us the opportunity to offer in gratitude thanks for the joy of receiving the gift of their presence - always with smiles and hugs.

Our team looked forward to the weekend having completed our first week of volunteering at the various sites. A feeling of fulfillment fills our hearts as we’ve experienced so many significant interactions with the children at our three sites: Grace School, Assisi Illam and SEAMS Childrens Home. Teaching English, singing rhymes, reading stories, working one on one with some of the children, embracing those who are not feeling well, and other activities have rounded out the curriculum this past week. Now we are heading off to the forest for the weekend. George and myself take a rickshaw to the train station which is reminiscent of taking a ride on a roller coaster – just as exciting weaving in and out of traffic and surrounded by whirling vehicles of all sizes and shapes and horns honking in our ears. Stephen, Sheeba, Roshan, Lisa and Taylor met up with us at the train station and as we boarded the train, we each got our bed assignment. This overnight train takes us to Mysore where we will begin our drive to the forest. We share four year old Roshan’s excitement in riding on a train! A wonderful way to end the day as a reminder for us all how easy it is to stay in mind and spirit forever young when we share our lives with the children and our team leader and his family in India.

Kathy D.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you'll be a success." -Albert Schweitzer

Thursday was another hot day for Porur, Tamil Nadu, with no rain in sight. We have each settled into our routines and we continue to share our successes and challenges when we meet at the guesthouse.  

Today, after a quick trip to the Government store to buy Indian arts and crafts, we headed to SEAMs to celebrate my birthday.  Before dinner, we sat with the children in small informal groups in the courtyard, reading, talking, drawing, and laughing.  As I looked around at the children interacting with our team, I was struck by how far SEAMs has come over the past five years, due to the efforts of hundreds of Global Volunteers and the guidance and tenacity of Stephen Raja.  Instead of sleeping on the floor in the main hall, the children now each have their own bed in six-person dormitories.  Restroom and shower facilities are adequate and clean. The kitchen is enclosed and sanitary. The children will use the recent addition of the rooftop library for years to come to promote their education.  By far, the children themselves evidence the greatest change of the past five years.  They seem to be healthy and happier.  They are thriving. There is still much to be done. However, taking care of the children’s basic human needs of food and shelter now allows for future volunteers to focus on teaching and supporting the children as they prepare for life outside the gates of SEAMs.

As we sat with the children in the main hall, quietly enjoying a meal of Briani and ice cream, my heart was full.  This was indeed a Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

" Knowledge is special because no one can take it away from you."

Today was a day where I truly felt everything fall into its own place and organized my thoughts. I am now aware of the fact that my Amma and I are not here to "fix" everything and help everyone. I think so highly of these children and want to make them believe it them selves. As much as We have tried to teach the kids, they have already taught me so much. I want to bring every little last bit of knowledge and determination out of them, but truthfully everyone in this community as well as the children especially have taught me unconditional love and are the ones who keep me going throughout the day. Teaching them today has made me so happy to see them improve and "flourish" as Kathy said! At grace school the children are eager to learn even though some are hyper I am learning to see right through them. I love all of the children and they are my determination. At the day care assilim I learned that if you try so hard than the Play and fun won't be natural.From what my mom advised and I am going to focus on that! I believe that us global volunteers are a family and bring our own unique personalities to the table. Thank you to my Amma for letting ke have the opportunity to live this dream and Kathy ,George and Sheeba, Stephan and roshen for your warm welcome and knowledge. You truly All have a huge impact on my (Taylor Hayes) Life and hope to see you after this program!


Monday, July 2, 2012

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy...I awoke and saw that life was service...I acted and behold service was joy.

Rabindranath Tagore

Although we refer to ourselves as a team, on this the eve of our third day, it feels very much like a family. We share our dinner and go over the days events with Stephen, our team leader. This is our time to express what has been our experience and to interweave together our ideas on how to best serve the children. Today was special because it was our first day at our work sites in Porur. Taylor and Lisa were at Assisi Illam in the morning with the young children at the day care centre under the guidance of Sister Rose. George and myself were at Grace School with students in Standards 1-5 under the direction of Esther, the school principle. In the afternoon, all four of us are at Grace School and I am enjoying my afternoon tutoring one of the new students one on one. The school is small and although I’m in a separate room, I smile whenever I hear George singing rhymes with the young kindergarteners . Our evenings find us at our favorite childrens home, SEAMS. These first visits are always emotional ones as we discover that over time some children we have known from previous volunteer visits have left the home and new ones have arrived to settle in. Although it appears that we are communicating with and teaching the children, it is more of a love for them that underlies what we do and gives us great joy. Sometimes our individual efforts seem like small stitches in time but it is our combined effort that will create a tapestry of design in which the children will find themselves hopefully flourishing and enjoying their time with us. At the days end, as a team, we have explored imaginative ideas combined with tried and true methods in planning our next days lessons and activities. We look forward to another day with expectancy and joy in our volunteer experience here in Porur.

Kathy D.

Sunday,July 1, 2012

Day one for team 114

Message……”Each successful journey begins with one step”>>>>>.

Day one began with a terrific breakfast of South Indian food prepared by Rani.  After a few cups of coffee or hot tea, team 114 was ready to begin our task for the day, team orientation.  Orientation involves familiarizing ourselves with the logistics of our two-week work program but most importantly, it involves us coming together as individuals and emerging at the end of the session as a cohesive team. This team consists of Kathy, returning for her fourth time.  Lisa and her daughter Taylor from Long Island who are here on their inaugural trip, and me, George, back for trip five.  Our team will be lead and supported by Stephen, assisted by his wife Sheeba, and entertained by their son Roshan! Rani has promised to keep us well fed and Stephen will get us to our jobsites.  Finally, Barnabas will be sure our house is in great working order.  With Stephen’s help, we established good team characteristics and we set our goals.

This team will partner with three local organizations, Assisi Illam, a day-care and orphanage.  Grace Primary School, a K through 5 school, and SEAMS children’s home.  Our team is optimistic, focused, and eager to begin our work.

We spent the evening at SEAMS being welcomed by the children with song and dance.  Their smiles and love have increased our enthusiasm.  We are ready to begin.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, commited, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

Today the day started off with some chutney, seriously I'm really liking spice, even in my breakfast! After that Stephen and Sheeba went to pick up Sweety from SEAMs, because she was going to see the doctor. We met at the house and left for Assisi. On the way we dropped Sheeba and Sweety at the hospital. We arrived to Assisi and there was a lot of crying but again the coloring book helped a lot. After a while Sheeba and Sweety joined us. Sweety calmed one of the little boys who is always crying he even took off his shoes! I'm so glad the children are starting to get more comfortable every day. I ran around with them for a while but had to stop because it was so hot! Then, just before lunch I saw one of them discovered he could go behind the fridge and find his way out and well the rest joined him, they started making a line and you could see how every two seconds a new kid appeared from fridge. But then I had to go, so I said bye bye to everyone and we left.

We arrived to the house and had lunch. After that I started to print out a Colombian riddle for the kids at Grace School and I got an idea and also printed whats needed to play a game called stop. Sweety helped me and then I left to teach class at the school. At the beginning all they did was to repeat the words of the riddle but as soon as they found out what the game was about they got very concentrated and played along. We had a lot of fun and the game helped them review their vocab.

As soon as I came back I went to the tailor with Sheeba, we stopped at a shop to buy some cucumbers and ice cream. At 5:15 we left to SEAMs, we took a soccer ball with us. I played the whole time with the boys, we had so much fun. The girls kept asking me to play with them, so tomorrow I'll play with the girls instead. I hope the boys had as much fun as I did.


Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

"I may not have gone where I wanted to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." - Douglas Adams

Today was a very busy day. At Assisi we found a new way to keep the children calm, drawing!! They really liked it, which kept them busy from thinking about missing their amas. There has been a really good process with the girl that used to cry the whole time, now all she wants is to be lifted up and taken to the window. At least, she's not crying. I hope that with time she won't miss her ama as much so she can be able to play around with the rest of the children. I'm fascinated by their cleverness, every day its a surprise. One of the sisters gave me a juice box and they all wanted to have a try, they opened their little mouth asking for more. It's very interesting how before lunch more than one starts complaining and crying, I guess their all hungry and that is how they express.

We left Assissi and came home for some lunch. We had tamarind rice, cabbage and egg plant, my personal favorites. To be honest I thought I was always going to find indian food spicy but surprisingly I don't anymore! Off course I can't take as much spice as indians, but now I don't find everything spicy. As usual we talked about indian culture, I'm always curious. Then I left for Grace School. We reviewed some grammar, the solar system and the continents. They really like spelling so one of the groups asked to have another spelling bee and the other asked for the banana game. After class at Grace School I had my usual nap, and we left to SEAMs at 5pm. At SEAMs I played hopscotch with the girls and I tried learning one of their hand games, but I think I failed. Then I braided their hair and they braided mine. Keerthana was crying so I came to her she calmed down so I hope I was of some help. After that we we to the city for some more shopping! It was so overwhelming, but it's also part of the experience of being in India.


Monday, June 25th, 2012

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

Today was my first day without Lucia. It's a bit harder because there are so many kids, but I get to have them all for myself. I have come up to the conclusion that these kids have taught me that you don't need money to live a happy life and with love everything is easier.

At Assisi, Sheeba and I didn't have to deal with so much crying compared to last Monday. Some little ones still misa their amas but with time they'll like going to play at the daycare. I played a lot with the kids, they jumped and ran around with me. They screamed auntie auntie everytime I stopped, so I would keep playing with them. As usual Emanuel was looking for Sheeba the whole time. I love hearing their laughs when they have fun and knowing that I can make their day a bit more happy.

At 12 we left Assisi and came for some lunch, after we ate we talked about the Indian and Colombian politics and concluded that in many aspects our cultures have similarities. After that I left to Grace School. The kids kept asking about Lucia. I had one group for forty five minutes and the other one for another forty five minutes. I discovered they like spelling words so we did a spelling bee! They behaved very well today.

Before going to SEAMs we went to the store, I bought some nighties and the other dress they wear here in India (I can't remember how it's called). Then we went to SEAMs and I had so much fun watching how they are able to play with the simplest things. Kerthana said good bye with a huge hug and a kiss, her smile always lights up my soul.


Thursday and Friday, June 21st and 22nd, 2012

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laugher is the only cure for grief. And that love is stronger than anything else.”

My two last days have been full of emotions. Exitement and sadness, but must of all joy has been every second, everywhere. I am pretty sure that today I don’t have the total capacity to understand what I’ve learned in this place. I know some things, I could say it’s all about love and making the best of what comes in our way; but I think that the real meaning of the hole experience will come through the next years. Whenever I don’t expect it, everyt thing that I have lived will be all explained. What I do know, is that this time spent opened even more my mind, my heart, and my desire to make my small constribution to this world.

Assissi Illam, has mustly thought me the love of the children to their parents. The importance of them in their life, the attention they need, the importante of punctuality, and the attachement that is created from one to another. The simplicity of kids for having fun, their unstoppable laugh with just a little detail, the smartness they have, the tenderness in their hearts. They say children have to learn from their parents, and I would say that parents should never forget to learn from their children. These days have been better calm than noisy, there hasn’t been too much crying, except for a few that can’t stand being away from their parents. Yesterday Dani made poop in his panties, it was really funny as he didn’t want Camila to lift him up. After a while, we knew why. Emmanuel didn’t stop asking about Sheeba, or that’s what I understood. And for the others, I think they had fun and enjoyed the time. There were two pretty girls, that asked us to come back the next day, please. It was so nice to hear that. J Sri wasn’t there today, and I couldn’t say goodbye to her; but Im glad that Sandra was there even if this week she wasn’t as happy as I first knew her. Today she was happier though. Stephan is such a nice boy, we call him “cachetes”, that means “cheeks”, and he just tries to repeat it and laughs. I could describe each and one of them, but it would take me a long time to do so. They are all gorgeous. Sisters, Rina and Alfonsa were always so nice; it never passed a day in which they didn’t ask us if we needed something. It was a pleasure for me spending every morning during 3 weeks at this place. I think a lot of people talk about the importance and care of the kids, but just a few have the heart to do it.

Grace school. Little challenging part of the program. It helped me develop my patience, creativity and enthousiasm for the children to learn. The past two days, children were more calm than the firsts days of the week. I think Stephan might have talked with them, but I also felt that at the moment they realized that I was leaving, they started to listen to every word that came out of my mouth. I definitely learned from their smiles, their joy, their enthousiasm, their laugh, their simplicity and their sympathy. Today we played bingo, as they asked me the hole week for it. They really enjoyed the game. Every day, at the moment in which the class finished, we always had a talk with Esther. She and the rest of the teachers were all very kind since the moment we entered to the school. They always received us and treated amazing. I think the job that Esther is doing has really to be admired. In order to do that, I think that a huge heart and a great dedication is needed for keeping and supporting a school as she does. As I said a few days ago, I think children enjoy us and thank us enourmously for being here, but what they don’t know is that what they make us feel is much more than that.

SEAM’S. What a small, and not so small pretty familiy they have created. They are such a nice children. They all make their own contribution to make the best of it. I really admire each one of them for the strenght they have, or seem to have as strong is the only choice they have. Even if I can imagine what would be being away from my family, I know that it is really nothing compared to what truly is; what they feel. They have been through so many difficult times, and still they haven’t lost the bright in their eyes. People should learn from that, and having the opportunity to have seen it and felt it, makes me really fortunate. Normally we used to play memory almost all the times. The past few days we played “lock and key”. I don’t remember the last time I swetted that way, but we had so much fun. Camila tought them some Spanish songs, and now they can’t stop asking us to sing it. Even if I had to sing them maybe a hundred times, I still change the words every time, I don’t get to learn them and sing them correctly. Today was my last day, they all sang me a beatiful song and some of the boys stood up and danced. They gave me a really nice kind of goodbye letter with all their signatures in it. It was time to go, they al hugged me very tight. I am really going to miss all of them. As for Grandma, Lea and the rest that take care of the children, I think is really admirable the way they have dedicated their life to them.

Now I can say that I had the opportunity to learn how children and the residents of Porur live; about local schools, and something about Indian culture and life. I had the opportunity to develop friendship with the children and other Indian people with whom I worked, I learned some things about myself, and I am able to say that this was one of the best experiences of my life.


Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

“May you live all the days of your life!” - Jonathan Swift

Today was a great day, just like the past few days I have spent here in India. The quote I quoted describes perfectly how my perspective about life has changed thanks to what I have learned next to the children.

This morning we had breakfast as usual at 8:30 am, it was really good. After that Lucia, Sheeba and I left to Assissi Ilam. We arrived at 10 and started playing with the children. At first they were a bit sad but then when they saw the new toys Sheeba brought to them they started getting more calm as the time passed. Steven kept crying and was asking for his mom, so I lift him up and he started getting better. I spent a lot of time playing with the boys and the toy cars, they seemed really happy. We had some tea and right before leaving Sister Rose called Lucia and me, we were a bit shock because it sounded as if she was going to tell on us but all she wanted was to offer to us some mango.

We left Assissi at around 12pm and headed home. We had lunch and then went to buy some bindis. After that we rested for a while until we left to Grace School. In general, for me, teaching class at Grace School has been the most challenging because it is very tough to keep the children’s attention for long periods of time. Today I had to be a bit tough with the smaller kids I teach. I told them that if they didn’t stay quite they would have to force me to ask them to leave the classroom. Thankfully it worked and I got they’re attention for the rest of the class. I’m impressed with the level of english they have and I hope I can contribute even more.

After that we came back home and rested until 5 pm. Before going to SEAMS we went to the tailor to pick our sarees. Lucia and me are so excited about wearing them tomorrow. Unfortunately they weren’t ready, but they told us to come back later. Then we headed to the store to buy the underskirts for the sarees and afterwards we arrived to children’s home. There we played and I thought the girls a colombian game, we laughed and had a lot of fun. I don’t like saying good bye to them because I love so much how they make my day with they’re smiles but fortunately I get to see them again tomorrow. When we left one of the kids was feeling sick so the car dropped us home and then took him to the hospital.

Before dinner we tried the upper part of the saree with Lucia, we asked Sheeba to take a look and the first thing she did was laugh! She told us: you’re wearing it the other way around! We couldn’t help Laughing with her. Then we had dinner and went to sleep. It was a very good day. I feel so happy before going to sleep thinking about the smiles of the kids when we spend time with them.


Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything they just make the most of everything that comes along their way” - Unknown

Yesterday at Assissi there was a lot of crying. They might be just one or two kids that were calm and quiet. Camila looked quite amazed, and it seemed that Stephan and Sheeba were worried that she would think that it was like that everyday. We had a lot of fun though. Today was better, the thing is that the two boys that cried the most yesterday weren’t today so the others didn’t have someone to follow.

As we got to Grace school, Stephan introduced Camila to the children. She told me that she did fine during the class, but that they got distracted very easily. They have been talking a lot the last few days, but today I discovered a way to control them quite good and they liked it. They are all really sweet and they treat us amazing. It seems that they really enjoy having us there. What they don’t know is that we enjoy it way much more and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get to know them.

As we got to the house, we got a little rest in our rooms and then we went a little bit earlier to SEAM’s as we first passed to a store just in front of the children’s home. Being at SEAM’s makes me learn something new everyday. That little family that they’ve created, I just don’t have any words to describe what it is. Yesterday was a really nice day, as the two little sisters that have been crying since they got there, were as happy as the others, and that felt really really good. The thing is that today they were gone, and so did Lakshmi. It seems that they are not going back, but I’m glad that they found them and that they are fine.

Dinner was great. The food, and then the talk we had about Indian Casts. It was so interesting. I have learned so many things here, that I wish I had more time and could stay longer. Today’s dinner was also nice, we tried this bitter vegetable that no one likes. I really thought I was going to be the third volunteer of liking it, but the truth is that I'm not.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Friday, June 15th, 2012

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world.” - LEO TOLSTOY

When I woke up this morning I had a bittersweet feeling about today. I was happy to be feeling much better than the last few days, but I was sad to think that it would be the last time I was to wake up in India. We had our morning breakfast, although I still don’t have my normal appetite back. It was great to spend my last morning with Stephan, Sheeba and Lucia talking about the last two weeks and the children.

At Assisi it wasn’t only my last day, but also Sister Stella’s last day. She will be transferring to a different location and I think the kids knew something wasn’t right because she wasn’t there on time this morning. I really enjoyed the time there today, seeing all the children playing, laughing, some crying and some fighting, made me cherish the time I have had there. The children have taught me so much about love, and I will hold them deep in my heart. Danny and Ahjit, the two boys I have been close with since the beginning both weren’t there today which made me sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye. I hope that I have made a small difference in their lives. There was a new little boy, I am not sure of his name that was crying and crying all morning. He let me pick him up, and I rocked him until he was quiet. The crying started again and I began to walk around with him. He held onto my very closely and soon fell asleep. It really touched me, that this little boy, who I had never met before, let me comfort him when he was so upset. These children long for love, and I am blessed to have spent time with them to show them that I do care about and love them.

After Assisi we went straight to Stephan’s parents’ house for a delicious lunch. It was very kind of them to invite us into their home, and cook for us. I had a very nice time, and we got to meet Stephan’s Sister-in-law and adorable 1 year old niece. Stephan’s brother, also Stephan, showed us his own home right next door which was very sweet. He had painted a mural on the wall of the living room, and it was very nice. Everyone in Stephan’s family is really nice, and I am so glad that I got to meet them, although we missed Roshan and Robbin who were both in school.

I was feeling tired after lunch, so we decided that I would just go to Grace School to say goodbye to the children there. As soon as I walked in the children greeted me and asked me how I was doing, and if I was feeling better. I said that I was, but also that I came to say goodbye because today was my last day. They got very sad, and were hugging me over and over again. It was very sweet. Keerthana wouldn’t leave my side, and told me that she was very sad I was leaving. Priya asked me if I will be back next year, I said hopefully in a few! After a lot of pictures with the kids, more hugs and kisses, more photos, and more hugs I finally said goodbye. As I walked out the kids were waving goodbye; that is a memory that I will never forget. I will miss the children dearly, and hope the best for them in life because they are all smart, wonderful children.

Tonight we will go to SEAMS to spend our time with the children and I will have to say goodbye. I am so thankful to have met the children at SEAMS because I admire their strength. They come from poor families who are unable to take care of them and most of them have been missing their families. They are happy children though who love to run around and play games, and they treat each other with such love, that you find only in families. They have made a family with each other, and in that I think they find peace.

We will then have our last dinner as a team at the guesthouse, and I will have only a few hours to spend with Stephan, Sheeba, Roshan and Lucia before I leave for the airport. I am sad to go, but also happy to know that I will be seeing my own family after 3 very long flights. I can’t explain how much I have learned and grown as an individual since I came to Chennai. I will deeply miss this country and the wonderful adults and children I have developed friendships with in just a short two weeks. I do hope that I will be able to come back one day, but even if I don’t, I know that I will never forget this truly amazing trip.


Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

“Where there is love, there is life.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Today I woke up with lots of energy. That was good, as Emily still didn’t feel better and she stayed the whole day resting in her room. Hopefully tomorrow she will be fine so she can enjoy her 3 days left.

I went to Assissi with Sheeba, kids were really calm today. They practiced some English songs, and had milk and cookies as usually. They all had a lollypop and were very happy about it. It is the last week of Sister Stella, I think kids haven’t realized that and will miss her a lot when she will be gone.

The first group at Grace school was a little bit noisy, they couldn’t stop talking, but the second one listened pretty well.

At SEAM’s I played cards with the girls as every day, and had a very good time. I heard Sweetie read a story, she does it pretty well! Today I met 3 new girls, they seem really nice and they are all very cute. Keerthana didn’t come back to SEAM’s. I am still looking forward to see her again. She really got into me really fast.


Monday, June 11th, 2012

“Live simply, so others may simply live.” - Mother Theresa

Things at Assissi worked pretty well today. There were not so many kids crying, and the ones that were, left early so the other stayed calm the rest of the time. Dani can’t stop smiling, he is just too happy now and I’m glad about that, he used to have a sad face every day. I made several times a big tower of lego with Riona, she was amazed that it was taller than her. As for the others, we just played with them and the balls. Sister Stella showed us more Indian dances to Emily and me, we did it pretty well I think.

When we got to Grace school, all the kids received us as always; with great enthousiasm. I think both Emily and me were pretty tired, but the classes went fine. At the end we took some pictures with them, they were really exited. A boy named Bharat teared my hair and kept one, he says that I have it too soft. It was pretty funny.

We left the house a bit soon to go to SEAM as afterwards we planned to go to a store in the center of Chennai, but Emily started to feel sick. She went back home with Sheeba, while I stayed with Stephan and Roshan. As I entered at SEAM, I was expecting a girl named Keerthana to comer over me and hug me as usually, but she didn’t appear. I looked and kept waiting for her, until I asked where she was. They told me that her father took her with him. I felt sad about it, I really would like to see her again. I started thinking what these kids might have lived, I couldn’t even imagine. The thing is, and that’s what I really learnt today, happiness is a decision you make every day, And for the love, it is bigger than anything else. Keerthana and the other kids have thought me the way of being happy even if life isn’t as you expect to be, that live goes on and you have to make the best of it.

Roshan Stephan and me returned to the house walking. It was nice. A boy of SEAM joined us for a while, as we went to the pharmacy to buy him a medicine. I got something too there.

Dinner was great. Emily was resting, but she came downstair after we finished and ate some white rice. She was feeling a little better now. Sheeba and Stephan went to the store to buy some things for Emily while we both watched for Roshan. They are really making our stay enjoyable.


Friday, June 8th, 2012

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

Today was the last day of our first week working here in Chennai, and it was a great. We had our regular morning and headed over to Assisi. When we arrived there was only a few kids crying, and it ended quickly. The kids were all in great spirits, playing on their own and engaging with both of us. Danny, the little boy that hasn’t left my side all week, was in a particularly good mood. He was smiling and laughing as soon as we started playing, he also began to warm up to Lucia and the other kids as well. It was so great to see. He really enjoyed us chasing him, and kicking the soccer ball around the room. Soon all the kids were running, kicking the balls and having a good time. It made me really happy to see the difference in the children since we started working with them. They are all wonderful, beautiful children who make me smile every morning. 

We were then welcomed with smiles at Grace, as always, and the kids were in good moods as well. We taught our classes, and shared that all students seemed ready for the weekend! Jenifer, a little girl at Grace, showed us her missing front tooth, and a second tooth fell out during class!

 Back at the guesthouse, we enjoyed a sweet Indian yogurt called Lassi, it was delicious and hit the spot on this very warm day. Lucia went to take a rest, while I had my first experience doing laundry the “old fashion” way, with the help of Sheeba of course. It was quite an experience as I have always used a washing machine and had no idea what to do. Sheeba is an expert though; she showed me were most of the dirt hides, and how to scrub it out.  Once my laundry was hanging on the terrace to dry, it was almost time for SEAMS.

This evening we brought our toothbrushes, soap and towels to SEAMS, to teach the students how to properly brush their teeth and wash their bodies. It was a fun time, and the kids really seemed to listen and learn. We also brought lollipops that a former volunteer had mailed over, which the kids really enjoyed. Lucia helped the adults peel garlic, while I played with Roshan and listened to Stephan speak to the kids in Tamil. Our night ended with dinner back at the guest house, Coca Cola, and ice cream thanks to Stephan! It was a really great day, and this weekend will be full of experiences as we are traveling this weekend!