RETURN TO TAMIL NADU -2013
This was my third visit to Tamil Nadu - the last one was in 2010 – and I determined to go back once more although I knew it would be an arduous trip.
Our first visit on our arrival was to the school – a “Formal Welcome”. All the school lined up at the gates – Indian dancers with drums beating; garlands at the ready; our foreheads anointed with red ochre – the Hindu sign. For me it was an emotional moment – I know so many of the Staff and pupils – and we were mobbed by happy children all wanting to shake
our hands – truly, we were “Honoured Guests from the U.K.”
Our primary aims during the visit were to supervise the setting up of a new computer room and the installation of a fire-alarm system in the school - the latter was difficult when all the children are profoundly deaf, and these were done.
Other visits followed, all with formal welcomes; Annual Day at the school; a visit to a large I.T. College and to a large fee-paying school; Management meetings and Social evenings. In all these events we were honoured with “shawls” and showered with gifts.
During our two weeks we did many other things; we visited the Temple, had a day out in Pondicherri on the coast, and visited two village houses and two town houses of parents of the children. Our two male Trustees took part in a school cricket match which the school won hands down, as usual!
Most of the children in the school are sponsored by individuals in the UK, and we try to keep in touch with them by sending cards occasionally, letters, and small gifts for Christmas and birthdays (which they can share with their classmates).We are trying now to provide
the children with digital hearing aids, which are much better than those provided by the government, but which are expensive for the parents to buy.
For me, the most moving experience of the whole trip was on my final afternoon, when I was asked if I would like to visit Rogan`s parents (my sponsored child) in their village. I jumped at the chance – I was taken to their home (about 40minutes away) introduced to the family and shown around their small house. They were so welcoming in spite of having so little. I felt so emotional and so privileged – after seven years of sponsoring Rogan, to be actually standing in his home with his parents and other villagers, having my photograph taken with them (see photo below) and then shown around his fields –an opportunity very few other people have and one which I shall never forget.
It was well worth the long flights, the bumpy bus journeys, long days and jet-lag afterwards!