Its been just over a week since I arrived back to the U.K and Team B have just landed at Heathrow Airport. India was awesome and I already want to go back next year. I surprisingly miss the food, the people and of course the boys from YMCA Boys Town.
As soon as I left the airport with my parents I realised how cold it was, I was frozen. I slept most of the car journey home because it was so quiet, it was odd not being kept awake by the constant car horn or the shout of an auto cab driver.
I also miss the Chennai Challenge Team, from Flo dancing her way through most of the boys programs, Emma/ Nick my mentors, Ellie/Lydia and their annoying yet amusing hiccups, Suzanne who managed to get Team B to India, Barney who ended up having a different nickname everyday, Tamsin and Caitlin leaders of the amazing Purple Team, Kieron kept his winning Yelligri group under control by shouting ‘Attention!’, Joel who seemed to eat everything, Suzie who was Emma’s amazing partner and loved playing UNO, James who seemed to know every Disney song as he sang his way back to Vepery along with Rachel who was Barney’s super Yelligri partner, Lizzie my fabulous Yelligri partner along with Joel, and Imogen who danced so her group wouldn’t get bored and last but not least Sarah who saved me from falling out of an auto! We all brought something different and special to make the Chennai Challenge Team of 2011 amazing from any other year, its one of the main reasons i want to return again.
Not forgetting Cathy, Rob and Isaac who are sort of the role models for the whole thing. If there was a piece of advice I could offer anyone going on Chennai Challenge it would be;
‘Stick a smile on your face, do a silly dance and you’ll fit in just fine’
Hey it’s Rachel here doing my first ever blog in India! I have been having an amazing time out here. I have learnt so much about the culture and met some inspirational people.
It’s lunchtime on the 29th August and am using up a few hours of my free time in the internet cafe. We only have today and tomorrow left in Chennai (which is very sad because i am having an awesome time) and then Wednesday morning we leave for England!
We left at 8.45 this morning and got autos to the Oasis office. When we got there we all packed ourselves into a smallish room and started singing worship songs (from a spring harvest 03 praise books which Oasis just happened to have). We then all prayed together, praying for the work Oasis does, for the Oasis Team and for the Chennai Challenge Team. It was a lovely experience hearing prays from a different language as well as English.
Later on today we are going to the Boys Town for our last activity session, which I am very sad about. We have got very attached to all the boys there and for me, being with them has been my highlight of the trip. I love playing with them and talking to them (even if it involves the game of trying to remember 75 boys names). I love seeing there happy faces when we arrive and see them enjoy the activities that we do with them.
That is all for today, hope my blog has been informative and enjoyable.
Well, I was suppose to be uploading a rather long blog that Rob wrote on the laptop onto the website. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a working USB port on this computer, so that will have to wait!
His blog was all about the day he spent waiting to buy things for Boys Town. Lizzie had the joy of accompanying him on a trip to the mattress shop and the pipe shop (not smoking pipes – water pipes…for drainage). This involved some cool drinks, some auto rides, some waiting, some back and forthing – all as per our expectations. In the meantime the rest of the team were working hard on preparing resources for and then leading our sessions with the Blue Edge students and at the BV Colony School in Vyasarpadi. A really amazing afternoon, with a lot of fun and hopefully some learning involved!
Yesterday the team visited Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram and got a chance to spend the day enjoying some of the rich culture and heritage of this incredible country. Both Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram are temple towns, with a range of very different styles and ages of Hindu temples. They also bought drums from very insistent sales men.
And whilst they did that Cathy and I (this is Isaac by the way) got the chance to visit boys town and meet with Vignesh. Vignesh was at Boys Town from 2002 until 2010. 8 years of his life were spent with annual visits from either Guildford YMCA or Chennai Challenge. Indeed his first year was my first visit to India. As such I have developed a certain bond with him and last year we were both very upset that we wouldn’t see each other again. It was amazing to get the opportunity to see him and hear how he is doing. It turns out he is now studying at a hostel/school in Tiripattur (near to Yellagiri Hills) and had persuaded somebody to take him all the way to Chennai (a 6 hour journey) to visit me and Cathy. This is quite humbling and quite amazing. I am so glad to say that he is well and studying hard at +1 (the equivalent to lower sixth) and hopes to go to University to gain a BA in Engineering. He told us that he is also working in a kitchen in the holidays to make some money.
So that is what has inspired the title of this blog. It was brilliant to get to see him.
This morning we visited Boys Town as a team to find that the stormy weather has had a negative impact on the site and on their lives. The water level was very high and almost inside the buildings. As Rachel reminded us in thought for the day, it is easy to forget the way the boys live when we spend so much time having fun with them. But there it was, almost 2 feet of algi covered water, creeping towards the boys already low standard dorms. They have been moved into an alternative building while the water is there, but until the drainage problem is solved this situation will get worse and worse.
Hopefully the solution is being worked on now, with help from our funding last year and some additional funds this year. It is our hope that next year we will find the site much improved, with more effective drainage solutions.
Well, I’d best be off. Got to get back to meet the rest of the team. Thanks for your listening ear, and speak soon!
I’ve been back from India for 4 days now and it already feels like too long. The title of this blog sums it up for me, I am missing home. Chennai became my home during my time there and I’m missing everything about it: the weather, the food and the people that became my family. Its hard to comtemplate not going back on team next year because of how much I will miss Chennai, but I know deep down that I can’t keep returning because I need to find new and different challenges in my life and in my faith.
I really hope that Team B are having an amazing time and that they are enjoying experiences that will become life-long lasting memories. Chennai Challenge is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life and I’m glad I have had the opportunity to enjoy it.
I can’t really add to what Emma and Nick said about our last couple of days in Chennai so read their blogs if you want the info. Keep reading the blogs and keep supporting Team B with your thoughts and prayers… I know I will be. Barney Bundles is missing you lots Team B, keep it up…
Hello everyone it’s my first blog here in India so hope you enjoy!
Yesterday for the number of 16 year olds there are in the team was a bit of a stressful today because it was the day that our results came out. However in the end it turned out that it was only me and rachel who got ours, but we will come to that later.
The day started out as a normal day, we got up then had breakfast ready for the day ahead. We then headed off downstairs because yesterday was the day that we visit a slightly flooded Fort School and Esplanade Community centre. A few of us including me, Caitlin and Lizzi had already been to Fort school for independence day but we were shockedby what we found when we got there. During the night there had been a horrific thunderstorm which literally left parts of the school underwater. The classrooms that we had eaten breakfast in 10 days ago was flooded, the water reaching halfway up our shins. This is a huge problem in Chennai, in the richer areas the land is higher meaning that the lower land is left as a sort of drainage basin to collect all of the run-off water.
Then after this we visited the first YMCA building in Chennai, Esplanade, built in 1899. It is a fantastic looking building, the pinkish coloured rock having been transported for Jaipur and the metal from England. However this view was slightly ruined by the number of stalls outside of the building, trying to make money from tourists. When we went to see the GS (General Secretary) of Chennai YMCA he said that he intended to make the building a national Heritage site, meaning that these stalls would have to leave.
Now at this point the time of getting my results was fast approaching, only a short our remained until I got them. We decided to go to Spencer Plaza (A nearby Shopping Mall) to get lunch before heading back to go to the boys town in the afternoon. Now at this point I was quite nervous about getting the results so decided to eat a huge meal at KFC to calm the nerves, nothing like food to calm you down! Then the time had come, my mum would be in school collecting them now! I took a deep breath and gave her a call! The results were good! Exactly what I had hoped for! This was definitely a day in India that I would not forget!
Now today I woke up after a not very good nights sleep!I had been pretty ill in the night, I reckon it was something I ate.. So I didn’t eat any breakfast! I know shocking! I know thee is something wrong with me when I don’t feel like eating! Anyway this morning was not very exciting as we got a load of ‘jobs’ done. So some people went off to collect gift for all of the boys in the boys town. At the end of the project we give each boy wash bag filled with items such as a toothbrush and a pencil case filled with suprisingly items like a pencil. Then after that was the job of filling 75 pencil cases and Wash Bags! A bit boring but definitely for a good cause! I meanwhile went to get 80 photos developed, a grand total of 480 rupees (around 6.50!) Then all afternoon I have been cutting out paper pieces of square (as they are now known) for a mozaic we are planning to do on sunday! All in all then a very productive day!