So we are now sitting on the M25, in slight traffic with no beeping horns, lane structure and quiet! It feels very strange!
Our last few days in Chennai have been so busy – sorry for the lack of social networking activity.
Thursday was again an Oasis day – the teams delivered their last English sessions to their groups, all except two eager shoppers. Mary (aka Happy) and myself (aka The Fresh Prince) were chosen to go and shop for the boys town equipment we had agreed to purchase this year. The list included 3 computer monitors, notebooks ( enough for a years school work), cooking vessels, medicines, ceiling fans, buckets for washing and bed sheets.
I can officially tell you that this is a first and hopefully last experience of this as we were taken to the new 9 storey superstore around the corner, Saravana Stores! I have never been so appreciative of Britain’s queuing system and manners. Although saying this we did have a successful shopping trip after all the pushing and shoving to pay for the said items.
Thursday evening we enjoyed our yearly treat of a visit to Prince’s house. This year it was for pudding. Unfortunately for me, I was ill on this day and was unable to, like the rest of the team, fill myself with fresh fruit, ice cream, gulab jamon and payasam.
Friday was a day we were definitely looking forward to! To begin with Isaac and I went to Sathymanager community centre with Asir and an engineer. The purpose of this second visit was to obtain a quote for a rebuild of this amazing but very small centre. Every team member I have visited Sathymanager with has had a soft spot for it, mainly due to how welcoming it is, how active it is and how much community spirit surrounds it. However as we have mentioned before it is very small and not fit for purpose. Isaac fulfilled Rob’s role of senior project leader listening to the extension conversations and I was in the shoes of Cathy talking to the locals about the centre and its activities. By the end of the visit we both had that excited butterfly feeling in our stomachs as the quote came in at a maximum of 8 lak (£10,000). This is now an achievable target for fundraising over the next two years. Please pray for this project and the fundraising - we will keep you updated on the progress of this project.
In true Indian style we were now late for our next engagement – the laying of the foundation stone at Fort School. Last year we pledged 10 lak to assist the rebuilding of Fort School so that during the monsoon season they can still attend school without being sent away due to severe flooding. This year we were fortunate enough to see the rebuild commence. When we got to Fort School, Suzanne had got the rest of the team there and they were enjoying cool drinks and conversations with the GS and Headmistress. Myself and Isaac apologised for our late arrival and we were soon ushered to the end of the newly laid playground/pathway where they had already begun demolishing the classrooms. After a song and a prayer from the teachers at the school, Isaac was ready to unveil the plaque. This all went smoothly and then the team posed for official photographs by the plaque. (Pictures to be posted soon!) May I mention here that Isaac was soooooo excited to be unveiling the plaque – we could not get the smile off his face!
The team then enjoyed some free time. Some visited the beach whilst others finished gift shopping at Spencer Plaza.
On Friday evening we had our final session at Boys Town. This consisted of an Indian takeaway, lots of dancing and presentations of gifts and equipment. The last session is always a difficult one for the team and once again we had tears from both boys and team members (but not me as I am a machine!). Even though it is a tough session, it is also one of the most rewarding ones. The smiles and expressions of thanks from the boys when they receive our gifts really signifies how important and effective our short time in Chennai really is.
Wow sorry for the long blog but there was just so much to fill you in on!
In the next few months we will continue to keep you updated on the progress of both Fort School and Sathymanager projects. Please pray for the projects and the fundraising for them.