Take a look at what we got up to on our Activity holiday with the boys from Kottivakkum Boys Town in Yelagiri Hills.
Today we experienced that wonderful thing India Time. Yesterday I planned for us to be able to visit Fort School and see the work that they do there. It is an important time in the project as the team get to look around a school that provides an amazing education for underprivileged children from the local slums. Last year we pledged 10lakh Rupees (that’s somewhere around 1200GBP with the current exchange rate) towards a rebuilding project here. We have been informed that this project has received the necessary planning permissions and the foundation stone will be laid before we leave! This is obviously very exciting. However I must get back to my original thought – At 10pm last night the Indian Government confirmed that today would be a national holiday for all Government Schools! AT 10PM the night before! Goodness only knows how the children knew not to go to school. Perhaps most of them didn’t! Still, it was a shame because it meant that we had to cancel our visit to the school as it would have been locked up with no children present.
Well, our other plan was not prevented as we were able to visit our good friend Prince at Esplanade Branch of the YMCA. This branch was originally the head office of the Madras YMCA and was built in 1890. The building is beautiful in a colonial kind of a way, and we are able to stand on the roof and look over the city. This year we were also able to play some Carom, Chess, Table Tennis and Billiards in the members area. Prince brought us some Rose Milk (a new experience!) to try. I quite enjoyed my glass, but when other people started handing me theirs the sweetness became a little too much. I still think better Rose Milk than Butter Milk!
Then we dropped in at Spencer Plaza for some lunch before heading to Kottivakkam for another fun packed session.
One thing I do want to mention is our thoughts for the day. As part of the Chennai Challenge each team member must present a thought for the day at some point. This can be a question based on our experiences, a poem or extract from a book, a memory, a Christian moral or pretty much anything really. It is a time to reflect on the new experiences we are having and to share the things we are noticing. So far this year they have been really brilliant. Yesterday Kieron talked about the importance of saying WHY NOT? Instead of WHY? Resetting our default position to something more open and willing to try things is really important when in India – especially so with Chennai Challenge.
Charlotte gave us a thought this morning in which we were able to share the positive things that have come out of our preparation for this year’s project. It was really exciting to talk about how many people have heard about Chennai Challenge – and about how generous a response the people on the project have received from supporters. Family, Friends and Colleagues were mentioned in detail – so thank you to all who have supported this year’s team. Your support has not gone unnoticed.
Well, must get to bed now. I’m a bit tired (as we all are!) and tomorrow will be another busy day!
So for now, here’s me – signing off! I’m sure I am not the only blogger tonight, so sorry if we have repeated each other. Enjoy the rest of the Olympics – GO TEAM GB! (I mostly enjoyed watching Andy Murray bring home his gold while we were on our day off in Yellagiri!) See you soon!
Many things had happened! Greetings from (surprisingly) sunny India! It’s day 8 now and I’ve finally managed to access the internet, I’m sitting here in a warm “shack” for lack of a better word, the sign on the window says “High speed 256kbps” Yeah..
Anyway much is happening in chennai challenge, not only in India but at home. The most life changing news is that project leaders Cathy and Rob are parents! Cathy gave birth to Malachi Robert Clifford Short early yesterday morning (GMT). We were in Kottivakkam when we received the news and announced it to the boys, the atmosphere for the rest of the time was electric (even more than usual) the activity of designing themselves t-shirts soon turned into drawing pictures of the baby (which was of course Indian).
We’ve had 2 days to recover since the adventure holiday in Yelligiri, which was completely shattering for the whole team. After landing at about 4am getting up at 10(ish) then having a full day and short sleep before leaving, we were barely acclimatised, not to mention the jet lag, but we soldiered through.
The boys were amazing from the get go, as they usually are, it’s amazing as a returning challenger how many of the boys remember you (and how many names you actually remember). There are very very few boys this year, only 47 in boys town, this is due to parents deciding to send their children to schools that teach all their lessons in English instead of Tamil.
As I write this blog half of the team are out at the Oasis project school, teaching English, I’ll be heading there this afternoon. I’m very excited to go back to Oasis as it was probably my favorite part of last year. The leader of Oasis told Isaac that thanks to our lessons last year, the students understood what they had learned much more and it helped them perform much better in their exams.
With only 10 days to go I’m in a state of flux. I greatly miss being home, I miss my family, I miss my work at Tt Dragons and I miss gaming. But I have a feeling by next Friday, won’t want to come home, even though I still have a lot more stuff waiting for me this summer.
Time for me to sign off, I can barely cope with this 256kbps speed, I need to slow down, the team’s thoughts go to Cathy, Rob and Malachi and we’ll be seeing you all soon.
One of the thing we are missing the most currently is fruit- so we sent a couple of people down to one of the various shops that sell fruit, so we could all top up.
I do feel though that sometimes people think they can cheat with their fruit intake- many fruit juices and smoothies are currently being consumed…
Anyway- one of today’s great experiences was going and assisting in giving an English lesson to a group of young ladies and gentleman of whom do not know English, run by Oasis and Blue Edge. These people come from one of the slum areas around the building, and are trying to give themselves a better quality of life by learning English.
One of the problems, is that those who are in the poorest communities do not get an education- except if a school is run for free by a charity, like the YMCA. Although the official language in India is Hindi, and in Tamil Nadu it is Tamil, English is the language of business and education. Because so many jobs require a high level of education, the poorest cannot get those jobs.
Did you know that when you call your bank, or a call centre calls you up, and they are from India, the person you are speaking to has had an education up to degree level? Unlike in the UK, you need a degree in India to get a job at a call centre. This felt especially real, as on the road to the Boys Town (which is now in the middle of an IT park- use to be surrounded by fields!) you go past a massive building owned by HSBC.
Assisting these people with improving their English was the highlight of my day- although both Cathy and I (who were sharing an auto-rickshaw) nearly jumped out of our skins when several fire crackers went off in the road as we passed.
‘India Time’ is a concept that the Chennai Challenge have created which describes the way that time can pass while waiting for things in India. Examples of this are in 2007 when Cathy and Tamsin had to wait 4 hours at a shop called Gold Mine when they were trying to buy project equipment. The reason why I am bringing up ‘India Time’ is because we experienced it today…
Today the team were meant to be going to Kottivakkum to run a morning programme at Boys Town at 10.30, meaning leaving Vepery at 9.30. This relied on our vehicle arriving at Vepery at 9.30… can you guess what happened? It is 3.00pm now and still no vehicle has arrived… so it has been hours since we gave up the plan to visit Boys Town. We gave up on that plan at around 12.00 noon and had a day of planning Yellagiri and relaxing as a team. This means we had a game of Uno, won by relative rookie Ellie Ellie Ansell, and also just chatted about everything from what we think the newbies on team B’s reactions to India will be to Tamsin’s memories of 2007… some very amusing stories in her old journal.
Yellagiri has been restructured as there are less boys at Kottivakkum than we thought there would be and activities have been delegated out to team members. I have the lucky privilege of leading a penalty shootout with Emma Kelly… should be fun…
Later today we are going to change money and have dinner at Spencer Plaza, the local shopping mall, and then we will meet Becky Swamickan of Oasis to get some more dates in our schedule! The Oasis team’s football match was cancelled because of pitch condition but I hope we can still watch a game at some point.
Everything is going great and I am loving blogging regularly, and Rob has said because I am the most socially networked team member it is only a matter of time before I get a Facebook friend request from an Auto driver. Thanks for reading Barney x