Day 6 – by Ewan and Lauren
So that we can cover a number of areas and make a bigger impact in Chennai, we will be spending some parts of the trip split into two separate groups and then be doing different sessions in different places. Team A consists of Tamsin, Becky, Rachel and Ewan, and Team B includes Suzanne, Lauren, Chloe and Debbie.
Day Six of this year’s ‘Chennai Challenge’ trip had a very jam packed schedule, but definitely the most memorable day for me so far. Our first planned session of the day was a Blue Edge English class that we had to lead to a group of women from the Oasis programme. We turned up expecting to be completely overwhelmed by the amount of people they could fit into one room, but there was only six for the four of us to teach. We planned a session that we hoped would enhance the level of English that they were at. A speed dating esc activity was a really good way for us to get to know the women and find out things about them, they loved also being able to find out things about us too. After refreshing their (and my) memory on Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives, we pressed ahead with some role play to try and improve their conversational English. I was really proud when the two women that I was supporting managed to role play a scenario in a Pharmacy, and then go up and do it in front of everyone else. We finished off with a fun game of object Charades to round up everything we did in the lesson. The appreciation they all show when we go in to do sessions such as this is really quite something. It is practically impossible to go away without having a smile on your face.
We realised at the start of the second session that they were definitely easing us into it with the previous session, the same room was now filled with over 20 people. We were asked to do this session all about E-Safety, but we didn’t really have much of an idea about where they were at in terms of smart phones and social media before we got there. Surprisingly, they nearly all had smart phones but only a few had a real grasp on Social media. They are currently at the point Social media is being introduced to people of Chennai and people are considering downloading apps such as Facebook. The only real app used by them all is Whatsapp. It was perfect timing for us to go in and talk about the importance of being safe on social media, so that they can do be safe from the beginning. We mainly introduced them to the concept of SMART and went through different scenarios for them to be aware of. Unfortunately, it meant that I was called upon to utilise my awful acting abilities. Thanks to the translator I don’t think they came across as awful as they actually were.
The final session of the day was an after school club with young children from the local community. This really was a squeeze. We had around 30 children in room as big as most peoples shed back in the UK. They loved all the games and songs that we did for them and even managed to sing along to English songs when they could hardly speak a word. Getting them to play musical statues to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk really was a highlight, especially seeing the wacky dance moves that they whipped out for us. They again showed the amount of appreciation they have for the work we are doing out here and it really does make all the bucket showers worth it. Three of the boys even handed me a little toy key ring they wanted me to have, which they wouldn’t let me refuse I might add. Even though they are growing up with poverty all around them and have very few things of their own, it’s so surprising that they would hand over one just so that I would remember them.
On the whole, apart from the Auto driver breaking down on the way back to the YMCA, it was a really rewarding day!
Day 6 in India already- unbelievable!!
Unfortunately, our morning was cut short due to the fact that a teacher at Oasis was unwell meaning we couldn’t complete our intended trip to the women’s tailoring group. (this was pretty rubbish but of course, no one’s fault!) However, this was all made up to us by our trip to Kottivakkam (the Boys Town) where we had the best experience and fun of the trip so far.
Now bearing in mind there was four of us leading with nearly thirty excitable young boys, in a very hot and humid hall, we were all expecting an afternoon of sweat, exhaustion and challenges… BUT what we actually experienced was pure delight. I can honestly say I did not stop laughing the whole time I was there, not only was it just so much fun but also extremely rewarding.
Previous to this trip we, as a team, had planned our afternoon session including all the crafts, games and songs that we wanted to do with the boys. This consisted of many loud, silly action songs, making flags and games such as ‘untangle’ and ‘Pong’, (yes like beer pong just without the beer, not only because it would be illegal to include beer but also because these children were crazy enough without the intoxication).
I felt as a leader of the session that everybody just had fun. This was a moment for me when I was watching all the boys playing together and smiling and giggling where I just thought ‘yes. Yes, thank god I am here to witness this absolute beauty- these children who have nothing are extremely overwhelmed, excitable and having the time of their lives just over some plastic cups and a few orange balls’.
What came next though, was the most humbling part of the session, we all sat in small circles and made flags from pieces of cloth and then decorated them with fabric pens. All the children wanted to do was sit and chat about England, ask questions and colour in, this felt incredibly welcoming but was also very educational for myself to sit back and listen to their comparison of their home with what I was describing as my own home back in the UK. They were all so friendly and polite- I could have stayed there muddling through conversation in English and Tamil the whole night. Unfortunately, though all good things do come to an end and although the session was 2 hours it most definitely was not long enough and I can safely say I am very excited to return and lead more fun, crazy workshops.
Thanks for reading!