The last day

Where has 3 weeks gone?! I can’t believe it has come around already, what an experience it has been.

In the morning, the team split up into different groups. Rob, Emma and Chloe went to Kottivakkam School to donate a range of resources to support the children’s learning including English books which will help them with their English lessons. Afterwards, they went to various shops to by notebooks, stationary and medicines for the Boys who live in the destitute home. Whilst they were there, one of the jobs left for the team was to buy gifts for the boys for their gift bags, so we went shopping in Saravana Stores (craziest shop ever).

Then the final evening came (something we all were dreading!). All of us had dressed in our Indian wear ready to celebrate our last night with the boys all except Emma who had, had a request to wear a shirt and jeans. After a loooooongbus journey (which felt like a lifetime), we had arrived at Boys Town and made our way to the hall. We were greeted with a huge roar of happy children- it was amazing! Each and every one of them were so happy to see us, and we were just as happy to see them (just not as loud ;)).

Firstly, we sat the boys down and spoke to them about how lovely it had been getting to know them. We expressed how much we have grown to love every one of them and that we will remember so many happy memories we have shared together. We then gave out gifts, books and resources to them individually – it felt amazing to give them gifts.

After our little ceremony, the boys sat on the floor ready for dinner. Chennai Challenge always pay for the boys to have a tasty meal on the last day and we got to serve them! We then joined them and enjoyed our last meal around these amazing boys.

Once we had finished the huge portion of food for dinner, we were asked by the boys to perform a dance. Luckily, we had already got a performance ready to show and it was all systems go(once we got the speaker to work haha!). After that we had to say our goodbyes – it was hard but it felt good to end our trip on a high.

I felt lots of emotions on the last day as I was really looking forward to see my family and friends and tell them all about the amazing work we have done. ButI also felt sad to be leaving such a beautiful place and the inspiring adults and children we have grown close bonds with over the past 3 weeks. I feel that I have got a new perspective of life, that by helping others through our kind and loving actions in turn helps us achieve happiness. Even though some of the people only had little to live off, they were so happy to welcome our team like a family and shower us with small tokens of gratitude, which made me think about our culture back home…would I do the same? This trip has made my year and I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone.

Thanks for reading, Rachelx

Dance, Dance, Dance

Friday 26th August, Day 16!!!

As our trip is coming to a very sad close, one of the many privileges we received as a token of gratitude was tickets to the interschool Indian folk dance held at YMCA. This was basically a day-long event consisting of 32 different schools who were all competing dancing traditional Indian dances to win. This competition was by far the most colourful competition I’ve ever seen. From the golden coloured chairs and curtains to the red carpets everyone and everything was in colour. The Chennai Challenge team all arrived in our colourful Indian Chudidars and received front row seats! Such a treat! The celebrations started with speeches and thank yous from important people such as the founders of YMCA Madras, General Secretary’s and the chairman. This was interesting as we got to find out more about the history of Indian dance and especially YMCA.

Although we didn’t understand the lyrics or know any of the music it was amazing to watch all the dances and immerse ourselves in the beautiful culture, we also gained a good sense about what’s important to people here and watch them express themselves through liberation, pain and also so much joy. The most entertaining dances were the ones with extravagant costumes. One dance had bright blue peacock costumes, another had pink birds and many had costumes with more colours in than are in the rainbow. A perfect day to sit back, relax and please your eyes.

The highlight of the day however was most certainly the Chennai Challenge team dance to Allegra, Indian style. Only the day before we had been asked to enter a traditional Indian dance so five (very brave) Chennai Challenge Team members (Rob, Emma, Rachel, Suzanne and Chloe) volunteered to get up early and learn a whole dance to a song…and it was AMAZING. The crowd went absolutely crazy for them as they performed some pretty spectacular Indian moves and even after they requested an encore where everybody got up on the stage and joined in which was just so much fun. The whole day was incredible to watch and participate in.

After a full day of dancing, we headed to a YMCA board meeting which was very emotional. Lots of Thank yous and speeches were made by both Rob and the YMCA members, it was amazing to see just how grateful and appreciative everybody was of us being here and all the work that has been put in. There were a few tears shed from some people…(me) but it was lovely to see that our time here has made such a big impact. After speeches came the buffet in which I was delighted to realise included creamy chicken pasta!! Then we all headed back to bed after an exhausting but exhilarating few days and late nights.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Lauren

 

Birthday Blog

So Thursday was my 21st birthday so it was amazing to be able to spend it in India. First, we had breakfast and team meeting as usual where the team gave me 3 beautiful ornament elephants and a card which was extremely generous of them!! We then went to the Oasis tailoring group that we have been working with over the past few weeks. We had previously done an empowerment session with these ladies so this session was to spend time with them, ask questions to find out more about their lives, their hopes and ambitions, what influence we have had with our sessions and how the tailoring course benefited them. This was a really nice session as we really got to know more about the women there and more about the culture in general. They were constantly so welcoming and they ended the session by buying us gifts such as hair bands and clips and they even brought me a birthday cake! It was sad to say bye because this was our last session but it was lovely to know how much they appreciated and enjoyed having us come to their tailoring sessions.

We then came back and had lunch together which was our first takeaway from Doveton café which was absolutely delicious and the team brought me a beautiful birthday cake and a melon with candles in for me as I can’t eat cake! It was so thoughtful as they had really put thought into making the day really, really special. So we were all very full before we headed off to boys town to do a session with the boys there. I was very excited for this as we have built up a really good connection with them due to spending so much time with them in Yelligri, so we were all really excited to see them. We had a really fun session doing a carousel of teambuilding and fun activities. One group played wink murder, one group did a teambuilding game where the team have to get from one side of the room to the other using a few sheets of newspaper, one group played a game called 7up and one group played duck, duck goose. We then split the boys into 2 groups, half did a paper folding craft activity and half played volleyball. So after a very fun, tiring session with the boys we said our good byes and headed out for tea.

So for tea we knew we were going out with the YMCA board members to a restaurant called Barbeque Nation. The members of the team who had been before said that each year they had wanted to go but they hadn’t ever got round to it. So we were all really excited to see what it was like as we’d heard it was a really nice place to eat. We arrived and were greeted by all of the YMCA board members who are all welcoming and so friendly. The food came and it was bbq skewers that were cooked on a bbq that was in the middle of the table! I found this so fascinating as I have never been anywhere like this before, the rapidly brought out prawns, chicken, lamb, fish, pineapple and potatoes so we all were eating like it was our only meal for the next year haha! It was so delicious and as soon as you had eaten a skewer they would bring more out… the service was incredible. So we were all stuffed when we over heard one of the board members ask if we’d finished with the starters!!! All the food we had eaten was a starter to which we were then told we were to go the giant buffet for our mains and puddings haha! So to sum it up, the food was incredible, we all ate way too much, Ewan was nearly sick from all the food and we all rolled out of the restaurant moaning that our tummies hurt :p

We then went to a late night showing at the cinema to watch Kabili which was a Tamil film with English subtitles. It was surprisingly really good, very cheesy, but a great action film about a group of gangsters fighting for rule over Chennai. So it was a fantastic day with the Oasis tailoring group, the boys at boy’s town, amazing food, lovely company and a great film to finish the day off with. It will definitely be a day that I will never forget and I am so grateful to have spent it with such wonderful people.

Birthday Blog

So Thursday was my 21st birthday so it was amazing to be able to spend it in India. First, we had breakfast and team meeting as usual where the team gave me 3 beautiful ornament elephants and a card which was extremely generous of them!! We then went to the Oasis tailoring group that we have been working with over the past few weeks. We had previously done an empowerment session with these ladies so this session was to spend time with them, ask questions to find out more about their lives, their hopes and ambitions, what influence we have had with our sessions and how the tailoring course benefited them. This was a really nice session as we really got to know more about the women there and more about the culture in general. They were constantly so welcoming and they ended the session by buying us gifts such as hair bands and clips and they even brought me a birthday cake! It was sad to say bye because this was our last session but it was lovely to know how much they appreciated and enjoyed having us come to their tailoring sessions.

We then came back and had lunch together which was our first takeaway from Doveton café which was absolutely delicious and the team brought me a beautiful birthday cake and a melon with candles in for me as I can’t eat cake! It was so thoughtful as they had really put thought into making the day really, really special. So we were all very full before we headed off to boys town to do a session with the boys there. I was very excited for this as we have built up a really good connection with them due to spending so much time with them in Yelligri, so we were all really excited to see them. We had a really fun session doing a carousel of teambuilding and fun activities. One group played wink murder, one group did a teambuilding game where the team have to get from one side of the room to the other using a few sheets of newspaper, one group played a game called 7up and one group played duck, duck goose. We then split the boys into 2 groups, half did a paper folding craft activity and half played volleyball. So after a very fun, tiring session with the boys we said our good byes and headed out for tea.

So for tea we knew we were going out with the YMCA board members to a restaurant called Barbeque Nation. The members of the team who had been before said that each year they had wanted to go but they hadn’t ever got round to it. So we were all really excited to see what it was like as we’d heard it was a really nice place to eat. We arrived and were greeted by all of the YMCA board members who are all welcoming and so friendly. The food came and it was bbq skewers that were cooked on a bbq that was in the middle of the table! I found this so fascinating as I have never been anywhere like this before, the rapidly brought out prawns, chicken, lamb, fish, pineapple and potatoes so we all were eating like it was our only meal for the next year haha! It was so delicious and as soon as you had eaten a skewer they would bring more out… the service was incredible. So we were all stuffed when we over heard one of the board members ask if we’d finished with the starters!!! All the food we had eaten was a starter to which we were then told we were to go the giant buffet for our mains and puddings haha! So to sum it up, the food was incredible, we all ate way too much, Ewan was nearly sick from all the food and we all rolled out of the restaurant moaning that our tummies hurt :p

We then went to a late night showing at the cinema to watch Kabili which was a Tamil film with English subtitles. It was surprisingly really good, very cheesy, but a great action film about a group of gangsters fighting for rule over Chennai. So it was a fantastic day with the Oasis tailoring group, the boys at boy’s town, amazing food, lovely company and a great film to finish the day off with. It will definitely be a day that I will never forget and I am so grateful to have spent it with such wonderful people.