Half way house! When the 6.20 alarm went off this morning, Kim, Katy and I did not leap straight out of bed to greet another day in our usual jaunty fashion. There were mutterings of is it really that time already and oh my aching back. However we were soon up and dressed and knocking on the doors of our young people. We call it “spreading joy and happiness” and Katy and I compete to see who can get a reply the fastest (usually a grunt, but we’re not fussy).
Off on the bus at 7.30 – no monkeys this morning and a roof top breakfast of very sweet poori again and then the most delicious bhaji doughnut fritters – scrumptious.
The morning bell rang and we made our way to our classrooms. Some great lessons taught this morning, ranging from parts of the body to applied maths (calculating the cost of an Olympic event) to English landmarks. We were expecting a visit from Indian TV this morning, so we were all on edge and wondering just how shiny our faces would look, but they postponed until tomorrow – must remember to wear my clean and ironed clothes ha ha.
We all gather together for “hall time” – superbly run by Paul, a whole school get together. Today the five Olympic teams (split into year groups) were pitted against each other in a tense competition of throwing a bean bag into a selection of buckets (different scores for different levels of difficulty). Black team won AGAIN. The black team leaders are Becca, Callum, Ellie K, Emily, Dan, Rob and Maddie. They are also very lucky to have an Indian teacher called Lipin, who is very tall and very good at most challenges, amongst their number.
Straight into the first activity, which was in our case showing 80 children how to bandage, both wounds and breaks. We rounded off the session by using the bandages to tie lots of legs together for athree legged race. Quite hair-raising considering the undulating and uneven ground between the classrooms and the amount of indian bare feet! Luckily we did not need to use the bandages for medical purposes.
Lunch – delicious again, pilau rice, plan rice, chicken, egg, fried vegetables and chapatis. There are those in our party who are longing for fruit – and others who could eat this food forever!
After lunch and a welcome twenty minute break we were off again for the second activity. This time red team had the hall (Red team is me, Katy, Georgina, Ashley, Ayesha, Helena and Rupert) and we played charades, splat (sort of circle game where the person in the middle “shoots” one of the circle, they crouch down and the person either side tries to “shoot”the other one first), and a very easy game which went down a treat; the children put up either their right or left hand and are eliminated if the other hand is called out. The hour sped by and we were soon all back together for more hall time, this time a rousing round of Old MacDonald complete with giraffes, monkey, lions and pigs. Free time, with lots and lots of lovely interaction between the young people and the children, football, basketball, cricket, scoubidous, teaching (I can now count to 10 in Tellagu), and hand clapping games.
We had an exciting but all too short rainfall today, and the temperature has dropped a little. It is now 4.55pm, and about half of us are sitting on our roof terrace, watching the sun go down and the children get on the buses to go home. The other half of our party are visiting the orphanage, and we know they will come back full of stories about the lovey children and the very cramped and basic conditions.
You would all be so proud of our team – they are quite amazing. You will perhaps have gathered that our accommodation is basic to say the least, and our days are long and very, very busy. The food is different, the loos are holes in the ground and pour in some water when you’ve finished, and it is VERY HOT! They have risen to the challenge fantastically, and responded to the children, the teachers, the orphans and the members of the leper community with enthusiasm and kindness, despite being generally amazed at what they are seeing – they will need a long time to tell you about their experiences, which for all of them has been a series of events outside their comfort zone. I’ve just asked the people on the roof if they want to send a message and received a chorus of “Say hi,’” “It rained today,’” and “Give our love to all the people at home.” So there you are.
Off to shop for saris tonight, and maybe a ride on a tuk-tuk. We are all fine, and send our love to everyone back home. See you soon and much love from the India team xxx