Oh my dear lord…. I’m a terrible blogger! Again, so much time has passes and I didn’t think to share any of it with you! I’m sorry! Let me try to make up for it...
Firstly and most importantly, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who made a contribution to our excursion to Trichy! It was a big success; the boys had a really good time! Thanks for making it possible, your money was well spent!
We got up at 4(!!!!) o’clock in the morning to leave for Trichy, which is a good 4 hours drive from Pondicherry. The boys dealt with getting up so early much better than we did; in the bus we went with 150 boys and a few adults. By European standards you would say we had to squeeze a little, but this is India, so anything is possible. The music was turned on and the party was started, the boys were dancing all over the gangway and the benches in the bus (video is coming). It is saying something that both Anne and I managed to sleep on the bus in spite of almost continuous honking, blaring Tamil music and 70 boys jumping up and down. I am proud to say that we seem to have completely adapted to Indian culture;)! After having breakfast in Trichy we went to visit Rockfort temple, which is situated on a big rock in the middle of the city. The boys climbed the 200-something stairs at astonishing speed and tried to encourage us to do the same…. Unsuccessfully. When we arrived on top, sweating and panting, we enjoyed the stunning view for a while. Many boys went inside the temple to get blessings, which we, as non-Hindus, are not allowed to do. After going down the stairs again there was only the minor difficulty of finding the right pair of shoes to overcome (they had to be left in big bags at the entrance) and off we went to visit a huge dam, just a few kilometers outside of town. It was beautiful to walk across the dam which is an intersection of three big rivers, and to try and spot some fish in the water. We took some rest there, then went back to have mass in a very nice and big church on the campus of St. Josephs college. We had a really good lunch (big thanks to the sponsors of the meal!). In the afternoon, we went to one of the rivers to laze at the riverbank and play some games. Unfortunately, swimming was not possible due to rainfalls the day before. But the boys thouroughly enjoyed anyways, so no harm done. On the way back the boys had a snack, and then most of them went to sleep. This is really exceptional, believe me, the boys are so energetic that it is a real accomplishment to exhaust them! Also, it is nice to see how they can just sleep anywhere – on the floor of the bus, sitting, lying half-way on top of each other, hanging on the poles in the bus… We really enjoyed seeing how happy the boys were to see and visit these places, how much they enjoyed the food and having time to play. Thanks again to all of you who made this possible!
Before the trip to Trichy, my parents came to visit India in the fall holidays. I really liked having them here! It is nice to be able to introduce them to the project, the fathers and brothers and (most importantly) the boys! I’m glad to know that when I talk to them about my time here, they will really understand and know what I’m going on about. We spent a few days in Pondicherry, after which Anne and me accompanied them to Chidambaram, Thanjavur and Madurai where we visited temples which are impressive and unique in India and maybe even the world. The hotel pool was also a highlight of the trip. We left my parents in Madurai and went back via Kumbakonam. In Kumbakonam we visited our Belgian friends Devi and Evelien who are working in a girl’s home there. It was wonderful to meet them and we found the contrast between the girls and the experience we have with the boys very remarkable.
After the Trichy excursion, life went back to “normal”. We got the chance to give our classes regularly up until now, which is great. In the beginning of October, we also started giving dance classes in the school during lunch time, which is really good fun! In the weekend we managed to organize some activities for the boys, including a careerday, where the boys got some information on professions and life after school. We hope that it inspired them to pursue long term goals and encouraged them to dream of a better life! We got major support in the execution from our friends from Edforall, a really nice initiative (check their facebook for details)! We were also able to provide some creative workshops; the first pictures are already hangingJ…
The last two weeks of my time at the project are filled up with a number of things that we still want to finalize. We want to take some more boys to the beach, finish the art classes, give creative lessons in school, paint a room in the hostel…I hope that there will be enough time! If we’re lucky the school will be closed due to heavy rains, so we’re keeping our fingers crossedJ(so far, however, the monsoon hasn’t exactly been heavy….Nothing to impress people from the Netherlands).
The end of my stay in Pondicherry is approaching fast. Too fast, I feel that these past weeks I have gotten so much closer to the boys and built a life here in Pondicherry which I’m sad to leave behind so soon. Nonetheless, I’m happy and grateful that we were able to do so many things and gain so many new experiences. I always speak of the boys as one group, but to me they are individuals with faces and personalities and histories that I will keep close to my heart. I know that I will probably forget some of the things that I have experienced here, but I will try to remember these boys who manage to be so happy and content and who are hungry for life, knowledge and experiences even though they have already encountered so many difficulties in their past.
Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to traveling in India as well; the Andaman Islands are just waiting to be explored! I will keep you posted….
P.S.: Photos are coming! Promise!
P.P.S.: To my dance friends: Congratulations to you all on your results in Assen! I bet you had a wonderful time, i was thinking of you lots this past week!