Monday, 2 November 2015

31st October 2015

Today was our last visit to Jeevan Nagar, it was our earliest start of the trip as we wanted to be there early so we could spend as much time as possible with the kids and Asha Staff. The team had recovered one of the wounded soldiers from yesterday but Delhi-belly claimed another leader as a victim.

With two leaders down we set off and headed to the slum; somehow we managed to miss the dreaded Delhi rush hour and made it to Jeevan Nagar in record time. On arrival all the kids were there to greet us with big smiles and full of anticipation as today was the celebration day!

The celebration started with a prayer and worship, today was particularly special as we had been teaching them My Lighthouse over the week and by now they knew all the words and dance moves; they looked and sounded amazing!!! After the worship the kids performed some great dance routines for us and the a couple of the students shared what Asha meant to them, this was very moving! We then moved onto the speeches, as predicted things got emotional and people started to cry. Joel, being an absolute gent, was on hand with a pack of tissues. Once the tears had dried, the music started and this meant dancing for everyone...not for the first time on this adventure Mr Talbot showed off his cracking moves.

At the end of the celebration we exchanged gifts with the Asha staff then began the awful task of saying goodbye. Even though we had only met the kids at the start of the week, we had grown to love them so leaving them opened the flood gates of tears and there was barely a dry eye in the group by the time we had left.

Now our work in Jeevan Nagar was done we had a free afternoon...which meant SHOPPING!! I think Beth brought one of everything she saw!

Later in the evening Kira and Freddie invited us round to their house for dinner and to watch the world cup final. It was really good way to what has been a fantastic experience.
Friday 30th October

Today was our last full day in Jeevan Nagar...with the painting still someway off completion we knew that we had a very busy day ahead of us.

Disaster struck first thing in the morning as two of our team were hit with the dreaded Delhi-Belly. Amanda stuck behind to tend to our wounded soldiers and the rest of us jumped in the taxis to once again brave the Delhi roads. We arrived safely and were given a heroes welcome from the children and staff. By this point we all have started building great relationships with all the children and so it is just so exciting getting to see them all.

We had a brilliant day painting, doing crafts, drinking the delicious Masala Chai tea and playing with the children. The girls (and Sam) all got Henna in the afternoon, which looked brilliant and then by about five o clock the painting was completed and we got to show everyone the finished product. It looks quite good if I may say so...

In the evening Dave and Lauren went hunting (in vain) for Mark Zuckerberg who they heard was staying at a local hotel, Joel hit up a random wedding he somehow got invited to whilst everyone else took the opportunity to relax and emotionally prepare themselves for the big farewell party tomorrow...

Friday, 30 October 2015

Thursday 29th October

Today saw the day of the Asha East meets West concert, a frankly daunting and hateful prospect for about 100% of our touring party. However, a half day at Jeevanagar beforehand lifted spirits with a yet again stunning umpteenth performance of My Lighthouse and a fabulous rendition of 'This is the Day' from our Jeevanagar counterparts, a personal favourite of our co-team leader Bethan.
After a half day packed full of painting (of mixed results I must admit) and hours of street cricket and craft, our drivers came to pick us up to ship us back to the YWCA for some 'chilling'. Unfortunately, less than two metres into our commute home one of our drivers decided to crash into a passing car, causing a typically Indian brawl to take place and many completely unrelated strangers seizing on the opportunity to argue with one another. Meanwhile, we politely stayed in our cars and sat the whole thing out in the most British way possible. One hour later, we took the roads again and made it back to the YWCA unscathed.
The evening saw the East meets West concert, which saw our group performing what has to be described as a somewhat average rendition of Pharrell's Happy, admittedly not helped by the sound team's inability to start our backing track at the start of the track. Our set also included a piano solo from Joel, an acrobatic performance from Louise and Nat (I think it's fair to say they can both touch their toes), and a performance of. Hillsong's This is Living by Lauren, accompanied by Joel, Sam and Tommy. The concert also included a performance from each of the slums that the volunteer teams were working in, and it was really amazing to see the kids we had been working with in the slum showcase their many amazing talents which they would otherwise never get the chance to do. Two of the dance groups from the slums had their routines choreographed by older students from the slum itself.
The concert had started half an hour later than planned (tis India after all) and gone on a lot longer than expected too, so the post-concert dinner was embraced with open arms by all. We were presented with another delicious array of curries and Indian sweets and delicacies, and all were very much enjoyed by each person at the dinner. We returned home with bellies filled and eyes dreary, and as much rest as possible would be wise before another packed day at Jeevanagar awaiting us on Friday.

Wednesday 28th October 2015

This morning was a slightly earlier start as we were heading to Seelampar slum to visit the community centre that Amanda has been into twice before.

After an hours journey on the treacherous Delhi roads we arrived on the edge of Seelampur slum. The change between the slum we are working in and this new one was incredible; Seelampur having a population of 40,000 people and rubbish that lined the streets, piled high on street corners.
Despite this, we were welcomed with open hearts and loving smiles as we walked through the community centre gates.

We commenced with a tour of the centre which was amazing to see the wonderful murals done by previous teams, including a space room and another jungle scene, this was followed by an 11 o clock devotion which involved lots of singing from both groups of people including my lighthouse and our god is a great big god which everyone enjoyed following the actions to.

Secondly, prayer was asked for by a large group of women and a few men so the guys prayed for the guys and the girls split into pairs to pray for the women. God moved in this time and made his presence known giving words and pictures of encouragement and making promises of healing whether gradually or in the near future.

We were then taken around the slum and visited many houses where we were shown wonderful hospitality and were again received with love and great joy. It was wonderful to see how so many people take such pride in the little they have and that they take so much care of what they have and always strive to provide more for the people they love. Our walk around the slum lasted roughly an hour and a half during which we prayed for several families and also received gifts from the president of the women's groups who gave beautiful scarves to all the women and pocket handkerchiefs to all the guys.
She was a truly wonderful women and made an astonishing effort to make us feel welcome even putting up adorable fairly lights and playing music that we recognised to be christmas songs.

Lunch was next which was a simple biryani which tasted delicious. It came with a fabulous sauce and the majority of people went back for seconds and thirds with some of the guys going back for even tenths and twelfths!

Once lunch was over, we danced with the children from Seelampur. They danced for us first, then we danced for them, showing off little sections of routines and particular dance moves. Shiv, one of the members of Asha staff, is a dancer and he was very talented, so he taught us how to dance, he got us each up individually to dance and unfortunately for us all, Dave Jessel caught the whole thing on camera!

A trip to the new A block followed our interesting dance session and it was really striking how poor this new area of Seelampur was. The slum huts were all temporary, made of tarpaulin and tents, constructed in a dry river bed underneath a busy road. We were told that 3-4 thousand people live there and there are approximately 700 homes. We were unable to venture into this slum area, but we looked at it from a distance and I'm sure it will be in all of our prayers.

Amanda and Beth, being the amazing people that they are, surprised us next with the treat of seeing elephants. Then after all the desired selfies had been taken, we mounted the elephants in threes for an amazing experience riding on an elephant. There were award winning facial expressions as the elephant stood  up, the best being from Beth as a look of fear and wonder appeared on her face!
Just to top off the awesome elephant rides, we had some slightly old mushy bananas in the boot of our car which we decided to fed to the elephant. Her trunk approached Dave Talbot as he brought them out of the car and we each had a turn at feeding the elephant a well deserved treat for carrying us all around.

For dinner, we were welcomed with open arms and the amazing smell of home cooked food, when we went to Joel's family's house. We had an amazing main meal of chicken with biryani that was followed by three wonderful cakes. Most people had two or three slices as we had been deprived of most sweet things. There was a lovely walnut cake, a delicious apple cake and finally, much to everyone's delight, a mouthwatering chocolate cake that i think we would all eat all day everyday if we could.

Today was such a good day; the range of activities we did came together to make the most amazing uplifting experience that I'm sure will stick in all of our minds. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

27th October 2015

Day 2 in Jeevan Nagar today. Another cracker!! We woke up, nice and early as usual (solid 7.30 alarm, and a huge thump on the door from Davey Jessel). Then we had breakfast, for those brave enough we went for bovril and honey on the same slice of toast.
Then we had a brief meeting in Amanda's room, in which we sung a few songs, prayed and Tim said a few words if encouragement. Then it was time to go. In classic fashion, the cars were late, so we left at 9.50 rather than 9.15. The hilarious roads of India made us slow to get there, but when we did we were met with a short shower of petals. We had a quick game of cricket, a particular highlight was when Joel got creamed for 2 consecutive sixes by a 12 year old, the latter losing the ball.

We had a quick pray with the kids, Kulwinder, Anita and Parveen, and sung a few songs, again including Lighthouse. Then the kids were told to go outside, and Parveen (the Community Health Volunteer) showed us her box of medicine, and through Anita's translation we learnt a bit about what Parveen does: it turns out it's everything. She is the go to person if someone is ill, needs a loan, isn't receiving a pension, or is even giving birth. A truly inspirational woman! We then prayed for her and began the activities.

We split into 3 groups. Two painted: one in the Jungle Room. The highlight being Louise's amazing Tiger, and Tommy's snake. And the other in the fish room, the highlights being Lauren's shark and the pink coral, and the quality puffer fish. The others played games with the kids outside, and the amount of energy they had was frankly inhuman, they jumped all over them, hugged, played cricket etc etc.

Then we had an amazing lunch, cooked by Parveen (again showing her range of talents). And it was absolutely delicious!! We had daal and mixed vegetable curry and rice, and it was amazing. Joel had about 4ths, which summed up its quality. We continued to do crafts in the afternoon, which was a picture of the Christmas story. And more painting. And half the team went on a prayer walk round the slum in the afternoon. Which was apparently amazing (I didn't go, but they said it was a fantastic experience).

An amazing day. Bring on Seelampur tomorrow !

Monday, 26 October 2015

Today was our first day in Jeevan Nagar, and we had an incredible day. We received the best welcome when we arrived and the children gave us all flower garlands to wear. We then sat in the Asha centre with lots of the children and the Asha staff, and introduced ourselves , which somehow turned into them singing us numerous songs so beautifully, and then us trying to sing songs to them not so beautifully!

After introductions, we all bundled into the playground and played cricket with some of the boys, and we lost, much to their delight! Then it was time to get cracking with drawing the murals for the rooms we are painting; we are having two themed rooms, one jungle and the other 'under the sea'. So some of us spent the afternoon drawing tigers and sharks and the rest bit stuck in and made friendships bracelets with some of the children.

We finished the day by going to visit some of the families in the slums, and we were welcomed into their homes with open arms. The women who live there with their families take such pride in their houses, and there is not a speck of dust anywhere. It was so amazing to speak to the women and to hear some of their stories and to meet their children. We even got to hold a gorgeous 3 month old baby!

Then we headed back to the YWCA and played a lot of Irish snap whilst waiting for our curries! Today has been incredible but tiring, so time for an early night!

Sunday 25th October

Another lovely nights sleep at the YWCA followed by breakfast in the diner. We then gathered in Amanda and Beth's room for some worship, prayer and a thought for the day. Beth shared a great word about how God has gone before us and we do all that we do because He has sent us. Such an encouragement!

Our very trusty drivers then arrived and out we headed into the chaos that is the Delhi roads for our sight-seeing day. Tuk-tuks tooting, cars swerving...we've never loved seat belts so much! A new experience for many of us was being approached in the traffic by beggars asking for money...heartbreaking, especially as we knew that we ought not to give them any as it will just go to their master.

We arrived at our first destination: Qutb Minar. After walking across the road (an experience in itself), we entered the gates and were immediately surrounded by beautiful trees. Looking ahead we see it: the 73m high tower, surrounded by carved, beautiful ruins. Onto the next...

Lodi Gardens were lush and green, full of Indian families and loved-up, courting couples. We wandered around taking pictures in various alcoves, and were even treated to Joel and Sam doing their best catwalk impressions along one of the many pathways. Quite the talent.

And finally, we made it to Humayun's Tomb, an extravagant complex and a forerunner to the Taj Mahal. Photo opportunities galore. Despite being in the heart of  New Delhi where peace and quiet is something only to be imagined, the whole site seemed to instil calm in all of its guests. We even managed to get up on the platform, look out over the slum we'll be at tomorrow and pray.

Our evening has so far consisted of the wifi working and so a well-needed social media fix for many, followed by cricket the the Talbot's room (much to Lauren's dismay), a scrumptious dinner and then watching the Australia-Argentina Rugby World Cup Semi-Final. Bedtime soon as we have an early start tomorrow and our first day in the slum. Let's go!