Monday, 24 October 2016

First Day in Seelampur Slum!

Today we had an early start, so as to reach Seelampur, the slum in which we will be spending most of our time, early. After an energising breakfast and a meeting, we prepared to leave. Unfortunately, there was a vehicle delay; however, we still arrived more or less on time, despite startling road conditions.

On arrival in the slum, we entered the Asha centre and were greeted with confetti and a warm welcome; next we were introduced to the team and the Asha volunteers, including local women who had undergone three months of basic medical training to treat those in their community. We also presented them with a fantastically manufactured Monopoly game that Karen had produced using the pictures from our team building day. After a back and forth sing-song with children, youth, volunteers and leaders, which was full of smiles, we split into groups and began to paint murals on the walls of two rooms and do craft work with the children.

Despite my hilariously hideous drawing and painting in our 'Under the Sea' mural, we appear to be making good progress and are hoping to finish on Wednesday. Our other mural has a jungle theme, and is also going very well. The children were very excited by the craft activities, to the extent that they were running into the room where I was painting to show us their wonderful creations! After a delicious lunch, with fruit, crisps and drinks provided for us, we rotated our activities. One group went on a visit to some of the homes in the slum, while the others did more painting and craft, this time with the girls (as the students only go to school for half the day, the girls in the morning and the boys in the afternoon).

We also completed 'Shields of Honour' with the youth. This began with each student filling out basic information about themselves; information about their study and future aims; and the challenges they currently faced (for most, this was the small size of their home and/or financial issues). Then we got them to sit in a circle and read through them one by one; for each one, we asked the group why they thought the person reading was special. This was filled in in the centre of the paper shield, under the heading, 'I'm special because:'. One girl was told she was a great dancer, and Lara made her get up and do a demonstration - the other girls were not lying! We hope this was a motivational activity.

We ended with another sing song, including dancing, which was great fun and enjoyed by all. The positivity and happiness present in this community, despite the poverty all around them, was inspirational. We were sad to leave, but look forward to seeing everyone again tomorrow! A trip to the Cottage Emporium, followed by a delicious meal at a South Indian restaurant, for which most of us opted for tasty dosai pancakes, closed off a long, but unforgettable and inspirational day. We hope to do more work both with and for those served by Asha tomorrow, as well as music games. Until then, goodnight!

Peter

P.s. In other team news, congratulations to Thomas Clegg for gaining an offer today to study Geography at the University of Bristol!

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