Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Belgaum: Mundgod & Sirsi

Today was another busy, long, and fruitful day with several hours spent driving in our vehicle. We left Hubli and traveled south to our two distribution sites of Mundgod (300 bedkits) and Sirsi (400 bedkits), and then proceeded to the site of our final distribution tomorrow.

During the distribution at Sirsi, the Rotary Club of Belgaum reached the 50,000th bedkit milestone, made possible through their hard work and passion to help the children.

Since the 14-member Mundgod Rotary Club was hosting their very first distribution, members of the Belgaum Trust assisted with the set up and smooth operation.

In both sites, the children from rural villages were very excited and happy

and the parents, who waited patiently outside, were so thankful.

Our driver, Shekher, deserves special mention, as he has been extremely dedicated and helpful assisting with several tasks at each distribution and always with a positive, pleasant manner.

As we descended from Sirsi, he skillfully guided us, in the dark, along the curvy roads and construction areas against steady ongoing traffic. He is definitely a valuable member of our team. Thanks to Shekher we reached our destination safely, and look forward to our final distribution tomorrow.

With today’s distributions completed, we have now given 6,600 bedkits to the children. They all left happy and smiling with the generosity of donors very much appreciated by the parents.

For the Children,
Ann MacDonald for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Monday, 18 February 2019

Belgaum: Hubli and Kundgol

Today we travelled to two different distribution sites: the first was in the city of Hubli and the second was in the village of Kundgol where we distributed 400 bedkits at each site for a total of 800 bedkits today.

So, the question that came up is how the children are selected as the need is great wherever you go in this region. This came up in the discussion with the Rotary Club of Hubli, a club that has been active since 1947, has consistently had a membership of over 100 Rotarians and has been involved with SCAW bedkits since 1975. In this time interval they have distributed about 30,000 bedkits!

Preparation by the Rotarians to go into the government schools consists of organizing meetings, school selection and administrative support which all together take about 100 man hours.

To find the children who would benefit most from a bedkit and following guidelines set out by SCAW, the club organizes 10 teams of four Rotarians who visit 40 schools in the surrounding villages, directly interview prospective bedkit recipients through the use of a questionnaire, determine those children eligible and then select five girls and five boys from each school to come up with the 400 children who would get the bedkits this year. This takes about 400 man hours of work by the Rotarians.

On the day before the distribution takes place, the bedkit contents are assembled by a large number of people consisting of Rotarians, Interact/Rotaract members, families, friends and consume about 200 man hours to ensure that the bedkits are available to be given to the selected children the next day.

Finally, it is distribution day and the Rotarians come out in force as well as other volunteers such as local police, family and friends to ensure that the distribution process goes smoothly.

Before too long, the 400 selected children arrive with an adult family member and we all closely cooperate to ensure that the children get the bedkit they so deserve in as error-free process as possible. For the Rotarians and all those who helped them get this all done, it took about 300 man hours.

Total man hours associated with the Hubli bedkit distribution this year is estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 1,000 man hours, an effort that is probably representative of the 11 Rotary Clubs involved with our team at each of their sites as well as the charitable organization Ekal, an amazing commitment by these clubs and organizations…all for the children so that they can have a good night’s sleep.

As you can see, to be an overseas volunteer partner, such as Rotary, takes considerable time, effort and resources to make the distribution of the donor funded bedkits possible.

For all involved, it is a labour of love because we all care for children and know that if they can have a good night sleep, life is so much more positive for them all and their families.

Team Belgaum 2019 has now distributed 5,900 bedkits with three distributions remaining. What a positive experience for all!!

For the Children,
Joep Diening for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Belgaum: Home Visits

After today’s distribution of 500 bed kits under yet another sunny sky, the Rotary brought us to visit a village called Bailhongal where we visited two homes after completing the distribution.

Home 1

A family of three lived in the corrugated tin home located along a narrow road in a village where cattle, when not used in the field, are tightly roped to stakes outside the home.

This home was equipped with government supplied electricity and gas. There were no windows, no furniture and the home was very small.  The corrugated tin roof was curiously decorated with plants stuck in ‘clay pots’.

The inside area was divided into two. At night the family’s two cattle occupied half the space and the family slept in the other half (including the kitchen) on a mat placed on the ground.  A wall mounted clock was the only decoration.  In the corner by the door was a two-foot square cement bathing area.

Home 2

A family of three lived in this newly constructed tin home located in the middle of a field. It was not yet equipped with electricity or gas. It also had no windows nor furniture.

Neatly aligned and polished metal pots were proudly lined up on a shelf.
The family cooked with wood inside the one room house which had a front and back door.

A raised clay platform covered in tarp in the back of the room is where the family of three slept and where water jugs were stored.

A wooden peg was used to secure the cattle in the home at night.

Both homes receiving the bedkits were looking forward to sleeping under the SCAW provided mosquito nets as they had none.

As of end of day in Bailhongal, we distributed 5,100 bedkits with five more distributions to go to reach the 7,000 total.

For the Children,
Line Forestier for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Saturday, 16 February 2019

Belgaum: A 50,000 Milestone!!

Today’s distribution in Belgaum, under a very sunny sky, was mammoth and marked an admirable milestone for the Rotary Club who began working with SCAW in 1996.

Many hands make light work. This was our team’s biggest single distribution - 1000 bed kits were given to children some of whom had travelled up to 70 kilometres early this morning with their parent.

A number of players were instrumental to today’s smooth operation.

No small details were overlooked by Dilip Chitnis and his team of rotary’s colleagues, Rotaracts, their families and friends.

Generous school teachers, whose math skills far surpassed ours, easily counted and organized the children for the large group photographs. Determined family members managed to make children not only smile but laugh out loud while having their picture taken. Donors will enjoy seeing these pictures.

As for the special milestone reached today for the Belgaum Rotary... drum roll please..... they have now distributed over 50,000 bed kits in the area. Congratulations !!!

We look forward to working with you for the next 50,000 !

For the children,
Sandra Riches - Team Leader for
Team Belgaum 2018
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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Belgaum: Factory Visit

Today was a non-distribution day which allowed us to do a factory visit as part of our audit function for Sleeping Children Around the World. When a team does a distribution in a country, there is a requirement that manufacturers and suppliers are compliant to SCAW guidelines for local procurement.

We made a visit to a tailor shop where all the clothing for the 7,000 bedkits were made for this distribution. This is all accomplished in an extremely small space of two rooms in which five employees using very old Singer sewing machines work very hard for four months to produce the beautiful dresses, shirts and shorts given to the children.

The tailor and his assistant come to each distribution site to ensure that each child is fitted properly for their new clothing. It is amazing how he can take one look at a child and chose the proper size.

For the children and their family, this is a very special day. The children’s hair is done in braids and decorated with flowers and barrettes. They look their Sunday best!

The evening was spent with our Belgaum Rotary hosts visiting a swimming pool which they financed, built and operate.

This pool is open to all the children from the variously handicapped to high-level athletes. We heard amazing stories about the children’s accomplishments. One young man who did his training at the pool swam the English Channel with just one arm. Neither deafness, blindness, delayed development or physical impairment can hold any of these children from enjoying the water or earning medals for India in international competitions. The head coach in charge of the pool, is extremely energetic and passionate about his work.

This concludes another busy, wonderful and inspiring day. Going on a SCAW distribution is truly an ongoing adventure, full of long days, lots of fun,  with the reward of smiling children happily going home for a good night’s sleep!

Carol Diening for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Belgaum: Ekal at Ramnagar!

Today we retraced our way through part of the Mhade Wildlife Sanctuary to a small rural village called Ramnagar where once again we were warmly welcomed by the organizing Ekal volunteer Girish Pai, and his outstanding local volunteers, and most especially the beautiful children and their parents. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, but today it was the exceptional team of volunteers who raised the standard of this distribution of 800 bedkits to new heights. The accompanying picture shows the efficient volunteer team.

Each child on their arrival received a banana, and upon leaving with their bedkits, a sandwich and a sweet bun. In this year’s bedkit our Canadian donors have provided a sleeping mat, two light weight blankets, a very warm wool blanket, two sets of clothes and sweater, an insect repellent mosquito net, flip flops, raincoat, backpack and school supplies. The children and families are overwhelmed with gratitude and joy as kids go home for a better night’s sleep!

As we travel we are exposed to many unfamiliar, but interesting sights outside the larger cities, such as: religious processions on foot in special dress, some with offerings carried on their heads; protests marching on foot; shepherds with their flocks; herds of goats, and of course the sacred cows. Both in the large cities, small villages, and along the countryside, people selling their wares in small stalls or beautifully displayed vegetables sitting along the roadside; small brickwork factories; fields and fields of sugar cane blowing in the wind and the sight of hundreds of trucks brimming over with their load, lining the narrow road, waiting not hours but days to unload their trucks at the sugarcane factory. 

But the almost unbelievable experience is the sight, sound, and speed of the congested traffic, consisting of motor bikes, trucks, cars, bicycles, tuk-tuks, pedestrians and at times cows! Up to ten lines of vehicles jostling for a spot to proceed, darting in and out, literally with inches to spare, stopping and starting quickly with screeching brakes all the while blowing their horns, both out of frustration as well as safety measures to alert the driver they are about to be passed.

Our donors and volunteers can rest assured another 800 children are sleeping better tonight! 

We are now at 3,600 bedkits distributed towards our goal of 7000 bedkits!

For the children

Carol Rolph for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Belgaum: EKAL at Dandeli

Today we travelled south through a shady forested national park; as we descended we encountered a few rough areas of road construction.  The topography and vegetation were in sharp contrast to the more arid and flatter terrain of the past few days, where sugar cane and rice fields were prevalent.

The distribution was in the small village of Dandeli where cows wandered freely in the streets.

Our partner today was the NGO EKAL ABHIYAN, and volunteers were mainly members and family.

There are several remote rural villages in this area, and many parents of the recipients work in the fields, laboriously assisting with the harvesting of sugar cane.

Some children in these areas are unable to attend school, and the EKAL volunteers, guided by their principle “If children are not coming to school, education has to reach at their doorstep.” provide evening lessons to some individuals.

The 800 bedkit recipients greet us with great enthusiasm, and are very happy and excited as they await their photos in their new clothes.

Many are a bit nervous about the process as they proceed through the various stations, and they are in awe of the various bedkit items that they receive.

Our pleasant and friendly SCAW team members, with their positive warm gestures and words encourage each individual; they greatly appreciate the heartwarming experience.

The EKAL leader and volunteers are very well organized and efficient, and we look forward to working harmoniously with them tomorrow.

Total bedkit distribution to date for Team Belgaum is 2,800!

Anne Mac Donald for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Monday, 11 February 2019

Belgaum: Ramburg

It is an in incredible opportunity and experience to be a new volunteer with SCAW - Team Belgaum.  On today’s blog, I would like to give a “shout out” to the families .... single parent, mother, father, grandparent and/or uncle. Many travelled over 25 km to get to the distribution, either on foot, bus, or a shared vehicle.

The distribution takes time and the parents waited very patiently for at least 4 to 5 hours in 32 degrees Celsius, with limited shade from the sun and in crowded conditions outside the centre.

They also have to retrace their trip with the child and the bedkit. A very, very long day!!!!  However, the wait was worth it when their daughter or son was escorted to their family with a bedkit often bigger than the child.

Every parent wants the best for their child, and our generous donors help them achieve this objective. The family interview on bedkit items and sleep habits is an important part of the process. 

The gratitude, smiles and happiness are priceless!!!!

Today we distributed 600 bedkits, and to date there are a total of 2000 extremely happy children and their families who will get a better sleep!!

For the children,
Colleen Watson for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Belgaum: Gokak and Nipani

This is my first trip with SCAW and I am thrilled to be part of this dedicated team that distributed 900 bed kits at two locations today.   It’s been a long 13-hour day for us! This late-night entry will focus on the children who so eagerly greet us in various ways upon our arrival at the distribution locations.

Their loud cheers are pleasantly deafening and very humbling.

Their eager two-handed waves are heartwarming.   Their beautiful and sometimes toothless smiles are heart melting.

As hard as I try to capture their warm welcome in a photograph or two, it’s simply not possible.

I look forward to tomorrow’s distribution and to the enormous goosebumps I get when these patient, well behaved children welcome us into their world.

Total bedkits delivered to date is 1,400.  Only 5,600 to go!

For the Children,
Line ‘Goosebump’ Forestier for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Saturday, 9 February 2019

Belgaum: You Can’t Clap with One Hand!

Welcome to the first entry of our Team Belgaum 2019 blog…with a focus on the Overseas Partner Organization (OVP)!

Seven members of SCAW’s travelling team under the leadership of Sandy Riches arrived in Belgaum, India late Friday, 8 February.  We were met by our OVP, the Rotary Club of Belgaum International Service Projects Association who are now in their 31st year of partnering with SCAW. Under the oversight of Rotarian Dilip Chitnis, members organized the 7,000 bedkit distribution effort in the region with the help of 12 local Rotary Clubs that will take place over the next 11 days. 

Today, it took three hours of driving to arrive at Athani where we were met by the very enthusiastic and welcoming 40 members belonging to the Rotary Club of Athani. 

The wonderful children were patiently waiting to receive their bedkits with their parents. 

Once the team was organized, all 500 bedkits were handed out over the space of about 3 ½ hours, with pictures taken, family interviews completed and the children, who came from within a radius of about 25 KM around the distribution site, going home happily and with lots of gratitude to the donors.

To add a different focus, In the background to these distributions, there is a significant amount of volunteer work required to procure the items, assemble them and hand them out to the children.  In the case of the Athani Rotarians, they visited the schools, spoke with the teachers, did some home visits to determine who needed bedkits and ensured that they met the standards set by Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW). 

Over the last two weeks, club members put in over 90 volunteer hours to assemble the bedkits in the selected venue, a local community recreation centre, and get everything ready for today’s distribution.  And they did an outstanding job!!  This was their 11th year of organizing the bedkit distribution in their area and have helped over 3,000 children have a better sleep, which can make the difference between hope and despair, as stated by our first-time travelling volunteer, Colleen Watson.

When I spoke with them, one Rotarian, Deepak Patil, mentioned that club members were so impressed with what SCAW was doing for the children and how we, as travelling volunteers from Canada, freely gave of our own time and effort, they just wanted to do their part as it takes both sides to successfully complete a distribution.  And that is why he said, “You can’t clap with one hand!”

What a great first day!  We came back to Belgaum 12 hours after we left it, very tired and very satisfied to see those happy children go to their homes, knowing that they will have a better sleep to face tomorrow’s challenges.

For the Children,

Joep Diening for
Team Belgaum 2019
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