Saturday, 31 January 2009

Chennai: 310 bedkits in Avadi

Kristein and new friend.
From Chennai Photo Album 2009
I have looked forward to a distribution in India since I was young and listened to my grandmother's stories of her trip to India with SCAW. She was a part of the first distribution in 1981 with Rtn. V.R. Janardhanam.

I was lucky enough today to walk in my grandma's shoes and distribute bedkits with this very same man. 81 years old now, he was the man responsible for bringing SCAW to Chennai and still remembered my grandmother, Fletch Manning.

India has been very gracious to us since our arrival. The Avadi school prepared us a traditional breakfast consisting of Idli, Pongal, Vada, Red Chili Chutney, Green Chili Chutney, coconut Chutney, Sambhar and Mollaga Poole. This was delicious. They also provided us with 310 beautiful children and a group of senior high boys to help. What a great day!

I believe that nothing should be prized more than the value of a day!

Kristein Johnson
for Team Chennai 2009

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Friday, 30 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #6

From Kolkata 2009 Photo Album
The Journey Comes to a Close

Today we delivered our 6,500th bedkit. It was with mixed feelings that we finished our distribution. We will miss all the smiling faces of the children, but we are glad that we could help so many children. Now time for a little shopping and celebration with the Rotarians before we all part ways.

Thank you for following us on our journey. Keep an eye out for our newsletter!

Team Kolkata 2009

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Chennai: The team has arrived

Left to right: Tom Belton (Team Leader), Kathy Greiner, Jeff McDougall,
Kristein Johnson, Mary Jo Lang, and Andy Greiner.
From Chennai Photo Album 2009
Greetings from Chennai.

After over 20 hours of flying, we arrived to the greetings of our Rotary hosts at the Chennai International airport at 12:30 AM local time. Having left behind the near blizzard conditions in Ontario, stepping off the plane into 30+ degree humid weather was a bit of a shock to us all.

So here we are enjoying our "relax day."

On behalf of the Team, I welcome all our friends and relatives along with the elementary students of Leo Bernabi School in Spencerport, New York and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha School in Orleans, Ontario, who will be following our trip as donors and strong supporters of SCAW. It is our aim each day to describe a summary of our activities, observations, and impressions of what we see, while trying to give all of you a snapshot view of India and the very important contribution SCAW performs here with the children who are so much in need. Each of our team will share their experiences on a rotating basis to give varied points of view.

Our first distribution takes place tomorrow when we go to Avadi, a suburb of Chennai and distribute 310 bedKits.

We hope you enjoy the experience with us.

Best wishes from us all.

Tom Belton
Team Leader, for Team Chennai 2009

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Chennai: Post Your Comments Here

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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #5

The Journey Continues ...

Travelling nearly 3000 km. over the last eleven days has truly provided an amazing adventure. Our driver, Tapan, has not only exhibited superior driving skills but has been a source of information on everything from identifying a flower to Indian culture. AND he found the women the ONLY western toilet outside of Kolkata!

Even when the van broke down the adventure continued. As the roadside mechanic came to our rescue, we visited the tiny temple next door where we learned a little more about the Hindu faith. All this as we drove to a very remote distribution where the children had been brought from small tribal villages. Very shy, they took time to respond to our attempts to play.

Yet another unique distribution could only be reached by river barge. The Bengal tigers we hoped to see enroute failed to appear! Children were ferried from the shore to the barge where they were dressed for pictures. Never phased, Irene managed the photographs on a tiny corner of the deck.

Bravo to the Rotarians whose 'outreach' initiatives have not only brought medical teams to these isolated islands, but, working with SCAW, they have provided nearly two hundred kids with bedkits.

Team Kolkata 2009

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Monday, 26 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #4

From Kolkata 2009 Photo Album
The Journey Continues ...

As Team Kolkata travels to distributions around the city, we gain new insights into the Indian culture. Passing through Tangra, Kolkata's China Town, we learned that many in that community are leather workers. Their influence on Indian cuisine is evident as menus feature many traditional Chinese dishes.

Each day we hear touching stories from parents, teachers, and caregivers who bring children for bedkits. One such story was related to us from a woman whose group is working to educate sex trade workers -- 35 of their children receive bedkits. Many disadvantaged children have come to the distributions. We have seen the developmentally challenged and physically disabled, the blind and deaf, and albino children suffering from the intense hot climate. Each instance never fails to move us. We were equally touched when we visited Mother Theresa's Home for children. Our India experience only serves to renew our passion for SCAW and the hope it provides.

Team Kolkata 2009

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Saturday, 24 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #3

From Kolkata 2009 Photo Album
The Journey Continues ...

We have finished up our 3-day road trip and have seen so much Indian culture throughout our time here. In Contai, the Rotary members enthusiastically sang their national anthem, and we responded with a wonderful rendition of O Canada. We had quite a touching moment when one little boy came late with his mother because he had just come from the hospital. After receiving his bedkit, he showed us each a sign of respect and appreciation when he knelt down and touched each of our feet. We were overwhelmed by this gesture of gratitude.

We continued to see wonderful glimpses of Indian culture at unexpected times. At Tata, some of the girls were moved inside, during a very hot day in order to keep them out of the sun. While inside, these girls entertained each other by performing local and tribal dances. The energy in the room was amazing, the dancing was beautiful, and their spontaneity was delightful.

We were introduced to the melodious sounds of the harmonium and the robust singing of a young student. He had a beautiful voice and his song showed yet another side of Indian culture. Throw in a bit of history at the Ghandi Museum at Barrackpore and it has been another interesting, successful, and educating day.

Team Kolkata 2009

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Friday, 23 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #2

From Kolkata 2009 Photo Album
The Journey Continues ...

Wrapped in warm hospitality, sustained by a wonderful variety of Indian food, and buoyed by the warm smiles of the children, Team Kolkata is right on schedule and going strong.

India continues to reveal amazing insights, but its most amazing assets are its kids. Some have been disabled, others of members of no written language, still others attend satellite schools in very remote villages. What they have in common is a bed in which to sleep.

A one hundred kilometre trek to the industrial city of Haldia provided a myriad of sights and sounds as we passed rice fields and small roadside markets amidst the incessant honking of horns. Our driver Tappan gave our novice members their first taste of skilled highway driving in "Indian" style.

Hopsitality from the Rotarians has been outstanding, both in the local Club of Dum Dum and in the other Partnering Clubs in the outlying regions.

Thanks to all our donors. Keep those bedkits coming.

Team Kolkata 2009

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Kolkata: Blog #1

Current Weather:Click for Kolkata, India Forecast
The Journey Begins ...

After a flight of 24 hours the pilot announced that we would land in Kolkata in 20 minutes. Excitement and joy overcame us. To our dismay, we continued flying and after an hour or so we were informed that we could not land in Kolkata due to heavy fog.

Our first sights, sounds, and smells of India were in Hyderabad, 12,000 km away. We arrived in Kolkata 36 hours later after a resting sojourn in Hyderabad.

From the Kolkata Airport, after a warm reception from the Dum Dum Rotary Club, we travelled to our first distribution at a Methodist Church School. We were greeted by warm, smiling, and very patient children.

After the distribution, the principal toured our team through his school and we enjoyed the Rotarian's warm hospitality with fruit and cake. We then made our way to the our lodgings to settle in at our home away from home.

Team Kolkata 2009

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Monday, 19 January 2009

Kolkata: Reporting by telephone

Message received by telephone from Kolkata this morning.

The team wants you all to know that they have arrived safely and are proceeding with the distribution of 6,500 bedkits in Kolkata, India.

"We've got the blogs written but we can't get an Internet that works. We were wondering if you could put something on the blog for us telling everyone that we are fine and distributions are going well and we'll have some pictures and some written words for them as soon as we can get the Internet to work here.

"We're having a great time here in India except for the frustration of the Internet.

"God bless and talk to you later."

Ron King
for the Kolkata 2009 team

As soon as more information arrives, we'll post it here.

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Saturday, 10 January 2009

Kolkata: The team prepares

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This year, 2009, is our year of the millionth bedkit.

Many teams are getting ready for our banner year. Here is the first.

In a photo taken in the SCAW headquarters living room this week, the Kolkata team gathers for a team photo: (Left to right}: Irene Harrison (Team Leader), Janet Wilson, Shannon Rourke, Jan Pearce, Ron King, and Mary Ann King.

Click for larger photo

Kolkata: Post your comments here.

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