Sunday, 3 March 2013

Mumbai/Belgaum: Late blog from Yellapur

I can’t believe we were actually looking forward to today.  It was going to be a small distribution of 200 bed kits in a beautiful Ashram setting and with a bit of luck we would be home early enough to have a swim in the hotel pool.  Our drive was just under two hours and as we arrived and drove through the gates and saw the meditation temple and the beautiful garden and children patiently waiting that this would be a smooth operation.  How wrong we were!  We had barely started, when we heard children screaming and saw them running in all directions.  A swarm of aggressive bees had entered the Ashram, so much for peace and tranquility, and was attacking children, parents and volunteers and then us.  Any thoughts of trying to maintain any order vanished and we ran for cover. Children were crying and many of us sustained multiple bee stings.  Jim at least twenty; Kirsten had several on her back and a painful one on her eyebrow.  Allison who has a basic fear of bugs was rightly terrified and had a nasty sting on her lip.  Even Bill was among the wounded as a bee stung the top of his head.  In the thick of it the scene resembled a bad horror movie.  Helen and I were relatively unscathed and it was a good thing as Helen was able to lead the children into the safety of the Ashram main hall.  Our original set up was decimated and even an investigation of our original area produced another sting for Jim so Bill decided we would change the location and set up closer to shelter if the bees returned.  Kids had fled just seconds before receiving their bed kit and we had to find them before we could start a recount.  We had to relocate the bed kits and thankfully Manju, our driver took over that task.  We also had help from the seasoned Belgaum Rotarians and even though it seemed to take forever we were set to go once again with the bed kit tally matching our records. We had scores of people giving water to the children and helping count and compare with the master list until Bill was satisfied we could continue. It really did not take that long to finish and thankfully all the numbers matched at the end of the day.  We had an excellent lunch in the dining area of the Ashram and posed for multiple photos before boarding the van and heading for Hubl.

The one significant bright spot of this day was meeting a lovely lady and her son who we thought was one of the many volunteers.  We were later told her story,  her son had been a recipient of a bed kit 3 years ago and she and her son wanted to donate their time to help with the distribution as a way of giving back for receiving the bed kit that helped their lives.  Her son in still in school and is interested in art and hopes to pursue a career in that area.

There is always a bright side to everything .  By us being determined to pick up the pieces, to be creative, make a new plan and complete the distribution our team brought back the smiles to the 200 children in Yellapur. Not to mention the joy of meeting a past recipient who is doing well and is still grateful and has benefited from one Canadian donor who wrote a check to Sleeping Children Around The World.

P.Corlett  (The van was quiet on the way home......antihistamines???)
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