Sunday, 31 January 2016

Belgaum: Mission Accomplished!

Mission accomplished!! We distributed our final 1000 bedkits for grand total of 3,000 kits in 3 days. Today we traveled 71 km to a village in the jungle of Karnataka.

The children traveled from outside villages as far as 70km. We noticed that they seemed more timid & reserved than children from the previous 2 days, we made sure we quickly changed that feeling by playfully interacting with balloons, beach balls and stickers.

These children and families who seem to have nothing have no wants because they don't know what there is to want. They are very appreciative and thankful for our gift.

Once again it was a moving experience. We are with mixed emotions that the we have complete our objective but we are comforted that 3,000 children will sleep well.

We thank the numerous local volunteers who spent the past 3 days helping us with logistics and organization to successfully distributing the bedkits.

This trip would not have been possible without the support of our family, friends and associates from Raymond James for allowing us this gift of giving.

Team Belgaum 2016
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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Belgaum: The Team!

Team Belgaum 2016
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Kolkata: Our Treasured Volunteers!


Today, the team would like to acknowledge all the extra work that has gone on by non- Rotarian volunteers on this distribution. We could not have done any of it without their assistance.

From the local women who helped the children change into their new clothing, to the people who have provided food for both the children, their families and us.  Our incredible driver, Dilip who has negotiated us SAFELY through the craziness of Kolkata traffic and then pitched in and assisted us at each and every distribution and Deba who has worked tirelessly, trouble shooting, replacing damaged items, and delivering mango juice to a grateful SCAW team.  Our four guys who are in charge of loading up of the bedkits in Kolkata, driving to the distribution sites and then off-loading the kits so we can give them to the children.  Imagine 5,000 x 13 lbs (per bedkit). ...! Alok, Bai, and another personal driver chauffeur people to and from the sites (us included) then carry items for the distribution once we get to the sites and also help with carrying the kits for the little children.  At the school for the blind, the local scout group helped with crowd control and handing out bedkits.

If all of these people had to be paid for the amount of hours they have donated with their time, energy and enthusiasm, we could not have afforded them.  How grateful we are that they believe in what Team Kolkata is doing!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Team Kolkata 2016
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Friday, 29 January 2016

Chennai: Diglipur

We had a very long 18 hour trip yesterday consisting of a 2 1/2 hour flight, 2 short ferry boat rides and a long bus ride to get to Kalipur, near Diglipur on the Andaman Islands. We traveled through lush rain forests, small towns, a reservation area for the Jarawa tribe of Indians and coastal areas that had been hit by the tsunami a few years ago.

Our distribution today was the first for this area and we delivered 564 bed kits to the children in Diglipur. The children are very quiet and shy and would laugh when being entertained with magic and a hand puppet while waiting in line but were very serious when it was time to take their picture.

Fran for Team Chennai

Chennai: Ambattur

Ambattur, the last distribution in the Chennai area was held at the school supported by the Rotary Club of Ambattur. The Rotarians have supported our SCAW distributions for 29 years. The Children were delightful and responded with awe at the magic tricks.

 It was a good day for the teachers, the Rotarians, the high school volunteers and the SCAW Team.  

We handed out the 4000th bed kit too.

This distribution was particularly special since the Rotarians offer scholarships to 10 students to honour Murry Dryden’s name.

At the completion of the distribution we were able to visit the homes of several of the recipients. The families graciously allowed us to see where the bed kit would be used.

Marg for Team Chennai 2016
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Kolkata: Day 9

Today's distribution was at a school for children with special needs. They were so excited at our coming and even more so at the thought they would be taking home one of our bedkits.

Peggy did an interview with a principal who runs a school of 25 children with severe congenital issues.  The principal used to be in the traditional school system but wanted to help the parents who discovered that their children's needs were not being met in the regular school system.

We were so sad because today Judy O. and Addie had to leave us to return home to the States.  Judy O. is a leading authority on paediatric sleep issues, and her professional knowledge enhanced our experience in working with the children. Every child received from Addie a good luck U.S. penny.  The children were thrilled with this symbol of generosity.

After our distribution, the Rotarians provided us with a delicious lunch of Bengali food.  And indeed, at every distribution, the hospitality has been incredible!

It was hot today, and so, as the children did not have to wear their fleece jackets, we were able to see the beautiful dresses given in our bedkits.

Hard to believe, we have only 2 days to go, but the memories of this intriguing country will remain with us forever.

Team Kolkata 2016
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Belgaum: Day One!

Team Raymond James assisted in the distribution of 1,114 bedkits on this eventus day 1 for the 5 brand new scaw volunteers.  It took a little bit of time to get into a rhythm but we got there very quickly. 
It was a great experience for all of us. 
We arrived into a giant sea of love and for a while surrounded by hundreds of screaming happy children it ‎must have been how the Beatles felt.
The children were very excited to see us and we played balloon volleyball and took their pictures. The kids really loved that. 
At first the kids were shy. but one smile from us and ‎we were rewarded with their beautiful smiles in return. Once inside the site we were treated to singing and reciting their abc,s and numbers but then it was down to the distribution. 
It was a long day but thoroughly rewarding to see the girls in their beautiful ‎new dresses and the boys proudly showing off their new outfits. Getting smiles for the photographs was easy!
The location was very suitable for this purpose and the Rotarians and all the other volunteers were very helpful and integral in the distribution‎.
We are anticipating another incredible  Day 2!

Team Belgaum 2016

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Kolkata: Distribution Days 7 and 8!!

We went to Howrah yesterday and did a distribution to a lot of special needs children.  It was a clear day and the clouds that were threatening passed us by - to our relief.  Judy O, Addie and Lynette tried a chorus line routine for the children - but Radio City would NEVER hire us!  We then tried the hand jive and the parents and children were joining in and laughing with us.  So much fun.

We were then able to visit three homes of recipients of kits from last year.  It was humbling to see how they lived and to what good use they had put the kits to.  When you see the photo, people sometimes ask why are the children getting a kit when they look so lovely.  Let us assure you, they REALLY do need the bedkits!

Apologies for not sending the blog yesterday.  No internet connection.

We then drove to the coast of the Bay of Bengal for a distribution in Contai. We went for a walk along the beach and it was wonderful to breath in the amazing fresh air of the ocean rather than the polluted atmosphere of Kolkata!

After the distribution, the children were so excited when they finally realized that ALL the stuff that they had seen was actually going to be THEIRS.  Judy O said she "felt like a rock star" with all the high fives, cheers and claps she received. We were every bit as excited as the children.

Team Kolkata 2016
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Belgaum: Predistribution!

Pre scaw distribution activities;
 Prior to the scaw distribution we were invited to visit a preschool in the outskirts of Mumbai by a colleague of the team members.

We visited two schools which were located in the slums. The conditions were very poor.   Regardless of the conditions, the brightness in the children's eyes and their excitement to see us and show us their progress was very touching.  ‎This visit gave us an idea on how our efforts with SCAW were also going to make a very important impact on the children in Belgaum.

Scaw predistribution;
We all arrived in Belgaum and were picked up by Manju, our trusted driver who brought us to our hotel.
We freshened up and headed off to the predistribution meeting to meet the trustees of the Belgaum scaw distribution.

The agenda was to make introductions and discuss the distribution logistics.  The bedkit was viewed and the process for the distribution was reviewed by all in attendance.

The team members were very impressed by the number and quality of items in the bedkit . It was mentioned by the rotarians that the retail value of the bedkits exceeded the 35 dollars due to the excellent negotiations skills and bulk buying by the rotarians.

After the formalities of the predistribution we got to know each other better while enjoying the wonderful Indian cuisine.

We retired after a long but incredibly motivating day.

Team Belgaum 2016

Belgaum: The Team Has Arrived!

The very best special Belgaum distribution!

Well we have arrived...all via different routes; Mike and Kate, Jen and Clark - Vancouver thru Beijing to Mumbai and Sue, Warren and Diane - Toronto via London to Mumbai.

The team is made up of six Raymond James employees plus the CEO of Raymond James, Paul, his wife Rose and Sue, the team leader of Belgaum distribution.

Special? Yes...the RJ Team have raised the entire amount for the 3000 bedkits that will be distributed.

Everyone is so excited to be here and can't wait to meet the children and see their sparkling eyes and big smiles.

The sights and sounds of India are a bit overwhelming at first, loud, bright, chaotic but we will all get used to it quickly.

All of us want to thank SCAW for this wonderful opportunity to be here, to help these beautiful children and to continue Murray's dream...stay tuned for our daily blogs

Very Best Special Belgaum team 2016

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Chennai: Leaving Puducherry

Tuesday, January 26th, is Republic Day in India. The weekend celebrations were akin to our Canada Day weekend.  It was also an off day for the SCAW Team in Chennai as we said goodbye to Puducherry.  In the morning, we visited Auroville which is a place that has been transformed from a barren plateau to a lush green landscape in which a city is beginning to take shape (

After lunch and a stroll along the ocean front in Puducherry, we began our journey back to the Chennai area. As we got close to Chennai, we had the opportunity to visit homes of flood victims in two locations. The first village received about 30 bedkits and the flood level reached the knees of the inhabitants. 

The second village area flooded to above waist levels and there were over 150 recipients of bedkits from this village area.  There is still a lot of water in evidence even now.  The sightseeing at Auroville and Punducherry was very nice, but seeing the place where the children live and seeing the children who had received the bedkits with their families was very special.

Our partners, The Rotary Club of Ambattur is a very special group of people.  They consider themselves to be a "project" club.  Three important ongoing projects are SCAW, their hospital, and their school.  But that's not all!

After the floods, they set up Medical Clinics with 100 doctors volunteering their time to provide medicine primarily for Rat Fever and ointment for cracks in the feet.  They serviced over 6,500 people at 8 clinics while also getting ready for the SCAW distribution to 5,000 children.  We are blessed to be amongst these very giving people who share their hearts with others.

Team Chennai 2016
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