Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Belgaum: Mission Accomplished!!

Team Belgaum 2018 has a wonderful day 10 distribution in Karwar.  This was a new site for us and a bit of a drive but it was near the Arabian Sea which we welcomed as a nice change of scenery.

The distribution was 300 kits and went off without a hitch!

Some of our travelling volunteers are now on their way back to Canada and some off to Goa to spend a bit of time relaxing.

This was a great team that took advantage of all the little extra stops along the way.
Thank you to all who donated kits and made this a successful distribution with 6000 happy kids!

Team Belgaum 2018

Monday, 26 February 2018

Belgaum: Sirsi

Our day began before sunrise as we travelled to Akshaya Patra and discover the source of the 150,000 mid day meals for the school children of this region.

Everyday the menu changes but rice seems to be part of all.
The process is so very well thought out.

Filling the last containers which will be loaded on their 54 trucks to go to local schools 6 days a week.

Amazing organization that now feeds 8 million children daily from their 36 kitchens.

On our travels we have seen a number of their trucks out on delivery.

On our drive from Hubli to Sirsi we often had to stop for monkeys, cows and some chickens

The girls look lovely in their new dresses with flowers in their hair

Waiting anxiously

The Sirsi Rotary team, as well as three members of the SCAW trust in Belgaum and the team after 395 bed kits were delivered.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Belgaum: Hubli

Today was the 9th day of our distribution in India. The morning was spent meeting 400 children in Hubli.

Hubli is a new area of India for us. It is a larger district than Belgium, and certainly has its own distinct culture. That being said, children are children wherever we go, and each one of them met us with laughter, smiling faces, and open hearts.

Fortunately, before moving onto the second part of our day, we had the privilege of witnessing a blessing ceremony in a 11th century Hindu temple. The architecture of the temple was remarkable - the structure of the building was made primarily from mud. It has stood for more than ten centuries!

The grace of the temple was matched only by the grace of our young tour guides. These young ladies study engineering in a nearby University and represent the bright direction of India as it moves further into the 21st century.

The afternoon clearly demonstrated the efficiency and enthusiasm of the local Rotary club in Kungol. 300 children received bedkits in one of the most smoothly orchestrated distributions to date. Thankfully, the children were not required to sit in the heat and the sun for very long before receiving their their kits! Consistent with the previous distributions, the parents and children were most appreciative of the school supplies, backpack and floor mat.

Family enthusiasm and commitment to education has been apparent and consistent throughout this entire trip. It speaks to the direction in future of this remarkable nature at its people.

As this distribution is winding down to its last couple of days, members are beginning to reflect upon this country, it’s beautiful people, and each other. It certainly has been a life-changing experience for the recipients of the bedkits, but also an equally remarkable journey and privilege for each of the team members.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Sunday, 25 February 2018

Belgaum: Bailhongal

Today the team left the comfort of Belgaum, and set out on our next journey to Hubli.  We stopped at Bailhongal to meet 400 children and deliver their kits.  We were supported by many of the rotary, as well as a group of young volunteers from the Air force Academy.  The distribution was a success, and we saw a lot of happy children. 

We then took a small journey to visit some of the recipients homes, where we were immediately greeted by the neighborhood children.  They followed us through our entire visit.  We first stopped at a young mothers home, where she lived in two rooms with her 3 children.  Her husband had died, and she was raising her children now alone.  She was proud to have us come to visit, and excited to show her bedkit. 

Our journey then stopped at a little shop, where Jeff bought dozens of bananas to feed our little followers, he was swarmed by little children anxious to receive his treat.  We carried on, and visited another family, also living in small quarters.  Their home was shared with a mom, dad, grandmother and 3 children.  A cow, and her calf also shared their home.  Inside they had set up a small space for their animals.  The cows provide the family with milk, which can be very expensive to provide the children, and knowing they have this resource is important to the family.

While at this home, Neil came across a man riding a bicycle and carrying a cooler full of frozen snacks.  He decided to buy all the treats for the children.  Neil was surrounded by many happy faces.  The children enjoyed their frozen treats, and the man on the bicycle left thrilled that he had made all his sales for the day in one stop.

Through the journey, we played and sang with the children, I believe the team shared the joy of this walk as much as the children.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Friday, 23 February 2018

Belgaum: Another Wonderful Day!

Today was a wonderful day!

We began our distribution of 1100 kits in Belgaum.  The drive was not too far for us as this Rotary Club has developed a system of bringing children in with the help of Aqueas Aerospace who donated the use of 10 large buses to transport children safely.

The distribution went off without a hitch! We had our large group of 71 children in one group photo to send to one of many generous donors.

There were kids with disabilities, chicken pox and orphans. Very needy kids that were so well behaved.

Tonight we will meet with the Rotary Club at their meeting and visit with them in a relaxed atmosphere. Congratulations to this crew for all they do for Belgaum area.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Belgaum: A Great Day!

We drove for 2 hours today over bumps and turns and had to stop for livestock through the drive. We then arrived at Ekal at Halyal where we were to deliver 1000 bedkits at a school to kids from all over. Kids were brought in by motorcycle, bus, trucks and walking.

Once we got in we were greeted by the first group of kids waiting very patiently for hours to receive their bedkits as you can see in the first picture .

We spent 5 hours in the heat working with great volunteers and playing with all 1000 kids and everyone of them was so appreciative of their kit.

We then went to see the kids leaving with their kits and they were loading their kits and themselves into every kind of transportation and everyone one of them had a smile and just wanted to say thank you and shake our hand as you can see in the second picture.

A truly incredible experience for the kids and for all of us as volunteers.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Belgaum: Another Jam-Packed Day!

It was another busy and productive day for Team Belgaum. The day started with 1 ½ hour drive to Ramdurg where we distributed 500 bedkits to children of all ages and sizes. The drive to anywhere in India is always quite the experience as you never know what you will see on the road….goats, oxen, or motorcycles carrying anything from sugar cane to Grandma. The Ramdurg Rotarians were very well organized and the distribution started as soon as we set up. The whole operation was completed in just over 3 hours and after having lunch with our hosts we were back on the bus and on the road back to Belguam.

Once back in the city the team headed over to a location where the Belguam Rotarians, spouses, and Roto-Act members were hard at work assembling 1100 bed kits. These bed kids will be distributed to children in Belguam in the next few days. As you can see in the picture to the right, it was quite the operation. All the volunteers were enjoying themselves as the numerous items were passed from station to station and then on to the final assembly area. It was quite the sight to see 1100 bed kits all in one location. 

The day didn’t end here as we had the privilege to be invited to a sporting complex built and managed by the Belgaum Rotarians…..more on this to come. Apparently this is just a normal day for volunteers on a distribution with SCAW. I wonder what a busy day would look like.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Monday, 19 February 2018

Belgaum: A tour with Preeta

Today our team had the honour of visiting the homes in the Haugiri area. I was greeted by a little girl who took my hand to meet to meet her grandma who welcomes me into her small little home. I was then taken to visit three of her friends homes. 

All the homes were surrounded by sugar cane, water buffaloes, and goats. With pride the grandma showed us the bathtub, kitchen and a home made swing. The experience and little Preeta is something we will hold in our hearts for many years to come.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Belgaum: A 3 Part Day!

The second day of our distribution included three components.

The first, and most important, included the distribution of 400 bedkits to the children of Nipani. Nipani is a town about 1.5 hours drive from Belgaum. We were greeted by a room full of smiling little faces and a large crowd of anxiously waiting parents beyond the gates of the school. It didn’t take very long for the children to become excited and boisterous with the introduction of some balloons and balls from Canada!  As they watched the SCAW group show the contents of the kits, their excitement exponentially grew.

One of the reasons why today’s distribution went smoothly was the involvement of several dozen Rotarians, the Women’s Inner Circle group, and, of special note, the Rotaracts. Rotaracts are energetic and enthusiastic junior Rotarians who volunteer countless hours to benefit their communities.

In the courtyard of our distribution today, there was a sign that read “coming together is beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success”. All of these men and women volunteers demonstrated that success is possible.

The second component of the day included the opening of a local health care facility and surgery in Belgaum. We were given the privilege of sharing in the pride and progress of a team of eight doctors (4 father and son teams!) as they ceremonially opened this new facility.  Not only was the pride evident on the faces of the staff and community members, but their hard work and commitment was measurable.  It was an honour to be part of this proud day for Belgaum.

The third, and final part of today took place later in the evening. We were invited to be guests at the wedding reception for a daughter of a Rotarian in Belgaum. Again, what a surprise and privilege to find ourselves amongst 800 wedding guests.  Each guest was beautiful in their colourful saris and best clothes. Music played and food was served. The hospitality, generosity and openness of the Indian people was overwhelming. If all the world could open their arms (like the wedding party did to seven strangers from Canada), the world would surely be a better, more inclusive and kinder place.

As we are anticipating an early start and busy day tomorrow, we were unable to see the end of the festivities; however each team member went to bed with feelings of warmth, pride and excitement for the days to come.

Check out "Our First Blog" to see our new pictures.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Belgaum: Our First Blog!

Today was the start of our distribution. We began at 7:30 with a three hour drive to Athani to give out 400 bedkits. We drove through primarily rural areas that traditionally grow sugar cane but are now also growing grapes. We shared the road with heavily loaded wagons of sugar cane, oxen carts, motor bikes, trucks, buses, bicycles and children walking to school.

When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the Athani Rotarians, parents and the locals. There was a slight delay as adjustments were made to the layout.

The children were provided breakfast before gathering in the balcony. The team members enjoyed the enthusiast greetings from the kids.

Children came in all sizes, some so small that the bedkit bag was bigger than them.

Some of the children had help from a parent to navigate the process.

Today was the first distribution for Neil and Jeff who had the honour of handing out the bedkits.

Team Belgaum 2018
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Sunday, 4 February 2018

Chennai: Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished - The seed has been planted!

Today on our final distribution we were thrilled to have about 50 young people helping us. These high school students were very special in that 7 or 8 years ago that were recipients of SCAW  bedkits at this same school. Their energy, understanding of the process and zest for helping us took us by surprise. They could have run the distribution themselves!!! And they did all this on a Sunday! Many thanks to the teachers who worked endlessly today to ensure the day went smoothly.

We began with giving out 30 baby layettes which has been a long time coming and ended with handing out 10 Rotary scholarships to high school students.


We are exhausted and thrilled and exited to know we have planted the seed in 6000 children and look forward to seeing their growth in years to come.

Thanks to all the SCAW supporters to help make this another incredible journey!!

Theresa Carravetta - Team Leader
for Team Chennai 2018
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Chennai: T. Nagur

By this time in our adventure it feels like we are into a bit of a routine. Our team has gelled. We all draw on each other’s unique strengths making each distribution run a little smoother than the last.

Each distribution is unique. The venues are different. The volunteer helpers are different. The Rotary members are different. And the children are different. Our team has developed some routines but we remain flexible and adapt to the differences.

Each distribution has a flow. The children need to be changed into their new clothing, then checked in, their photo taken, the bedkits handed to them along with a snack, and then they are sent on their way.

Each venue presents different challenges and opportunities for establishing a smooth flow. That is our first task when we arrive. While some of the SCAW team members work on this, others are meeting the children, establishing trust and building rapport.

So many of the children we have seen are scared or confused, or simply overwhelmed. Meeting them with a big, heartfelt smile showing them photos and teaching them the “hokey pokey” helps to ease some the tension.

Many people are needed to keep the children flowing through the distribution smoothly. We don’t want them waiting too long for their turns in front of the camera. And many of them need help to carry their bedkits. Some of the children are actually smaller than the kits themselves.

The help of young adult volunteers is essential to our success. Today it was the Girl Guides and the Junior Red Cross. These young women helped to escort the children from one area to the next, handed the snacks to the children, and also helped the children carry their new bedkits to their waiting parents and teachers.

All the children are grateful for their new bedkits. Some smile so big it fills their face, while others are more subtle, but the gratitude is there; you can feel it.

Today, there was one girl who was the most friendly child we had seen. She asked our names and after receiving her kit, while waiting for her bus to take her home, called out to both Kay and myself. She gave us hugs and we simply had to capture her exuberance on camera. Our distribution today was at a school in the city. At the rural distributions most children arrive by bus. But in the city, children arrive in just about every form of transportation we have seen in India. It still amazes me how much stuff and people can carry on a motorbike or scooter. This dad drove off with two bedkits and two kids on his scooter. Others climbed into their school bus with their bedkits.

While each distribution is unique, the one thing that remains the same is the happiness and gratitude that is so evident in these children.

Team Chennai 2018
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Friday, 2 February 2018

Chennai: Home Visits!

Today was our smallest distribution of 443 students held at a local high school. We were greeted by a delightful band and then had the assistance of about 50 young men of NSS - National Service Scheme. Needless to say the day went very smoothly with their help and the aid of the teachers some of which have been at the school and assisting with SCAW for 11 years.

We then went to the homes of 2 students who received bedkits today to see their homes.

In the first house lived a widowed mother - aged 30, who pays 2500 rupees per month rent for a thatched roof hut covered with multiple layers of plastic tarps.

Picking up plastic, paper and bottles from the trash, she makes about 6000 rupees per month - more if there has been a festival.

The 2nd mother owned her house also with a thatched roof which was destroyed in the cyclone in December 2016. In order to replace the roof, she took a loan from the bank and pays 1000 rupees ($20.00) per month on the loan which is half of what she makes per month as a house maid for 2 families where she works 6 hours per day (3 in the morning and 3 in the evening.) Grandmother lives with them and another daughter.

They are so happy as they don’t know any different but what they do know is that their lives have just been so graciously enriched because the the SCAW donors. We promised to come back and see them next year to see how they have been able to use their new items.

Theresa Carravetta for Team Chennai 2018
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