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Three have a very special day

Staff and children at Special Therapy Centre

 

Wednesday - the last day of the trip for HHI’s two volunteers Edmund and Chris with Carol a supporter. We know they have been busy, hot and on a number of interesting car journeys. They will take their final journey at 6am tomorrow morning to the airport for their flights back to UK.

Why was today so special? The team stayed in the Special Therapy Centre throughout the trip and used it as a base to travel to many individuals and projects funded by HHI. They also discovered new opportunities to help people in need. The one exception was the trip to Asha Kiran Ashram where they stayed for 2 nights last week.

Today, they stayed at the Therapy Centre with the children and staff until mid-afternoon. There were 25 very special children, with many different problems to contend with in their lives; some physical, some mental and in some cases both. There is a very special atmosphere at the centre – lots of love and care but also many ways for the children to improve over time; including speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and learning. All delivered with smiles and love. The team walked around   observing the work and how the children responded. Philip does a fantastic job overseeing this work, with a vision to extend and improve the centre. HHI lent appeal has the new centre as one project it will fund with half the money raised (the other half will go to Muumba School in Zambia). If you are reading this and can help financially, look out for the next Tidings or simply contact us.   

Lots of photographs of happy engaged children will appear on the website soon as will some of the video clips taken today. The team served the children their lunch and then joined in a rousing hour of fun, songs and dance.

Three go long haul

One of the families affected by Kerela floods

Tuesday, a single visit itinerary today. The team travelled north, about three hours drive there and back, to visit an area devastated by floods in August last year. Sandwiched in between the long drives was a walk round a village near Ezhikad which was under 18 feet of water during the flooding. Chandra Babu (Idinjar) was their host for the day, he arrived at 9.30 this morning in a much larger car than usual. The spacious, comfortable seats made the journey quite bearable, unlike the driving!

For a long part of the journey they travelled on a very good road; much wider than most and therefore quite capable of creating havoc on a large scale. There were double lines down the centre for many miles but they didn’t make any difference. The Ministry of Highways could save a lot of money by keeping the lid on the white paint! The road even had rumble strips, yes you guessed it – no effect. All they mean is a bit of a thrill when you go over them at speed. Still, yet again the team made it there and back in one piece.

CDSA charity paid for a table, chair and stool for 175 families affected by the floods. Every house in the village of 310 homes was completey under water and everything was lost. Chandra, acting on behaldf of CDSA,  identified the families who had school children. The furniture provided an immediate resource for them to continue studying at home. For many that would have been the only furniture they would have for some time.  The team visited a number of the families in the village, some had refurnished their homes and others still only had basic furniture and kitchen. In one house, the family dried out the fridge and got it working; they had to get the sewing machine (source of income) repaired; and had since bought a new TV. Their house needed a new roof as the flood washed the old one away.

Three do some shopping

Philip discusses with Shamela - toilet in background

Monday- the day was planned out the night before and the day went largely to plan for perhaps the first time. Tom’s morning started very early, about 5.30 a woman called wanting a lot of money for a heart procedure due today. She asked Tom for 15,000 rupees to pay for the operation. Tom knows the woman, she has a history of asking for money so he went with her to the hospital. The procedure cost 500 rupees! The rest of the team had breakfast at 8am, the usual time, then went off with Philip about 9am.

There was one visit to do before going on to Trivandrum for some shopping and if time permitted, an hour in a nearby toursist park by the beach. It was about 30 minutes drive to visit Babu and Shalama, their toilet had ‘collapsed’. Babu has recently fallen and broken is thigh bone. He has a number of external pins and external  frame to set the bone; he needs crutches to move around. He is a daily labourer when fit to work, think of zero hours contract without a contract! Shamalu appears to have athritis affecting her wrists and ankles. She is unable to work. The outside toilet building is in considerable disrepair with what you could only describe as a temporary roof weighted down with stone and wood. It is sited down some difficult steps outside in the back garden. Their house is on the hillside and they have a reasonable amount of land. The Department of Agriculture have provided growing bags and seedlings for the pair to grow and sell the chillies when ready.

What did the three do on the day of rest?

Well there was some rest, some work and a lot of worship. The church services do last a long time and between Philip, Tom and the intrepid three, they managed over 20 hours of worship. Some in the morning and then in the evening. Edmund and Tom went to the same church as last week and afterwards they helped  a number of people with small donations for food. Carol, Chris and Philip went to a catholic mass and got there an hour early and watched as the people rolled in. There was some rest in the afternoon and some activity. Chris loaded up some photos on earlier blog entries and Edmund discussed budgets with Philip. Some rest followed before the team left for worship.

Evening worship was back at the Banyan Tree where HHI visitors used to stay. It is a new and relatively small fellowship held in the room where women used to do craftwork. Though small in number it was a vibrant service and a number of people asked for prayer. Both Edmund and Chris spoke and Carol led the team in their unique rendition of Spirit of the living Lord. What the locals thought  nobody knows but that may well been their debut and finale in one go. All enjoyed a cup of tea, biscuits and cake after the service and as the team where leaving there were more prayer requests on the veranda. Haloes suitable polished after a day of worship, they returned for Supper. 

Tomorrow is a 'day out' in Trivandrum with some visits too. Watch out for the next update tomorrow.

Good night 

Three celebrate National Day

Bindhu and her daughter

Today is National Day in India and is widely celebrated and is probably close to what UK would call a bank holiday. Things quieten down at the weekend but the work undertaken by the team doesn’t stop. It was an early start, breakfast at 7.30 with intentions to leave at 8am. There was a parade to go to in the  National Stadium Trivandrum and the plan was to get there after all the speeches finished but just in time to watch the soldiers, police, cadets, scouts and other uniformed services march and whatever else they planned to do in the searing heat. The team set off with Tom, later than planned. Who would be surprised, not those in HHI who go to Zambia – a visit to either country includes meticulous planning and chaotic implementation. At dinner last evening several things were planned for the day and by breakfast time all the planned visits and activities were dropped, jumbled up or replaced by something else.

At breakfast time a mother called Shirly came asking for help for  one of her two blind daughters, Sneha.  She has had an operation on one eye and awaits an eye transplant for the other but they have to get over to Tamil Nadu within 12 hours of the hospital finding a donor. No easy matter when you reflect on the team’s journey a few days ago. HHI have contributed  100 pounds towards transport costs, living costs and the operation in readiness for a call to go. This is good news for Shirly as they missed an opportunity to go last week because they could not get the money in time.

 The team walked the short distance to the waiting car, two people approached them asking for help. Lelama wants to start up a sewing business and George wants to start up a small business buying and selling. They were given 20 pounds and 10 pounds respectively and asked to come back next Wednesday to show the team what they had bought with the money.

Three come back from the East with good news

Credit Union group

Having safely arrived from Tamil Nadu with Tom, the team quickly settled into the routines of receiving visitors and going off to different places, searching out needs and good news stories.

Today, Friday, the team of three went off again with Tom to a wonderful place called Neyyardam – beautiful scenery and lots of HHI work to see. They got back in the dark, just time for dinner and review before bed. “Well that was a successful day and we got back home in the dark” - as quick as flash “not really, we set off in daylight.” Edmund likes to fill the day and he succeeds, after all the purpose of the team’s visit is to meet beneficiaries, monitor  the work, check funds are used as expected and look out for new opportunities to help. However, he seems to be relenting a bit – they were allowed ten minute relaxation after lunch!

So, what is the good news? The team saw a number of people HHI support and dropped into two women’s craft groups and towards the end of the day they visited two credit unions. In fact the day was an all women day, which is quite useful when you have a Soroptimist with you. Their motto is Empowerment, Education and Enabling women and the team saw a lot of that today.

Three go East - not on a camel but on a bus

Asha Kiran Ashram school children and teachers

After the catch up report  yesterday this one covers the three visiting Asha Kiran Ashram (AKA)  over the mountains and  into the eastern state Tamil Nadu. Tom joined the team so they could enjoy a few days with the children together. On Wednesday Philip also came for a short visit with  staff from the Special Therapy Centre to see what they could learn or share with AKA. This part of any HHI  trip to India is always a highlight and this year was no exception. Although all work and no play makes Edmund a happy man the other three did use their powers of persuasion (grumbling mainly) to include some down time, more of that later.

Three go offline for days...

Bright and clean dormitory at Thanal House

The team has not had access to the internet since last Friday night and in fact since then they have travelled over the Southern Gat Mountains into the next state to get online. The mobile signal was also too weak to use data access, they may just as  well have been on the dark side of the moon!

Anyway, they have finally managed to submit a report covering the last few days. All is well and Carol has settled into the Indian way as if she was a seasoned traveller and experienced eater of hot food, even the breakfast has curry or spices.  Saturday started much the same as other days, a string of people who come to ask for help, usually to meet a medical need. This morning a father came on behalf of his 14 year old son who needs expensive growth hormone treatment for three years; he is the size of a 7 year old. Saturday was a special day because it included some time with Shibu. He is a bystander for the ‘unknown’ people who have nobody to support them in hospital. No bystander, no admission. The team also had the opportunity to do just a little tourism too and to meet people with kidney problems.

Every month either Tom or Philip will meet the patients in the Indian Coffee House just over the road from the Trivandrum Medical College Hospital. This month’s session coincided with this visit. In the recent past the patients received medicines but that has become difficult so now HHI give them sufficient funds for either anti-rejection medicine or dialysis. There were others there too who needed help for other ailments. Some of the patients also ask for prayer so Edmund and Tom deal with the ‘business’ and Chris with Carol provided a prayer station. This session lasted about an hour and a half but the coffee shop serves tea so that makes everything better. Shibu joined the team and Tom and set off to the nearby café which also serves ice cream. Five sundaes, of different colours, sizes and flavours, all for five pounds (sorry no pound sign).

What the three did next...

Sree - 18 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy

After a much needed sleep the team of three were refreshed and ready for a full day. All planned out - a morning at the Special Therapy Centre, some local visits and finishing off with a visit to another tuition group. After breakfast there was only a short wait for the first wave of children to arrive. Two vehicles are needed to shuttle all the children from home to the centre, some are able to walk in and others need to be carried. Twenty six children were present and after the 'roll call' and prayers they went to their classes. As one of the rooms normally used was now a temporary bedroom - one group had their class on the veranda. As well as education, the children have therapy to meet their needs. About six or seven had speech therapy and three had physio; the class on the veranda had occupational therapy, including spooning sand, in a sand tray, into small neat piles. Others were engaged in making umbrellas - Chris has ordered ten to bring home and sell to raise funds. Observing the physio sessions, Chris watched a young girl with cerebral palsy practice standing up from a prone position - a very difficult task for her. Speech therapy included identifying fruit off a card and repeating the name. One of the children picked up a bongo drum and then they all wanted a go, a lot of fun. Carol brought out some dresses made by her Soroptimist friends and gave out a few - photographs a plenty. Then it was time for lunch - wow the pickle was hot!

Two become 3 - India 2019

School children at tuition group

The Chris and Edmund team are visiting together again; after their recent trip to Zambia last October; they have teamed up to visit people and projects in Kerela, India for two weeks. The third one? Carol, Chris's sister. Carol is from Soroptimist International Coventry who have supported HHI in recent years; raising funds for our work at Thanal House. They arrived today and hit the ground running, well running after the long process getting through immigration. The first hurdle, how does one man who is the 'e-Visa facilitator' person process the pack of people who have just disembarked from a long tiring journey? Edmund said when he sees the word facilitator in India, it is time to worry! You guessed it, he didn't facilitate well and chaos ensued. So here's the thing, the facilitator checks before the immigration officer checks and processes one's visa, then his work is checked by another 'checker' and just when you thought you have made it, one more check before going through the gate. All in about 25 metres! Anyway they made it through and got straight into the business in hand.


As usual the three visiters were met by Tom, Philip and Shibu. As usual the car was not big enough for luggage, driver and six passengers. That was sorted out, the first call was to the local beach to stretch legs and take in fresh air. Not for long, they were soon amongst the busy town traffic. First stop, the Medical College hospital, where they saw Ward 9 where outcast patients from the main teaching hospital go for rehabilitation - 60% of the patients there are ones Shibu has cared for. Then they went to see Sindhu, a kidney patient on dyalisis we already help, but her health is failing. Edmund gave her some money and a prayer was said. The Senior Nurse took them to see Chinna Tampi, another kidney patient who was shivering because "it was cold." 30 degrees is cold to some. Again HH  made a contribution towards his dialysis and another prayer followed.