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Three celebrate National Day

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.

It turned out to be a relatively easier day than most. The driver took Tom and the team to the stadium and when he asked the way to get in, a policeman said ‘it is nearly finished’ – not quite the meticulous planning needed in this case. Yes they missed the speeches but they very nearly missed the whole thing! Anyway, what little they saw turned out to be quite a spectacle. When it was all over, the parade marched out of the ground to the sound of the army band. The team went round to where they all marched through a gate and took plenty of photos of the various coloured uniforms and amazing hats. What happened next would never happen after the changing of the guard – many of the soldiers, women and men, wanted selfies with the UK visitors.

After a cup of tea, which is a regular feature of the days out, the team went off to visit Shanti Bhavan. This is a home for destitute adults, at the moment there are 38 people and only of them is a woman. Ranni and Jonnie are a husband and wife team dedicated to giving the people there a roof over their heads and a square meal. HHI sends out 400 pounds per annum towards running costs, Edmund and Chris also donated money before leaving. It is normal practice to discuss the day to day running, the accounts and any future plans. In this case the team discovered that Ranni and Jonnie will have to find alternative accommodation in two years time when their rental agreement for the current place expires. Unfortunately the expected cost is beyond HHI’s means so they wil have to see if funds are available from elsewhere and then HHI could make a contribution. One of the guests has been at Shanti Bhavan for 19 years and another new one for only a month. His name is Perrose Hanban and he has mental problems. He is resting there after his tuk tuk was involved in an accident.

On the way to the last visit of the day the team called in a local restaurant – by Indian standards it was quite swish. The two course meal for 5 came to about 14 pounds. A lot dearer than the 4 omelettes the team had coming back from Asha Kiran Ashram and the bill came to 1 pound.

The last visit of the day – Bindhu, a mother of two children (see photograph). The daughter is at Grade 8 and the son at plus one (we would call this lower sixth). Bindhu has a thyroid problem and needs an operation but this was always delayed because she cared for her mother. HHI have set aside some funds towards the cost and Bindhu has collected together most of the money needed for her operation. Unfortunately her mother recently died and a significant part of Bindhu’s savings has gone on funeral expenses. The operation has been postponed to June and Bindhu will have to seek further help, from HHI and others. Tom will start fund raising for her too and maybe by June HHI may be able to help more- if we have the funds. Chris and Carol made a donation to the family.

Edmund must be slipping – the team got home, still having some energy left, at 4pm. All is not lost as there is always plenty to do ‘behind the scenes’. Discussions about future funding and budgets, also, planning for the next day – which seems a waste of time, see start of this report! More report writing and giving Tom some lessons on his new (second hand) laptop. When he was asked if this meant his future reports would be typed and emailed rather than hand written and posted – “too soon to tell.”

That is the daily report finished and posted. Now time to relax – unless Edmund has other ideas. “What was that Edmund? We are going where?”

Good night

(Footnote – if this is your first visit to the daily blog, scroll down for the earlier ones)

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