Hello readers! It is with very mixed emotions that I am sat in a hotel room near Bangalore airport. My adventure in India is coming to an end! I am so excited to be coming home for Christmas, but sad to be leaving behind the family I have been a part of for the last three months.
I began this week with frantically trying to finish all the work I have had to do here, which I am proud to say I achieved! All 286 children supported by Adventure Ashram now have updated information, photographs and a letter going to each of their sponsors which they have decorated themselves. It really was a huge task so I am delighted I managed to finish it. I have also been working with Solomon and a friend of his to design the new website for Grace Charitable Trust. It is not finished yet but you can take a look at our progress at http://www.gracecharitabletrust.in
It has unfortunately been a week of goodbyes, including all the villages, the school and my wonderful family here in India. The goodbye to the HUGE cockroach I found in my kitchen last Sunday was the least emotional.
On Saturday, I wanted to treat Solomon’s family to one last day out. We went up to Ooty and first visited the chocolate factory. After that, we went to an amazing french-style patisserie that we found when my Dad was here. The children were so excited to choose their cakes, although they weren’t too sure about the taste! (I enjoyed finishing them off). Still, I think it was great to show them something that they are not used to! Next, we went to a toy shop and each of them chose a Christmas present. One of them chose a teddy bear and named it Rebecca! Then we all went out for dinner at a new restaurant near Masinagudi. It was a really lovely, special day.
On Sunday, we had my last time to church and then I visited the lovely children of Chemmanatham and Chokkanally one last time. It was amazing to see the tuition centre at Chemmanathum – when I arrived they were laying the foundations, and now they have taken the scaffolding down and it is looking fantastic! The children of Chemmanatham gave me two beautiful bouquets of flowers they had made! In the evening we went into the jungle to Solomon’s friend’s house for a bonfire and cooked bananas! His friend then invited us for a drive at 6am in his jeep! Although I am not keen on early starts, I wanted to go on one last drive. Unfortunately we didn’t see any tigers, but that just means I have to come back!
Yesterday was my last day so I went to visit the school to say goodbye. It was nice to see the teachers and children one more time, although I actually ended up hiding in the staff room as the reception class decided it was hilarious pinching my bottom and trying to tell them off didn’t work, they all just imitated me! Being strict is not my strong point, so I know I’m not born to teach!
In the evening, we had my leaving party! First I watched the women make the biriyani (again not being allowed to help) and I wrote it all down so I am going to try and make one at home! I then changed into my saree for one last time. The children then suprised me with a show which was so sweet and funny. Jennifer, Solomon’s eldest, said “we should not be sad that you are leaving, because you have made us happy for the last three months,” which was so lovely, and made me decide we had to make that night a happy occasion and not a sad one. After their show, I had a suprise of my own, as I had written a speech that my neighbour had translated into tamil for me! They said my accent was perfect! The biriyani was delicious and we had lots of photos!
This morning I said a last goodbye to the family and Solomon drove me to Bangalore. We stopped off in Mysore for breakfast (£2 for both of us to have dosa, tea and juice – I am going to miss these prices!) We had a really good journey, so it took around 5 1/2 hours. I then said goodbye to Solomon, which was so sad! I wasn’t very hungry after our huge breakfast, but couldn’t resist the big golden M opposite the hotel so had some chips and a Mcflurry for lunch! And here I am in my very clean and comfortable hotel room (heaven!) filling in the time until I leave tomorrow at 4:30 in the morning, eek!
Thank you everybody who has been following my blog, it has been a pleasure writing it! Please visit my fundraising page if you haven’t already – http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/rebeccasmith22. I will be fundraising for the next few months and will begin sponsoring a child of my own! £12.50 per month is such a small amount with such a big impact on the lives of the children out here. Now, time to start planning my next trip to Masinagudi!
Love, Rebecca xxx