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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quick update on the run

The last update had been ready to go for a few days, but we ran into some technical difficulties in Cochin about our internet access, sorry about the delay. Here are some interesting photos from Cochin.

We are currently in Allepey, home of the famed Kerala houseboats, for a few days. We will be spending 2 nights on a houseboat (houseboat shopping is a memorable experience to say the least). We'll provide another update when we get back.

We are all safe and sound, the food in South India is amazing!

Families for Children

Greetings from Cochin, Kerela.

The IHI team has finished their one-week stay at Families for Children (FFC), and what a week it has been! We wish that we could have had even more time with the children and staff at FFC; we had such a great time playing and learning together. Here are some highlights of our visit:
1) First and foremost - getting to know the children! The boys and girls at FFC opened their hearts to us and welcomed us as their older brothers and sisters. We played sports (playing cricket for the first time for a few of us), had dance lessons (I’ll have to admit that our dancing ability, except for Charu, turned the lesson into a comedy for the kids), learned Tamil and English and walked to school together…We never could have imagined how much we would share together in such a short time.

2) Playing with babies. We all spent a considerable amount of time in the baby rooms. There were the small babies, big babies, babies in nursing station, and babies with special needs. All of us had been peed on (except Seth) by one of these cute little ones more than once; we even got pretty good at changing diapers! We particularly enjoyed the one-hour sun time in late afternoon on the rooftop. Carrying two babies while walking around the rooms is surprisingly a very good workout.

3) Learning about a variety of different physical and developmental disabilities and exploring our preconceived notions on these conditions. We soon learned to see past superficial differences and got to know them as sweet, innocent and playful children. We feel that this is perhaps one of the most important lessons we can take with us.

4) Wonderful south-Indian cooking. Myalamma and kitchen staff played an important role in making sure that we were well-fed and healthy during our stay. Her magical cooking skills kindled our love for south-Indian cooking.

5) Contributions from IHI on behalf of all our friends back home. This year IHI contributed $5,000 CAD towards the various areas of FFC. Some of the key items include physiotherapy equipment (walkers, medicine balls, standing chairs, CP chair, balance boards, knee braces), stainless steel baby crib platform, feeding chairs, rexin sheets, insect control, school gates, writing desks. The remainder of the money will be directed towards the new boys vocational-training building for boys with special needs, and community members at large.

6) Kollywood! We had the pleasure of viewing a very entertaining Kollywood film that included every genre one could imagine (literally), plus a lot of energetic dance sequences!.

7) The children and teachers putting together a program for the volunteers including the IHI team full of dancing and music. Performances ranged from the “Snake Dance” (performed by the boys) to the “Barbie Girl Dance” (performed by the preschoolers). Each and every one of the performances was incredible and will not be forgotten any time soon.

Nothing we can say in a few points can truly give justice to the time we have all shared at FFC. The people we met, the lessons we learned and the special moments we experienced will be ingrained in us. While the week at FFC may be done, they will be in our hearts forever. We miss them all already.

Looking ahead, we are spending the next few days touring Kerela before making our way to Amar Seva Sangam Association (ASSA) at Ayikudi, Tamil Nadu. We will spend a few days in Cochin followed by houseboat tour in the backwaters. Speaking of which, I should get ready for bed as we are waking up before dawn to catch the giant Chinese fishing nets in action early in the morning!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First dispatch from India

The IHI team reunited at the Chennai airport, thankful that everyone is safe and sound. We spend the day exploring Chennai, taking in the sights, sounds, and smell of India. The heat is one of the few things we are still adjusting to (the cold A/C for Julia), the other being the very aggressive auto-rickshaw driver in their dealings (and driving).

After a day of acclimatization, we embarked on the Duronto Express train to Coimbature. The six-hour train ride went by fast with food, charades, fun, and food, and more food. Kalai akka from Families for Children came to pick us up at the train station. We toured the campuses – main campus and a separate boys/special needs campus. We spent some time playing with the girls in the playground, and in the baby room.

We were super lucky in that we get to attend a wedding of a FFC alumni. The wedding was well attended by FFC staff and children. The wedding was a testament of the wonderful works of FFC. We then spent the afternoon in the baby room playing with the children and even got to help feed the babies!

This morning we had a great time playing soccer, monkey in the middle with the boys. They amazed us with their acrobatic flips and summersaults, breakdancing, and tree-climbing abilities. We had such a wonderful time together all being kids.
We are having a wonderful time in India, more on our experiences in our next posts!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


IHI is leaving for India in about 10 days...It's hard to believe! The team is making final preparations for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and we would like to share our itinerary with you

June 15Arrive at Chennai
June 18 - 25Families For Children
June 26 - July 1Travel + R&R
July 2 - 15Amer Seva Sangam
July 16 - 17Travel
July 18 - 24Life Line Express
July 25 onward New Delhi

We are going to be spending a fair bit of time at each of the NGOs, as well as lots of traveling on the road (over 3,800km according to googlemap). Most of our travels will be by rail, which should allow us to plenty of opportunities to interact with the locals and see the beautiful countryside and towns. We expect lots of interesting stories to bring back with us :)

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