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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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!

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