On the 10th of November Robert was joined by Valentine and two members of the board of an Australian NGO (Global Transitions). It was a fact finding mission. This organisation is already supporting two other charities in India, and is interested in seeing the work we do at Goa Outreach and wanted the chance to meet and speak to some of the children we help.
The last week has been quite busy giving out the Diwali/Eid presents so there wasn´t much to do, but a few of the families hadn´t received all of their health packs so the guys joined us as we visited a few of the homes of the children. There was a little bit of a language gap as many of the children only really feel comfortable speaking Hindi but one of the older girls was able to have a nice long chat with them. As well as meeting the kids, the NGO representatives had a good long chat with Rob and also very kindly brought over a large bag of educational items which will help for the next school year.
Thanks to them all and for their kindness during their visit, one of the children was very lucky and received an early birthday gift.
November 14th sees the celebration of Children's Day in India. This year was a simple celebration by giving out Fruit, Biscuits, Lollipops and a balloons, bangles and woolly hats kindly donated by Ann and Laura. Here are a few of the photos from later in the afternoon.
Ann and her daughter Laura have been out to Goa a few times and this time wanted to do a little bit extra; Ann had heard about woolly hats being worn in Goa and thought she could get a few friends and colleagues to make some to bring over. Woolly hats! - why would anyone want woolly hats in Goa? - I hear you ask. Well, you would be surprised. The last time we had woolly hats donated the kids loved them. It can get cool here at night and early morning, sometimes down to a chilly 17 degrees C, ok it´s not cold, cold, but when you have lived here a while you do become a little sensitive to the relative chill in the air.
Ann was getting a little apprehensive about the hats and whether they were needed and this thought intensified as the number of woolly hats grew and grew.
As part of children´s day this year we hope that Ann and Laura will be able to join us to help give out the hats to the kids and see for themselves how much the hats are appreciated, so they can report back to the kind souls who spent hours knitting them.
As well as lots of woolly hats, they very kindly collected children´s clothes and also raised a whopping 500 pounds.
Thank you to Laura and Ann for organising all the donations and to everyone who helped knit the colourful woolly hats.
Diwali is a time for the families and as such we try and provide a small gift each year. This year the children we given a large colourful homemade shopping bag which they can keep and hopefully reuse. This was filled with lots of goodies for their family. It contained Rice, Oil, two types of Dal, Sugar, Tea, Chilli, Coriander, Tumeric, Beaten Rice (Poha), Flour, Health Pack, Washing Powder for clothes and Soap for pots and a pack of biscuits for the children.
Diwali is always a special time for the families we help who celebrate with brightly coloured lanterns hung in their homes and coloured designs made from powder marked out on the ground.
The families also create a centrepiece with offerings to the gods where they say their prayers and hope for a prosperous year ahead. This more serene atmosphere only becomes a reality after the brash colourful monsters have been burnt in the streets, along with the booming sounds of fireworks exploding dangerously close to everyone and the intense beat from the latest dance music. But that's India for you!
The first signs of Diwali are when small mounds of straw, wood and papier-mache are being assembled along the roadside and on spare pieces of land, after a day or two they start to form monster like shapes sprouting up, becoming larger and larger. These monsters can range from children size up to ones as tall as coconut trees.
The monsters are certainly eye catching and the amount of detail that is put into them is impressive. Most of these monsters have bulging muscles and crafted six packs.
It can take weeks to build the largest ones, but they always seem to be ready just in time.
After the weeks of preparation and building these magnificent creatures, they are then set on fire and watched as they sink down into a pile of ash. Unfortunately this is usually at 4 or 5am, which is the time most people are usually fast asleep.
Goa Outreach has always celebrated Diwali along with Eid with the families and this year we are providing all our 'educational' children a Diwali/Eid goodie bag. This is not like our usual gifts, but is mainly aimed at the families and the gift includes basic home necessities; like flour, rice, dal, oil, sugar and washing items. Previously we have given one per family, but as we help several children from single families now and some families are combined, we thought it would be fairer to give on a per child basis.
The contents of the bag were not the only gift. We had bought lots of colourful cotton material which we made into a strong shopping bag which the families can reuse. It will also help Rob as whenever the children come to collect something they always ask for a plastic bag, the hope is that the children will bring their bags with them instead, although this might be just a pipe dream.
This year we have made up 110 bags for the kids, and each bag has around 6.5kg of dry goods and home essentials. When everything is totted up this comes to over 700kg of items that needed preparing and man-handling. I would like to thank everyone who helped bring the goods up the 4 sets of stairs and to Josh who very kindly helped and made Robert work till gone midnight one night.
Most of these will be given out during the next week. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and has made this possible.