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Be the Change!

Saturday 26 July 2014

Looking back, it’s amazing to see the full extent of the journey we have gone on, the places we’ve gone, the things we’ve done but most importantly the people we’ve met. It is these relationships that will be the lasting legacy of the trip…

The Down 2014 Team arrived home safely this afternoon. We are grateful for all the support we received before going to India, for your prayers when we were away and to all who followed us faithfully on the blog. Today’s posting takes the form of individual reflections on the trip ad a whole. Thank You!

Kaplani Assembly
Kaplani Assembly

This was a challenging but immensely rewarding trip. We achieved a lot, in our teaching and in the support we were able to offer to different groups of teachers in each school. Our young people were a great credit to their parents and schools. They were great workers and did so without ever complaining. They were a fantastic team who came to understand why the Saphara Schools Programme is so important.  – Dominic

This Saphara experience has definitely changed my life. It’s opened my eyes to educational issues and how we have so much compared to others. The team has been awesome and we’ve become really good friends. I think everyone has surprised themselves by their teaching abilities and by how close we got to the children. I miss Class 6 at Kaplani and Class 5 at SNEHA very much. I’ll also miss being surrounded by my Saphara family everyday. I don’t want this to be over.  – Erin

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give”. This quote from Winston Churchill simply sums up my Saphara experience. It was eye–opening, exciting and often breathtaking. The relationships made on this trip exceeded my expectations, and the people I met in India will stay in my memory forever. Saphara – “You can be the change you want to see in the world.” – Conor M

Team at Kaplani
Team at Kaplani

This trip has been the most unforgettable experience of my life and I will carry the sights I have seen and the things I have learnt for years. This trip had changed me as a person – I have learnt a lot about myself and my abilities. This has happened at an important moment in my life when I have big decisions to make. I have learnt that changes to people’s lives can be made but that they often happen slowly. People with commitment are need.  India and Saphara will always be close to my heart and I have been privileged to have been with a great team.  – Clare

“This trip is testament to the fact that one person is all that is needed to make a change in the world.”

 

While most people regard the Saphara trip to India as a simple ‘charity trip’, for me the it was something quite different. It was an opportunity to meet some truly inspiring people who have a passionate belief in the power of education. For two weeks I was faced with such people at Kaplani, Donk, and SNEHA; for two weeks I planned and taught lessons and may have brought about a change, however small, in the lives of some of the children I taught. This trip is testament to the fact that one person is all that is needed to make a change in the world. – Keith

Being on Saphara the past two weeks has been better than I ever imagined. Teaching the kids at Kaplani will always be one of my favourite experiences and I cannot put into words how special every single pupil at that school is. SNEHA was eye–opening and the work that Dr Reeta has done there is extraordinary. Each day of this journey was amazing and every minute unforgettable. I’m so so happy to have been part of the experience and got to spend it with the best group of people. – Anna

Conversation Class
Conversation Class

India was the most incredible experience I have had. It changed my outlook to focus on what’s important, that is justice and equality. The team and all the inspirational people we met made it an amazing journey which I will never forget.  – Emma

This is an experience that will stay with me forever and which has given my life more meaning and purpose. Saphara has taught me the important life lessons and I have made extraordinary friendships in the process. This marks the beginning of an important chapter in my life. I have been inspired my wonderful leaders and children in India. – Conor D

It’s difficult to know where to start when trying to sum up the Saphara trip in one go. One thing that surprised me the most was the bonds each of us formed with our classes, and those in Kaplani in particular. There was a genuine interest from both the Saphara team and the pupils to engage and to gain the most from each other. The other main aspect of the trip that struck me greatly was the friendship created within the team. Each one of us really came out of our shells, some more expected than others. I know for a fact that it will be difficult getting used to home life again after spending so long with such an unbelievable group.  –  Jenny

High in the Himalayas
High in the Himalayas

Going on Saphara was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, if given the opportunity. I met so many interesting people and I loved meeting and teaching the children at Kaplani and SNEHA. Throughout the journey everyone on the team grew closer and I know we will stay that way for a long time.  –  Kate

My Saphara India experience had surpassed all of my expectations for the trip. I imagined that our sole purpose while in India would be to inspire and excite children about going to school.  I never thought that this experience would actually inspire me to value my school, my home and my family. An important thing I learnt in India was to value more the little things in life and to be more content and happy. I’ve seen people living with next to nothing and yet they were so proud and happy to show me their homes. I really enjoyed teaching. The Saphara trip continues to surprise me. –  Orla

Can’t believe it’s actually over. An absolutely amazing 16 days that we had all been looking forward to for the past nine months. I’ve loved every second of it, from the unbearable heat at Agra/Taj Mahal to teaching amazing kids at Kaplani and SNEHA alongside 17 incredible team members. So many great memories were made that I am confident that they will never be forgotten. Alongside the enjoyable sightseeing and great time teaching I got the opportunity to meet some inspirational people such as Dr Reeta Rao and Surender Singh. Hearing their stories has confirmed my belief that one person can really make a difference in the world. Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank Christine, Dominic, Michelle, Catherine, Deborah and all the Down team for making the trip possible and for making my journey the best it possibly could be. – Conor SS 

SNEHA Plates
SNEHA Plates

This trip has been one of the best experiences of my life as it has opened my eyes to the problems around the world that we don’t ordinarily see, problems that are hidden from us. The great divide in wealth we encountered in India shocked everyone on the team as we didn’t realise before that such inequality could exist. The trip has undoubtedly made everyone on the team a better person and created lasting friendships. We bonded very quickly and I am proud to call myself a member of the 2014 Down Team. To those thinking of applying next year I implore you to take the chance before you.  – Paddy 

“The trip has undoubtedly made every person of the team a better person and created lasting friendships. We bonded very quickly and I am proud to call myself a member of the 2014 Down Team.”

 

Going to India wasn’t just an amazing experience but a life changing one too. Meeting inspirational people such as Dr Reeta and Surender and hearing their stories has made a big impact on me. The best part of the trip for me was the teaching. I loved the eagerness of the children and it was a pleasure to enter class each morning and see their smiling faces. I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to meet a new group of friends, encounter many hardworking people and learn to live some wonderful pupils.  – Sarah

The trip has come to an end but it really has been an amazing experience that I will never forget.  I have met some awesome people such as Dr Reeta,  Surender and the whole Down team. We have all become close friends. Kaplani was my favourite place to teach as I had time to make personal connections; but I also really enjoyed Donk and SNEHA.  Seeing the Taj Mahal and the Lotus Temple was unbelievable and I will never forget this trip.  – Johanna

Paddy at Donk
Paddy at Donk

For me India was a truly unforgettable experience. Hearing about poverty in third world countries is nothing like actually seeing it.  The slums in particular were so insightful and really highlighted the unfair circumstances that exist.  They made me sad but angry at the same time. It’s heart–breaking how much poverty can exist on the doorstep of extreme wealth. The areas we worked in have such potential and I believe that in years to come, due to the help of Saphara and similar organisations, they will develop into really special communities – they truly deserve to! – Ginette

This journey has been eye opening and life changing.  Over the 16 days the team has experienced a range of emotions.  Where initial despair at what we saw was replaced by hope when we saw the effects/outcomes of the fantastic work being carried out by Surender Singh and Dr Reeta Rao in conjunction with Saphara. As we return to our normal lives in Ireland, the work this Saphara team has done in empowering children from marginalised communities and improving their self–confidence and self–esteem has been invaluable. –  Michelle

Overall this trip has been amazing. This time last year, I would never have imagined myself in India; let alone be in India for the reasons that I was.  Our whole team has become so close since the first time we met. I’m so glad I was picked to go on this trip and experience both extremes of India.  All the kids, the team and all the Indian teachers we’ve met are truly amazing.  They have taught me that although you can’t help everyone at the same time, helping just a few people at a time can cause a chain reaction and can in fact make a big difference in many people’s lives.  Just because you can’t help everyone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help at all– even the smallest things make a difference. I would like to thank all the people I encountered as they gave me more than I could ever give them.  – Bronagh

When I was accepted for this trip everyone I spoke to said it would change me and I would come back a very different person. I dismissed this thinking that was a very clichéd statement. I was wrong. This trip had opened my eyes in ways no blog can tell, shown me things I could never have learnt in classroom and changed me towards being a better person. The kids we taught, the families we met and the people we saw who had nothing but were generous and happy all had an impact on me. The trip has been amazing for the team but even more important for the children we taught. They were so happy to learn and so appreciative of what we said and did. If we have helped even one child reach his or her life goal then I will be perfectly content. I think I particularly inspired a young boy at Kaplani to believe in himself and to dream dreams. This trip has shown that the smallest things can change someone’s outlook and that “You can be the change you want to see in the world”.  –  George

Looking back, it’s amazing to see the full extent of the journey we have gone on, the places we’ve gone, the things we’ve done but most importantly the people we’ve met. It is these relationships that will be the lasting legacy of the trip long after the memories of the places we visited and our henna tattoos have faded. In some small ways we have helped to change the lives of others but in so doing they have changed ours in ways that we could not have possibly imagined at the outset. For that fact I will be forever grateful. – Matthew

Dominic and Catherine
Dominic and Catherine

What a journey! From Glengall Street to Donk Mountain and back: this trip has been one adventure after another.  I distinctly remember meeting this team for the first time. They seemed lovely, but, truthfully, they seemed like any other group of 17 year olds: friendly, bright, but generally an overriding sense of being tired and hungry! I really had no idea of the potential in each of the young adults I was soon to have the pleasure of travelling to India with.  I only wish you could all see how each one of them was transformed as they stepped into the classroom to teach – you would be so proud, and probably a little surprised, at their energy, their creativity, their flexibility and their confidence. It was simply a joy to watch them teach each day and to plan with them each evening.  They have gained so much from this experience, but they have given so much too. Not only have they encouraged and enriched each child they worked with in Kaplani, Donk and SNEHA, they have shown each child, in a way that can only be achieved in person, that they are valued, that they are worthy, and that they are loved. That’s why trips like this are so important.  Equally each student on the Down team has gained immeasurably from their Saphara journey. I think some parents will be pleasantly surprised at the changes they will see in their young people, changes that I believe will continue to manifest for many years to come. As early as day 2, one of our girls said they would never ask their mum for anything again as she realised she has so much (I wonder how long that will last Bronagh…?). Later in the trip one of our boys reflected that, initially, he believed this was a one–off trip, but now he knows he wants to keep helping those who have less than him.  Despite, trekking in Monsoon rains, teaching all day and planning through the evenings, slightly unusual food (not the curries – the peanut butter, Nutella, banana and crisp sandwiches…), long days and early starts, I can say in all honesty that I never heard one team member complain. We have all worked hard, but we have laughed hard too and the team spirit had been unbreakable. I have worked with many teams: this one will be hard to top. During our Global awareness weekend, I reflected on one of my favourite verses, Jeremiah 29:11. In this verse God tells us that He has a plan for each and every one of us. Its been a privilege to see part of His plan for the Down Spahara team come to fruition. If each one of us who has more than enough, give to those who don’t have enough, this world could be a very different place.  Finally, just as we did one evening during reflections I would like to honour some people. Firstly, my co–leaders, the wonderful Deborah (D–Lo), Michelle (Roomie and fellow haribo lover!) and Dominic (banana–man): the dream team… I couldn’t have wished for a better bunch. And of course to each and every student on the Down 2014 team: it’s been class! It amazes me how so many individual personalities got on so well together. You are all stars and I cannot wait to hear where life takes you next. Don’t forget what you have learned – be kind and loving to all you meet and you won’t go far wrong! Be the change!  – Catherine

The Team
The Team
Posted in Down Team 2014
on Saturday 26 July 2014