The Belfast Team is now back home sleeping comfortably in their own beds. But before we sign off for 2014, here are their reflections on their Saphara experience:
Lucy: I feel privileged to have been chosen for Saphara, the experience was unforgettable. There are no words to describe the whole atmosphere; the sights, the smells and of course the schools! The memories of the smiling faces and enthusiasm of the kids will remain with me forever. I will definitely be more appreciative of everything I have and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go on a ‘journey with purpose’ to do so.
Amita: Going to India with Saphara has been an unforgettable experience. It showed me a part of India I’d never seen before. It not only provided me and the rest of the team with an opportunity to help many children improve their lives through education but it also opened our eyes to the difficulties and hardships they face. Seeing their homes and their struggles has made us all appreciate everything we have in our lives. I am so grateful for this amazing experience and also to my team for making it even more worthwhile.
Conor H: It’s difficult for me to sum up my experiences on Saphara in so little words, but I’ll try anyway. It was an amazing experience where I met some incredible people, saw some unbelievable sights and made some really close friends. The kids we taught were truly inspirational, all so smart, happy and eager to go to school, despite the challenges they all face, and really showed how education can empower people. But most importantly, I learnt that true happiness does not lie in material goods, but in helping other people.
John: The trip to India was absolutely unbelievable – I was lucky to have the greatest bunch of people away with me as well as leaders who where all exceptional. The trip itself was enlightening and special mention goes to Kaplani where I taught a class of 20 pupils. It was a challenge, but after four days I’d got to know them each by name and as if I’d known them for a lifetime – they were all so bright! The classes in SNEHA they were a delight to teach and so happy and excited to learn, taking your praise as though it was a blessing. The trip was absolutely spectacular on a whole and was one of the best things I have ever done.
Ruairí – I am so thankful for being selected to enjoy such a rich experience with such an amazing group of people. Memories from this trip will stay with me for the rest of my life, as will the countless life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Maura: Words cannot express all the benefits and wealth of experience that we, as young people, have gained on this trip. We’ve been through tears, laughter and sickness and, despite all the early mornings, exhausting heat, the children in our classes were worth all of it and then some. I couldn’t have travelled with a better bunch of people. We have grown so close and I’m thankful to the teachers, Graham and Christine for this amazing experience.
Connor E: Going to India has been a great experience to be part and I have made many great friends. The teaching in the school was amazing as well as being able to see the improvement in the community. Anyone would enjoy this trip and I would recommend it to everyone.
Danielle: Honestly I can’t even put into words how incredible these past couple of weeks have been. When we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, we met the North West team as they were just checking in for their trip; and they asked us for some useful tips and wanted to know how incredible the trip was but genuinely it was impossible to describe it in a few words. We were helping people everyday, and just seeing the children that we taught grow more and more confident was amazing. However, the best thing was how close the whole team is now, we all get on so well and I am so gutted to be leaving everyone but at the same time so excited to see my family.
Hannah B– I can’t put into words how amazing the past two weeks have been. India has completely exceeded my expectations and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this incredible journey with purpose. One of the best things about the trip was seeing how the small things such as smiling at a child or shaking someone’s hand can really make a world of difference; these two weeks have truly changed my perspective on life. It was such an incredible and unforgettable experience.
Joseph: Being a part of the Belfast Saphara team has been one of my best experiences so far. Having the opportunity to teach remarkable and enthusiastic children from such underprivileged backgrounds along with meeting and becoming friends with such amazing people has changed me as a person. Seeing how fundraising money has helped those in need really puts it all into perspective. I would recommend the trip to anyone.
James: Having the opportunity to be a part of the Belfast Saphara Team 2014 has been the greatest privilege of my life so far. The challenges as well as the highlights have helped me to develop as a person and the enthusiasm of every amazing child I encountered will continue to inspire me long into the future. Supporting charity at home is all well and good but actually being there and witnessing the lives of these people changes you for the better. I have just had the best time ever and have loved every minute of this trip, which was spent with the most incredible bunch of people I know. The memories will stay with me forever!
Gráinne: Being a part of Saphara has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Teaching the children in the three schools was so different to anything I have done before. I have never met such happy and smiley kids before. They were all so keen to learn and just wanted to chat away with them for ages. Working with children who have so little compared to myself has really put my life into perspective. They were so giving and I was especially touched by a present of a little wooden bracelet from Angeli, one of the girls in my Kaplani class. They take nothing for granted and are just so giving – I can now take home with me a far greater appreciation of what I have at home. I don’t think I will ever forget any of them and I will always try to remember what they are going through compared to me, especially those of the marginalised communities, and the fact they never stop smiling.
Katie: The past 16 days have been indescribable. I cannot put into words the experience except for it being the best 16 days of my life. Life changing. The bond you make with the kids, teachers and team in such a short period of time is unforgettable. Saphara has put so much into perspective for me and really opened my eyes to what I want to do in the future. The journey has had so many ups and downs (the poverty was tough) but I couldn’t have spent it with a better team – you are all like my family and we have had such amazing memories. I want to thank again Christine, the teachers and everyone involved in Saphara for this amazing opportunity that I will never forget.
Rachel: A couple of lines cannot put into action the experience and journey that I have had during these past two weeks. It was definitely a huge culture shock. However, the different things that the kids in each school taught me and the memories I have with them will stay with me forever. Kaplani was definitely my favourite school and 9th class were the best group of kids I have ever met; being able to help change their lives makes me feel really privileged and grateful. Also, the bond and friendship of the team is indescribable and I have made some of the best friends. This journey has helped me put my life into perspective and I appreciate everything that I have compared to how little these kids have. It was the best 16 days in my life so far.
Tomas: It would be impossible to choose a single experience that I had on this trip to be an outright favourite, as the places we visited and the people we met each brought their own unique experiences, challenges and memories, from the connections we made with the children at Kaplani to the enthusiasm of the children in Donk and SNEHA. I was lucky to have such an amazing team and three amazingly sound teachers and Christine with us for most of our trip – I believe the team experience completed the journey and made it the enjoyable experience it was.
Jordan: Words can’t describe how amazing the time I have spent in India was. Meeting inspirational people such as Surender Singh and Dr Reeta have completely changed my view on life and have made me realise how fortunate I am with the lifestyle that I have. Teaching the children in Kaplani, Donk and SNEHA was by far the most exciting thing I have ever done. In a way, I am excited to get home to see my family and friends, but I am also sad as I have made so many friends and connections within the different schools. I will always remember the time I spent in India and will always be extremely grateful for it. It was also great to have three amazing teachers and Christine to guide us along the way and, temporarily, Graham who was an absolute legend and a top lad.
Owen– Two weeks has not long enough with this Belfast Saphara team! Every moment, tear, laugh and smile on this trip I will cherish forever. It is amazing to think how much the team have bonded over the past two weeks, and with the journey finally coming to an end it certainly wont be an end to the friendships and bonds that we’ve made here in India. It was a true pleasure and honour to be able to have some positive impact on the lives of such wonderful and inspiring children at all three schools that we taught in during our stay. I’m so grateful for this amazing experience and would especially like to thank Paul, Mark, Graham, Christine and our Amazing Saphara Mum Andrea!
Megan: There are truly no words to describe this wonderful experience. When I got picked for Saphara a number of people asked me why I was going out, when I told them I was teaching children they laughed and said “what difference will you make?”. That sentence played over and over again in my mind throughout the trip and it was on the last day in Kaplani high school when I realised how much of a difference we actually make as an organisation. The progress the children made from being shy and barely speaking English to being confident and wanting to have full conversations with you was incredible. It shows that even spending a few hours a day with the children made them feel valued and encouraged to go on to achieve greater things in life. This experience was once in a lifetime and I would honestly jump on a plane right now to see the children again. Thank you Saphara for providing me with this amazing opportunity and the memories it entailed.
Laura: This journey has been a lot more surreal than I expected. I was in India. Helping the poorest people I have ever met. And it feels amazing to say that! But not just for my own experience; to be able to look back in later years and say that I came all this way and hopefully changed a few lives for the better with the most amazing team I could have asked for – that feels so good! Currently we are playing our last few games of ‘Jack Change It’ in the airport and as much as we all want back to normality, we also want to chain ourselves to India and all the people we met.
Chris: Saphara has been the best experience of my life, bar none. I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to go to India and immerse myself in a culture so different to our own. My perspective of the world has changed, I have my sights set on a career path and I have a newfound desire to maintain social equality for everyone. The experience has changed my life! Of course I couldn’t have got through it alone, and the Belfast team members are all amazing people and have made it so enjoyable. Christine and the teachers have also been fantastic, and I appreciate everything they did for us. Building relationships with the kids and knowing how much of a difference you make in their lives has inspired me, and the memories will stay with me through the rest of my life.
Hannah Gibson: These past two weeks have literally been the best two weeks of my life and it is entirely impossible to describe my experience in a couple of words. I was nervous at the start but could not have enjoyed myself more; the feeling you get from seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when you walk into a classroom is indescribable. I absolutely loved having such a good relationship with all the children in Class 6 in Kaplani, as they could not have been sweeter kids. They are so appreciative of your time and effort, which I loved giving to them. The kids in Donk and SNEHA were exactly the same and I got as excited as them when we went into the classroom. I am gutted to be leaving India and our team as we are all so close but feel so incredibly privileged to have had this experience.
on Saturday 19 July 2014