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Final Reflections

Tuesday 19 July 2016

As the East–West team wrap up there trip, here are their final comments on their first Saphara experience. There are a few reflections still to come so keep your eyes peeled!

This trip has meant the world to me. This is not only due to the brilliant friends I have made but it has in lightened me massively. The lessons I have learnt from the beautiful children I have taught will stay with me for the rest of my life, these include gratefulness, courage and determination. I am greatly looking forward to seeing those who I have met on the trip again as I think this trip has made us friends for life and we will all hold India very close to our hearts for years to come. It is such a great feeling to come away from this trip knowing that I have made a difference to someone’s life as an individual as well as a group. Overall there are not enough words to sum up this trip and what it has meant to me as a person.

Frannie Davison

The Saphara charity will forever be prominent in my heart, mind and soul as it is a truly amazing organisation, brightening the lives of us students and the children of India by passively moulding us into stronger, more confident people. I have never felt more blessed than I have been by this opportunity. The experiences I’ve had and the friends I’ve made have resulted in me being happier than ever before during my two short weeks in India. Working with the children of Kaplani, Donk and Sneha and being able to enrich them with pride and glee is something that I will never ever forget and I will treasure their smiles for life. This trip has absolutely changed the way I live and appreciate my life and I will encourage everyone I possibly can to support the wonderful works of Saphara.

Aoife Bradley
St. Mary’s

I’m struggling to find the right words that would sufficiently sum up how I’m feeling at the end of our Saphara trip. Maybe this is because there are no words that could do this amazing experience justice, or maybe because Dubai Airport at 3am isn’t exactly the ideal spot for getting a creative flow going! Today in the Lotus Temple I had the chance to sit back and reflect on the most hectic, emotional yet incredibly rewarding sixteen days of my life. I’ve never felt luckier than I do now in that I got to share this experience with 26 of the most genuine, caring people I’ve ever met. I’ll easily forget all of the stressful lesson planning, but the lessons I learned about myself and how I should view the world from the kids of Sneha, Donk and Kaplani will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life.

Shauna Lennon
St. Mary’s

At the end of my two weeks with Saphara I can honestly say my life will never be the same again. I have seen the world in a completely different way than I ever have before. I now understand what it means to be in poverty in our world but never in my life have I seen such hope and happiness in the children I have encountered. From my experience with them I will strive to live my life with the same happiness. Also, I have made some of best friends of my life as I came to this amazing country with some amazing people.

Eoin McAuley
St Mary’s

I feel very fortunate right now. I have just lived two beautiful weeks along with a
terrific team helping transform the lives of children in India. This is an experience difficult to gain in any other manner, other than through a charity like Saphara. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I felt apprehensive at first. As I go home I doubt that I will ever be able to find the words to describe this opportunity. The emotions I have felt over the past 2 weeks have been at times overwhelming. To see the work of Saphara flourishing in schools and also in communities has been extraordinary and I feel honoured to have been part of it.

Rachael O’Dwyer, Ampleforth

Everyone has seen poverty on TV with charities showing graphic images in adverts, but the only way to truly see poverty is to actually go and visit these places for yourself. This trip with Saphara has allowed me to gain an understanding of the struggle people in India face, and also given me the opportunity to work with some absolutely amazing people, both the rest of the East West team, and the eternally positive Indian pupils I had the privilege to teach. The mentality of these children coming from their impoverished backgrounds has seriously challenged me to seek the same happiness in my life through the simple things, rather than the material goods we all think bring happiness. The children of Kaplani, Donk and Sneha will be forever remembered as the central figures in a truly life–changing opportunity.

Damien McCoy
St. Mary’s

No words can fully describe just how amazing this trip has been. Saphara has not only changed the lives of children in India but also our lives massively. I have come away from India with friendships that I hope will last forever, with memories I will never forget and with a change of heart on just how fortunate we are. Seeing first hand what a difference Saphara makes to lives and to whole communities has been incredible and it has been a privilege to do so with 26 of the most compassionate and wonderful people. Saphara has allowed me to see the world in a better light and thanks to the children in Kaplani, Sneha and Donk I now understand what true happiness is. Signing out for the last time, 3am Dubai Airport, East West Team 2016.

Meabh McGirr
St. Mary’s

Saphara 2016 has been a truly sensational 16 days. The trip has included a rollercoaster of emotions from seeing the bright smiling faces of the passionate children in class every day and singing ridiculous songs, to walking past the young begging children in the street. Saphara has been a life changing experience, seeing poverty first hand. My experience in India will stay with me forever. I have made some amazing relationships with the children in Kaplani, Sneha and Donk. The children’s approach to education and school is truly inspiring and the atmosphere they created in the classroom is truly mesmerising. The bond between the team has made the trip tick and I have made some amazing friendships. The Saphara trip has been an experience I will never forget and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

Rory Jemphrey

Before setting out on this trip I could never have comprehended the difference it would make in the way I view my life in Northern Ireland. The things we have seen as a team and situations that we have encountered are unlike any other and are impossible to put down in words. Seeing the looks of pure joy on the children’s faces every time we walked into their classrooms was really put into perspective after visiting some of their homes in the slums, with living conditions we could not possible imagine. Yet they showed us around with pride that people were actually taking an interest in their lives and education. The difference we made in their lives is extraordinary, yet they also provided us with more than they could imagine. This experience was only made possible through an amazing team and the incredible work done through Saphara.

Charlie Robb

Thank you so much for this life–changing opportunity. My time with Saphara has altered many of my views and opinions allowing me to approach global issues with rejuvenated enthusiasm.

Hector Swinburne, Ampleforth

East West
East West

It’s difficult to articulate what this trip means in words. It’s filled our lungs with laughter but in the same breath, touched our hearts with hurt. It’s opened our eyes to hope but also to lives lived in dirt. It’s shown us that life is painted in colour and while there are amazing splashes of hope and joy, there are also the dark colours of despair and struggle. It’s reminded us that we are lucky. It has been by fortunate chance that we have all been born in wealthy, well–developed countries and have been privileged enough to even go on this trip. For me, this trip has been life changing in that the children from Kaplani, Donk and Sneha have taught us the importance of understanding, gratitude and most of all joy. Coming to the end, I’ve also realised that I’m going to miss the friendships and banter that has filled every day.

Ruairí O’Kane
St. Mary’s

When posing the question; How was your Saphara Journey? I, personally find it immensely difficult to paraphrase such an eye opening, life changing and exhilarating experience. No half–hearted words can fully depict my personal Saphara Journey, however, I like to think of it as complete emotional rollercoaster. It included many ups; such as seeing the children’s faces illuminate by simply giving them a sticker or watching their eyes light up to the sound of a simplistic nursery rhyme. The rollercoaster, however, had many emotional loops de loops, such as trying to ignore the young, impoverished children begging for one Rupee– enough for these children to live on. Prior to my Saphara journey, the 1p coin would be completely worthless to me, but in a world where children are neglected and living in small, box like rooms which they proudly pronounce ‘Homes’ 1p is a small fortune. To name another riff on the rollercoaster’s track; leaving the inspirational, diligent, angelic children of Kaplani, Donk and Sneha. These children are totally driven by happiness. Happiness comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. Happiness for me on my Saphara Journey has came in small bundles. The tightly knit bonds of friendship made on our East West team– it’s been some craic, the friendships made with our leaders and most importantly the children I have taught, who always will hold a special place in my heart.

Faoiltiarna Burke
St Mary’s

I started my journey with Saphara wide–eyed, not knowing what to expect. I had an inclination of what poverty meant but had never experienced its harsh reality first hand. I had previously thought of those who lived in poverty as helpless and dependent on our aid but they are so much more than that. Each one of them is a unique individual with their own set of priceless skills and qualities. Saphara has not only taught me how to teach but has shown me the value of education, as the only sustainable method of lifting these children out of poverty. On this journey I have made lasting friendships with my fellow team members and have shared special moments with many of the children that I have taught, that will stay with me forever.

Stephen Hodgson

It has been a huge honour to be part of the Sapahara 2016 East–West team. The trip has exceeded all my high expectations and has truly been a life–changing experience. Not only have I formed strong bonds with the amazing children at Kaplani, Donk and Sneha but I have had my eyes opened to the extreme poverty that many of them live in and seen first–hand the importance of education for helping them to better themselves and live their lives to the full. The children have taught us so much more than we could have ever imagined to teach them. They have taught me how to be grateful and appreciative for everything I have and shown me that true joy is not reliant on having numerous material things but instead is when you share love and compassion with others. I have adored every minute of this fantastic trip and the memories that have been made with my new best friends will not be forgotten.

Georgia Holley

The trip to India and the experiences I have had here have had a greater impact on me than I could have imagined. Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity.

Emily Boyd, Sullivan

‘The final reflection’ sounds like a daunting task and it is only because it is hard to reflect on everything that has happened on the trip and put into words how special this experience was. My Saphara journey, like everyone’s, has been unique and I have learned so many things from the kids I helped. They have shown me how to be grateful for what I have and they have showed me how to be genuinely happy in life. The differences in culture I have encountered on this trip were so hard to initially comprehend but hopefully at the end of the trip I can help spread the knowledge I have gained about the marginalised communities and about the children in India. The friendships I have made in Saphara are equally special and I am so grateful that I have had this experience.

Harry Rooms


Words cannot begin to describe the past two weeks. I am so grateful to have been chosen for this once in a life time opportunity. Teaching the children in India was challenging at times, but worth it just to see the huge smiles on their faces. They have inspired me, by seeing how little they have and yet they are still some of the happiest and hardworking people I have ever met. I know that the relationships I have made with the people on the Saphara team are for life, and I couldn’t have picked a better bunch of people to share this experience with. I hope that in the future I can return to India again and continue the amazing work Saphara does.

Alicia McAuley
St.Marys Grammar School Magherafelt

These past two weeks in which I have had the honour of being a member of the Saphara East–West Team 2016 have produced some of the most incredible, memorable and inspiring moments of my life. This experience has definitely been the most influential time of my life so far. To have had the privilege of teaching such amazing children who contain so much potential, enthusiasm and an appreciation towards their education has been wonderful and such an honour. Not only was it amazing to have the opportunity help them in utilising their own potential and intelligence, but also to get to know them on a personal level as they have all been so kind, polite and positive. I think that we will all agree that these children have taught us far more than we could ever have taught them. This trip has been truly life–changing in so many ways and has provided me with such wonderful, unforgettable memories. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to take part in this amazing trip and be a part of such an incredible organisation.
Molly Corry
Sullivan Upper, Holywood

Where to start! What an incredible 16 days; colourful, challenging, enriching and life changing. From the initial culture shock of New Delhi, the eventual familiarity found in Mussoorie and fondness established in Dehradun, India grew and grew on me and I’m so sad to leave it.

I hope to never forget the feeling of gratefulness at how privileged we all are that I have felt for the entire trip. That feeling comes mainly from seeing the realities of the children you meet, especially the girls. Visiting their tight–knit communities, my respect for them grew – seeing their walk to school, their homes and ever–ready smiles, you can’t help but do so. The sincere desire of the children to learn put to shame all of our everyday grumblings and made teaching for us that much easier, though it certainly was a satisfying challenge. It was such a pleasure to teach them and I’m going to miss them (if not cutting out the copies of Gerald the giraffe!) There was also a very humanising element to what I saw on this trip. It makes you appreciate the similarities of people, not their differences and judge them more on their character and deed.

A huge thank you to Saphara for enabling this journey of a lifetime to take place so successfully and looking after us so well– it wouldn’t be half the trip without their amazing planning.



The past two weeks have without a doubt been two of the best of my life, it has created memories which I will never forget. It has been such an honour to be part of the East West team, I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend the time with. The experience has been exciting, eventful, exhilarating and at times tough but it has been one of the happiest times in my life . Visiting the marginalised community, seeing such poverty and meeting the people who lived in the conditions, this had a profound effect on me, I really saw the courage of the people living here and this was incredibly memorable. The children we taught were some of the most inspiring, grateful and happy children I have ever met, they constantly made us smile with their amazing, hilarious personalities and filled the classroom with positivity. I hope we were able to make them feel as appreciated as they made us feel and they definitely taught me more than I could ever have taught them. Overall this was an incredible experience that completely changed my view of the world, I am so grateful for the life changing opportunity and hope to return to the vibrant, and invigorating country of India in the future.

Maran Fearon
Sullivan Upper, Holywood

What an experience! And what a wonderful charity Saphara is – helping to save lives – doing something very powerful.

Tom Worth, Ampleforth


Posted in East West Team 2016
on Tuesday 19 July 2016