The Amazing Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
3rd July 2016
Lucy and Molly here, reporting from New Delhi! This morning the Saphara team woke up to humid and overcast skies with lower temperatures and a few showers. We soon decided to “embrace the sweat” in our new clothes which were perfect for our visits to the Taj Mahal and The Agra Fort, whilst any air conditioning was energetically appreciated. The Fort was fascinating, from the inner palace’s harem quarters to its impressive 3 layer defences. I think many of us found it a bizarre experience travelling, being photographed by curious onlookers and approached by hawkers, which at times was amusing.
What became apparent to us all rather early into the journey was the dramatic contrast between the rich and the poor; from children begging at the side of the road to the western–dressed Indians visiting designer shops a few miles down the road. Also the traffic here is rather chaotic: there is a lack of traffic lights and a ridiculous amount of horn–blaring.
The sight of the Taj Mahal in real life far exceeded the images that we all had seen. I think many of us found it surreal to be there. Up close, the lavishness and intricacy of the walls blew us away and was heightened by the romantic history behind it and the semi–precious stones that had been used to make it.
After this trip everyone felt exhausted, rather damp and relieved to sit down, relax and enjoy a delicious buffet–lunch in the Trident hotel – our treat of the trip. A wonderful way to begin our experience of India and a much appreciated rest before serious work begins on Monday at Kaplani school in the mountains above Derhadun.
From the Beautiful Himalayas
4th July 2016
Sunday has been an early start. 5:30am breakfast and bundled into cars. A six hour train journey out of Delhi north to Derhadun allowed us to catch up on sleep. From Dehradun we made our way up to Mussoorie. At 7000 ft, Mussoorie is a magical hill station overlooking the lush green Doon valley, and to the north the snow topped Himalayas shrouded in mist. A brief moment to settle and we’re stuck into lesson preparation for our week at Kaplani High School.
Can’t wait for the morning. I am spoilt with a window looking north and sunrise over the Himalayan peaks during morning meditation.
These first days have been about building up our team, introducing the students to Indian culture & history, some shared experience and wonder. Giving generously to each other will transform what we have to give to our Indian children.
Lord, be the beginning and end of all that we do and say!
Our Wonderful First Day in Kaplani
5th July 2016
After the first night that didn’t roast ye, we woke up to the monumental views of the Himalayas covered in golden clouds. Late as per usual we went to breakfast. Straight into the taxis we ventured through the Himalayas with whole families travelling beside us on motorbikes and experiencing a few close encounters with the local cattle (one cow with horns properly started charging after Eoin, Maran and Charlie’s car – pure deadly).
We arrived at Kaplani High School in time to be welcomed into their assembly and we were very impressed with their singing, chanting and prayers. There were some late comers – but when we discovered that they had walked for two and a half hours to get to school, we amazed that they were only 5 minutes late!
Initially our first class was quite daunting as the children didn’t seem to know much English – but later we realised that they were simply shy. However, I think for everyone the second and third lessons were great! The second lesson on sound created a lot of noise and excitement and the kids really came out of themselves which was so great to see. We had thought that the third lesson on rates of reaction would be a real challenge with the language barrier – but the kids enjoyed the experiments and their Maths skills were fantastic. When leaving, the children were enthusiastic to see us return which was so nice!
Back at the hotel, we went on a walk into Mussoorie. There were monkeys climbing along the fences beside us, while we wanted to we were warned not to get too close or scream, they were too cute – wee baby ones and all. After a short chill–axing break we began planning the lessons for tomorrow. After dinner we played group games, like charades with names – hilarious. We were treated to a small fireworks display from the terrace, overall a pure class day!
Maran and Eoin
PS from Christine: a warning to the Ampleforth parents – your children may come home speaking Northern Irish!
Another Brilliant Day Teaching
6th July 2016
Another brilliant day teaching today for the Saphara team!
Following cold showers in the Himalayan hills (only the girls seem to get hot water!), we had breakfast and then headed off for Kaplani School at 08:00.
Like yesterday, we attended the assembly where the students grouped themselves in ranks, listened to the news of the day and sang their national anthem. Following the assembly, classes began and all the teachers went to their respective lessons. Speaking to each other during free periods, we all seemed to have another fantastic morning. In Class 10, the students learnt how to schedule their week effectively in English, how to analyse their reaction times data from previous lesson in Physics and the different parts of the ear in Biology. We really enjoyed seeing how engaged the students were, and were impressed by their progress.
In Class 7, we continued with the lessons on sound. They were learning about sound and loved the songs. In the lunch break that followed, the kids raced out of their lessons fast and furiously and lined up for a good looking curry – funded by our Saphara fundraising. During the lunch break, we played games with the students and sang a few songs, which was a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know them better. After the break, classes resumed as usual, and again, we had a wonderful time. Once we got back to the hotel, we went for a walk around Mussoorie, everyone was buzzing after their exciting day and were belting songs at the top of their lungs. Now we are just waiting for our pizza, apparently it’s so good it takes an extra half hour to make.
Tom Worth & Alicia McAuley
Special Musical Moments At Kaplani
7th July 2016
Yet again, another exhilarating, rewarding day in India and more specifically in Kaplani School. For today’s blog, Ruairi and Faoiltiarna have decided to share a series of musical memories throughout our day.
Today, we had the honour of organising Kaplani’s assembly. We decided to compile a medley of three songs; Amazing Grace, Swing Low and This Little Light of Mine. A special moment for all of us, as a team, was hearing the children singing in unison with us in perfect harmony – a moment we will cherish forever.
In Class 9, for our sound lesson, we used a guitar donated by Saphara to Kaplani School to enhance the children’s knowledge and understanding of the concept of sound. Ruairí played the guitar and I, Faoiltiarna, sang. All in all, this is our favourite personal moment of our inspirational Saphara journey. Seeing the children’s faces light up to the sound of Coldplay’s Yellow in Irish and the dancing feet of both girls and boys to One Direction’s What Makes you beautiful was very special indeed.
A real heart–warming experience for us is to see the bonds develop between ourselves and the Indian children. At the beginning of the week, many of the jokes shared between pupils were in Hindi but now, all jokes are shared with us in English.
To round off day six, we finished our presentations and colourful displays of our children’s (Class 9) amazing work. (We feel like proud mammies and daddies!) All in preparation for our final farewell to our wonderful pupils and their teachers in Kaplani. A campfire singsong with all members of our Saphara team elevated our already high spirits. Another wonderful day!
Ruairí O’Kane and Faoiltiarna Burke
Our Last Day in Kaplani
8th July 2016
What a day!
Today was our last day at Kaplani, very emotional but so happy at the same time. We have developed such an amazing relationship with the children we were teaching and it was fantastic to see their work displayed on the walls of their classroom. In the two morning lessons we planned out what our class was going to perform at the celebration in the afternoon. My class (class 9) chose to do two songs and had four of our students reading out their goals for their future.
During the celebration all the classes performed some of their best work from the past few days and it was lovely to see how much their confidence had grown. We also thanked the children for all their brilliant work and the tonnes of effort that they had put in. Of course we couldn’t leave out the teachers and all those who have made this week a success so far.
After the celebration we stuck up the children’s work which was beautiful and gave them all a gift bag of little treats. It was so lovely to see their little faces light up with joy. This would be the last time we will see these children so goodbyes were essential. We all had class photos and said our farewells.
It was also Fran’s birthday today so we’ve had lots of birthday celebrations!
Damien & Fran
9th July 2016
We attempted to regain a fragment of the emotional energy left behind in Kaplani, through a most welcome lie–in. At around 9am we began our trek down to Donk primary school. A fantastic way to experience the punishing daily routine of many children walking to and from school in rural India. We journeyed on for roughly 2 hours, stopping along the way at numerous houses, which gave us a more personal insight into the life of a typical family that SAPHARA supports.
We arrived out of breath and overheated to the unexpectedly tiny hamlet, where, upon arrival, we enjoyed lunch alongside the 15 children from the school. Due to the small numbers of pupils, we split in half, and while one group taught, the others were given a tour through the village by Mr Surrender Singh, who explained that he had worked with the community since 1989. His experience really shone through, and the information which he shared was particularly interesting and informative.
The climb back up the hillside had been much anticipated and failed to disappoint! However the promise of a refreshing cool shower back at the hotel along with some wonderful singing, sustained our morale and urged us on to our destination.
A much needed rest followed, until we came together for a couple of team games, designed to increase our awareness of global issues of social justice. Finally we settled down for a lovely supper and dancing in celebration of Francesca’s 17th Birthday.
What a Great Week!
10th July 2016
We are so proud of our young people and their maturity displayed during the first week. Their enthusiasm and energy has given the children of Kaplani High School excitement for learning. On Thursday, the Saphara teachers enjoyed lunch with the Kaplani teachers, comparing and contrasting teaching in our different schools.
As our first week in India draws to a close, we examined serious issues facing India during the Global Awareness weekend. The young people discussed responsible charity through various workshops. At the end of the weekend, the pupils and teachers reflected upon their experiences so far in India during ‘The Happening’ – this was very moving for us all and great way to end the week.
As we leave Mussoorie we are looking forward to meeting the children at Sneha school in Dehradun.
We also met with the Down Team today to tell them all about our wonderful experiences at Kaplani High School. Now, it’s time to plan our lessons for SNEHA!
Nicola and Gabrielle
11th July 2016
Monday started with a typical Indian breakfast of curry and lassi, before the team headed off in their vikrams for Sneha Doon Academy. This was a great opportunity for us to see more of India, and experience many of the sights, sounds and smells that make India so unforgettably special. The vikrams arrived in perfect timing at the end of assembly, and we recieved the warmest of welcomes from Dr Reeta and Esther ma’am, as well as all of the teachers and students. After a brief moment to settle in the staff room, it was time for lessons to begin. The students had planned meticulously the evening before but a few nerves were natural as they entered the unknown of classes 1, 2 and 3, ready to do the best they could for the 50 students in front of them. The lessons were engaging, exciting and delivered with great passion. All around the school enjoyed hearing the sound of stories being read aloud to attentive children, animal noises recalled and songs sung.
The English lessons for classes 1, 2 and 3 were followed by conversation classes for class 9 and 10. The experience of teaching personal development at Kaplani High School really helped here and the students flourished in their teaching. The Sneha pupils were engaged and it was inspiring to hear good quality conversation and lots of laughter coming from the goal setting workshops.
After an afternoon of reflection and lesson planning, dinner out at Salt and Cravings is a welcome treat. The day has been extra special as it is the feast day of St Benedict; a special day for us all as we wear our benedictine medals with pride and take inspiration from St Benedict as we strive to support each other as we work and pray together. Br Ambrose and the Ampleforth students will lead us in Compline this evening as a special celebration to end another memorable day in India. Gabrielle
Visiting the Marginalised Community
13th July 2016
After another bumpy ride in the Vikrams the whole team arrived at Sneha just in time to catch the last few minutes of the school assembly. We were impressed by the discipline and enthusiasm of the children, especially considering the fact that school begins at 7:55. After a successful first day the entire team were eager to get back in the classroom and deliver some high quality lessons to the children. I’m sure everyone would agree that the style of teaching required for Sneha is very different from that of Kaplani, due to the age difference of the pupils. However, the whole team are finding the experience to be equally rewarding.
Following a busy morning of lessons we were privileged to be invited to see the homes of many Sneha pupils who live in a nearby marginalised community. Pupils Arti and Ravi, along with English teacher Nadesh, walked us through life in this community and explained to us many of the hardships the people there face, but also their strong sense of pride and community. We were shocked and moved by some of the conditions in which the Sneha pupils live, with many families of eight or more sharing a single small room. This was a deeply troubling yet touching experience. It was surreal seeing these children, so happy and eager to learn in school, knowing that each day they return home to such basic conditions.
This visit was followed by an enlightening conversation with Doctor Reeta Rao, the managing director of Sneha Doon Academy. She explained to us the hope that Sneha offers to many of these marginalised families. Sneha provides not only a quality education for the children, but offers training schemes for women to improve their chances of employment. The women learn practical skills such as sewing and henna, which allow them to provide and save for their families. We learnt about Dr. Reeta’s journey to establish Sneha, leaving a successful medical career in Mussoorie behind to serve the marginalised community in Dehradun.
Stephen & Emily
Day 13 in the Big Saphara House
14th July 2016
Today marked our last structured teaching day in Sneha Doon Academy. There was a real buzz about the school and a sense of finality as we enter into the final stages of our amazing trip.
We finished off our phonics lessons and then all three classes had the chance to show off their creative streaks in our arts and crafts lessons. Classes 1 and 3 produced a jungle of paper plate masks, while Class 2 took on the challenge of pinning together dancing giraffes called Gerald. vSome were funky movers while others sadly had four left hooves.
Our last conversation classes were on the topic of ”instructions”. From blindfolded obstacle courses to drawing pictures we tried our best to go out with a bang. Mission accomplished!
Before leaving we got henna done by the woman from the Girls Flourishing programme, run by Saphara.
The boys got their names written in Hindi while the girls opted for more intricate hand designs.
At the end of the day we loaded into our vikram and took off in a Mario–Kart inspired race home through the busy streets of Dehradun.
We are now planning for our displays for the final celebration tomorrow, followed by going out for our last supper here in Dehradun to Salt and Cravings. Brownie – get in my belly! Exciting times ahead! – (mic drop) Shauna, Rachael and Georgia
14th July 2016
Finally after two nights of blood sweat and tears, today we got the chance to present our six beautiful displays to classes 1, 2 and 3 at SNEHA.
It was all worth it however as the children enjoyed adding the finishing touches and it was great to watch both the children’s and teacher’s faces light up as their classroom was filled with vibrancy and colour.
The children beamed with pride as they showed off their collection of work they had individually completed throughout our four days of teaching such as dancing giraffes, butterfly masks and worksheets.
After the final tone deaf yet extremely loud performances of our class’s favourite educational songs that they have newly learned, it was time for us to reluctantly hang up our books. Our teaching time in SNEHA and India was upsettingly over.
However, SNEHA waved us off with a bang. A number of pupils from a range of classes performed for our final celebration. The program consisted of the students depicting their culture through Japanese, Napoleon and Indian dance and it was incredible with such a beautiful display of colour and smiley faces. Safe to say we were put to shame with our mediocre performance of amazing grace, sweet chariot and this little light of mine but we enjoyed it never the less especially as it was one of our final times singing in unity (our favourite pastime).
Following these performances we heard a heartfelt speech from the school principal, who expressed her gratitude and love towards the entire team and the work that had been accomplished. Even after we had left SNEHA school the children were still showing us appreciation as they leaned into our vikram when it stopped in traffic high fiving us and shaking our hands as they walked home.
Our time in Dehradun is over but our experiences here will live in our hearts forever.
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 Ampleforth
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 Sullivan
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 Sullivan
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
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 Sullivan
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 Sullivan
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 Ampleforth
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