Sunday, July 02, 2006

BANGALORE: Volunteering and asides

These three weeks will go down as some of the most enjoyable and satisfying of this whole year and indeed all my travels. An interesting city, some settled nightlife based around the World Cup, but most of all the volunteering.


Shukla Bose (founder) et al.

The Mighty Benny

Dave and I spent 3 weeks mainly in the Jaya Nagar school teaching English, football, cricket, frisbee and even rugby, making World Cup presentations, drawing charts, “looking after” classes of up to 40 5-10 year old kids when their teacher was absent, and generally playing with the children. It was sometimes a bit hectic, sometimes a bit disorganized but nearly always fun.

The Parikrma Foundation is a first class organization that takes slum children at the age of 5, educates, clothes and feeds them up to the end of school and then aims to send them on scholarship to university. They look after every important detail, providing health care and sending social workers into their communities to make sure the kids have the best possible chance in life. If you want more details or wish to support this very worthy organization then go to the link on the right of this page.

While the rhetoric is admirable, what is impressive is that everyone seemed to believe in it and in what they are doing for it - from the brilliant guy who looked after the gate to the founder Shukla Bose. The combination of this spirit and the entrepreneurial know how and contacts of its founders make this project very exciting indeed. They already have four schools sponsored by such companies as Levi-Strauss, Yahoo and Dell and they are expanding fast. They look to provide a model for education in India at a much higher and more equal level then the government provided equivalent AND for the same or less cash. From what I can see they are achieving just that.

Unbelievable. I have not even mentioned the best thing about the schools. The kids. They are simply fantastic. So many of them have been through so much but they are still so bright, enthusiastic and simply lovely. They are boisterous as one would expect from their background but the school does a good job of balancing discipline and fun for these children. The point of school is to learn but fun is essential for them to enthusiastically take this helping hand to a better future.

The majority of time was spent helping a handful of children to improve their English and therefore step up a class and here I thought our assistance was useful. Taking just two at a time I could see a significant improvement in their standard even if “What’s the Time” book became a tad tedious. In the afternoons we usually played sport with the awesome Benny (middle of bottom picture). Here is a guy who works three jobs but prioritises his time to helping these kids. A guy of truly good heart, but also a heck of a lot of fun. Those who know me will not be surprised by the idea of me contentedly running around after any ball or disk of any description and so it was – I even broke a window of the next door hospital with a slightly wayward shot (think Waddle/Di Baggio) – no-one was hurt!

Primary school teaching is not for me in the long run, but I seriously enjoyed this experience and will look to do similar volunteering in the future and in particular to help this foundation that unlike so many others you see or hear about in this part of the world has the plan, heart, personnel and ambition to succeed on a big scale. It deserves my support and will receive it.

When we did eventually leave the school I was genuinely sad to leave such beautiful kids and such a beneficial organization behind. You can grow surprisingly attached to such wonderful naughty beings in such a short time (6 jumping on your back at once) and I think they also become rather attached to you. To see such smiles from kids with such underprivileged backgrounds (we visited the shelter where over 40 of them live in one room, not necessarily orphaned but parentless, abandoned) was a privilege and one I choose to keep in my mind as I start a very different career path in the fall. People can really help others and do – this is proof!!!!


A northern monkey and two southern pansies

Emma and two pretty boys!

"AAAAAH" Michelle the flash is surely not that frightening

Whats Tim doing to Dave?

You da man Dave

What's Arnie doing in Pub World

Permilicious at Zero G

And you wondered why the smile got wiped of Dickmunch's face = Neil

A quick note to say thanks to Pub World, Taika, Pizza Corner, Subway, Brigade Inn, Refugee rugby team, Neil, Gareth, Tim, Emma, Michelle, Frenchies, and many others for making our stay so goddamn pleasant. And a special one goes out to dickmunch for all the arguments over the room (what a wriggly little tache)... loads and loads of fun!!

Bye bye Dickmunch - and no I can not be bothered to turn your photo the correct way up!!!!
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