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Volunteer for the MBKG Pannai Orphanage Jo Pearce, June 2015

Having got the visa and booked the ticket I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for! India hmmm, to be honest I never really fancied going there! I had travelled to different parts of the world for various charities, so this time I was destined for India.

A brief conversation with James Hunter had introduced me to The Sebastian Memorial Trust. My 17 year old son wanted to join me, so he came along. We both decided we would stay for a month and if we didn’t like it we would go home! I packed 2 suitcases full of pens, books, toys and such stuff for the orphanage. We arrived in India 2.30am. I had made travel arrangements to and from the airport with Emma Koshi. Thank god the taxis was there waiting for us! We arrived at MBKG Pannai Orphanage 4.30am. We were shown to our accommodation. Which was basic but good. Even had a fridge which played the tune of “Jingle Bells” if not shut properly! Later that morning we met the children. That’s when our love and passion developed for the children. We were greeted with such open arms. Their English is good, so we could have broken conversations with them. We meet Ratna who is in charge of housekeeping and catered for our needs. Our first week consisted of travelling to various projects the charity is involved with such as a Leprosy Hospital and remote villages. It was all so humbling. All the villages where so welcoming. We sang songs with the small children. They loved it!

The last 3 weeks of our stay we at the MBKG Orphanage. We were with the children constantly. We played games with them football, baseball, basketball and so on. We gave them the time they needed and deserved. We taught at the local school. I am not a school teacher! So it was just common sense really. Teaching English, role play, helping them with their studies. We did lots of sporting class’s trying to teaching them that boys and girls can play games together! Sometimes it was hard work. But you push through. Some of the children are feral. Some have learning disabilities. But you have to be committed, disciplined and patient to get any end result. If you thinking of using this experience as a cheap holiday don’t bother to waste your time or others. These children crave your attention and in return you receive endless gratitude. My 17 year old son fell in love with his experience and is desperate to go back. As am I. Sometimes it can be very harsh but these people are living in a different world to you and I. So be open minded. Change takes time.

Regarding the food! I was worried of a tummy upset. Not once in the entire month did I experience anything of the sort. We ate in the canteen with the orphans, the food was basic sometimes a little too spicy but I have never been a fan of Indian food! That speaks volumes! The children were drinking from a filtered water machine. Which at first I was dubious and religiously drank from bottled water. But by the end of week 2, when in Rome so to speak I started to drink the water from the machine. I was fine.

On my return from this wonderful experience I am still in regular contact with Anita (she works in the orphanage office) who keeps me updated with the child I am now sponsoring. My son has been so humbled by his experience he is taking a course in becoming a teacher of English. So he can go back qualified and offer more to the children.

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