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Friday, August 17, 2007

Memorable two weeks

If anyone is wondering about my peculiar absence, here is my explanation: Beginning August 1st to August 14th, HOPE House played a host to nine American volunteers (eight women and a man) from Lubbock, TX. They all represented two different churches of the city. Except for one retiree, all of them are in their 20's and many are still in college.

This visit was in the plans for few months and our objective was two fold: Experience the grind of Indian living and to witness how an individual can make a difference in a larger society. Well...to enable them to experience the grind of living Indian life, we put them in a village set up where they have no air conditioning but ceiling fans, no hot showers but cold water using a bucket and a mug, not so fluffy mattresses and pillows but a simple thin mattress spread on an iron cot. They were transported in three wheelers called "Autos" and local buses when needed, and fed right at the HOPE House very much of Indian food.

To enable them to experience how an individual can make a difference in a larger society, we have taken them to visit many non-governmental organizations (non profit organizations) which are started by individuals in and around Vellore and making a huge impact today on our fellow brethren. There were times that our volunteers were in tears to see the suffering but blessed to know that there are sincere individuals that are caring for them.

Needless to say that the children at the HOPE House had the best 14 days of all. They brought gifts, books, and above all their love for the kids. Children wanted to be sure that all our volunteers knew their names so every time they came in to the HOPE House, they used to ask them their own names. In about two days, all of them got it and the rest is history. All the children and the volunteers developed such a bond in these 14 days, it is difficult to put it in words.

On the last Saturday of their stay in Vellore, all the children and the volunteers planted 25 potted plants. This is to help our children to understand what friendship is by nurturing a plant. They all had assured the visitors that they will take care of the plant.

One day all the volunteers were taken to the so called "Silicon Valley" of India "Bangalore" to see the disparity of wealth in the same country. We travelled by a train and spent one full day there. Visited different kinds of set ups: a seminary, a temple, botanical garden and eateries in a mall. Unanimous view was that it is too westernized for India and may be eroding the local culture. I couldn't have agreed more but I guess that's the consequence of globalization.

Before we knew it, 14th of August came and to say "it was difficult to part" is an understatement. Now since they have left, life for me is limping back to routine. It is our hope and prayer that we have made an impact of what it means to serve in the midst of challenges. Many have assured us that they will utilize the field of their skill to help our work in India. Well...what else can I say than to say "It was memorable two weeks and I can't wait to receive the next group of volunteers".

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