INDIA: One Year On

It’s been a year since I travelled to India with Stepping Stones Ministries to stay at their Children’s home in West Bengal and I think it’s about time I share the final story that I never told! Coincidentally, a few days ago I saw Richard, our team leader and founder of Stepping Stones. Richard had just returned from a trip to India to officially open the new girls’ home which was under construction while we were there last year, so I can also update you on what Stepping Stones have been doing in the last year!

Our final few days in India were mainly spent in Jharkhand, the poorest state in India, where we visited some remote villages and gave a health workshop to young mothers. The day we visited the village for the health workshop and accidentally gatecrashed a wedding turned out to be my favourite day of the entire trip because, even though the villagers were living in extreme poverty, they were really happy. There was only one man in the village who could speak any English but if there’s one thing I learned from this trip it’s that you don’t need a shared language to be able to communicate. While some members of the team were doing their health workshop with the women of the village, Tom was playing cricket with some of the children using a piece of wood and a mango seed and Lucy, Anna and I were having a dance lesson with the older girls. I wrote about this in more detail in a post last year but since it’s my favourite memory and ties in with the end of the trip I couldn’t resist mentioning it again – you can read more about the trip to Jharkhand in this previous blog post: http://bit.ly/2mI2Qwg.

picture6

Continue reading

Advertisements

We Crashed a Wedding

I’ve been carried away with a busy summer at work, neglecting my blog. Now summer is over and we’re into pumpkin spice season it’s time to get back on the blogging train. I’m going to kick start the autumn by sharing my final story from India, only five months after I returned home, oops!

Towards the end of our time in India we spent a couple of days in Jharkhand, India’s poorest state. Many of the children living in Bethel House and Bethany Home come from Jharkhand and some of them still have family living there. After the odious bus journey to Digha a week before, we were all glad to be making the journey to Jharkhand by train. We had even been treated to an air conditioned first class carriage which, as you can imagine, was pure luxury compared to the bus.

Continue reading

Sardines on a Bus

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog post about India but I still have a tatty hand-written diary full of stories to tell. Today we’re having a #tbt Digha Beach in West Bengal and the six hour overnight coach journey which would take us there. We travelled overnight as it is undoubtedly much cooler on a bus without the midday sun beating down and the roads would also be quieter. The drive from Ranaghat to Digha took six hours and it didn’t even take us across the border of West Bengal. Although not all Indian roads are suited to smooth cruising at 70mph, if you consider how far a six hour journey would get you in the UK and compare it to the distance covered on the map of India below, it really puts into perspective the size of the country. Ranaghat is the red dropped pin on the map and Digha is a centimetre or two to the south west.

image

Continue reading

Tuktuk Travel and Indian Markets

If you read my first India blog post you might remember that I referenced Jack’s Gap’s The Rickshaw Run, a YouTube series in which Jack, Finn and friends travelled the width of the country in tuktuks. For those of you who aren’t familiar with tuktuks, they’re motorised rickshaws (they kind of look like a cross between Hagrid’s motorbike and a smart car) mainly used as taxis in Indian towns and are definitely not the mode of transport I would choose for travelling across the country, especially when a six hour bus journey doesn’t even get you across one state!

image

Continue reading

Meeting the Children and Exploring the Village

The night we arrived at Bethel House, after our perilous jeep journey (definitely not the worst mode of transportation I experienced in India), all of the boys were waiting to greet us but we didn’t get to meet the girls from Bethany Home until the next day. The girls are currently living in a rented building in the same village as the boys, about a ten minute walk away from Bethel House. They’re all very excited to be moving into the new Bethany Home which is currently being built around the corner from Bethel House. When the new home is ready Stepping Stones will be able to take in more than twice the number of girls that they have now and both Bethel House and Bethany Home will be able to give homes to forty children each.

Picture1

Continue reading

An Indian Adventure

When I first watched Jack’s Gap’s The Rickshaw Run, back in 2013, I could never have imagined that just a couple of years later I too would be in India, experiencing the chaotic madness that is an Indian road. If you haven’t watched The Rickshaw Run, I’ll link the first episode at the end of this post. One of the first things I noticed while re-watching the mini-series is that Jack and Finn must have chosen to show all of the ‘good parts’ of their journey through India and they even managed to make the Indian roads look reasonably civilised. They didn’t appear to find any cows asleep in the road, the sound of horns was barely audible, they had no near misses with any trucks or the back end of a cow and there wasn’t a single dead dog in sight!

Continue reading