Monday, 13 July 2015

Week 2: Welcome to St Gonsalo Garcia Ashram

After saying goodbye to the other interns, Mark and I arrived at our placement on Wednesday 8th July. Our aim as Development in Action interns was to bring about youth empowerment at an Indian orphanage for boys. This basically meant that we would be teaching classes and providing one-one tuition, whilst trying to be positive role-models.

The orphanage itself is situated in a Portuguese fort in Vasai, dating back hundreds of years. From the moment we arrived, Mark and I were treated like royalty. Whilst the 85 boys at the orphanage slept in a single dormitory with triple bunk beds, we were given an air conditioned room to ourselves. During meal times, the amazing cooking team make a special effort to please us and will always try to stop us from clearing up afterwards as well!

The boys instantly took a liking to us. They were constantly inviting us to play sports with them, asking us questions about England and showing us crazy dance moves they had learnt. Whilst it seemed a bit overwhelming at first, their enthusiasm was absolutely hilarious!

I think it’s fair to say that we were thrown into the deep end in our first week of teaching. After observing a lesson, Mark and I were asked to have a go in different classes. Mark taught English whilst I had a go at teaching Maths and ICT. We quickly realized that we had absolutely no hope in teaching the younger years as we couldn’t help those who struggled to understand English. Another issue was that we were not particularly keen on applying corporal punishment, which was deemed to be the best way to manage bad behaviour. In contrast, we had a lot more joy when we assisted the teachers and when we taught older year groups.

Vasai Fort

Classrooms separated by a thin wooden board

Playground, usually filled with children playing cricket
The oldest part of the school

At the end of a jam-packed week, Mark and I decided to go to a church in the local town. Mark managed to get in touch with one during the week and was offered a lift there by the church leader. It was a small church at the top of a block of flats on the main high street and was filled with local people shouting out songs of thanks to God. In between songs, a number of people took it in turns to say thanks to God for different things in their lives. There was also a time for people to go to the front and share encouraging stories about how God had helped them, which seemed to go on forever. After the service, Mark and I were invited to have lunch with a group of people at the church, including some of the leaders. I left feeling refreshed and challenged to live a life that is completely devoted to God.

Praise Points:

  • I thank God for the love and care displayed here, not only at the orphanage but with a number of kind people who have helped us out during stressful times
  • The beauty of the local Fort is absolutely incredible!
  • The children here are amazing - they seem to be laughing, joking and dancing all the time!

Prayer Points:

  • The local church leader estimated that there are 300 families in the local area who are affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Prayer for the children - there seems to be a real need for attention that is likely to come from a lack of strong relationships

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