We were lucky enough to be selected to go to India this summer for 3 weeks in August with North East Girlguiding.
The first ten days in Sangam were amazing. Whilst we were there, we experienced the local area, through doing the Pune challenge which meant getting yourselves around the city to different points, including temples, markets and historic points. We also had an Indian afternoon, where we dressed up in our Saris and Punjabis and ate traditional food, followed by an hour of Bollywood dancing. For three days we did a community project with The Green Tara Foundation, They work with girls who come from the slums and who were struggling with school work. They also go into the slums and teach women of all ages about domestic violence, sexual health and help them to express their own thoughts. Whilst we were there, 10 of us took two classes of about 55 girls per class, which is a lot when they speak very little English. We sang and danced a lot, and they were quite found of the Hokey Cokey! The girls also made butterflies and did posters about pollution. It was great to see how grateful they were that someone wanted to come in and teach them something new. We then went to work in a local community hall that was in the slums and was very small, we ran similar activities and again the Hokey Cokey was one the favourites!
After finishing the course in Sangam we moved out way up to the top of India, to Leh. It was completely different to Pune as barely anyone was staring at you and it was much quieter as there was barely any traffic. We did a community project at a local government school, where there were only 76 pupils in the whole school. We were expecting 10 year olds and when we got there we were greeted by 2 year olds as well, so we had to quickly adapt some of the activities. We spent two days here and then spent our third at a disabled school, where there was only 8 in the group we were working with. This was one of the hardest parts as they all spoke much less English than any other schools we had been at. The disabilities were varied, making it slightly harder to engage them all. However by the end of the day they were all singing and dancing and smiles all round.
Throughout the trip we did manage to squeeze in some sightseeing, which included going to local temples and monasteries and of course going to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.
This whole experience has been very rewarding and we hope that one day we will get this kind of opportunity again.
LUCY GRAY - FERN TURNER – JESSICA DOBSON