Sarah and Hannah
Pain, Joy, Happiness, Fear – We saw it all
On arrival the sheer differences between our culture and theirs was visibly apparent, from the lack of inhibitions when driving, to the deficiency in basic infrastructure.
Continuing on our journey to Manvi, it was clear there was a lack in basic sanitation, displayed by the vast mounds of rubbish lining the streets. After spending some time with the Slovakian volunteers in Loyola College, Manvi, we continued on our way to Jagir Pannur.
Pannur was vastly different; no shops, few cars and no internet! But still full of life and laughter. Arriving at the hostel, we were greeted by warm smiles and infinite handshakes, after which we spoke to the children and received a tour of the hostel, astounded by the children’s eagerness to show off their English capabilities. Excitement was widespread but calm arose when the children were all seated in their neat rows waiting for the typical dish or Curry and Rice, just like a scene off Oliver Twist. We were both amazed by the children’s use of their hands to consume, on the right one though; the left is used for other business!
Bright and early in the morning we were awoken by the sound of religious music, ringing through the walls. After the usual Rice and Curry for breakfast, a little hard to stomach at such early hours of the day, we set off to school with the children, in their army like rows.
We saw Loyola Kapepaladi School in all its glory, amazed by the high level of maintenance and care it receives, demonstrated through the brightly coloured paint of the school walls. The school was much larger than we had expected, with plenty of room for expansion in the near future. After organising our timetable and meeting the lovely headmistress, sister Philomena, we set to the task of teaching English, to the various Standards in the school.
Teaching at first was a bit of struggle due to the lack of English of the lower standards, and also due to the variation in abilities and ages within one standard, but we soon gained control when they established we were the owners of a wide array of stickers. It was interesting to see how the majority of children were barefoot by lunch time, despite most of them arriving to school in shoes. It was also interesting to see the authority the older children have over the younger ones, shown by when we had to teach the whole school! The older children ensured the younger ones were silent and engaging in what we were saying, even if it did involve the occasional “Beating”.
Thus the preparation for the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola began, excitement was heightened by the fact the children could wear home clothes, and that they had outfits to dress up into for the programme. We were also placed with the additional challenge of teaching the whole school, 400 plus pupils, while the teachers set up for the programme, which deemed to be quite a challenge as you can imagine! It was lovely to see such strong religious spirit and enthusiasm from pupils and the staff. The programme involved multiple Indian dances, from all the standards of the school, as well as a singing element, making it apparent that this group of Indians were rather better dancers than singers! However each dance had been meticulously rehearsed and we really enjoyed sitting back and watching the children having so much fun apparent from their grins, smiles and giggles. The following day, involved a rather bumpy journey, in the school bus, to Manvi, where everyone was busy preparing for the main Feast of St Ignatius, there was balloons, and impressive sand decorations and a vast array of colour, the effort which was put in to prepare for such an event was enormous.
School progressed like usual on the Monday and it was lovely to see how eager the children where to show off their English capabilities and basic phrases they had leant form the previous week; For example when walking into the lowest standard of the school, BKG quickly chanted various lines of ‘Baa black sheep’. We worked on the children’s Basic English pronunciation which they at times found rather entertaining; as they pronounce the words differently for example teaching them the colour ‘Yellow’ would commonly be pronounced as ‘Hello’.
After school activities involved various games of ‘Carrem’ a traditional Indian game, similar to ‘Pool’ apart from played with your fingers. The children where particularly keen to teach us the game particularly teaching us their various tricks to success. When we bought out several pots of bubbles with us we had brought with us the children run around the hostel literarily jumping for joy, popping every bubble they saw! It’s amazing to see how much energy all the children had in them especially after a very long day at school.
Going with the mobile clinic in the evenings to neighbouring villages such as Chikalparvi we saw the generosity village members paid to us, from offering us a chair to sit on to handing us multiple arrays of ‘chocolates’ and cakes. Over the course of our regular visits to the villages we both got rather used to the children shouting America or Americano; and it’s not the derogatory way they are just stating the obvious and getting our attention. We also became fairly immune to the multiple number of ‘photos and selfies the children wanted as well as never ending numbers of handshakes and high fives all of which amused them with fits of laughter. It was lovely to see such a small gesture such as a handshake making a group of children so happy.
The children and teachers at the school gave us a farewell programme for our departure, it was warming to see how willing and determined all the children where to show of all they had learnt over the last few weeks. None of the children wished to sit back and not take part in the programme, all of them where keen to perform. The determination and team spirt these children showed us over the course of our time in Pannur is one we will never forget.
We would like to give a huge thank you to this amazing charity for giving us this opportunity.