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India 2009 | St Joan of Arc - Udayan

Visiting Brother Gaston

Last night’s performances and dinner beat all of our expectations. The children of Udayan performed several songs and local dances and put on a display of yoga! It was very entertaining and truly displayed the talents of the children. It was then our turn!! The audience were very attentive and seemed to like our program of singing and dancing with a card trick thrown in. The YMCA in particular went down a treat! We then had to say our goodbyes to the children before we were whisked away for our rooftop dinner. The food was absolutely amazing and the surroundings made it a really special evening. It was a fantastic way to end our time at Udayan.

This morning we travelled out to visit Brother Gaston and his home for orphans and mentally handicapped adults. It was an awe inspiring place that touched us all greatly.

We were privileged enough to be able to spend some time with Brother Gaston and he told us about his work with the poor in India for over 40 years. He is truly inspirational and we would have loved to have spent more time with him but unfortunately our visit was over far too quickly. It was then back on the bus for the bumpy ride back to the hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel, we quickly made the finishing touches to our “packed” suitcases ahead of our long journey back home. We will all be taking back many wonderful memories of our 18 days in India – a trip we will never forget.

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22 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

On Monday, we packed our bags and left the hustle and bustle of Kolkata for Udayan! After an hour on the coach we arrived. We were shown our rooms for the night and were given a quick tour of the new buildings which are fantastic.

Missionaries of Charity Motherhouse

Missionaries of Charity Motherhouse

22 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning, we got up to go to a mass starting at 6am at the Motherhouse of Missionaries of Charity. We walked into the chapel and the nuns were singing which was a special start to the peaceful mass. After the mass, we were privileged enough to be shown Mother Teresa’s room by the Mother Superior.

Asha Bhavan Centre

Asha Bhavan Centre

14 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Last night, as a treat we went to the Oberoi Hotel for a drink. It was really special and we had a really good night (even though we could only afford one drink). On the way back from the Hotel, we picked up our Salwars that we have had specially made for us to wear at Udayan.

The Sunderban Islands - the pictures!

The Sunderban Islands - the pictures!

14 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Sorry for the delay, hope you enjoy the pictures!

The Sunderban Islands

The Sunderban Islands

13 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

We have spent the last two days exploring the Sunderban Islands. We had a two and a half hour coach journey followed by a two and a half hour boat journey to our Tiger Camp. We all enjoyed the boat journey, especially as we had some time to sit in the sun and relax. It was also nice to see some of rural India and get out of the cities. When we arrived, we were provided with lunch, and then shown to our “tent”, which was actually a lot more modern than traditional camping; there was a toilet and lights.

Sightseeing in Kolkata

Sightseeing in Kolkata

11 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Today we were lucky enough to have yet another informative and interesting tour guide who showed us the highlights of Kolkata. We first visited The Black Hole Memorial which was dedicated to the 123 British lives that were lost in the incident of 1756. We then travelled to the Jain Temple. This was completely different to all the temples we have visited so far as you can see from the picture below. It was a dazzling mixture of mosaics, spires and columns. The mosaics in particular were made up of thousands of beautiful mirrors and coloured stones.



11 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning, we first travelled to Titagarh, a hospital and rehabilitation centre for people suffering from or affected by leprosy. We met one of the Brothers of the Missionaries of Charity who took us on a tour through the wards and the medical units. We also walked through the workrooms where the cloth for the Sisters is spun. It was very impressive as this centre is the only place where the cloth is produced and all of it was handmade. We also found it really encouraging as the people who work there are recovering or have recovered from leprosy, giving them a hugely improved standard of living. We also were lucky enough to meet the parents of one of the girls at Udayan, which reminded us of the how vital Udayan is in changing the lives of so many families.

Arrival in Kolkata

Arrival in Kolkata

9 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning we woke up still on the train. It eventually pulled in to Kolkata train station at 10 past 12pm. As soon as we stepped out of Kolkata train station we were hit by the fact that it is so much hotter and busier. We caught taxis to the Fairlawn Hotel and were greeted by drinks and our rooms ready-made.

A day with the Little Sisters

A day with the Little Sisters

9 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning we were driven in lots of Tuc-tucs to the home of the Little Sisters of Jesus, next to the Ganges. Here we were able to have mass with the Sisters in their chapel. It was a delightful service and we were honoured to be able to participate.

Varanasi - Day 2

Varanasi - Day 2

8 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

The ninth day of the trip was spent in Varanasi. Today the itinerary included attending mass and visiting the Jesu Ashram fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus, founded by Little Sister Magdelene 56 years ago.



7 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

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Our third (and last!) early morning started at 5.30am. We met our tour guide who took us down to the River Ganges. We were lucky enough to be able to watch the sun rise from our rowing boat surrounding by many pilgrims at prayer. We were given flowers which held a candle to place into the river, watching them all drift away behind us was a special moment. This beautiful and amazing experience highlighted their dedication and showed how devout they are.

Travelling to Varanasi

Travelling to Varanasi

6 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Last night we spent the evening on the rooftop of our gorgeous hotel which overlooked Agra and the Taj Mahal. We ate a wonderful dinner, with lots of courses, which everyone loved and made our night even more special. There was a sitar player who entertained us with his beautiful music all night long. Eventually, we went to bed as we had to get up this morning at 5.15am to start our 10 hour journey to our next destination of Varanasi.

A day in Agra!

A day in Agra!

5 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning we caught a train at 6 o’clock which went very quickly as we all slept through the 2 hour journey. We were picked up at Agra station by our new guides and taken to The Park Plaza, our new hotel. After an hour of settling in, we made our way through Agra to the Taj Mahal!! We were shown around by an amazing guide called Haji who was really knowledgeable and helped us to take the most beautiful pictures. It really is awe-inspiring and it exceeded all of our best expectations. So much skill and effort went in to building it; every detail was complicated, but perfect. We could have stayed there all day but sadly we had to leave as we had camels ready to take us back to the coach. Then we had a light Indian delicious lunch at our gorgeous hotel.

Sightseeing in Delhi

Sightseeing in Delhi

4 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Today has been an incredibly busy day, we can’t believe how much we’ve seen in such a short space of time! Our day started with a visit to Mother Teresa’s children’s home, Shishu Bhavan. We were lucky enough to see the new building (this was opened last year) which provides enough space for the much needed facilities. Seeing the children was exceptionally moving, it was heartbreaking to see such beautiful, loving children who don’t have a family, but what made it better was how well looked after they are, the sisters do a truly amazing job.

Arrival in Delhi

Arrival in Delhi

3 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

This morning we got up at 3.10am in order to catch a 5am train lasting 7 hours. It was a good first experience on Indian trains for everyone, and we managed to catch up on lost sleep. We were met at the station by lots of luggage porters, who carried our bags on their heads through the madness that is New Delhi.

Sightseeing in Amritsar

Sightseeing in Amritsar

2 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

Last night we dined at one of Amritsar’s finest restaurants and enjoyed a traditional Indian feast, which everyone enjoyed. Afterwards we visited the Golden Temple to watch the ceremony, which takes place twice a day and is when the Holy Book is taken from the Hari Madhir Sahir (Golden Temple) to Akal Takhat (a smaller temple opposite) it was an incredible experience, the temple looked beautiful above the Sacred Pool and we found the respect and devotion to the Sikh religion was awe inspiring.

Arrival in India!

Arrival in India!

1 February 2009 | Read full article and comments

After a long journey we have arrived safely in Amritsar. Both of the flights went well with no delays, even though it was a bit of a rush to get our connecting flights between Delhi and Amritsar. Currently we are six cases down and one broken, but we should be reunited tomorrow morning! Leaving the airport we experienced some of the sights and the sounds of the infamous Indian driving! On arriving at the Ritz Plaza Hotel in Amritsar we were presented with beautiful garlands, which was a really nice welcome.



30 January 2009 | Read full article and comments

Hello from the 2009 team!! We leave tomorrow and we’re all very excited! We can’t wait to fill you in on all the amazing stories, we’re hoping to update the diary each night from Sunday.