DAYS 9 and 10

DAY 9
We woke up early at Udayan, ate breakfast and then went to play with the children before their lessons started. The older girls in particular loved practicing their English with us, and asked us lots of questions.

Once lessons began, we taught Classes 1-4. We particularly focused on their numeracy, teaching counting in English and even practicing times tables with the older children. Sometimes the language barrier made it difficult, but the teachers were happy to translate. After a while, we understood how we could communicate best with them. It was a lot of fun for all of us.

Later in the afternoon we visited a hospital for leprosy sufferers run by Mother Teresa’s Brothers, the Missionaries of Charity, which was a short drive from Udayan. It was quite a shocking experience but one we will not forget. It became clear the horrible things the children at Udayan will have experienced before they joined the school.
In the evening, we took part in a show the children at Udayan put on for us. The children performed a traditional Indian dance, sang a song written by the children themselves, and played several instruments. We on the other hand…performed the Cha Cha Slide, sang Do Re Mi and Anna and Kirsten sang “Hallelujah”. We finished off with a short dance to a popular Indian song. Unfortunately, we couldn’t perform two more songs due to a technical hitch!

After the show, the staff at Udayan prepared a meal for us on the rooftop of one of the buildings. It was decorated beautifully and we were looked after really well. We were really sad to leave!

DAY 10
We have spent our last full day packing and relaxing, as there was a General Strike across India. At lunchtime, we walked up to The Oberoi Hotel to have drinks. The hotel was incredible and we loved taking it all in.
This evening will we have a farewell meal and an early night, ready for a 5:30am start tomorrow morning to come home!
We are all excited to come home and see you all!

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DAY 8

DAY 8

18 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

Today we returned to Udayan and all the smiling children! We started the day individually teaching groups of children and helping them with their numeracy. We worked with children from nursery age to class 4.

DAY 7

DAY 7

17 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

We had an early start today for a 6am Mass at The Mother House with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. It was a very calm and peaceful experience that emphasized the impact Mother Teresa has even today. That was followed by a visit to Mother’s tomb, her room and an exhibition of her life.

DAY 6

DAY 6

16 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

We survived the ‘tour of all tours’ today. We had an air conditioned bus which took us around some very interesting famous sites. We first stopped off at the Botanical Gardens, where the Guinness World Record holding Banyan Tree is located. This is one single tree whose roots have spread to form numerous trees; you have to see it to believe it!! Next was the monument erected in remembrance of those who died in The Black Hole of Kolkata where 123 out of 146 men died. It is placed in St Johns churchyard. Our last part of the tour was at the Queen Victoria Memorial which consisted of a huge marble building that had an exhibition inside. It also had beautiful gardens that we enjoyed walking through. It has become clear to us all that Kolkata was once a beautiful city as evidence of grander times can be seen everywhere.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and visiting the market again. We are looking forward to a nice early 5:30 start tomorrow morning as we are all going to Mass at a very special place.

DAY 5

DAY 5

15 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

Today we met Brother Gaston which was a brilliant experience. He was a very inspirational man with many stories to tell. His interfaith ideology defines his way of life, which he shares with the many members of ICOD community. The women who live in the community with Gaston had all undergone traumatic experiences. The centre provided a safe haven for them, where they receive care 4 hours a day. After visiting some of the residents we walked over to the House of Prayer, where Gaston went on to tell us how he came to be in India. We were amazed to hear that he lived by choice in the slums, and was in fact the inspiration behind Dominique Lapierre’s ‘City Of Joy’. What was most incredible was his commitment to his mission; when he first arrived in India he spoke none of the native languages, and survived by relying mostly on the goodwill of the slum dwellers. It truly was a memorable visit.
We look forward to the ‘tour of all tours’ tomorrow led by Mrs Weldon around Kolkata. Hopefully you will hear from us tomorrow evening!

DAY 4

DAY 4

14 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

Today we visited the Asha Bhavan centre for handicapped children. It was an inspiring experience where we met lots of really sweet children.

DAY 3

DAY 3

13 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

We woke up early to the numerous sounds of Udayan. The day began with breakfast and playing with the children.

DAY 2

DAY 2

13 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

We arrived at Udayan for the first time today to the warmest of welcomes from both the children and the staff. It was lovely to see just how important this trip is to them as well as us. We arrived to the children singing Morning Prayer followed by refreshments under a big banner saying ‘welcome friends of Udayan’. They presented each of us with handmade floral chains to wear, and soon after James (founder of Udayan) arrived to greet us. After being shown our rooms, we began the tour around the school. Each classroom we entered performed what they had learnt in song form, which they enjoyed performing as much as we enjoyed watching.

Udayan

Udayan

12 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

The third day of the Indian pilgrimage was spent at Udayan.

The group were unable to publish their diary entry today due to technical difficulties at their current accommodation. Please check back tomorrow when hopefully they will have posted the article!

DAY 1

DAY 1

11 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

After a 6 hour flight to Dubai, a 2 hour stop over and a 4 hour flight to Kolkata, we have arrived. The journey was incredibly long and we are all very tired. The drive from Kolkata to our hotel, in a mini bus we were lucky enough to have used sent from Udayan, was bumpy and loud to say the least! The traffic in the city was a hundred times worse than London, if that’s even possible to imagine. We loved seeing all the different sights that the small part of Kolkata we travelled through had to offer.

Departures

Departures

10 February 2013 | Read full article and comments

It is with great excitement and anticipation that we leave for India today. I don’t think any of us can actually believe that we are off to visit Udayan – the place that much effort has gone into raising funds for since we joined St Joan of Arc six years ago. It will be great to see James, the staff and children of Udayan in particular the work of the home and how our money has helped the children.

Welcome

Welcome

13 January 2013 | Read full article and comments

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the St Joan of Arc Udayan Pilgrimage 2013 website, in anticipation of our visit to India in February. We hope to be able to provide all our readers with an insight into Udayan by publishing a daily (where technology allows) diary written by the students along with photographs.