Our Return to the UK

After 12 wonderful days in Kolkatta, our Udayan mission has come to an end. We set off for Kolkata airport at 5am this morning and we are still travelling. We are currently an hour into the Dubai to Gatwick flight on an Airbus A380, living the high life (if you’ll pardon the pun!) and are due to arrive back in the UK at 6.30 this evening.

I think it’s fair to say we cannot believe how quickly the 12 days have gone. We have experienced so much, realised how fortunate we are in the UK and had such an amazing time. Reflecting on the trip last night at dinner we were asked what our most memorable moment of the trip would be. To be honest it’s hard to choose just one as each experiences we have had in India have been equally as fantastic. However, all the good causes that the Dominique Lapierre City of Joy Aid support Are places that we will not forget.

We are so thankful to Caroline for choosing us to be a part of the Udayan Mission Team but not only this, as we’re so grateful that she introduced Udayan to the school otherwise we would never have been able to contribute to such a wonderful organisation. Also, we have to thank Chris and Liam for help throughout this trip and to Liam making it even more fun for the kids at Udayan and for us. We are all very excited to share our experiences with our friends, family and the St Joan’s Community. Hopefully we can use our experiences to do even more fundraising for Udayan – it’s a truly great cause!

On behalf of us all, we would like to thank everyone who has followed the trip and commented, it has been great to have all of your support. As we now approach home, we all are realising what a special trip this has been and we hope we can share that with all of you. All that’s left to say is thank you, and see you back in England!

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Brother Gaston's Ashram

Brother Gaston's Ashram

18 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

On the itinerary for today was visiting ICOD, which is a home for women and children who have been affected by sexual abuse, another traumatizing event in their life or who have learning difficulties. When we first arrived, the feeling of peacefulness was the first thing that hit us. The place is surrounded by greenery and within the gates are small gardens filled with flowers and a few cats sleeping in the sun.

Our last day at Udayan

Our last day at Udayan

17 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

Today was our last day at Udayan, most of us had a slightly later rise, however some of us still went for the 5am start. After breakfast, before the older children headed to school, Liam organised for a whole school picture to be taken, after a lot of organising, we managed to get a good shot.

Fiesta at Udayan

Fiesta at Udayan

17 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

Today we woke up ready for a full day at Udayan. After breakfast, we saw the kitchen staff preparing food for lunch and dinner including the killing of a few chickens! We then got started planning our lessons for later in the day and rested so that we could be full of energy for the children.

Our return to Udayan

Our return to Udayan

15 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

This morning was difficult to say the least. We were told to be ready at 5:30 in the morning. Although it was hard, it did allow us to see a different Kolkata. There was barely any people around and it was much less noisy aside from the inevitable beeping from cars. Mrs Weldon ended up knocking on taxi windows and waking up the taxi drivers to take us to church as the coach was running a bit late. The taxi ride certainly woke us up a bit but we arrived in one piece at the Missionaries of Charity Mother House for 6am mass.

Touring Kolkata - part 2

Touring Kolkata - part 2

14 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

Today we woke up reasonably early and prepared our self for Weldon’s tour. Our first stop after getting on the minibus (thankfully air conditioned) was Tagore’s house. This was no ordinary house. It was a massive and very elegant mansion that was built at the peak of the British Raj. Tagore was a multi-talented man it seems. He was an artist, poet, author, philosopher and father. Perhaps one of the most notable effects he had on Indian culture was writing the current Indian national anthem.

Asha Bhavan Centre

Asha Bhavan Centre

13 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

Today was a fairly early start, but it certainly wasn’t as early as 5 am in Udayan anyway! We enjoyed a quick breakfast and were then greeted by a minibus to take us the Asha Bhavan Centre. This is a place that provides a home, medical treatment and education for mentally and physically disabled/differently abled children, particularly children affected by cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Along the way, we saw lots of sights especially when we crossed the New Bridge that crosses the river Ganges (the river we visited yesterday).

Touring Kolkata - part 1

Touring Kolkata - part 1

12 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

After a few very busy days, today was more laid back. We decided to have a much later start this morning and after breakfast we went off in search of local bargains. Firstly, we made our way through the busy streets of Kolkata to a bookshop that stocks English books. We all bought something to bring home with us such as books about the city, Indian culture and Bollywood music. With our purchases in hand, we made our way down to the market, where we had bought our Indian outfits the day before. We split into two groups, one group went into the indoor market to buy pashminas and the other group browsed through the outside stalls, basking in the Bengali sun. The group managed to get a great deal on bits and bobs to bring back to England.

Bye Bye for now Udayan & Titagarh

Bye Bye for now Udayan & Titagarh

11 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

Once again it was a 5am start – for the girls at least! The boys decided to stay in bed for a lie in (well until 8:30am). Over the past three days, we have been called aunty and uncle by the children which has become the norm for us, and what we are so used to answering to! In the girls’ dorm, the younger girls enjoyed giving the girls a makeover before breakfast.

A Day in the Life...

A Day in the Life...

10 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

The day started at 5am which was challenging for most of us. The children were woken by the house staff banging loudly, and the place quickly came to life with the sound of mosques in the distance announcing morning prayer. The children prayed before doing their chores which included sweeping the floor and picking up leaves (patta). Jason and Fin got involved in the kitchen, peeling garlic and breaking chillis. This was followed by an early morning snack of peanut butter sandwiches. The children then had an hour and a half of studying to do BEFORE SCHOOL, meanwhile we enjoyed spending time outside as dawn broke over West Bengal.

Meeting the children of Udayan

Meeting the children of Udayan

9 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

After waking up feeling somewhat refreshed, we were picked up at the hotel to make our way to finally see Udayan. The distance may have only been 30km but it took us just under 2 hours! On this journey there was colour, noise and smells a-plenty! Our driver, although very skilled, was rather scary compared to the tame driving we’re used to at home! At one point he undertook an army truck full of soldiers – armed soldiers! However we arrived unharmed at Udayan, the haven we, as students, had spent 5 years learning and raising funds for. We were finally here.

Namaste from India

Namaste from India

8 February 2015 | Read full article and comments

We have arrived in India! After 13 hours travelling, we landed early this morning at Kolkata airport and were driven to the Fairlawn hotel in the Udayan bus James had sent for us. We experienced a slight glimpse of the chaos of Indian traffic and seeing a cow in the middle of the road is definitely not a sight we are used to seeing. Although we have been told the roads may be livelier tomorrow, a weekday.

Welcome

Welcome

24 January 2015 | Read full article and comments

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the St Joan of Arc Udayan Mission 2015 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 diary (where technology allows) written by the students along with photographs.