Brother Gaston's Ashram

18 February 2015

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.

First thing we had to do while we were there was meet the man himself, Brother Gaston. Brother Gaston is the founder of ICOD, among many other amazing things he has done. Br Gaston greeted us like we were old friends, and told us that he was glad that we would meet him despite him being ill. The conversation quickly started flowing after Mrs Weldon asked him ‘what brought you to India’. We hung on his every word as he talked us through his life from when he was six years old, and deciding to become Christian, to him living in the slums of Kolkata with the poorest of the poor after training to be nurse. He explained is unusual mix of accents in his voice including Switzerland, where he was born, French, where he was again working with the poor, and Indian. We all were in awe of the remarkable life he has had and what a selfless and genuinely holy man he is. He told us how important it is to have an aim in life and then God will help us to follow this. He then talked to us about how all religions are equal and all religions just give god a different name. For this reason, he attempted to combine faiths in an interreligious prayer house.

We were then taken on a tour where we got to see some of the residents and more of the beautiful land provided by Dominic Lapierre. As part of the tour we go to see the multi faith house of prayer. A poignant part of which was a surface that reflected different colours depending on where you stood in the room. This highlighted Br Gaston’s belief that different religions are all seeing the same God through a different lens. When we returned to the main house we had another humble yet fantastic meal prepared by our hosts. We then left with the words of this inspirational man still in our heads.

On the way back to the hotel we made a quick stop at the Asha Bhavan Centre, which Brother Gaston had a massive influence in and were unexpectedly provided with refreshments, which included tea, coffee, fruits and lovely Indian pancakes which were served with chopped potatoes. So this became our belated pancake day! Thankfully, we didn’t have another emotional goodbye as the children didn’t see us come in. Once back at the hotel, some of us went for rickshaw ride, seeing as this is the last chance while we are here, and the rest of us started packing.

This evening, we all headed out to China Town to our final meal in India. If we’re honest we don’t think any of us expected the last meal to be a Chinese, but it is was delicious nonetheless. We then made our way back to the hotel to make sure we are ready for tomorrow!

We are all sad to leave India. We have met so many people that are part of such amazing things that it all hasn’t quite sunk in yet. We will all take away so much from this trip and have lasting memories of the wonderful experiences we have had here in India. We came to see how the money that we have raised as a school has changed the lives of others, yet the greatest change we have seen has been within our own hearts.

Bachchan, Bachchan, Bachchan!


Peter Sweeney

@ 1553 days ago

Thank you for all the updates, have a safe journey home and we all look forward to hearing more about your amazing trip and experience.
Best wishes,
Peter Sweeney

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