Our last night in India

Today is our last day in India before the long journey home tomorrow. We visited the Asha Bhavan Centre which is an excellent home and school for children that have special needs. Here we got taken on a tour which allowed us the opportunity to see the fantastic facilities that are on offer and for us to go into lessons and interact with the children, who were extremely happy to spend time with us. We also visited their on-site craft shop where many members of the group purchased beautiful handmade gifts such as photo frames and pen pots. Sukeshi, the founder of the ABC started her life in poverty and was helped by Brother Gaston to build a new life. Sukeshi used her opportunities to build the ABC into something really special.

We then continued with the rest of our day by visiting Brother Gaston on his Ashram for vulnerable and abused women. Here we heard his inspirational story of how he ended up in India and the work he has contributed to the poor over many years. His life and ministry amongst the poor of Kolkata was the inspiration behind the book ‘City of Joy’. In the book he was changed to a Swiss Priest, partly to save his identity. The Swiss priest became an American doctor for the film and this character was played by Partick Swayze.

Dominique Lapierre, the author of City of Joy, wanted to give the royalties back to the poor of Kolkata. This desire led him to bring a suitcase full of money to Mother Teresa. She declined his offer because she knew of a young Englishman who needed some help funding his new home for the children of leprosy sufferers – Udayan.

And so our journey is complete: Dominique Lapierre writes City of Joy and starts City of Joy Aid, and under the instruction of Mother Teresa starts to fund Udayan (which had earlier been founded under the inspiration of Mother Teresa).

We are now sitting writing the blog before we head over to the Oberoi hotel for drinks as a treat on our final night.

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Farewells at Udayan

Farewells at Udayan

14 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

It was an emotional farewell to Udayan today, particularly, with the girls in 12 Class (Pratima and Rosalie) as these girls won’t be around for the next visit of St Joan’s to Udayan. Both these girls will return home to study nursing at college if their higher exams (taken at 18) are good enough.

Fiesta at Udayan

Fiesta at Udayan

13 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today was our last full day at Udayan and we had the opportunity to travel by bus with the Wesleyiane School students. On our return we were shown the administrative side of Udayan including the doctors office, dispensary, library, stores and computer room. We then had the chance to practice our dances for the evening programme of entertainment.

Our Return to Udayan

12 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Following an early start (4:30 AM!), we made our way to The Mother House to have mass with Mother Teresa’s sisters (The Missionaries of Charity). Once back at the hotel we relaxed, packed and had breakfast. All gifts – including teddies, pens and nail polish – were taken to Udayan today to be distributed before we leave.

Touring Kolkata - Part 2

Touring Kolkata - Part 2

11 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today we went on Weldon’s tour of Kolkata which started with a visit to the Botanical Gardens. We saw the remarkable Great Banyan Tree which is over 250 years old, has 3,600 ariel roots and covers 1.6 hectare. We took a walk around the garden and lakes which was a nice change from the hustle of Kolkata outside.

Touring Kolkata - Part 1

Touring Kolkata - Part 1

10 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today we explored Kolkata as a group. We first walked to the Eden Gardens stadium; one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world. We then walked to the Ganges River where we watched people gather to wash, talk and be blessed. We then took taxis to McDonald’s where we had very authentic Indian chicken nuggets.

Paras Padma

Paras Padma

9 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today we visited Paras Padma – a home for physically and mentally disadvantaged children.

We were greeted with garlands and warm hugs from the children before Ebadat and Mina – the couple who founded Paras Padma. Ebedat spoke to us about their work over chai before giving us a tour of the amazing place they have built up since 2000. We were then shown around the dispensary and the rooms where they carry out physiotherapy and make prosthetic limbs. We had lunch prepared by Mina which was delicious – one of the best Indian banquets any of us had ever experienced.

Udayan & Titagarh

Udayan & Titagarh

8 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today was our last day of our first of two trips to Udayan.

We taught the children their morning lessons in both English and Bengali. Isabella and Holly taught the children human body parts, Tasha and Sian taught geography, Ethan and James played bingo with the children and Fran and Kate taught animals. This was an extremely rewarding experience for both us and the children.

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

7 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Today was our first full day at Udayan. We awoke to the local Mosque’s call to prayer at 5am to and went to join the children for their morning prayer. We then discovered that we were an hour too early!

Meet Udayan

Meet Udayan

6 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

Posting our website blog has been difficult this evening at Udayan.

Today was our first day at Udayan.

Our Arrival in Kokata

Our Arrival in Kokata

5 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

After an easy journey – besides a two-hour delay (which resulted in a free McDonald’s) – we arrived in Kolkata safely this morning. After much deliberation, the number one recommended in flight movie is Trolls staring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. We were surprised to see such a divide between the wealth in Britain and those who live in such poverty in the streets of Kolkata. This divide was made obvious while taking a walk around the streets of Kolkata this afternoon.

Vicky summarises her time at Udayan back in 2015

2 February 2017 | Read full article and comments

With 2 days to go until we depart for Kolkata to visit Udayan, Vicky McMillan who visited Udayan back in 2015 shares her experiences of her time in Kolkata and Udayan.

A Day in the Life at Udayan

A Day in the Life at Udayan

8 January 2017 | Read full article and comments

Taking a look back to our 2015 visit to Udayan, the group created a 12 minute video during their stay of a day in the life of a student at Udayan and is well worth a watch.

Welcome

Welcome

4 January 2017 | Read full article and comments

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the St Joan of Arc Udayan Mission 2017 website, in anticipation of our visit to India in February.
Today is one month before departure and our preparations for the trip are being finalised. I think I speak for everyone when I say we are excited beyond words to be visiting Udayan – a place we have all heard so much about and now we are finally off to visit the children.