Having been close friends with Tim and Renee from before “My name is Kumar” entered their life, I have been able to witness the transformation the involvement with the project has had on their lives. After having heard so much about the life of the children and experienced Tim and Renee’s major efforts in getting the project up and running, I had been wanting to visit the project for a long time.
I’m currently living in New Delhi for an internship at the Danish Embassy, so when Renee announced her arrival for 1.5 month at the project, it provided me with a good opportunity to finally visit. Therefore, I jumped on the plane with a colleague of mine and flew the 2.5 hours to Chennai, where we were warmly welcomed by Renee and the humid heat of Tamil Nadu.
On our first day at the project we went on a road trip to visit some of the students' families. The students look after the children and in return they get their university studies supported by the Care Foundation. However, before we started our round of family visits, we first went to see the new home of the children, which was in the last phases of construction at the time we visited (since then it has been completed, and the children have now moved in).
The layout of the new home makes it possible to divide the children between gender and age groups when they are sleeping, something that the old place was lacking. Furthermore, the number of bathrooms will increase from just 2 before, till 6-7 now. This will be a huge benefit to everyone at the project.
After the visit to the new home our road trip continued. We visited 4 different families, and were warmly welcomed everywhere we went. One of the places we enjoyed a delicious South Indian lunch which included rice, chutneys, egg curry and fresh fish. Other places we were offered fruits, nuts and other local delicacies, such as palm tree beer. It was a huge experience to get a glimpse of rural village life and being welcomed into the homes with a smile.
It's amazing how people who own so little, compared to our Western standards, still makes you feel right at home with their warm smiles and open attitude. What it also shows, is the great gratitude of the parents for the opportunities presented to their sons and daughters by the Care Foundation, which is clear evidence to the good impact the Foundation's work has on the lives of the students and their families.
Day 2 of our visit and the long awaited beach trip for all the children were upon us. We stocked up on fruits, snacks and cold drinks before the busses departed for the beach. The bus trip was loud and full of happy dancing, so the mood was already highwhen we arrived at the beach. The cool breeze from the sea was a pleasant change from the humid heat we had gotten used to.
The children loved the sea, however, none of them had any clue about how to swim. This posed us with a great challenge - how to control 30 energetic children all eager to jump into the waves? Luckily, it turned out that all the children had a healthy respect for the sea, and thus never went out further than they could control.
The hours spent at the beach were amazing - the children loved to play in the shallow waves. When the impact of a wave swept the feet away beneath them, they would cling on to anything within reach, which created a lot of situations where us "grown-ups" found ourselves almost dragged down by numerous children hanging on to every one of our limps - a lot of fun!
Coming back from the beach trip, the children were totally exhausted (and so were we!). Some of them literally fell asleep over dinner - quite a funny sight. It was clear to all of us how much every single one of them had enjoyed the day at the beach.
The last day of our visit we spent at the project, watching the children singing and dancing as part of a summer camp, before heading to the airport for our flight back to Delhi.
Anders & Caroline