Monday, 29 August 2011

Conquering the chapatti!

Tom had gone back to the UK for a few weeks, so to alleviate my loneliness, I was invited round to Susannah’s (a friend from DGS), Annie (her Canadian housemate) and Severine’s (her French housemate) flat for an Indian meal. They live in a really nice apartment in Koregaon Park, just a short walk away from me.

I had been trying hard at home over the previous few days to make Indian chapatti’s and the meal was a great excuse to practice and make some more. I was responsible for making them whilst Sus and Annie cooked Moong Dahl and Paneer Makhani.

Annie rinsing the Moong dahl.

Independence Day

Independence Day on August 15th was a national holiday, however at Deep Griha Society there was a morning ceremony to raise the Indian flag.

I arrived at 8.30am and all the staff were standing outside the building along with children from the Adhar Kendra Programme (sponsored children).
All around the flagpole was rangoli art and flower petals, it was beautiful.

Rangoli art and petals.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Creating awareness and changing lives

The Wake Up Pune initiative was started in 2006 by a few HIV/AIDS charities throughout the city to promote the issue of HIV/AIDS in the English speaking section of the society. Deep Griha Society already has an HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment programme called DISHA which works amongst the Marathi and Hindi speaking sections of the society and Wake Up Pune was a way that they could make sure that every section of society would be targeted. However over time, Wake Up Pune has now become solely run from Deep Griha Society. With the help of overseas and local volunteers, Wake Up Pune runs awareness events all over the city in shopping malls, restaurants, bars, on the street and in Corporate settings.

The first big event that I was involved in was when we took over a shopping mall, Gold Adlabs, in Kalyani Nagar, Pune for a whole day. We joined forces with Deep Griha Society’s DISHA programme and created awareness through disruptive theatre, fun games, knowledge surveys and just being a general presence in the mall talking to the public.

Disruptive Theatre.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dancing like Loons!

Deep Griha Society’s teachers that teach at their English Medium School at their City of Knowledge Programme had a day of teacher training. Instead of giving all the children the day off, all the volunteers were asked to spend the day entertaining them with lots of fun activities such as painting, singing, games, storytelling, movie time, dancing and science experiments.

I was in charge of dancing and I’d spent a few days beforehand gathering my music together in order for the children to have some fun songs to dance to.

It was an early morning start and we left Pune at 8 am, arriving at the school by 9.15am. We were all split into our various activities and given areas of the school in which to do them. I was given the help of another volunteer, Judy. I was quite glad to get some help as I knew that with the children being all very excited, they maybe a handful to control and it would be easier with two people.

Our programme began at 10.15am and all day we had small groups of each year group rotating around the different activities.

With the younger children, we danced to ‘I am the Music Man’, ‘Superman’, ‘The Hokey Cokey’, ‘The Conga’ and ‘The Birdie Song’ all by Black Lace, which was a real blast from the past! With the older ones, we danced to ‘Follow the Leader’ by The Soca Boys and we even taught them ‘The Macarena’! It was brilliant! The children loved it and to be honest, so did we! Even through our lunch break Judy and I were dancing around together like Loons regardless of the fact that we were so hot and worn out!

'The Conga' with Judy in the yellow!

Lavasa trip

For my birthday weekend, I wanted to go away somewhere, just to get out of the city so we went on a bike trip to a place called Lavassa. Lavassa is India’s first purpose built hill station resort about 60km to the west of Pune. It is still under construction and won’t be completely finished until after 2020. Regardless of that you can still visit and it is already popular with Puneites looking to get out of the city into the countryside.

We set off about lunch time from our flat and using google maps on my iPhone, navigated our way out of Pune. The roads were really busy and it seemed to take us over an hour to get to the outskirts of Pune and we only got lost once, which is good considering I was the one reading the map!

The ride out of Pune was really beautiful as it was so lush and green everywhere. There were lots of rice fields, farmers and small villages everywhere. The air was really fresh and it was so nice and quiet!

Surrounding views on the trip to Lavasa

Sunday, 14 August 2011

More celebrations!

The day after Deep Griha Society’s 36th Birthday, was another important day for the charity. It was a day of celebration with two ceremonies taking place, the first was the ‘Breaking the Ground’ ceremony at The City of Knowledge –Vidyanagari and the second was the ‘Inauguration of The Chapel’ at The City of Child.

The Breaking the Ground ceremony was to celebrate the beginning of the construction of a new school building at The City of Knowledge English-medium School.

Everyone who works for Deep Griha and people associated with them were all invited to be part of the celebrations. The ceremony took place next to one of the ruined buildings located on the 15 acres of school land. The focal point was a small square section of ground that was surrounded by Rangoli and covered in Marigold flowers.

Breaking the Ground Ceremony.

Friday, 12 August 2011

My first Sari, feeling glamorous and partying!

It was Deep Griha Society’s 36th birthday in July and they threw a party for all the staff and friends of the charity. The party was an all day event which took place in Abul Kalam Memorial Hall in Koregaon Park, Pune. It was a special day and everyone had to dress up in their best outfits.

A week or so before the event, all the volunteers decided that we would all wear a Sari to the party. As we didn’t yet have any, this meant going shopping for some. So one Monday after work, Kassie (an American volunteer), Susannah (an English volunteer) and I decided to go to Laxmi Road to buy one. Laxmi Road is a 15 minute auto rickshaw ride away from the charity office and is a crazy, busy shopping area in Pune where you can find practically everything you want, for good prices.

It really is an experience going Sari shopping. There are so many shops to choose from and you can’t really see what they have without going inside and having a good hard look.

Before you enter the shops, you have to take your shoes off and leave them at the door. This is very important, not only for cleanliness but it is also a sign of respect. Once inside you are faced with thousands of folded Sari’s on shelves that cover the walls from floor to ceiling. You are usually approached by a sales person who invites you to sit on the soft cushioned floor whilst they start pulling out Sari after Sari and throwing them on the floor to show you. At first it can be bit overwhelming due to the sheer amount of different colours, fabrics and finishes of the Sari’s to choose, especially if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. 

Beautiful Sari's

Thursday, 4 August 2011

My daily life

So what do I do with myself here in India? A while ago, I mentioned that I visited a charity called Deep Griha Society to see if I could volunteer with them. 

‘Deep Griha – meaning ‘Light House’ – is an independent charitable organisation working to better the lives of people in the slums of Pune (India) and several nearby villages. Through a range of family welfare programmes encompassing education, empowerment, health, awareness building and self-help projects; Deep Griha Society (DGS) helps thousands of beneficiaries to give them the skills, confidence and support they need to improve their futures.

Deep Griha Society now runs centres in three slum areas in Pune - Tadiwala Road, Ramtekadi and Bibvewadi. Additionally, Deep Griha Society also runs rural development programmes, through its two major set ups; City of Child in Kasurdi village and Vidyanagari - City of Knowledge in Choufula village. Currently Deep Griha Society’s programmes reach out to 68,527 people. '