Ruth - April 2009
30th April 2009
“Here is some thoughts that stuck with me from India...absolutely loved it out there and definitely want to go back!
Being out working with the children in India has given me more passion for my job as a social worker back in the UK. The Love the One motto 'one child at a time' reminds me how each child is invaluable. I have taken the vision back with me to the children that I work with... although I really want to go back to India and work with the children there!
Really enjoyed serving dinner to the kids - and Cat and Mary told us at the end of the camp that this had really touched something within the Mercy Home Mum and Dads as they saw us serving the children that others reject. Made me think of the whole philosophy of 'being caught not taught'... it’s what we do sometimes more than we say!!
Also along these lines - were demonstrating play a lot during the week - played musical chairs with about 90 kids crazy!! They loved it - then during lunch time we came back and saw that some of the Mercy Home Dads and the the children were playing it again together - so wonderful to see as they caught the idea that they had seen and are using it!!
Seeing both sides to India - highs and the struggles - it is not easy to work in a cross cultural setting and although it is amazing out there is can also be a real struggle. It is so important for us to encourage Cat and Mary in whatever way we can as they continue to work hard for the children. It was good for me to see both sides, how it really is.
Beautiful kids!! Amazing Mercy Home parents!
It was Shalil’s first time at translating at a camp... he was such a natural and such a gift to the UK team!
No one got ill - didn’t think this through until I got home but that never happens in India - amazing!!
Seeing the first stone being planted for Kidz Haven...wow!
Hearing that the parenting course was such a success that it has now become a pre-requisite for those wishing to become Mercy Home parents. Hearing story after story about Cat and Mary’s journey in India has inspired me to create my own stories with what I can achieve with my life.
Thanks for letting me come!!”
Summer Party 2 - April 2009
29th April 2009
Not to be outdone by the 1st summer camp, Mercy Homes' Summer Camp Team B was held in Kottayam, Kerala. A UK team flew out for two weeks to help run the camp and see the work of Love the One for themselves. The party was for 15 Mercy Homes; 30 parents and around 110 children.
The aim was two fold – to help support, encourage and teach those caring for poor and orphaned children in India, and to give the children themselves a 4-day camp holiday full of fun, games, love and laughter which they will never forget.
Dr. Mary and Dr. Cat both continued to lead and teach the Parenting and Child Health Course, with the fantastic help of Liz as the tutor for parenting, and Dr. Pete (GP) and Dr. Jenny (paediatrician) as the medical teachers. Nimmie once again was excellent as our Malayalam teacher and translator. The course was very well received by all the Mercy Home Mum and Dads – they were able to share the difficulties they had been facing and look at problem solving together, with many practical strategies being taught as to how best parent a traumatised child. The final session was quite emotional as the parents shared with us what had been an intense but rewarding four days, and how valued they felt that a team would take the time to come and share skills and teaching with them.
500 metres away, the team led by Andy and Luisa ran activities for the 110 Mercy Home children who had attended the camp. With another camp also running on the site, we had to make sure we both out-funned them, and out-sung them! Andy led the crowds and the children were clapping, dancing and singing, oblivious to the heat and the humidity affecting the team.
Steve and Claire both gave moving talks, to which the children paid complete attention. Ella, only 7 years of age, danced and played with the children, as well as leading a session of 'Ms. Motivator.' She belied her age throughout the camp; for her the language barrier wasn't a bar to communication. Dr. Jenny and Dr. Pete also came down throughout the camp, and during one evening session – with their hidden talents - produced a puppet show which one child exclaimed was 'the best puppet show I've seen in my life!' (Maybe also the only puppet show they had seen but well done guys!!)
One of the most moving parts of the experience was the real gratitude the children and the parents had regarding the efforts of the volunteers from the UK, Love the One included. They were taken aback at how young some of the volunteers were, yet they'd put in the effort to give a week to helping look after these underprivileged children in India. Parting at the end of the camp was a sad occasion, and tears were seen on both sides as the children and parents made their weary way home.
Summer Party 1 - April 2009
18th April 2009
Love the One recently held a summer party at Trivandrum in Kerala, for 8 Mercy Homes in the area, around 100 children in total. The format was very similar to the Christmas party, with singing, dancing, craft, free play, a talent show and lots of fun games. However the difference with this party was that whilst the children were having fun the Mercy Home parents were able to participate in Love the One's first ever Parenting and Child Health course.
Despite a few initial teething problems in holding a party 6 hours away from our base, activities were soon underway. The team led the singing beautifully, with the angelic voice and pink guitar of Lucy really proving a hit with the children. Josh was an invaluable help to the team, and with the help of Shalil as translator, really got the children participating and enjoying the moment. Ruth and Hannah shared some very poignant personal stories which really encouraged the children, and provided some great craft activities, painting tee-shirts, journal decorating etc.
A shining light in the team, Molly was clearly the children's favourite. Only 12 years of age, Molly was a wise head on young shoulders. She was younger than many of the children participating, yet got the respect and love of them all. The children were chanting her name, and despite the language barrier, Molly really engaged with the children. Having Tom, her dad, there demonstrated in a way more powerful than words what it means to be a loving parent.
The children will never forget their afternoon of mini-olympics that Josh, Shalil and Andy put on for them... boisterous games of Dodge Ball started off the proceedings, followed by lemon and spoon races. Soon came apple bobbing followed by 'find the sweet in the flour' providing some hilarous moments, and lastly the popular competitive musical chairs! Medals and trophies all round meant the children went away with some incredibly special memories.
With events going on at two sites, Tom Murphy, Cat and Mary's pastor from Trent Vineyard, Nottingham (UK) provided a fantastic service of linking the two groups together and keeping everyone updated with how the camp was progressing. He also spoke at both events and shared his vision for the work of Love the One, affirming his support for the fantastic work done so far by Dr. Cat and Dr. Mary. The team were so pleased to have Tom out in India with us, to see both the challenges and the successes happening daily for Love the One.
The inaugural Parenting and Child Health course was run and taught by Doctors Mary and Cat with Katie as an extra tutor for the parenting course and Nimmy as translator and teacher. Over the 3 days topics were covered to help best equip the Mercy Home parents in how to best bring up children who are often from traumatic and difficult backgrounds. The Mercy Home parents were very receptive and also appreciated the opportunity to discuss with other Mercy Home parents the challenges they face and encourage each other in their valuable role. It was lovely to see each set of parents presented with a medical box which they're now able to use to give basic medical care to the children in their home. Special thanks goes to St Peter's School in Solihull (UK) who generously collected money to buy each Mercy Home their own medicine box.
After 4 days the party came to an end, but each child went away feeling loved and cared for, each received their own special present, and have had some very special memories which we are sure they will treasure for life.
We'd like to thank all of you who helped donate to make this party happen, and especially the incredibly hard working team that came out from Nottingham which made it such a memorable occasion for the children.
Hannah - April 2009
8th April 2009
"Here are some of my highlights of my trip to India...
During the kid’s camp, we had power cuts every evening so we had to be creative in what we did during that time. For me, they were really key times in the week as the team had to think more on their feet. One evening, it was pitch black apart from light coming from the projector, and we got all the kid’s sitting down. We decided to sing as a team with the children... to see these kids who’ve been abused, abandoned, etc, being so full of joy was just an amazing and moving experience.
Many of the children had never done craft before like we do them with children all the time here so it was so exciting to use glitter glue, tissue paper, parachutes etc.. It was really moving also seeing the girls who were at the camp over the course of the week relax and become more involved in the games and everything. Girls in India are generally encouraged to be quiet and reserved but as the week went on the girls really enjoyed the freedom of being to freely laugh and have fun.
For me personally, being in India made me realise just how much I’m used to having exactly what I want when I want it back in the UK. Yet Cat and Mary are so much of the time at the mercy of other people’s decisions and timings, they have to continually have so much grace and patience and a totally different way of working. Before I think I had a bit of a rose-tinted view of working overseas in a different culture but the reality is it is hard, you have to be so flexible and have enormous amounts of patience, especially if you’re a woman. You have to get used to sweating continuously and have to pick your battles really wisely and strategically- which means swallowing your pride and opinions over and over again for the sake of not creating anymore barriers between you and the people around you.
Thank you for allowing me to have this experience."