Read about Nuala's India experiences.

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With almost a year of living in Anaikatti coming to a close, I realise all I have learnt and experienced during my time here. For those who don't know, I am a volunteer on behalf of Project Trust, at Vidya Vanam school in Southern India. Project Trust is an educational charity which sends school leavers overseas to volunteer in developing countries. The projects are often rural and under funded creating a challenge for the young person involved and an opportunity for them to learn about a culture very unlike their own.


Following a week long selection course, intended to allow the volunteer to learn about Project Trust and for them to be placed in a sutiable project, there is a training week to prepare the volunteer for overseas and on return from the 12 months volunteering, a debriefing course. After my selection I was placed at Vidya Vanam, a rural educational initiative set up to provide a holistic education for the tribal and underprivileged children of Anaikatti. Anaikatti and the surrounding villages are set on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, at the foothills of the Western ghats. This is a beautiful area situated amongst mountains and filled with vast species of wildlife. The picturesque scenery is dotted with collections of coconut trees and banana plantations and sightings of elephants are a daily occurrence. However, this area is filled with many social and political problems, mainly rooted in the poverty of the inhabitants. A key cause of this poverty is unsuitable employment which often results in alcoholism. The brick kilns are the main employer of this area and they offer hostile working conditions which often turn the men to drink. This problem affects everyone as the drunk men fill the streets surrounding the bar, making it unsafe to venture into the village.

Many of the families belong to the tribal caste, they are disadvantaged due to their community. Tribal is classed as one of the lowest levels of the caste system and as a result the tribal people have suffered a lot of discrimination. Recently, the biggest problem is concerning the preservation of tribal culture. Due to the wide scale influences of the west many traditional practices, such as language and culture, are dying out. Luckily, during my time here, I have attended a few traditional tribal functions, including the seer (celebration of a girl's coming of age) and the vallikappu (a function for a pregnant woman before she is due to give birth.) I feel very privileged to have attended these events and been included in what can be a very insular community.

Whilst volunteering at Vidya Vanam I have been involved in a huge variety of work. Due to the ever changing nature of the school, my role has gone from librarian to science teacher to classroom assistant to vocational agriculture teacher. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these positions and approached each one enthusiastically. The children of the school are full of character and always keep me on my toes. They have taught me so much about their area and way of life that I would never have learnt otherwise. I am truly thankful of Vidya Vanam, Project Trust and all of those who supported me through fundraising, as this experience has been one that I will never forget. 

 Parish Meetings -There are about 3-4 of these a year and we're all involved! We discuss the services, events and anything to do with the smooth running of the church.

Keep an eye on the newsletters for info.Craft Group- We meet the second Sunday of the month and we knit , sew, make cards.... and teach each other a thing or two! It all happens with another cup of tea and we bring our packed lunch with us. Anyone is welcome to join in.

The Gardeners-These are the people who fight the weeds in our beautiful gardens. Headed up by Jo we do our best to keep things looking nice and sometimes we have brilliant ideas on how to use the land. For example, we'd like to turn the back garden into an Orchard! Read on....            

CAMPSIE Orchard –  Community Arbour of Meditation, Prayer, Social, Inspiration and Education St Anthony’s congregation have funding to turn  a 20m x 19m piece of land with stunning views to the Campsie Fells and Endrick Valley into a haven for wild life and a peaceful place for the local Christian communities to be inspired through meditation and prayer and for community groups to come and study nature's life cycle and use the views for artistic inspiration.  The boulders and stones will be used to make into a rockery for wildlife and wild flowers, some will be used to build an altar, barbecue and a base for the shed.   The land has been rotovated and levelled and will be sown as a meadow with Eco-clover.  The margins will be sown with wild flowers and the main space planted with a variety of fruit trees and bushes that will provide shade, produce, homes for the birds and, in particular, bees and learning for the community.  The work has started!


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