Week 2 in Ozhalur

This week we had our first school visit. We spent the whole of Monday planning and preparing resources for such an occasion. We lost three international members of our team though as they were carted off to hospital to be put on IV drips as they were severely dehydrated. We did, however, manage to get a lot done despite a breakdown in communication between nationals and internationals. So on Tuesday 30th we climbed aboard an auto and headed to school to teach girls in 10th and 11th (Year 11 and 12) about female empowerment. Our skit about female empowerment included scenes about being bold, standing up to boys when they cat-called in the street, not being disheartened by bad grades and having the will to try harder next time and being bold enough to say to husbands that they have the right to work once they are married. It turns out we hadn’t planned enough material. Everything ran a lot smoother than we could ever have imagined and we had budgeted time to organise what we thought would be hundreds of children. In the end we only had just over 170. We added in lots of games and our nationals were incredible at improvising and giving speeches on having confidence and motivation. We had the day off on Wednesday 1st – a much needed rest after the stress of Monday. We managed to find a DVD shop in Chengalpattu that sold films in English so in the evening I watched Pirates of the Caribbean for the very first time. Thursday 2nd was also a quiet day. We spent the day making resources for our next school visit on Friday afternoon. Despite a huge downpour that I and a few members of the team narrowly missed, which drenched everyone else, we all made it in one piece to C. Allison School where we taught roughly 130 girls in 8th, 9th and 10th standard about careers awareness. Unfortunately we ran out of time so couldn’t deliver all our planned activities but we managed to raise much needed awareness about careers other than medicine, engineering and law. We also taught the girls which subjects they would need to study in their final years of school and at university in order to be qualified for these jobs. Saturday was a quiet rest day after our weekly computer class from 10-1am. I ended up doing henna, or Mahendi, as it is known here on Leah which led to me doing henna on 3 of the local girls from the begging community. On Sunday we headed to Mahabalipuram to the beach! It is roughly a 45 minute bus journey away and it was a really nice break from Chengalpattu. We arrived just before 1pm and headed straight to the beach where we tried fresh coconut water. It tastes 100% better when it comes from a fridge! We then escaped the scorching sun in search of food and managed to find a restaurant that Fay had already been to with the last batch of volunteers. The food was really good and although Western food was on offer I stuck to Indian cuisine. I’m glad I did as Leah ordered spaghetti with chicken and she said it tasted absolutely foul! We spent the afternoon shopping and buying gifts. The town is a lot more touristy than anywhere else I’ve been since arriving here and it reminded me of an out-of-season Pokhara with streets filled with traveller’s trousers and embroidered elephants (of course I bought both)! After wearing ourselves out we got some cold drinks. I had an iced cappuccino and a banana lassi which really reminded me of being back in Besisahar. On the way bus back to Chengalpattu I played Candy Crush with the man sitting next to me technology is always breaking down barriers! When we got back to Chengalpattu, Fay and I went shopping and I ended up buying the most beautiful electric blue saree which I cannot wait to wear on Holly’s birthday! All in all, it’s been a very productive week and I am glad that we’ve finally managed to get into some schools!

Lots of love as always,

Emma xxx