Slum Schools, Rainwater Tank, and Bangalore

The team received a nice break from 40 degree weather when we arrived in Bangalore. Temperatures ranged from 25 degrees to 30 degrees with zero humidity. We kick started our two week stay in Bangalore with an orientation where they learned the specifics of their placement choice. They met our amazing partners Asha and Tim, and set out for an amazing race. There were seven clues which had to be deciphered and then completed in teams of two. Sonny and I took this race literally and completed all seven within 2 hours….what we didn’t know is that our team pulled a fast one on us and teamed up against us only to be distracted by some beautiful sight seeing of temples and gardens. They met us at an after party four hours later and I now laugh at the thought of Sonny and I running through downtown Bangalore and taking snapshots with the local busdrivers while the rest of the team leisurely enjoyed their time exploring all that Bangalore had to offer. After this day the team became more than confident to barter for their own rickshaws and desired merchandise while navigating themselves through the crazy Indian traffic.

The team visited the slums of Bangalore two days after arriving and this spiked some intense emotion. Some were inspired to return home and continue fundraising for the slum schools they would be working in while others confessed that they had never seen anything like that ever before and did not know how to react. The important thing is that the team got to see where the kids they would be teaching to come from. The slum schools, called Building Blocks, is an amazing project- currently they run six schools and teach to about 45 students, aged 3 to 5, per school. More than half are given scholarships to receive further education afterwards.

The participants that were not working in these schools were busy building a rainwater tank for a school in a rural village about two hours outside of where we were staying. The shovels were made backwards and thus were extremely difficult to use, however after three days a 6 foot hole was dug. Bricklaying followed by piping took about 3 days to finish as well as the filtration system. Our team was there every step of the way working with two or three other locals who were patient enough to teach us how to build this thing. The tank was built two days early and everybody was extatic to see the final product. All of our manual labor finally paid off. Throughout the eight days it took to build the tank the team also read out loud to the kids during their breaks and received amazing home-cooked lunches from the school.

Our nights were filled with eating Indian Taco Bell, driving rickshaws in Indian traffic (true story I swear), going swimming in pools without chlorine, and watching lame movies like Dinocroc vs SuperGator and Anaconda 3.

We ended our two week stay with a little festival in this village. The chief elder and school principal eagerly thanked us for our hard work, while Karan (our coordinator for this project) explained to the kids how the tank works to provide clean water. The team received flowers in their hair and presents as a thank you from the entire village. We finished the celebration with bubbles and games for the kids. It was hard to leave but everybody walked away knowing that we truly did make a difference in this little village.  What really spoke to me was something the school principal said in his thank you speech and that was, “We are all global brothers and sisters”. This statement reminds me everyday of why I signed up for this trip in the first place.

Throughout our stay in Bangalore the team made some amazing friends, from Asha and Tim, to the teachers and kids we worked with- we will always remember our good times we shared in these schools and crazy adventures we filled our nights with.

The group is now wrapping up their ITT time. After 8 days it will be nice to see the same friendly faces again. Some of the girls headed to Darjeeling to see the mountains and tea fields. The rest of us came to Bombay to party, shop and explore its infamous night life. Some of the girls first stopped in Mysore to check out the gorgeous palaces and temples while others headed to Putta Parthi to check out the Ashram of Sai Baba before coming to Bombay. Only three spots left on the map to check out, Jaipur to see the palaces, Agra for the Taj, and Delhi for Disorientation! It’s hard to believe that there is only one week left on this trip.