At morning assembly certificates from Dundalk Institute of Technology were conferred on 7 of the 9 successful students of Providence who had attained the required standard in English, Home Science, Computers, Confectionery, Beauty Care and Screen Printing.
This Irish qualification had been organised by Marie and Claire.
Visited some of the homes in Nongmynsong
after class. Walked there with the children (1 hour) over very hilly and
difficult terrain. Split into 2 groups and each visited 5 or 6 homes. Each house
was a jolt to our normal sense of
basic comfort. We were welcomed,
always made sit down and had a short chat with
the mother and other
children. An honour to be asked into their homes and the
visits only increased our admiration for the kids. With darkness falling
quickly and a long journey home, we took a taxi back to Providence. It still
took a long while – Rs100 (Euro 1.50 for the 5 of us.
All back in Providence at 5.45 that evening and in an organised way,
our experiences and insights of the day. Brought journals up to date
wrote up lesson plans for
tomorrow. This is our usual routine from 5.30
till dinner – sharing, journal,
lesson plans and reflection. Dinner at 7.30
and a chance to chill out, but
always head on the pillow by 10. This is
when the next day
We rise each morning at 7 and breakfast at 7.30. At 8.30
assembly, all of us are welcomed by the kids with a garland around our necks –
almost 300 enthusiastic faces in front of us.
Got a quick tour around all the
trades and then each settled into his own. Immediately at 10.30 classes began –
all anxious about the prospect. The Class 4 groups at first and it went well. As
the rest of the morning progressed, the confidence grew. Still KG class is the
most demanding one. By the end of the day, nerves were calmer – now we know the
standard and what we can do and what is needed in our preparation. A great
feeling of energy in the room as the work goes on. Serious work being done with
all the class groups from KG to Class 5.
Sunday morning we flew northwards from Kolkata to Guwhaiti, Assam
– 1 hour flight. Very warm at 27 degrees. From the airport we took 2 Sumos (Jeeps) with
the luggage on top. Drove along busy level road for an hour and then started to
climb.Much road works being done – removing corners – resulting in clouds of
dust. Luckily, no holdups along the way. Jungle on both sides now as we climbed
and twisted with the terrain. Stopped at Nongpoh after 2 hours for lunch.
Continued climbing for another 2 hours and arrived at Providence in Shillong at
5.45 – 4 hours of driving. Greeted and welcomed by Br Steve, some of the kids
and teachers. Students insisted on carrying all our bags to the rooms. Glad and
relieved to be at journey’s end.
Gathered with Br Steve in the large room of Providence and saw where we would
teach. Now, it is becoming all more real. Br Steve went through some of the
details, the general background of the kids and what he hoped for the 2 weeks. A
certain nervousness about the teaching tomorrow, naturally. Final preparations
and lesson plans done out for Class 4 at 10.30 in the morning. Shared dinner
with the Brothers in the Scol. Turned in early –tired after the travel and
apprehensive about the morning.
After a late breakfast on Saturday, our two guides (former
students of St Mary’s) took us by auto-rickshaw to the banks of the river
(Hoogley) and then a ferry down to Howrah and its gigantic bridge. The size and
crowds along and around the 15 platforms in Howrah rail station were amazing.
Then through the flower market and walked over Howrah Bridge – crowds
everywhere and many carrying large heavy loads on their heads. Took the local
bus (transport of the poor) to the city centre and Newmarket – Rs60 (1 Euro)
for the 10 of us. A quick lunch and then a Metro to the Home for the Dying
Destitute in Kalighat where we donated some medical equipment. Jim Maginnis
brought us to meet some of the patients (100). Most have no family connections
and were found alone dying/very ill on the streets or in the railway stations.
A moving visit. Darkness falling rapidly as we made our way through the rain
back to St Mary’s. The Kolkata experience is a shock to the system and provided
a foundation for our stint of work in Providence.
All arrived safely in Kolkata (including luggage) and without
incident early on Friday morning (Nov 2).
All very tired when we reached St Mary’s, Dum Dum after that unique first encounter with India life. Went to Motherhouse in the evening and gathered around Mother Teresa’s tomb after
viewing her sparsely furnished room. We joined many volunteers and the
Missionaries of Charity for the 4.30 Mass. Afterwards met up with Jim Maginis
and he led us through the narrow crowded streets of the Muslim quarter as
darkness fell. All phoned home after a simple evening meal in Jojo’s. Rain
began to fall heavily as we made for the Metro back to base. Still busy streets
and stalls around St Mary’s. Very easy to fall asleep that