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Day 6 India Thursday 20th February 2020

After waking from sleeping on the floor of our school clinic in Varasanadu, the boys showered in the open air on then roof whilst admiring the beautiful landscape and then went for breakfast. This consisted of egg sausages and an Indian pancake which went really well with banana. We then went upstairs into the boys room where the two beds and many roll mats where pushed aside to make way for the sisters and members of the community who where about to give us a speech. The students were given a brief history of the clinic, of how before the clinic the closest hospital was 50km away and they brought a spade with them, as many did not last the trip and were buried by friends and family along the way. Nowadays the clinic serves 12 villages and 22000 people. They showed us the success stories of the past 2 years, with couples showing off babies, and also people who were expecting. It was also good to hear the success of the alcohol programme, with many young men now able to earn salaries for their family again. We learnt about sister Pushpam, a trained doctor who travels from Theni once a week to provide specialist treatment. After the talk, one of the sisters took us on a small tour around the clinic where we were showed the different rooms where patients were consulted, checked and medicated. They also showed us the lab where the test samples so the money we fund for this clinic is being put to very good use. Then we walked around the local village and went inside the local school where the children were very excited to show us what they had been learning about. The village was filled its cotton pods growing on trees that the villagers sell for income and herds of goats being shepherded round. The poverty of this area was very noticeable with many buildings extremely dilapidated and all dirt roads. We befriended a 16 year old boy called Isbani who had finished education and lived alone; as his parents had both died of AIDS related illness, cooking for himself on the far edge of the village. Then we tried a balloon making competition because we had seen the teachers “successful” balloon making which didn’t end too great because many burst, however there were some great creations made like a dog and a fish. Shortly after we played a game of cricket with Isbani which almost led to people being hit on the head by the ball and Ms Turley hitting the ball so far it took 5 minutes to find it! We left the cricket bat with Isbani and had lunch which was chicken, rice, peas and popodoms. After this we then waved nanri (Tamil for thank you and goodbye) to the kind sisters and the clinic and Varasanadu (and Isbani). We then traveled back on the 2 hour trip to Theni, enjoying the lush tropical mountainous countryside of this region. Upon our return to the convent in Theni we rested for a bit, reflecting on the sights and stories we had experienced in Varasanadu. Some of the students went out into the school playground and made friends with the always smiling children, who were eager to know our names, brothers name, sisters name, parents names, aunties name, cousins names, favourite colour and so on, the questions kept coming. We then had dinner kindly cooked by the sisters, of chicken soup, noodles, an Indian fish finger type thing and chips. It was delicious. We then got dressed up in our lunghis and saris, to the delight of the sisters and a few local teenagers. We sat in a big circle showing of our fancy new clothes, and then the sisters sang blessings to us. After this the trainee nurses began folk dancing, and then dragged us up to join them. After a failed attempt of us teaching them splatt, we decided to dance to YMCA, with a bit of freestyle mixed in. After a long fun night we took photos of each other in our fancy attire, and headed to bed with the knowledge we would have to be out of bed at six for yoga at seven. Nathan and Archy


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