Happy Valentine’s Day from Goa

14 Feb

Namaste from Goa,  where I am back in residence at my usual guest house and writing this on the balcony of my room – this is my view – whilst making plans for how I’ll spend the next three weeks.

I arrived here on Saturday evening,  just in time to join the Educators’ Trust India team at a fund raising event at a local restaurant.  Some of the volunteers had taught the children a dance routine,  so they came into the restaurant and performed,  whilst we passed around the hat, sold raffle tickets and ran an auction,  with prizes such as a trip to the local monkey sanctuary or dinner for two at the restaurant.  In a moment of madness,  I bid for the chance to push Ian,  the on-site project manager into the swimming pool … he’s a big guy and it was extremely satisfying to shove him in for the price of c. £70 …

All in all,  we raised nearly £350,  which is enough to buy one of the key items on the charity’s wish list: a mobile water filter,  which they can take around to the various rural slums and use to provide fresh, clean water for the children and their families.  Drinking filthy water from polluted ponds and streams has had some truly horrific health consequences (a little girl I visited in the Panjim hospital last November has, I learned yesterday,  died of kidney failure due to bad water), so it’s great that the tourists’ generosity has led to the acquisition of something so tangible.

Later today, I’m going over to the Leading Light school in order to do some work on the website and to hand over my huge bag of gifts and donations from the UK.  Here’s some of what I brought – all in all, I arrived with 46 kgs of luggage,  of which about half  is for the charity. Again,  I’m grateful for the generosity of my friends and family back home: my mother has set up a monthly standing order for the charity and also gave me some money to buy the #1 item on the “we need it NOW” wish list – head lice lotion.  Another friend donated her Boots Advantage card points,  which I used to buy lots of bottles of hand sanitiser and Liz did loads of printing for me – small gestures but very much appreciated and they will make a world of difference to the children.  

While I’m here,  I want to interview some Goan women for Mother India and to spend some time at the Mother and Baby home and at the HIV clinic – my friends Jim and Moe have arranged for me to interview Sister Jessie,  the nun who runs it.

My taxi driver Satish has kindly invited me to his sister’s wedding next weekend,  so my dance card is filling up – and I will also make a flying visit to Palolem in south Goa (stick “Palolem beach Goa” into Google images and you’ll see why)  in order to catch up with my backpacking friend Natasha.

More next time,  when I can get online again …

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