Albert & Adele Alcock’s visit to Heal January 2006
We have been sponsoring Hafisa for the last 5 years following an earlier trip to Rajasthan in India. It was after seeing the number of children that were either living on the streets or if not living in awful poverty that we wanted to do something to make at least one child’s future a little brighter.
After researching various organisations we decided to sponsor through Heal and hoped one day to be able to meet the child we were supporting – this year it actually happened!
We initially flew to Kerala in South India and spent 10 days touring the area before travelling by train to Guntur. This in itself was an experience and in true Indian style a 20 hour train journey turned into 24 hours! Whilst we would not have missed this experience I would not want to repeat such a long train journey.
Vijayalakshmi, Heal Sponsorship Secretary was waiting on the station platform for us and had been there from the original expected arrival time. It was lovely to be able to put a face to a name after all this time.
Vijayalakshmi took Albert and myself to her home in Guntar for a welcome shower and meal and there we met Vijaya’s husband George, both made us so welcome, we felt as though we had known them for ever not just met them.
Later that day we were driven to Heal Children’s Village approx 15 miles outside of Guntur – this was another experience in Indian travel, it’s no wonder Vijaya and George have a driver rather than driving themselves!
Heal itself was nothing like we had imagined it was like a little piece of Heaven tucked away on that vast dusty plain of Andhra Pradesh. It was set in 3 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with tree’s, plant’s and flowers of all descriptions – ponds with frogs and water lily’s, squirrel’s clambering up and down, sculptures whittled out of fallen branches and proper buildings not the mud huts we had passed on our way through the countryside.
On arrival at the village we were welcomed by Marudhvathi, Co-ordinating Officer and some of the older children who took us on a quick tour of the area around the guest quarters before leaving us to settle in and promising to be back a little later to take us to meet the rest of the children and see the rest of the village. At the time of our arrival the majority of the children were enjoying their weekly treat of watching a film on TV and no one was going to get them away from that!
Later that day we met all the children and it was so nice to meet Hafisa after all this time. We were overwhelmed by the welcome they all gave us – so many happy smiling faces wanting to shake our hands and talk to us. We had brought small gifts for them – hair things, pens, stickers and lollipops and you would have thought we were giving them the earth, the joy on their faces was unbelievable – it was hard to believe such simple small things could mean so much. This was further emphasised when on the last afternoon we arranged for cakes for everyone after school and one little girl in particular just sat looking at her cake for ages as though she didn’t want to spoil it by eating it!
We were amazed at how well most of the children could speak and understand English. Most of the children attend the English Medium School and are taught in English and encouraged to excel in their studies. This was evident in the number of older children going in to school early for extra studies and seeing them all on an evening doing their homework.
We were looked after so well by everyone and we were very sorry to have to leave. We are definitely planning to return and for longer next time!!!!!!!!!
Albert & Adele Alcock
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