Venture #charity#helpinginneed #experiencingnewculture #naturalremedies #ancient traditions all began!
Children’s Village Project Ipswich – India 1992
Charity work is always something I enjoyed, and that was clear from a very young age. There is so many opportunities out there to donate your time, money or simply items of clothing to benefit others for worthwhile causes within the UK or overseas.
I wanted to support so many charities in my youth, but something always got in the way whether it was study, work or even family commitments.
My first experience of charity work was at the age of 16 years old where I attended Stoke High School. It was announced that any student from the age of 16 were offered a chance to be selected to represent their secondary school in building homes for orphan children in Southern India.
I leap at the chance without really thinking it through, but all I could think of ‘it was a chance of a lifetime’ to house vulnerable, underprivileged children in need of our help. Even though I was only 16 at the time, totally naïve to what we would be facing, plus wasn’t sure how this was even be possible being so young ourselves. All I knew was they needed our help more than I did. This was a massive step to take but I felt ready.
So the adventure began and so did the selection process….
The selection process was very long and drawn out but probably the hardest part of this trip for me. I was never an academic child, so wasn’t sure or confident that I would have the skills they were looking for. Being very artistic and creative wasn’t the kinda CV I felt would land me a chance of a lifetime. Students and teachers were selected from various schools around Ipswich to be put through their paces over the next few weeks.
Months had passed and the news broke very rapidly amongst the applicants, that students were now selected and we would be notified by formal letter within the post. I don’t think I have ever experienced, even to this day, the nerves that I felt then eagerly awaiting that dreaded letter. It didn’t help the fact I had lied to my parents for months about what I had just signed myself up too. All I was hoping is that the feeling of being ‘Proud’ would over shadow the feeling of disappointment and not giving them a chance to come to terms that I was flying to one of the poorest countries in the world for 6 weeks.
Letter arrived….I done it….not sure how…but I was going to India!
I still don’t actually know to this day how my parents felt at the time because we were all in a state of shock. Obviously, I know now how proud they were and secretly I think they hoped it would make me less idle on my return.
After the selection process was finalised, the reality of what we were about to endure was overwhelming but in a positive way.
We all attended lessons at Suffolk College to teach us how to do the basics of building brick walls, carpentry and painting. On top of all this we each had a role to play in fun raising the balance funds that was outstanding to support this project, one of my donations was made from the Princes Trust. We would attend other functions such as Rod Stewart concert which was being held at The Ipswich Town Football Ground to help raise our additional money.
After a few months preparing for this trip the time had come to leave the comforts of our own homes. It was time to face the children of similar ages to us, had to live with day to day without even the basics such as food, water, soap, toilet paper or even a bed.
This culture shock hit us all and being so young, we didn’t have the life skill set that you learn throughout life to deal with our emotions correctly, but we were a team and together we were STRONG.
This was the most amazing trip and experience of my life, not just for obvious but it was ‘Life Skills’. Taking things for granted, relying on parents to do everything for you or even materialistic items that you just assume everyone has…..reality is for most families this isn’t the case.
We all had our ups and downs throughout the trip suffering illnesses, hygiene issues, life threatening wildlife, soaring temperatures which all made building work increasingly difficult with little shelter. Despite all the odds, we accomplished our goal of building 12 homes for orphan children between us all.
My proudest moment of this trip wasn’t the day we completed the homes, but the moment when we saw the children’s faces when presented with their new Home. I think you could hear the laughter, singing, tears and dancing for joy for miles.
Our journey didn’t end their, I formed a great friendship with a young man who was in the team based in India who’s task was to take care of us all called Sundara. We kept in touch for a few years after the trip but unfortunately life got in the way and we lost touch.
I have been very blessed that the line of work I was in for 11 years upon leaving school allowed me to continue supporting young and vulnerable people all across the world.
Since this trip I have donated my time to other organisations such as becoming a ‘Special Police Constable’ then promoted to sergeant at the Suffolk Constabulary. Now, my time is spent creating beautiful Celebrant Weddings or Planning their ‘Big Day’. Also I get the opportunity to support fantastic charities again. My current project is helping St Elizabeth Hospice in aid of a friend who lost her husband Andy Wise to cancer. The care that he received whilst at the Hospice was outstanding. This was a great comfort to his wife and two small children at the time to know his was at peace on those last remaining days. So to raise awareness of their organisation and support other families with similar stories I am hosting a Winter Wedding Charity Ball at Kersey Mill.
Read my story from the Newspaper clippings attached and my journey captured in these photos.