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Going to India

There are many things I want to do in 2012, one of which is to travel and see more of the world.  Of course this is always one of my dreams, one of my goals, one of my desires.  There isn’t a place in the world where I wouldn’t like to visit at least once.  In the past few months, I’ve been looking forward to the Chinese New Year because I knew I would have time of work and I wanted to take the chance to see another part of the world.  I considered taking a trip to Vietnam or Thailand, both places I really would love to see. But time flew by, I hadn’t made any plans or organized anything and I wasn’t quite sure what would be going on with my work situation or my finances.

Last month, I learned of opportunity to travel in a different way and see a completely different part of the world.  A place I really don’t know much about, but as always, any new place is a place I’m willing to go.  Somewhere where I can guarantee the sights, sounds, smells and tastes will be different from anything I’ve ever experienced.  Not necessarily to see a tourist area, not a tourism trip.  But an opportunity to see the true lives of the people, experience the true feel of the country, and a chance to serve.

I learned a couple who attend my church, and also run a non-profit organization that serves underprivileged around the world, were organizing a trip to Bangalore, India over Chinese New Year.  Travel with purpose and see some place new, that is all I needed to know, I was sold.  There were some logistical issues that needed to be resolved before I committed to the trip, but everything, amazingly, fell into place and I am leaving on Saturday for 8 days in Bangalore, India.

I decided to blog before leaving on my trip, to give you a little background information on where I’m going and what I will be doing.  Then you can anxiously sit and wait for my return to hear more and see pictures.

Honestly, we don’t really have set plans when we are down there.  The people I’m going with have many contacts in Bangalore and the surrounding areas.  We will be working while we are down there in what ever areas we are needed, but we aren’t exactly sure until we show up and they put us to work what we will be doing.  There is an orphanage where we will be visiting and serving, Lara, who is organizing the trip, has a medical background and has often provided medical care on her trips down there.  The people we will be visiting with and helping out, it whatever areas they need, are mostly Dalits in villages around the city of Bangalore. As you may know, India has a caste system. Dalits are the lowest caste in India.  They are the “untouchables”, the poorest of the poor.

Bangalore (or Bengaluru) is the capital of the state of Karnataka, which is in the southern part of India.  With a population of about 8.5 million people, it is the 3rd most populous city in India. The average high temperatures in January are 80-85 Fahrenheit or 27-29 Celsius.  The lows are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees Celsius.

From what I hear, India should be it’s own continent.  Everyone I know who has been there says it is completely unlike any other place on earth.  I have been told that coming back to Shanghai is a relief because everyone is so civilized and the traffic is so calm, and there are actually traffic laws which people follow.  I hear that I will be throwing away the shoes I wear while I’m there because the streets are so vile and disgusting that my shoes will be destroyed and no amount of cleaning will make me want to wear them again.

So… really I don’t know what my trip has in store for me.  I’m relying on the knowledge, connections and organization of others.  I’m going without expectations and with my only plan is to not have a plan.   Keep me and the group I’m going with in your thoughts and prayers.  It should be an exciting journey,  and I will share in detail my experiences when I return.

Below is a piece from Gathering Together‘s website about the India trip:

In the villages just outside the city of Bangalore (in the state of Karnataka), GT partners with locals to support Faith Baptist Children’s Home (FBCH), where many orphans are taken care of. Through the generous donations of our supporters, we have been able to start a vaccination program, help dig a well to provide clean water, purchase shoes for the children, and then return to give booster shots. During the service trip in September, 2009, we were also able to vaccinate the children in 3 villages and build relationships with the village leaders in order to return in June and do some more health education projects. Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH) also followed up on testing some villagers with symptoms of TB. BBH then registered the people with TB for the government program that provides free TB medication. There were also 2 groups of teachers sent and partially supported by GT that trained over 200 locals in the surrounding area.

This area is very impoverished and people lack the very basic necessites of life. Also, many of the people we are helping here are in the lower castes or are dalits (untouchable caste), so there is very little opportunity to improve their circumstances on their own. GT’s focus is to find sustainable ways to help people so that they can then help others. One way we are doing this is to help some of the children at the orphanage and villages obtain a higher education. Through our medical assistance we hope to improve the health of the next generation so they are able to better support their families and be educated on how to maintain their own health. This also helps families by reducing the need to spend as much money on the care for sick children and other family members.

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