After the initial introduction to the context of Honavar and the SARPI Project, the volunteers decided their place of voluntary service. Some inserted themselves in Balwadi (Sarpi Kindergarten), some others in Pedro Poveda School, others in Library and Mobile library and two others were fashion designers and had fixed work in Kurta Project.
The evenings were spent in other work responsibilities. Some volunteers conducted spoken English classes for different age groups while others offered computer classes both in Sarpi and as well as in Poveda School. Around one hundred students benefited from these classes. There was a good response for these classes even though it was for just fifteen days. Around one hundred students and adults enrolled for them.
As days went by there was a good interaction among the children and the volunteers. The students flocked to Sarpi and Poveda School after their usual school hours, so full of enthusiasm. Language posed no problem, as communication took place through body language and gestures with the joy of giving and receiving. The children enjoyed the different games and group dynamics conducted by the volunteers along with learning English.
The Sarpi project team felt that the experience flowed smoothly. The moments of living together, sharing and caring, exchanging news and views, moments of serious work and spontaneity in things. A time to learn and to unlearn things through cultural interaction, giving and receiving .... all these moments were sacred moments. Although each one may have brought their own cultural baggage and expectations, somehow all blended well.
There was much interaction with the children and staff of the Poveda School, the members and staff of the library and the mobile library, exposure to the different schools, interaction with children of the neighbourhood of Poveda school, the women and staff of the Kurta project, the children and staff of the Sarpi Balwadi, the children of St. Pedro Poveda parish and the Sarpi neighbourhood.
Some exposure and experiential activities were also offered to the volunteers such as a session of Yoga, a talk by a member of the Bramakumaris, an invitation to her house to celebrate ‘Raksha Bandan’ festival, exposure to a Hindu wedding, an invitation to have tea at a Hindu neighbour’s house for an exchange of views, sports for youth and adults in the parish, visiting the local families, visits to the local market, the beaches, temples, classes of Kannada language, classical dance, bollywoood dance, the art of applying of Mehendi (henna), the experience of making some local sweets together, and so on.
The last day for the farewell programme, each class performed along with their teachers. The bonding was complete with chatting, laughter, joking, fun, games etc. The experience was very full and rich for the volunteers, the beneficiaries of their services and for the Sarpi Project team and staff. It was difficult to say goodbye.
Elizabeth D'Souza, from Honavar