Chennai

First time in three weeks on my own.

I am staying in a B&B in Chennai. The caretaker only speaks Tamil and there is a young man helping him with limited English – fun adventure!

This morning I am going to attempt to get on a train to Auroville. I say attempt as I do not have a reservation.

It was a bittersweet parting from my Wholefoods Volunteer Team members – we did so much together and formed a strong bond.

At the same time by yesterday I was chomping at the bit to be on my own and have my own adventures.

We each had a number and would sound off to be sure we were all present – now I am a solitary #13!

Looks like a beautiful day outside – just waiting ’till 7:30 for breakfast and then I am off to visit Colours of Nature!

 

Departing Jodphur

This is my final morning with my Wholefoods Team Members.

We fly to Delhi where we will go our separate ways.

I am off to Chennai to visit Colours of Nature in Auroville. This is an Eco- conscious natural dyeing operation.  I am very eager to meet with the founder and see all that he is doing.

Here is a link to the website

http://www.thecoloursofnature.com

My apologies that there are still no pictures – have not had access to fast internet and so it is not possible to upload pictures.

Thar Desert

Sunday in the Thar Desert- we have been visiting projects that have come to fruition through a partnership between Gravis and Traditional Medicinal’s Revive!Project. We have attended the inauguration of a school in one village and a Senna storage facility that also serves as a community center and temporary school in another village.

Today we go out to the Senna fields.

Senna Plant

Rajasthan here we come!

It is 6:25 am on Thursday Oct 9th.

We are in Delhi and getting ready to fly to Rajasthan for the final project with the Wholefoods Volunteer Team Member Program.

We will be working with Traditional Medicinals in the Thar Desert.

On October 7th I got to celebrate my birthday in Varanasi! It was the best birthday ever!

Birthday Cake Varanasi

 

India – first update

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At last a free moment to post an update!

We have all been very busy cleaning and painting while waiting for the playground Wholefoods donated to arrive. It has been stuck at the Bangladesh border for days due to a strike. We have been told it will arrive today!

The 61 children were broken up into 13 groups.

I’d like to introduce you to my group who range in age from 5 to 11:

Priyanka

Dipa

Ripan

And brother and sister Purnima and
Akash

Rocky start!

So a bit of a crazy start to the trip. Last night my flight from Greenville to Newark for today was cancelled five minutes after I printed my boarding pass. The travel agent was finally able to book me out of Asheville to LaGuardia via Chicago for this afternoon!

I am so glad I am leaving a day early to catch my flight to Delhi.

My fellow team members at Wholefoods surprised me with a giant card!

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Wildest India

A friend recommended this 5-part series by Animal Planet. Thought I would pass it along….  Wildest India is available on Netflix, Amazon and two or three of the episodes are available on youtube. I think it is a very well done, positive overview of India, its animals and people. My India journey takes me to many of the regions shown in this series!

“Animal Planet takes viewers on an exotic journey through India, from the epic Himalayan Mountains, down the mighty River Ganges, and across to the lost world of the North East, to explore its iconic wildlife, secret locations and grand terrains. They will follow the flow of The Ganges, from the glaciers of the world’s highest mountains, the Himalayas, to the largest bay in the world, the Bay of Bengal. Find out why this river is a lifeline to an array of wild animals, including India’s rare one-horned rhinoceros, as well as eight per cent of the world’s population. Viewers will then head high into The Himalayas to find out how its hostile terrain, powerful winds and sub-zero temperatures support one of the largest and most diverse collections of creatures on the planet, including man. Then travel into a lost world, home to head hunting tribes, tiger-infested forests, unclimbed mountains and pristine rivers. They will visit India’s Thar Desert and discover how this harsh environment supports both humans, and some of the toughest and rarest creatures on earth. Finally, journey into the Western Ghats, a spine of mountains stretching for a thousand miles along India’s west coast, thought to be one of the most bio-diverse places in the world. On one side  tropical rainforests thrive, and explode with life, including the endangered lion-tailed macaque, whilst on the eastern side; tigers and wild dogs compete for prey in its dry forests. Viewers will experience all this beautiful country has to offer in this amazing expedition through Wildest India.”

Update – India Trip

 

I thought it was time to give you all an update – just 50 days until my departure.

As I was purchasing my plane tickets I was truly humbled by the generosity you have all shown – honestly this trip could not happen without you!

Yesterday I got the last of my vaccinations – some were updates but I got a new one this time – Japanese Encephalitis. This was one of those just to be safe ones. It is costly and only good for a year – but there has been an outbreak in northern India. While it is a few hundred miles from where I will be, I figure getting the vaccination – one less thing to worry about!

I will depart Asheville on Sept 25th – flying out of the Greenville, SC airport to Newark. I get to spend the night in Brooklyn – I plan on filling up on real pizza & real bagels!

Sept 26th I will fly out of Newark and 24 hrs later (Sept 27th) arrive in Delhi. There I will meet up with the rest of the Whole Foods Team Member Volunteers.  Whole Foods Team Member Volunteer Program

We will only be getting a few hours sleep – we have a 4:00am wake up call so we can all get to the airport to catch a flight from Delhi to Kolkata, change planes and then fly to Agartala, Tripura. With just time for a short rest at our hotel we will venture off to the Anwesha Children’s Home to meet the kids when they return from school.    Anwesha Children’s Home

Sept 29th through October 4th we will be working at the Home – cleaning, painting, planting gardens, building a safe playground and simply playing with the kids!

The climate will be tropical – hot & humid. On the morning of October 5th we will say goodbye to the kids and head off to Varanasi. There we will have two days off – one being my birthday. Honestly I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday!!

On the morning of October 8th we will travel outside of Varanasi to meet with micro-credit clients of the Whole Planet Foundation — The Whole Planet Foundation

Then the afternoon will find us back in Varanasi at the offices of CASHPOR Ltd – a microfinance non-profit providing micro-credit to below poverty women in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. – CASHPOR Ltd

October 9th we are on a plane back to Delhi where we will spend the night. The morning of the 10th we board another plane and head west to Rajasthan. We will be met at the airport in Jodphur by cars from Traditional Medicinals – Traditional Medicinals to make the 6-hour drive to Bapp. For the next three days we will be doing service work at the Revive Village in the Bapp area. Traditional Medicinals, US is one of several organizations supporting the Revive Project, focusing on supporting farming and water harvesting in the Thar Desert.

The 14th we make the drive back to Jodphur and have a bit of time off late in the day to see the “Blue City”.

The morning of the 15th the team flies back to Delhi and here we go our separate ways.

My journey in India continues….

I will fly to Chennai, spend the night at a little Bed & Breakfast and in the morning a car will take me to The Colours of Nature in Auroville. – The Colours of Nature I met Jesus Ciriza Larraona, the Founder of The Colours of Nature, a few years ago at a natural dye conference in France. I am so looking forward to my visit.

Back to Chennai for a good nights sleep & off in the morning to the airport to fly to Kochin. A car will pick me up at the airport for the 3 to 4 hour drive to the beautiful hills of Munnar.

This is truly a dream come true – I have always hoped to return to Srishti where I had the privilege of working in 2009. – Srishti Welfare Centre

Please check out the website – ‘cause I could go on for pages about all the good work they do. Here is a link to an article about Srishti– Caterpillars to Butterflies

I worked at Aranya – the natural dye unit, teaching the folks how to work with Cochineal (a red dye from insects – not native to India) and with superfine Pashmina shawls and not damage them in the dye process. They learned quickly and now those  shawls sell in Taj Hotel Gift Shops!

I will arrive in Munnar on Fri afternoon – giving me time to say hello to everyone. Then two days off to recover both emotionally and physically from my travels. On Mon & Tues I have been asked to once again work with the very special men and women at Aranya and of course I said YES!

Oct 22 will find me getting up early for the drive back down to the Kochin Airport.

From Kochin I fly to Mumbai, back to Newark and arrive in Greenville, SC on the morning of the 23. It is just an hour’s drive up to Asheville and my journey will come to a close!

Phew!!! It is going to be a very busy month!

I will be posting updates during my travels when Internet is available.

Check the Indiegogo site –  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stories-of-hope-varanasi-returning-to-india

& my blog – Madderlane

Thank you all for making this possible – you will be touching so many lives!

With much Gratitude,

Linda