In April, we shared with you about Hidden Tamil Nadu, a unique trip to India this autumn that includes both delicious cooking lessons and thought-provoking village visits. To tell you a bit more about the tour and what it entails, we invited Diane to tell us about her experiences – as she’s been on it four times so far!
My first visit to Social Change and Development (SCAD) was purely moral support for my sister Trish, who had discovered the charity the year before. I had never been to India before and to say I felt out of my comfort zone was an understatement.
However I soon discovered what SCAD was about and that slowly returned me to my comfort zone. My first visit included a comprehensive tour of SCAD’s activities. These included visits to schools, a village for Leprosy sufferers, and a Gypsy village. I witnessed real poverty but also real hope. Social Change and Development truly at work.
Women’s Groups exist in most SCAD villages and they take responsibility for maintenance of finance, etc., for the village. The health care system delivered by SCAD is evident. Education is seen as a way out poverty.
This sounds very serious but I have never had such an exciting and humbling experience. So much so that I shall be making my 5th visit this autumn. The visits now include a week of Southern Indian Cooking. Not your usual take away but the real thing.
I made a good mushroom curry with chapattis [made not bought!]. We shopped at local markets much to the delight of the villagers, as in this rural area of Tamil Nadu Westerners are not usually seen. We were treated with warmth and respect. The visits also offer the chance to catch up with projects seen previously and to meet once again with local friends. So much is achieved with relatively little and with very little fuss.
Last year there was a late monsoon. The Indians were delighted at the arrival of the much-needed rain but were sorry we kept getting wet. It was not at all like the UK cold rain and truthfully we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure! We even showed them how to make vegetable soup English-style to make them feel better.
There is little evidence of affluent India in this area. We were miles away from the normal tourist route so I have not really experienced large cities or famous sites and am not sure what my reaction would be. I do know how much I look forward to returning annually for as long as I can.
I return to England with a greater appreciation of what I have and a genuine affection for all the people I have met. It is an unbelievable experience which I hope has made me a much more tolerant and understanding person.
While Jeevika is not directly involved in this trip, we do support it and encourage you to consider signing up for it. If you would like further information, please contact Trisha Roberts by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01787 238360.