Cyclone Nilam

While New York hits the headlines with Hurricane Sandy, Southern India has its own environmental problems.  Cyclone Nilam has hit South Eastern Chennai (where I believe Nuala is planning a trip soon) and is heading West.  Fortunately it seems to have been less destructive than first thought.  I haven’t been able to work out if its passing Nuala’s way, but I think it’ll probably be further North. 

If you’re in the path Nuala, please take care!

More info here

and here

Keep safe anyone in the region, especially any Project Trust volunteers affected.

Maybe Nuala will update us with a local view – assuming it hasn’t caused even worse problems with the power.



Heading back to Vidya Vanam

Nuala and Caitlin are on the move again!  They are now heading back South on an overnight 12 hour train journey to Coimbatore and then on to Vidya Vanam school, where they will finally start their year properly.

Nuala phoned this morning which was lovely and she is really having a good time.  Computer access is much better in Vidya Vanam so she will probably be able to update you all herself in the next few days, but in the meantime here are some photos of her time so far – hopefully she’ll be able to explain them soon herself.


Latest News from Nuala – more travelling

Nuala has limited access to the internet just now, so here’s a brief update.

Because her school in Anaikatty, Vidya Vanam, is currently closed while the teachers are away on training, Nuala and Caitlin returned to Hyderabad.  They stayed here a few days and then travelled on to join some other Project Trust volunteers at their project for a few weeks, before returning to Vidya Vanam.

We haven’t heard much about the other Project they are heading to, other than that it is a school called Sri Chaitanya High School in Tangutur in the Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh.  It looks like its on the East coast of the Southern part of India. The girls they are joining are Katie and Abi, and you can see a little more about their project on Katie’s blog here  It’s worth reading Katie’s description of her train journey from Hyderabad to Tangutur – don’t bring any bananas Nuala!

Hopefully Nuala may get access to the internet sometime in the next few weeks, and we’ll hear more.  I think she’s loving India, but finding the disruption a little frustrating – she’s just keen to start teaching.



Ganesha’s Birthday

An update from Nuala:-

Today is Ganesha’s birthday and for the past few nights and during the day there has been constant drumming in the village. One night we stood at the edge of the school fence and looked and there seemed to be a fire. The noise also sounded like it was moving through the villages as it is not just Annaikatty here but MILLIONS of villages, I cannot remember any of their names. We went to the temple-there are temples everywhere about here-and they had made a massive special Ganesha for her birthday. I really want to learn more about Hinduism, Sarah has a book so I think I’ll read that when we get back. Here’s a photo of the Ganesha outside the temple. There’s millions of statues of other gods inside the temple but you’re not allowed to take photos in there.

Ganesha, Nuala and Sarah

Oh my god just went outside cos it sounded like the drums were getting closer (they started again at midday) and there was a big parade  but by the time we got to the street (the computer lab is the other end of the school) we only saw the tail end. Basically (I think) they are parading the Ganesha through all the different villages, then they go and burn her in the river-or something. Might head into the village but I’m a little nervous to go just Caitlin and I. I’m pretty confident it will be fine though. We can ask Sumi if she wants to come with. 

Sumi is pregnant so she has not left to go on tour with the rest of the teachers. Earlier she was telling me all about how difficult it is to be a wife here and how she must go up north to stay with her in laws for three years in December as she will be 6 months pregnant by then but her husband Asim will not come with her.

1st Email from Nuala in Vidya Vanam

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all well.

My USB does not fit into this computer, so no photos yet I’m afraid. If I can work out what I need I’ll try and get that sorted.  Apparently the post is really reliable, Sarah got a huge package sent to her.

Tonight driving home we saw elephants, 2 big ones and one baby. We are so lucky but didn’t take any photos as my camera battery was dead and I didn’t bring it. One teacher has been here 4 years and never seen one. But some people say they see them all the time. One of the children lives in a place where elephants walk past every day at 5.30pm.

Currently sitting in the computer lab, internet is very slow and I’m surprised I’ve been able to write this without electricity cutting out. Dinner is at 8-which is now, but we are slowly adjusting to India time, and turning up at 9 would be more expected. Sometimes India time can get frustrating, we made two trips into Coimbatore for our police registration and it is not even complete yet (between 45mins-1.5hrs) and stopped a lot along the way – because it is so far away they do every single errand they possibly can. This morning we were meant to leave at 8.30am as the station only stayed open until 11. We didn’t leave til 9.30 and when we got there the man who had the forms we needed was at a meeting, we called him and were told to come back at 11.30, when we came back he was still not there and we went all the way back to Anaikatty just for lunch and then back to Coimbatore an hour later. We then had to go to 2 police stations and again tomorrow and on Monday.

Wore a bindi today and hoping to get a sari/salweer tomorrow. The dye on the womens foreheads is meant to be a good luck potion, kind of thing. There is a market in Coimbatore which is open on Monday so we may go then.

The village is wonderfully interesting and the politics surrounding everything are so intriguing. I’m staying very far away though, much too scary for me!

Adjusting to Indian life as well as possible, the stafff are all incredibly friendly and helpful and clever characters.

Will write more soon.


Arrival at Vidya Vanam

So we have had a few texts from Nuala and all is well.  Her and Caitlin have travelled South to Coimbatore, and from there to the village of Anaikatty and Vidya Vanam school.  This is a picture of the girls’ room – part way through unpacking.  Nuala says its great with a bathroom right outside – so all sorted on that front! 

They’ve had some initial discussions with the Head Teacher about what they’ll be doing and so far they are looking to be involved in updating the school website, running the library, teaching ceilidh dancing, and organising the computer room.  

Nuala is hoping to run a “Reading Challenge” in the library – so thanks to the inspiration of Balfron Library where she spent many summers desperately trying to read enough books to collect the stamps for a free swim!  She spent also 6 months in Balfron Library doing work experience for her DofE Silver Award, so everything she learnt there will be put to good use.

The school does have computers and some level of internet connection, but the problem seems to be the reliability of the electricity supply.  So hopefully soon you will be able to get updates direct from Nuala herself, and maybe some more pictures too.

Keep checking back!


First Impressions of Hyderabad

Text from Nuala today – her first day in India.  It sounds a far cry from sleepy Balfron!  She’ll be staying in Hyderabad the capital of Andhra Pradesh – for a few days with the other volunteers to get sorted before heading off with her partner Caitlin to their project in Tamil Nadu, which is much more rural – and will probably be a shock in many different ways.

Literally just slept from 6.30am -3pm our time with a short break at 1 when we somehow woke up on time for food.  Really strange but tasty pancakes with chutney and spicy pastes.  Roads are wild – I don’t even think there’s a specific side to drive on or I cant work it out .  Cars beep their horns as they go past other cars which happens a lot even if they don’t know each other. One car even sang as it reversed. 

 Buildings all seem unfinished, cables and rubble and litter EVERYWHERE, people just lie in big lines in the street under blankets to sleep.  Still quite surreal and we are not even allowed to leave the building today!  Not allowed outside incase we get lost but will be allowed out tomorrow.  A man called Suuchi runs the guest house, doesn’t seem to be anyone else staying here except us – we’ve taken over.  Quite warm but not unbearable.  We have just put the air con on.


The Eagle Has Landed

We’ve just had a text from Nuala to say she has landed in Hyderabad, purchased some Rupees, collected her luggage and made it through immigration. 

She says “Met Abhilash (their host in Hyderabad) in airport. Now on bus – luggage on top.  Heading straight to guest house.  Exhausted but running on adrenaline.  Hungry, thirsty, sweaty and sticky but totally buzzing.”

It’s the early hours of the morning there, so I guess she’s off to spend her first night in India!

Sleep well.


Bonus Ball Update

Hi there!

Many thanks to everyone who has bought a Bonus Ball so far! It’s due to start ASAP-there are only a few more to sell and then we’ll be ready to start.

We went up to Coll for the September weekend and while we were there I paid in my first £500. Only £4600 to go! It still seems like a huge amount of money, but everyone’s been so supportive so far. Fingers crossed the rest of my fundraising continues as successfully.