STOP International Project 2018

12th October 2018

On the evening of Sunday, 22 July, there was much excitement in the air for a group of fourteen STOP (Save The Orphans Please) International volunteers. After months of planning, fundraising and praying, the team was ready to board their flight from London Heathrow bound for Bangalore India. Some of them had been anticipating this mission project trip for two years and finally the day had arrived. Having raised their own funds for the trip, there was great expectation. The group was made up of young adults and some retirees of varied professions.

After a 10-hour flight and safe arrival into Bangalore, the team set off on a two-hour road journey in a prearranged minibus to the Jeevan Jyothi campus in Hosur, the headquarters of the Southern Asia Division, their home for the next two weeks. As the team had been travelling for nearly 20 hours, when darkness settled the weary team quickly disappeared into 20180807_152015dreamland.

After a good breakfast in the guest room canteen the next day, the team travelled the 24 kilometres to the STOP Vocational Training campus, in a town called Denkanikotta to begin their work. This involved painting, maintenance, repair and clearing brush on the campus. The campus was set up in 2008 with buildings for vocational training of orphan children, two accommodation blocks for the children of the Way to Life Charitable Trust and administration and maintenance rooms. The equipment for painting and maintenance were purchased in advance so the work commenced soon after arriving at the campus. The handymen in the team beavered on repairing and replacing broken drain pipes and toilet doors in the orphanage complex. Others got to work in cutting down overgrown 20180727_220701shrubs and unblocking drains. The tropical heat did not seem to deter the volunteers and the delicious refreshments at break time were energising. The volunteers' wonderful work ethic and team spirit ensured that the target for painting was reached earlier than expected.

The work schedule for the eight days was completed within three days so the team moved to the BESSO Children's Home, which is sponsored by STOP International, where the primary school building was crying out for a much-needed facelift. The excellent commitment and flexibility of the volunteers meant that the work was done in quick time with two coats of emulsion covering the huge hall transforming it to a bright, cheery learning environment.

With a couple of days to spare, the team went shopping into Bangalore on one day to tick off all the items on their long shopping lists. On the second spare day the team organised and conducted the annual Sports Day for the seventy-five BESSO children. This included timekeeping, making records and prize distribution.

The time spent playing, talking, hugging and singing with the children was precious and unforgettable. Some developed strong bonds with the children and a few were IMG-20180730-WA0174inspired to set up monthly sponsorships. In the team were Adam and Caitlyn Balderstone who were keen to trace the steps of their father and grandfather who was a trustee of STOP International. It was a particularly poignant experience visiting the Love Home where David Balderstone had inaugurated a building for the family of the director of that orphanage.

Following the two weeks of intense work, a sightseeing trip was organised covering a tour of the city of Delhi, a visit to the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra and a trip to Jaipur city with its beautiful Amber Palace and Fort. The highlight of the Jaipur visit was the elephant sanctuary where they spent time feeding, painting, bathing and riding elephants. The Sabbath was spent worshipping at the North India Union headquarters' church in New Delhi and lunch was had with a family of the local Adventist church.

The team returned 20180729_144514to England with many memories, reflections and gratitude to God for a blessed mission project successfully completed. One of the volunteers, DesirĂ© Lewis, reflected, "Immersing yourself in another culture can be slightly intimidating but so rewarding. I have been touched by the warmth and love we have received since our first day and been reminded how important it is to be able to see the joy and beauty of life even when you have so little. The IMG-20180730-WA0007most precious experience of this trip has been to know that even doing something that might seem so insignificant and small can actually make such a big difference."

The team members: Adam and Caitlyn Balderstone, Beth Molteni, Sheena Murphy, Tim and Susan O'Neill, Susan Holmes, Paul Poddar, Desiré Lewis, Jason Poddar, Kish Poddar, Ann Theanne, Sherri-Lee Galloway and Sirbrina Ramharack.

For further information of the project in July 2019 please contact Kish Poddar at kishpoddar@gmail.com.

[Kish Poddar]


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