Joanna – Field Trip 2018 India (Brussels)

I became an active member of CAF in 2017 when I got involved in the organisation of one of their charity concerts meant to support the beneficiaries in India and Cambodia. As a result I was offered the opportunity to accompany the team during the next field trip and I decided to do it.

From the beginning I knew that it was going to be a trip unlike any other. India is a very particular country, facing many societal challenges, and everybody was asking me if I was not afraid of facing India’s daily realities. My thinking at that point was that it was one thing to read and hear about it, and that experiencing it first-hand might offer a completely different perspective. A particularly interesting aspect of the trip that we were about to embark on was the fact that we were going to meet local people and observer their daily lives in their natural environment.

When we arrived in Chennai and went on the first day to meet a few of the beneficiaries of our programme living in the stone quarry in South of Chennai,I was simply overwhelmed. The living conditions there are very difficult. I asked myself what sort of future opportunities the children born over there were going to have in life. I had just one thought in my head: “Our help is just a tiny drop in the vast ocean of their needs”. Only the fact that I was very tired after the long flight from Europe helped me fall asleep that night. My head and heart were filled with conflicting emotions.

During next days we visited various projects supported by CAF and our partner organisations but the biggest part of our time was devoted to meeting children in children’s homes. We spoke to each of them individually, concentrated on their family stories, their daily lives, health, school, hobbies, special needs. On the first day of this so-called monitoring I was astounded by all the information we received but also saddened by the challenges and the amount of hardship endured by those children at such a young age. What stroke me the most were the daily realities of the lives of women and girls in India.

Suddenly though I came to a realization that these girls living in the homes run by nuns were in fact happy, enjoying having a safe harbour and a roof over their heads, home-like conditions, friends, the opportunity to go to school and play and lough in
their spare time. Despite all the difficulties experienced in the past they were
also able to laugh and still remain full of trust and hope for the future. All of that lead me to believe that our tiny drops of help were in fact very important and provided concrete positive input, brought smiles to their faces and made a better future possible in at least a few cases.

While visiting other places and projects we could see many more “drops in the ocean”.
There are numerous organisations from the whole world helping people… and I believe all of their activities are in fact mutually beneficial both for the world as they foster the human spirit and the value of empathy and sharing as well as promote humane values.

One of the girls when encouraged to ask questions said: “Why are you helping us”? To which a member of our team replied: “Do you think we are helping you? My perception is that you help us more than we help you…”

As a result of this trip I made a decision to become a “godmother” (the term that I prefer to use rather than “sponsor”) to Subitha. She turned 18 this year and is now studying to become a nurse.