Stories

Project visit and a day we will never forget

The Petrucco family are currently undertaking their Coast to Coast walk across India in support of ChildFund. So far the family has raised more than $50,000 for ChildFund projects in India. This blog is from Day 10 of their journey, when they arrived at Mysore.

Today started as all days with a visit from the monkeys and being chaperoned down to breakfast by the monkey herder with his slingshot. My daughter India received a visit from the Indian Tooth Fairy last night, having lost a tooth, and found a rupee under her pillow this morning.

As we sat and enjoyed our breakfast we had the outside restaurant to ourselves and Gus enjoyed riding his scooter up and down the path alongside our table spotting monkeys in the distance and entertaining the waiters. As a team we took some time to review the first leg of our journey and had a discussion about what has been working well, what hasn’t been working so well and ideas for the next leg. It was a fruitful discussion filled with many positive observations and some good ideas for the next leg.

Gus brought along his scooter and put on a show for the kids. We learnt how ChildFund, in conjunction with the local project office, work with the community to identify areas where government programs are not available and there is a gap in the provision of care for children. These centres allow parents to leave their children six days a week whilst they go to work (mostly as labourers) and the children are taught, receive nutritious meals and monthly medical checks. As always it was beautiful watching our kids interact so naturally with the Indian kids, they all had a great time together.

After the visits we had a quick 30 minutes back at the hotel before heading out to the St Teresa’s grounds and the project office. A presentation had been planned for us to be able to meet with the children who were going to be the recipients of many of the items we had been fundraising for.

Upon arrival we were greeted by many of the staff from the project office and the ChildFund India national office, including Antony and Prem. There was another journalist from the Indian Times wanting an interview and several photographers also present. We just can’t believe the level of attention our walk is getting from the Indian press. We are very pleased to be able to use our walk to raise the awareness to the wonderful work of ChildFund India and the many current needs of vulnerable children.

After the bikes, we presented new school bags and school kits to orphaned children. There must have been over 100 amazing kids who were called up to receive their brand new satchel from either Maggie or Gus. The children must have ranged in age from 3-4 year olds up to teenagers. One at a time they came up with the most beautiful and grateful look in their eyes. I just took the moment to kneel down and look into the eyes of each one of these incredible kids. I looked over to see Bec having a quiet tear to herself back at the chairs and decided to join her in what would have to be one of the most special moments of our lives.

Maggie then handed the microphone to Gus who was waiting for this moment. On stage, 500 people in the palm of his hand, and he was off. He talked about goats, he talked about helping kids, he talked about our driver Raju, he talked about all sorts of stuff. One hand on his hip, the other on the microphone. He had to get the wind up from India and Mags or he would probably still be talking now. Bec decided not to talk today and was happy to leave it to the rest of us to convey just how thankful we were for the experience we were sharing together today.

After our presentation the Bishop of Mysore gave a very heartfelt talk, including his thanks and appreciation for the commitment being made to the children of Mysore. After the Bishop it was time for another play from the children and then another highlight of the day, dancing from Veenai and his team. Wow, what a performance, he was spectacular – look out Bollywood.

The day was drawing to a close and after a few final words of thanks the presentation was over and we all adjourned to the school grounds for tea. As we were having tea all of the children were walking around with their new bikes or school kits, it was just amazing.

 

Veeni came up to Eibhlin and I and presented each of us with a beautiful gift that he had obviously organised of his own accord, which was incredibly touching. Veeni, you may recall from a recent blog, is an 11-year-old boy and just such a special kid. He is on the waiting list to be a sponsored child and whilst benefiting from community programs and sponsorships has not yet been sponsored himself, until now. He is a beautiful example of the many, many children who families can provide regular support to via a child sponsorship through ChildFund.

Gus took off again on his scooter across the grounds so I followed him away from the main group to find a small concrete area for Gus to practise his scooter moves. I took a moment to look around the school field and just watch the kids. There were girls with their new bikes looking super proud as they rode around. There were kids wearing their new school bags on their backs, some of them barely bigger than their bags.

I took a moment to think about 15 months earlier in Barwon Heads Caravan Park when I had been feeling pretty flat about my life and wanted to do something more. I was tired, anxious and lacking motivation for life and work. I thought about the contribution I wanted to make in this world and I thought about what I would like to do that would be extraordinary and I turned to my wife as we were pushing Gus on a swing and said, “I want to walk across India”.

Fast forward 15 months and here we are. Together with many wonderful friends and family members we have collectively raised well over $50,000 and on our way to my initial secret target of $100,000. We are walking across India as a family and on the way meeting some wonderful people and children and having an experience of a lifetime. I am hoping our journey is also encouraging others to find a way of doing something extraordinary for themselves and inspiring people to make their contribution to this world. It doesn’t have to be a walk across India, it can be anything. Remember, everyone can do something.

As the sky was becoming darker and the day drawing to a close the kids were slowly coming past to say goodbye. There were so many friendly faces and so many parents coming up to say thank you for the support we were providing. We spent time saying our goodbyes and then all fell back in the bus with a quiet sense of euphoria and shared stories of the day.

When we returned home it all became too much for our little man Gus who had a major meltdown. No sleep during the day and a very big day. There was screaming, ‘I don’t like you!’, ‘Don’t look at me’ and one of the biggest meltdowns we have seen from our tired little man. Just so you know that it is not all euphoric experiences over here!

As this was going on Indy had a little meltdown of her own, hers a more happy one. She was so emotional about what she had experienced during the day and it just all caught up with her. She is now of an age where she really gets it, what we are trying to do as a family and for her to witness through her own eyes was incredibly moving for our beautiful Indy. After a little talk, lots of cuddles and a wash she was off next door to play Uno for the beds with Nicola and Eibhlin.

Meanwhile, Little Manny had calmed down enough for me to give him a cuddle and he expressed that he didn’t like it when people were pinching his cheeks. It turned out that once again there was a moment when he was surrounded by people, all wanting to touch his cheeks and he got very scared and overwhelmed. In case we needed it (and we shouldn’t have), Gus was reminding us that he needs to feel safe when we are at these events so we made a promise together that this wouldn’t happen again. He had two cups f tea and went to bed.

Follow the Petrucco family on their Indian adventure via their blog or Facebook.

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