Raphael, our own little mecca in this vast country of India. On arrival, we settled into our accommodation, had a tour of the grounds, meeting a few of the carers, teachers and residents. We then ventured out to the local shop for supplies, afterwards enjoying a vegetarian tea back at Raphael. Power went out, apparently that happens a lot. It’s India.
You wouldn’t be in India if you weren’t having trouble with the internet, but also having a wonderful time … riding in crazy Tuk Tuks, being stared at by the locals… (of course we say hello), eating dahl and vegetarian food, monkeys dancing on our roof, we hope our drying washing doesn’t go missing. Spending time with wonderful people in an amazing different country … everyone in Australia should experience this.
Time spent at Raphael, what can we say…. what an inspirational place, full of wonderful people and the most special children. It is very humbling to be welcomed with open arms, love and lots of affection. In the classroom, having learnt a few names and gestures, communication was difficult but we seemed to manage. The kids just loved us and it was very easy to get some favourites. We looked forward to Diwali and its celebrations. Weekends we were off to discover our surrounding area, going to Missouri and Rishikesh.
On Diwali we were in our room and the noise outside was deafening, we could have been in a war zone and we would have had no clue. The fireworks were continuous and loud. We had a lovely evening visiting Ava Vihar and trying tasty Indian treats and watching the residents have some fireworks of their own. We were included in celebrations and anointed with an Indian mark. A very special evening. Some school days we needed three hands …. Mayank, Yudo and Munta all wanting to hold our hands – it is wonderful that these young adults felt a bond with us. They were so happy to see each of us every morning. All too quickly it was time to say goodbye. Raphael was a wonderful experience made all the richer by the other amazing Volunteers, but infinitely by all of the Residents, Staff and Special People of Raphael we had the chance to share the experience with. These precious memories will stay with us.
I discovered Raphael searching the web. I was looking for a special education school in India were I could do an internship for my university in Germany (I want to become a teacher for children with special needs).
I am really happy that I got in touch with Raphael because I really enjoyed my visit here. The longer I stayed the more I felt at home. I can’t believe the 2 1/2 month are already over. You really feel at home very quickly because the teachers were always so friendly.
In the afternoon I liked visiting the Little White House children. We had a really good time together, they tried to teach me some Hindi and for Founder’s Day we practiced an Indian dance which we performed together. Continue reading Julia→
In his first year as the National President of Ryder-Cheshire Australia, Rory McEwen, has recently returned from a visit to Raphael. Below is his report.
My visit to Raphael commenced with two one day trips, the first into the foothills of the Himalayas where our jeep driver managed to deliver four of us safely to a small school in a tiny village to meet with around 50 parents and their disabled children. The journey along narrow winding mountain roads was not for the faint hearted. Marvelling at the women struggling up steep inclines, almost buried in huge loads of vegetation balanced on their heads, took our minds off the perils of the journey.
The gathering that awaited us at the end of our four hour trek had assembled for a briefing on managing and modifying challenging behaviours and to discuss sexuality and the disabled. Our talented presenters spoke in Hindi. Luckily the accompanying slides were in English so I could get some feel for the animated discussion. Some of the parents, particularly the men, didn’t seem to take kindly to some of the frank discussions but it was an overwhelming success. Continue reading NATIONAL PRESIDENT, RORY MCEWEN, VISITS RAPHAEL→
I left Australia from Melbourne travelling with a short stopover in Singapore – a 13 hour flight. Arriving in New Delhi at 6am I was picked up by the hotel in the southern suburbs (pre-arranged in Australia).
My first impressions were that the airport was modern, clean and the surrounds the same. However, as I travelled further through the city it became busy, chaotic, dirty and crowded. The hotel was clean and orderly and a relief!!! That day I arranged a taxi with the hotel (Rs 300) and did a city tour.
Next day I left on my pre-arranged tour (4 days) to the Taj Mahal in Agra and onto Jaipur. The tour consisted of a private driver, all entries, tour guides and hotels. The Taj Mahal was magnificent and as stunning as I expected it to be. The remainder of the tour was also excellent, but also a bit of information over load!!!
That evening I caught a short flight to Dehra Dun. I was collected by a taxi arranged by Raphael. It was a nightmare journey as traffic in India is nothing short of chaotic and finally reaching Raphael was a relief. I was greeted there by the other volunteers, who had saved food for me. They settled me into my room. One of volunteers showed me around early the next morning. I was concerned that if no volunteers had been there, no one would have helped me. At the same time I did expect to be a bit independent. On the tour I met some residents, but it was still too early for school and the offices. Raphael seemed like an oasis. (Note from RCA – arrangements are made for Volunteers to be welcomed who arrive out of work hours.)Continue reading Derek→
My 5 ½ months spent as a volunteer in India will always be a highlight of my not-unadventurous 80 years.
In 2014 I felt it was time for a volunteering challenge and searched the internet for something suitable. The answer came when I brought up the Raphael website, which spelt out a series of challenges – foreign travel,
work with people with a variety of disabilities, a different language and diet – ideal I thought!
Ignoring the well-meant objections which some of my friends came up with (too many challenges, too late in life etc.) I applied for a placement from July to mid-December and was approved after the usual checks. I noted with pleasure that no fees were payable, as is sometimes the case when volunteer agencies are involved. Continue reading Bob: More From Volunteering:→