Raphael—what an Inspirational Place

Joanne

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.