Before you take a peak.....

You need to be aware this is our old blog. Dave (the blogger) started blogging when, as a family, we went to India for 3.5 months from April - August 2008. This blog is the story of our time there. You'll find lots about our story by going to the 'archives' section of the blog to the left below.

If you want to see our current news go to our new website and blog here..

August 14, 2008

We are home...!!

Yes we are home, arriving at Heathrow at 12.30pm UK time yesterday. We then picked up our car and drove the 4 hours to home arriving home at 7pm ish...

All (especially Sarah and I) feeling very weird... Kind of feeling as if we have only been away for a weekend but on the other hand all feeling a little shot - mentally, physically, emotionally. Don't expect a lot out of us yet!!

I think this will the last blog entry now for some time as this chapter in our lives has ended....

Who knows when the next will begin......??

What's your next chapter??

August 12, 2008

See you (very) soon

We are off in 5 mins to the airport - It's 3.30am! Last word goes to Raj on the cake her had made for us last night

For those reading this from the UK, we will see you very soon.....

Thank you for your interest in our little lives in this big, big world. That's it! Over and out...

Last day and counting

Last day and counting in this amazing city and what a stunning time we have had out here......

We have spent time laughing, crying, getting massively frustrated, building better friendships, understanding more about 'culture', helping people, encouraging people, supporting people, challenging people, seeing sights we never would have dreamt of, experiencing smells and sounds we have never experienced before and seeing all our lives change.

We have watched our kids grow and develop in ways we could never have expected, our family has gone through things that would make your eyes water. At the same time we have had more coffee and ice cream than in the last 10 years in the UK (when we have felt a bit 'western sick') and yet, at the same time, survived for a week on bread and rice and water (at Avalanche).

What an unreal time! Very little sickness - home or stomach, one minor accident, buget worked well (we have ended giving too much away but if that is a crime - we are gulty!). Our home has been a sanctuary for us in a way that has made it all (just that bit more) bearable at times.

There is much, much, much more we could tell you about. Maybe will if you give us the chance when we get home??

Thank you all for all your support, love, comments on the blog, e mails and phone calls etc We could not have got through it without them. You are wonderful people and we have felt well loved and supported....

Thanks to all those who gave so generously to people out here. We were given a total of £1145 to give away and gave £1230. I can give you the details if you want but some examples are you have built a house, saved a family from having their house repossessed, helped to setting a business up, helped to build a sports hall for HIV orphans & bought sports equipment for them, bought a (much needed) laptop for the Fishermen Trust and totally furnished the office they work from now and generally given to dozens (yes dozens) of people out here who have next to nothing. Yep, a little goes a hell of a long way out here...

Massive thanks to my 'big brown bear' - that's what the kids call Raj. We made a massive commitment/covenant to each other a number of years back and various things have tested out this friendship to the max but nothing has dented it yet. I have never experienced friendship like it....

Raj has put up with all sorts from me and had me push him, challenege him, encourage him and generally chase his tail to get into the potential that God has for him and the Trust here.
Those of you that know me know that I can be a bit of a bully at times so for Raj to have put up with that for 3.5 months deserves a huge tribute.

And finally, and I know not all of you who read our blog believe in God, but we do (as hard as that is at times!) and we just want to pay a kind of tribute to Him.

From the first days, when we had the initial dream to come, until now, we can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that God has provided for us in ways we could never have imagined. Many of you will never know some of the miracles (and I don't use that word lightly) we have seen before we came and since we have been out here. Unreal!! So big 'Ta's' to the big 'G'!

Doing this blog has been fun and hard work. It has been a good discipline and a great permanent reminder of our time here. The comments that I have had back from you guys too has made doing the blog worthwhile.

I can't work out how I feel. I know I haven't thought of work more than twice in the whole time here. Very weird for me! I feel very numb when I think of home - can't quite process my thoughts to get to the stage of knowing how I feel really. I have no doubt we will enjoy every moment when we return but at the same time, just going to 2/3 slums again yesterday, I still live with the frustration (it feels more like pain at times) of on the one hand living how I live and where I live and yet having the eyes and images of the people I have spent time again with out here (from the streets, slums and villages), haunt me.

I do not understand why? Just becasue of where I was born, I have ended up a bloke with a lovely family with a good income, house, job and 2 cars and a good lifestyle. So please tell me why that is fair when kids I have been over the last 3 1/2 mon ths with have ended up in the gutter (literally), getting sick by the day due to infected water and bad food, with a Dad that (3/4 of whom) have drinking/violence issues and (many) parents who would rather the kiddie help at home than get an education. Please tell me why that is? And if you or I really don't have an answer (and please don't give me any cheesy ones!), then please let me/us continue to serve these beautiful people as long as the gap between the 'have's' and 'have nots' just gets a little shorter??

Must go now. Plane in a few hours!! I really don't think I will keep this blogging lark up when I go home as I won't have time or the amazing array of things to tell you. In many (most?) ways, life is just not as interesting at home I guess BUT it is home, and it's where we belong. Of that we know.....

Love Dave, Sarah, Es and Josh xx

August 11, 2008

1 day to go....

Just today and tomorrow to go and there's still no let up in the pace of final people to see/things to do before we go!!

Spent this morning doing something I had been promising Raj all the time - some IT training - some time learning about the web and PowerPoint and stuff. Then lunchtime I met with a friend called Benson who I had wanted to spend some time with since I had been out here but had never got round to.

Benson works on his own 3 days a week and 2 days with Bible Centred Ministries in Bangalore. He spends 90% of his time in the slums and in slum schools and has such a massive heart for people (mainly kids) who have nothing - I just love spending time with him!!!

Benson took me to a school him and another guy had set up for about 30 slum kids - amazing place...Then we went to a bookshop (run by Child Evangelism Felowship) to buy him some kids work resources (despite the posh website Benson doesn't get an salary or resources from BCM??) and then off to a slum school run by the Methodist Church where I had to speak to 170 kids!! Great time.

After this Benson took me to me a number of the families he supports in the slums. Yet again I am found desperately confused as to how I can live how I do - with all I that I will be going back to on Wednesday - and how these communities live. It just kills me to live with this tension at times....

Benson is an amazing guy that lives on next to nothing financially and yet gives his life to those that have less. So impressed.

Off to a Fishermen Trustees meeting tonight - 1st since I have been here. Lots to tell them about all the work we have done since we have been here....

August 10, 2008

2 days to go..

It's Sunday and there's nearly 2 days to go!

Please forgive us with this over indulgence of the last few days but it's been a long time coming and we are all rather looking forward to getting home. That's no reflection on how much we have enjoyed our time here. It really has been 'the time of our lives' for sure.

Today was the last Sunday at Church. Many of the friends we have got to know out here are from the Church. Had to say a few words up the front.

I shot over to the Bits club with Raj this afternoon. We took out a 3 years membership deal with them as it costs less than it would have been to go swimming a dozen times in the UK! I have managed to bargain the boss down to transferring the membership over to a family who are good friends here.

Rosalind and Renu (2 of Raj's cousin's) came over this afternoon and did some more henna on Esme and Josh:

In the evening we invited all our (closer) friends (about 18 of them!) round for a Biryani meal (and kebabs and Indian sweets) cooked by a lady who runs a catering business from her house just down the road to where we live. We had a great evening. This will be the last time we see many of these friends although we hear on the grapevine that quite a few are coming to the airport with us (on bikes) - even though we leave at 3.30am.
A lovely evening. 2 to go.....!!

August 09, 2008

Me and my girl....

Sarah and I have had a great couple of days....

As I mentioned some good friends of ours (who have 2 kids) said they would have Es and josh for 2 nights so we have been kiddie free!!!

We have had a great time chilling out and looking to going back to the UK - plans etc

Why we are here....

I was spending some time today finishing off the refresh of the TFT business plan and Raj had given me some updated stats on Bangalore to insert. I thought I would let you see them as they blew my mind!!

  • The Indian population is now over 1.2 billion out of which 54 percent of Indians are below 25 years of age. Indians below 15 years of age are 336 million and 121 million are between the ages of 15 and 19. The age group of 20-34 are 271 million, adding up 728 million under 34 years of age making almost 70 present of the population. Thus making ‘India world’s youngest nation' having 555 million young people.

Bangalore (now called Bengaluru) has an estimated population of 7.2 million (2008). It is a City of great wealth and yet great poverty:

- It has the highest rate of suicide; as many as 1800 people commit suicide each year in the city, a majority of attempted suicides are between the age group of 20 to 24.

- A survey conducted by abortion centres across the city of Mumbai states that a minimum of 120 teenagers undergo abortions every month.

-According to WHO (World Health Organization) 10 percent of all abortions in India every year, are about five million a year among girls between 15 and 19.’

- There are 5.1 million HIV positive patients and 1,11,608 people with Aids in India , it is estimated that by 2010 there will be 20-25 million HIV positive people in India

-India also has the largest population of street children, ‘it is estimated that in urban areas there are 11 million children on the streets. Of them 420,000 street children live in six metropolitan cities of India, in Delhi alone there are at least 100,000 street children’

-The government estimates ‘that there are 400,000 child prostitutes in India. Unofficial estimates say India has as many as two million prostitutes, of which 20 percent are below 15 years of age. UINICEF claims that almost 15 percent of them enter the profession before the age of 15, and 25 percent enter between 15 and 18

Does that give you some idea of why we are here??

August 08, 2008

Oggling the Olympics

Our family seem to be well up for the Olympics this year - especially Esme... Thought it was a stunning opening ceremony I have to say. Especially impressed with the guy that round round the top (towards lighting the torch) of the stadium and the photo's lit up as he went - see pic below.

Looking forward to watching it when we have time at home. There was a big furore out here with the India team (ladies) as they weren't wearing saris etc!! Dominated the news.
My best opening ceremony pic is:
As for me/us, our marathon is coming to an end. I spent a chunk of today with Raj reviewing different aspects of the 3 1/2 months and celebrating the good and discussing the not so good. All in all we both agreed the time had gone far far better that any of us ever dreamt of.. A time that will change us all forever of that we are all convinced.

2 meetings tomorrow (Saturday) a full day Sunday, a totally full day and evening Monday, busy Tuesday am and then that is it!!!! Chill Tuesday pm and leave the house 3.30am Wednesday and fly at 6.45am!!!

Whoopee!!!Ready for home now! And just as we are about to hit 3000 page hits to the blog since coming out!! (see left side bar).

"He's gone"

Those of us that have known Paul (my bro) for a while will be used to saying this phrase about him as 'he's gone' is often used to describe our disappointment at the fact that Paul is now 99% mad and needing to be admitting to the local psychiatric unit....!!

However, on this occasion this phrase describes that fact that at 11pm we dropped Paul off at Bengaluru Airport on his 4 hour flight to Bangkok and then back to Kunming, China where he lives.

He e mailed us later on tonight to say:

"Arrived safely in Bangkok (4.30am your time) despite one of the bumpiest journeys I've ever had (and he has travelled to 86 countries!!) . Non-stop turbulence for 4 hours! No chance of sleep, and many passengers couldn't get any food/drink served as the air hostesses spent most of the time in their seats! I was on the last row - most bumpy place but at least they got food to me!"

Paul continues to blog here so do have a peak every now and again at the amazing things that happen to him in China.

August 07, 2008

Paul's final perusal....

It's Paul's last day today so we have taken it a little easy. We went off to show him the other side of Bangalore by going, once again, to the Leela Palace. Remember we went for a meal there for our anniversary, courtesy of Raj??

The picture is of us in their back garden!!

When we got there we had a look round but I don't think any of us could stomach the thought of buying a coffee especially as we had just walked past a large slum and beggars outside. Bonkers place but worth seeing...

Paul flies at 12.30am tonight/tomorrow morning. Our last trip to the airport before we go next Wednesday!

We have had a great time with Paul: chilling out together and catching up how we are doing. Great for the kids to spend time with him too..

August 06, 2008

Breakthrough and dance

No, this not some kind of new dance routine that Sarah and I have learnt in Bangalore......!!

This afternoon Raj and I took a (very painful) hour and a bit long bike ride through the rush hour to go to visit the Breakthrough Centre in Bangalore. This is probably the best adventure centre around - certainly in Bangalore and is used mainly by corporate clients these days. It's well designed and used although it does not have a huge plot of land.

It was a great opportunity to meet with Robin Paul (the CEO and founder) who is a bit of a big wig in Bangalore in adventure stuff. It was good to see what Breakthrough offered in terms of facilities and how that compared with other places I showed Raj in the UK (such as BODS and Taste for Adventure in Hereford) and what kind of centre Raj has in mind.
At the centre of 'Breakthrough', and the reason it is called what it is called, is a massive rock - I guess 60foot high and as wide which has a tree that has broken right through the rock, splitting it into all sorts of shapes. The bottom pic is the tree coming up through this huge rock and splitting it wide open! Can't really convey how amazing a site it is but here's the pics to try.

Raj and I climbed up the rock and spent some time talking more of the detail of what Raj has in his vision/heart/mind on the adventure centre type thing. All very exciting and good to be doing all this standing on a rock that has been broken open by 'just' some roots...A picture of what we need to happen for Raj getting his land. What appears like a brick wall/humanly impossible situation humanly being broken down with ease by something simple....

Then, this evening we went to NBCLC (see May 26th post) just up the road from us as they had an Indian Cultural dance evening on with some of the India dancers that they have at this catholic retreat centre. Went to my 1st Indian mass 1st (very different to normal as their focus is to do everything in Indian style) and then onto the dance which was highly professional and really quite entertaining. Really good night.

Back home at 9ish to have a curry (cooked by our home help lady Sheila) in pitch black as lights were out again. Almost every night at the moment as Bangalore is on hydro electricity apparently.

August 05, 2008

Vegging out with the veg!

Went out early with just Paul this morning to see the City Market where I have been a number of times. It's the place where there are huge amounts of flowers, veg, spices etc for sale as well as chillies and the like.

Very quiet this morning but I enjoyed showing my bro around - feeling like I was a local!!

Then, off to Koshi's Indian restaurant for as near to an English brekkie as we could get and some time to debrief on our time here (from a work perspective) - something I had asked Paul to do. Then onto a few shops.
Nice time with just my bro and I. We spent some time talking about his experiences in China and ours in India - pretty similar but obviously he has been doing it far longer, and in a more permenant way.

A very poor Mysore

We all went to Mysore (again) today - mainly to show Paul things there. It was a good day and I think Paul enjoyed it but there was a string of catastrophe's that happened:

Bird sanctuary: You remember the one with the crocs and all? Well it was closed because of 'monsoon rain' - one of the main reasons we went to Mysore!

Dinner: Decided to go for a mid range hotel for dinner. Arrived at about 3.30pm (!) and were tole the dining room closed for restaurant but snacks etc still open. Went upstairs and....

First blow: (for Raj and John the driver) was 'no rice'. No rice I India I cried!!

Second blow: Ordering french fries and when they said they had none they said they had a replacement of 'round deep fried chips' and, surprise, surprise, when they came out, they were 'crisps'!! Arghh!!

Third blow: Es opened her cheese sandwich to find a fly in it!

Fourth blow: Loads of paper in the milkshakes (from the ice cream)!

Fifth blow: Sarah Egg pakora. All the egg was black!

Needless to say we complained at leaving time!

Brindevan Gardens: Remember the lovely place to finish our day with pretty coloured lights and dancing water fountains?? Well we arrived, 5 minutes in and, there was a power cut and the generator didn't work. We walked round in pitch black!!

Crash: Putting diesel in the car and Jon (driver) reversed into a car in the garage

A good day all round eh?? Still, we have all learnt to expect these kind of days - us in India and Paul in China, so we all thought the day was a reasonable success!!

How low our expectations are eh??

Having said all of this we had a few highlights. Es and Josh had an exceptional Elephant ride at Mysore Palace where the mahout let Es sit on the elephants head and ride!!

See the video too:

Cool eh??

August 04, 2008

A little better....?

Feel a little (fair bit?) better today following starting the anti biotics - just to let you know....

What we did in India..

I know many of you will have had the following by e mail and if you have, please ignore this post, but a couple of you have not had it (i.e have seen a copy that others had got) so I thought I would stick it on the blog.

It's a summary of all that we have done whilst in India. These are only the tangible things. On top of this, it is crucial to recognise, as I say at the bottom of this summary:

"All of these things are the tangible things that we can clearly evidence we did. On top of all this there are hundreds of other conversations, meetings with people, blog comments which have impacted people, phone calls, e mails, chats in the streets, time spent with people in slums and on the streets that will have made an impact on our or others lives. We will probably never be able to show you tangibly what impact these things have had on ours and other people’s lives. For us a lot of what has changed our lives about India 2008 is not tangible. They are simply the quietly held thoughts, challenges, encouragements, images and stories that will stay with us forever…. "

Some of the entries are just one line but represent a huge amount of work. The summary is split into sections: The Fishermen Trust, Personal, Raj and I and Others

* Proposals written and all relevant paperwork in place for outdoor pursuits, advice centre, hostel/nightstop.
General proposals for each of these areas written to give clarity to funders and supporters as to what these elements of the vision are.
Written so that the Trust to get a document from the Government called ‘prior permission which allows them to receive funding from outside India. Crucial for future funding.

* Furnish TFT office
£250 raised from the Uk to turn this empty ground floor of a large house into a fully functioning office. Now equipped with desks, chairs, 2 laptops, bookshelves full of resources, cabinets, climbing gear, tents etc etc

* TFT laptop & associated items purchased
One laptop purchased with gifts from UK the Hiders brought over. One other laptop given free too!

* Completely refresh TFT Business Plan and mail out again
The Business Plan was 2 years old and needed to be refreshed. This is now done with a new SWOT analysis and other areas updated

* Set new KPI’s/targets for TFT Business Plan for coming year
We reviewed how the Trust is doing against the previous plans set and then set new milestones (for the next few years) and specific targets for this year which were agreed by the Trustees

* Trustees in new way of working (if possible) and reporting
Through the training on 5.7 (see below).Real sense that people see the need to move to a new way of working. Model Trustees meeting agenda developed

* Establish new system of reporting from Raj to trustees

Nandu has started to do a report from every camp the Trust run. He also does a weekly log of all that he is doing. Raj now doing monthly reports which will go to trustees. Staff meetings now in place. Stock inventory now in place. Stock (tents loan sheet in place).

* Clarify finance issues to split TFT and Raj’s finances
Now happening. Trust budget being developed and template budget established. 1st year accounts approved by Chartered accountants

* Money in CLC (TFT) account use
Agreed to use this as a safety net for the Trust if funding suddenly stops and also for a resources for when Raj needs to come to the UK for PR etc

* Establish a TFT Trust budget and write a ‘finance proposals’ paper to Board
Paper written. To be submitted to next Board meeting

* Paper to Board on proposals during my time here and what has been achieved in my time here
Done. Proposals developed during my time here going to Trustees at their meeting early August and the doc on what has been done during our time here is this doc!

* Speak at 3 camps
Took sessions at Church camp at Kodai, Avalanche camp & Efficor conference

* Speak at minimum 3 Church’s
Spoke at Revival Church twice and Church camp

* Establish 3 day residential leadership training weekend for Christian leaders including PR and programmes
This happened on the 11th – 13th July at FMC in Bangalore. Very successful with 22 people there. Many more opportunities for the future Great handouts and resources CD (of all Rob’s resources) given to each participant

* Establish 1 day corporates training event with Mindview including PR and programmes

* Establish a day retreat with TFT trustees including programmes Trustees training day happened on 5.7 with Rob and I. Very positive. A number of actions followed from this day to be discussed at the next Trustees meeting.

* Update TFT blog weekly
Some updating of the TFT blog has happened whilst in India but I also have loads of content to do more on this when I return to the UK. My blog has been the focus.

* Agree a design for the TFT website and commission
Website content and design developed and currently with a designer to improve

* Produce 100 club leaflet
Established to try and get a base of Indian funders to secure the ongoing revenue costs of the Trust. Trustees ready to promote this. Leaflet developed

* Design and publish TFT PR leaflet
Website content and design developed and currently with a designer to improve

* Discuss partnership agreement with CLC and Space2think and e mail out/discuss with Trustees
Discussion with Tim from CLC ansd Rob from Space2think whilst in India. Draft Partnership agreements developed to be agreed by both CLC/Space2think and TFT trustees

* Climbing kit from the UK
Ruck sack full of requested climbing and abseiling materials sent with Tim

* New TFT video
To do at home

* Induction pack for when visitors come to India
To do at home

* Development of resources website idea
To do at home

* Induction pack for when visitors come to India
To do at home

* Development of resources website idea
To do at home

* Keep journal on a daily basis
Done! Completed every day!

* Speak when asked to – massive thing!
Yes. Very, very hard at times but I did it!

* Keep blog up to date daily
Done! Completed every day!

* Communicate regularly through e mail and calls
Yes. Sarah did great on this too

* Live within budget

* Establish itinerary for Tim, Rob, Husbands & Paul, have visitors stay and ensure they are happy!
Done and all the trips seemed to go really well with a balance of work, time with people and tourist stuff

* Ensure Sarah feels Dave is balancing ‘work’ and ‘home’
Lost the balance at the start but been good from there. Dave spent at least 3 days clear each week with family. Went to Bits every week and Accept together each week too.

* School work for kids 4 times a week for 2 hours until Husbands come
Done. Brilliant job by Sarah.

* Josh’s reading to improve
Josh has developed so much in his reading etc and Es in so many other ways

* Stay healthy – especially Sarah
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Josh had problems for a month which never was really a big problem for him and Es and I have had icky guts for 2 half days in the whole 3.5 months! Amazing!

* Feedback given to Raj and Trust on my perspective on what I see in the way he/the trust works or not
Done on virtually a daily basis. Not been easy to do that as it’s hard to say and hear at times. Lots I have learnt about how I need to change too!

* Provide external supervision for Raj
Done – almost on a daily basis

* Support for Raj’s personal development
Done – almost on a daily basis

* Give to Raj where necessary
Done – confidential

* Video and thank you letter from Trust to Eve for the £500 they have raised
Done. The school had raised £500 for the Trust.

* Support (name is confidential) house build
Done with a gift of £500 from friends at home. House build underway

* Support (name is confidential) family – money, toys and baby carriers
Done. Given to him and others. Money given to him to get him through on his house rent for 2 months as business went bust (pretty much) and he is newly married with a child. Job is on way so this gift was to tide them over.

* Support Sreeni in development of his Church
Done. Met most Tuesdays and had good focused chats.

* Buy climbing shoes for (name is confidential)
Done. Great new pair of quality shoes for him

* Distribute the £1000 we have been given wisely
In the end we were given a total of £1145 including money given to us that we gave away as we wanted to live simply. Money given as follows. Names have been removed for confidentiality but happy to give more detail to people who gave.
£50 given to S – money given specifically for this person from someone at home
£50.00 to the wonderful cooks at Avalanche. Paid next to nothing and given to help their families
£40.00 G who lives in a local slum and ended up critically ill in hospital and she didn’t have the money to pay for her treatment
£500.00 given to D for the house he needs to see built for his family back in his village – see blog story
£200 for S – see why above
£60 for printer at TFT office
£60.00 for climbing shoes for N who has nothing and is instructing in abseiling with TFT
£100.00 Given to Accept orphanage for new sports room for kids with HIV that need to keep muscles going
£50 of small gifts given to various people as we have seen need
£60.00 given to A, a wonderful friend of ours who simply has nothing. Worked with him on what he will use it on


* Distribute toys/baby stuff given from Tim
Done. Given to Benson who works in the slums daily. All other toys were given to:
Kids at Accept
Kids in 2 slums

Kids on streets

* Purchase and distribute the £100 from St James via skipping ropes etc
£50 spent on skipping ropes given to kids at Accept (see blog story) and £50 given to kick start their sports room (see blog story)
And then just to say again:
"All the above are the things that we can clearly evidence we did. They are tangible. On top of all this there are hundreds of other conversations, meetings with people, blog comments which have impacted people, phone calls, e mails, chats in the streets, time spent with people in slums and on the streets that will have made an impact on our or others lives. We will probably never be able to show you tangibly what impact these things have had on ours and other people’s lives. For us a lot of what has changed our lives about India 2008 is not tangible. They are simply the quietly held thoughts, challenges, encouragements, images and stories that will stay with us forever…."