Thursday, 5 April 2007

Articles in the Cross Section

I'd hoped to have a few words from different members of the group who went to Delhi. In the past few monthly church newsletters, The Cross Section, we've had little pieces about the lead up to the trip. The April edition, has a few articles and feedback from various team members. To see this newsletter, select the link: Cross Section April 2007. (You will need to have the reader required to see this - for more information - see here)

I'm still hoping to get the link to the mini video that was out together using our photos. We'll get there!


Thursday, 22 March 2007

Feedback from the Trip: Something to Listen to!

On Sunday, we all got together again to do feedback for the St.Stephen's congregation. We had decided to dress up. You've seen the ladies outfits so here is an idea of what the men wore. (It did take them longer to warm to the idea, but by the end of the week, they all looked very fine too.)

What we hadn't bargained on, was the very fine weather we'd had the previous week was replaced by chillier temperatures. I woke to hear driving sleet against my windows. (I'm in an attic room, so the sound was particularly clear!) My first thoughts were about the light cotton Salwaar Kameez, really meant only for an Indian climate, and the near zero UK temperatures! Anyway, we all wore our wonderful wraps and so were warm. Nervous energy about standing up to talk also heats the body!

We each had something to do in the service. The feedback section was recorded. It starts with a Bible reading by Val and then follows with Libby introducing the trip and then the rest of us have a few moments each to give you a flavour of various aspects of the trip. This mp3 recording is just over 30 mins long. This second recording is shorter. Introduced by Chris, it is followed by the "Arky Arky" song we sang with the children on the Friday and in the final prayer meeting we had.


Thursday, 8 March 2007

On the Road to Agra

Isn't it the way of things? There I was in New Delhi, with time on my hands after a day's work and being in the slum, just before dinner and filled to overflowing with words to write and no Internet access... Now I am home and I have access in the lounge and in the kitchen and sitting on my bed...but no time. Well, that's a not exactly correct. I have time, but having spent the day typing and editing and reading and writing, I'm not always up for another few hours of writing at the end of the day!

I'm starting to pick through my photos and can tell you a little more about day 2 and our visit to the Taj Mahal...

On the road to Agra
This was as much a part of the adventure as the work in the slums! Along the way we saw elephant, cows, monkeys on chains and a camel train.
I found the smog incredible. It was one of the things that I would keep commenting about, the air pollution. For pretty much most of the day, you can see the air. We left Delhi for Agra at 7am and it was closer to 11am before the air was clear and by then we were some miles away from Delhi.

As we approached Agra, we picked up our guide for the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. We had to leave our vehicle a mile away from the Taj and catch an electric bus, to prevent exhaust fumes from getting close to the buildings. This struck me as pointless with the levels of particles in the air as it is.

I have a number of snaps of the Taj, and you know the scenes, but this is one of the first views you see as you approach.

I won't bore you with loads of Taj Mahal pictures, but it was a fascinating building to see and learn about and is really, very impressive. Keep an eye on the photo blog, I'll add a few more there.
After the Taj, we headed for a nearby fort, the Red Fort, if I recall correctly. Again an impressive structure, this time built in a red sandstone. If I can persuade other members of the team to add to this blog, maybe one of them will give you some of the history! I kept taking photos of the Taj, now seen from across some fields.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

A Little Bit of Cricket...

I have asked the team to send me thoughts from our week away. Here is one from Richard. (I have taken the liberty of adding a few snaps.)

From the moment we arrived, the beautiful children of Zakhira made us so welcome, their happy faces and excited voices being in stark contrast to the physical surroundings. With communication generally limited to non-verbal means, it soon became apparent that a number of our young male hosts were keen to teach us a thing or two about cricket. On a makeshift dirt wicket, the youngsters systematically destroyed our rather limited bowling attack with them appearing to take particular pleasure in dealing with Barry’s deliveries off his rather intimidating 40-yard run-up. Indeed, the biggest hazard they faced was avoiding losing balls down the open sewers which provided a unique boundary to the playing area. It was humbling to engage with these children, who despite their daily hardships, possessed smiles that appear to belie our logic. With more time, we may also have been able to engage some of the older men who appeared pretty disinterested at first but were beginning to show some interest towards the end of the week.

Thank God for these children and I pray that, with Asha’s assistance, they are blessed with opportunities to fulfill their future ambitions.

(Click image for larger view)

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The Weekend Before

Perhaps it's time to start at the beginning...

We landed in Delhi at 2am and were met by our driver and another escort. Naively as men offered to help with bags, some of our group handed them over and so there was a bit of a maelstrom as we made our way to our vehicles. Our escorts trying to look after a bunch of innocents, shielding us from the wily taxi drivers hoping for fares! No harm came to us and our bags safely stored in one car, while we were bundled in to the next.

First impressions of Delhi - poor air and crazy driving - even at 3am. First stop, YWCA, Ashoka Road near Connaught Place.

After a leisurely start to the day, we set off to a local market. The girls needed Salwaar Kameezes. We needed to have these to visit the homes in the slums. Here the ladies model them. Left to right: Val, Caroline, Sue and Libby.

The shop was filled floor to ceiling and the counter was a fabric chaos when we left. (Click on images to see larger view)

It was fun finding and trying these on. Libby, having been through this before, was our guide, while the men hung around patiently. The market was not touristy, but was a good introduction to beggars and children following us around.

The food markets reminded me of South Africa, as the produce is that of a warmer climate and so were abundant with fruits and vegetables that are familiar to me. Not quite so familiar were the cooking stalls . The ground was littered with bowls made from dried leaves, which were dropped once the meal was consumed.

Tomorrow , the road to Agra.

I have started adding ad hoc photos to my photo blog here: Fun with Images

Bye for now

Monday, 26 February 2007

About a Queue: Delhi Aiport Departures

We're back safely. In the course of the next few weeks, I'll be updating this site with more news about our trip and am hoping to collect views from the rest of the team on the trip, in the hope of providing you with different perspectives of the brief and very full trip.

There are a few things to do before getting back to work - I took just short of 600 pictures which need to be whittled down to a sensible number. I'm going to aim at cutting to 200, which I think is still a fairly reasonable number and still probably too many for anyone to be interested. Fear not, I'll only put a few up here. My home is bit of a jumble; washing done and drying, shoes ready to be scrubbed and put out to dry and a pile of post to tackle. It was only a week! How did that all happen?

Delhi Airport
Now there's an experience! As I mentioned in my last entry, we had to leave for the airport at 3am, so we were up at 2am. My room mate, Sue Jackman, and I were ready quickly, so with time to spare, slept again 'til we needed to be downstairs. Then vehicles were packed and off to the airport for around 3.35am. (The reason for all this time keeping will become evident soon). Delhi airport only permits passengers in the through the doors, so we had to find our way through the crowd outside to the entrance, where we were permitted to enter once Libby had shown them our ticket. Then we joined the first queue, to get our bags scanned and labeled. From that queue we joined the next queue for checking in. This one snaked alarmingly, but we had buckets of time and so chatted as we moved. Once checked in we turned to go through security. It was now 4.35, an hour since arriving at the airport. As we were flying at 6.55am, Richard wondered (aloud) what we'd do to kill time...
We joined a few of the many queues for passport control. Half the group in one and the rest in another. Our queue did not budge. Not that the other queues were making much progress. It was no competition, but we came second, getting through that exercise in an over an hour. Time, it appeared was marching on and it was now closer to 5.45am and we still had a queue to go! The final hand baggage check which took us an hour and a half and meant that we not only missed boarding time, but the gate closing time and the scheduled take-off time. During all this, there was a shift change and so a brief period of time when no-one was being screened at all! There was very little panic though, as we were aware of the many people behind us in the queue also waiting to get onto our plane.
By the time I got to my seat it was 7.30am and apparently still between 150 and 180 people to clear the security checks! Certainly the plane was quite empty. We left at 8.30am. There was more calmness than I have known at any of the many airports I have flown from.

Tomorrow, the first of the photos...

Saturday, 24 February 2007

A Little Bit of Singing

It's all over. We're off to bed for a few hours sleep and then to the airport at 3am to catch our flight home. Sad and emotional farewells were the order of the day, following the grand opening ceremony for the clinc, complete with the cutting of a red ribbon, this afternoon.

As I have mentioned in previous entries, there is so much to tell you and I'll continue to update the site with entries for the next week or so and of course share a few photos.

Before I head off tonight, I wanted to tell you a little about yesterday morning. We finished off the rooms and murals, which Sam told you about. Collectively we are quite proud of our murals! and it was fun doing them too. A finishing touch to the entrance was a giraffe, which Sam drew and painted, for measuring the heights of the children and in particular, adding marks for the at-risk pregnant women. (Pregnant women below the height of 4'10" are considered high-risk)

The clinic has a small courtyard and there is a largish entrance area, with 4 rooms off this, 2 to each side; a doctor's room, a well-baby clinic, two children's' resource rooms, and a toilet and store room. Once we'd finished off the doors and skirting boards, we started hanging round, different members of the team involved in different things in and around the area.

As the children started gathering, asking me to take pictures, I tried to engage them in conversation and get them singing. They were very shy to and so we shared names and ages and basic details about themselves. (Lots of "sign" language and gestures!) Mostly girls around 11, there was a scattering of ages ranging from 5 to 12. Wanting to sing with them, I pulled Andrew in to help. Those who know Andrew, our vicar, will know his great musical talent and so will not be surprised that he came equipped with a song, actions and great energy! We kept repeating his first 'Noah' song until Andrew was exhausted and the children had finally joined in, giggling and following along as they did. Then he and Caroline racked their brains for more songs with actions. It was great fun and the crowd grew quickly. When Andrew retired breathless, they shyly suggested they wanted to sing for us and so finally they sang a few for us. We finished with more songs and Val, Andrew Caroline and I playing hand clapping games and singing until lunch. It was a very special time and there was much laughter.

Bye for now. Will talk again when there is a reliable Internet and no queue!

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Sam's Blog Entry no. 1

Hi, I'm Sam. I'm 14 years old and the youngest of our group. Today we went back to Zakhira. This trip was focused around the painting project, renovating the Asha medical centre. We had pretty much done the walls with the bare colours, which were the frames for our murals.
During the first half of the day, half of the team went prayer walking in the slum. The team prayed for a very sick woman who was recovering from an operation. Unfortunately she wasn't getting better and could barely eat, so she was painfully thin.

Today me, Sue, Libby and Andrew (my dad) carried on with the murals, which are being painted onto the rooms in which the children play and go to school in. On the first room we are completing a jungle scene, the concept designed by a member of St Stephen's School. On the walls of the other room we are painting Noah's Ark. Val did some very artistic animals, she had the talent of creating figures freehand and her turtles were particularly impressive. I mainly did the sketches, and Sue was very good at outlines and precised paintings, something that I am not so good at. Dad faithfully did the leaves.

The first thing I noticed when I first entered Zakhira was how cute and playful the children were. The thing they love more than anything is having their picture taken! If you have a camera on you it wont take long before 30 odd slum children are assembled in front of you, posing with their brothers and sisters. These children don't often have good healthy fun, because they mainly have jobs such as rag picking, or scrap metal collecting, or bending aluminium strips into industrial shapes. For a whole days work they receive about seven rupees - the equivalent of about 10p.

I am looking forward to tomorrow as we will be finishing the murals and showing the children who I'm sure will love it. All for now, Namaste! Sam

Health Care and Empowerment

At last I've got a moment and an Internet connection at the same time! (and hopefully time to tell you some more)

Our heads are full, are hearts are full and our emotions are all over the place. Every day is a yo yo of emotions. We move from laughter to despair, from joy to sheer disbelief that there are people living in these conditions today. The joy is from the hope and from the sheer fun and happiness when the children warm to almost any interaction. They are delightful.

We have been painting and have made great progress in the clinic in Zakhira. Our days have consisted of the team starting the morning in Zakhira, painting. Once we've done a chunk, half the group then changes, the women into their Salwaar Kameeze and the men scrubbing up a little, and does a prayer walk. Then lunch is followed by a reversal of this, with the morning painters doing the prayer walk and the rest painting again. There is such need in these homes and they are so varied, so these prayer walks are very draining, each of us affected by the needs at different times and in different ways.

How Asha Works
Yesterday we went to another slum, Maya Puri. This is the slum that Libby worked in last year, on her last visit to the slums. There were many happy reunions as we arrived at the Maya Puri clinic. We spent the morning hearing from the team leaders, as we had on Monday at Zakhira, but if I relate this to you, you'll get an idea of how Asha moves into and works in a slum. (I have been taking notes in the evenings, so hope I get this accurate!)

Maya Puri is a slum that runs the length of a railway track, as so many of them do, and is the biggest scrap yard in Delhi. At one point we stood on the railway tracks and the slum stretching between 2 bridges is 2 kilometers long. There is a another huge stretch beyond the bridge, which we did not visit. When Asha arrived at Maya Puri, 9 years ago, in 1998, the people in the slums, particularly the children, were dying of diarrhoea, TB, malnutrition, pneumonia and mother and infant deaths at birth. Asha starts with a mobile clinic and there are 2 areas they focus on: Health care and Empowerment.

Alongside the medical team, the Asha team immediately starts trying to talk to the women and telling them about how they can be trained as Community Health Visitors and Lane Volunteers. A Lane Volunteers looks after 25 - 30 families in her lane. She is responsible for visiting all the families in her lane and knowing all their needs. She must visit her lane families daily. These women, when Asha first arrived, wore long scarves or veils covering their faces and never left their homes during the day, only being permitted by their husbands to do any washing or ablutions at night. Maya Puri had no water, no toilet facilities and mud or sand lanes running between the dwellings. The toilet was the railway line.
It took Asha workers eight (8!) months to get a gathering of 6 or 7 women who were willing to be Lane Volunteers... and so the first beginnings of a Mahila Mandel ("Women's Group") was formed.
The Mahila Mandels in the Asha slums are the power houses of the community. Slum barons, the police... everyone take advantage of the slum dwellers before these groups are formed. To get any thing done they had to pay bribes. In Maya Puri we met some of the women from 2 of the Mahila Mandels. The groups have 28 - 30 women in them and the women now have great respect in the community. They have weekly meetings, with the lane volunteers bringing lane issues to the fore and the women discussing and voting on how they should be managed. There is someone taking minutes (most are illiterate) and a treasurer. Yup, they all pay a nominal amount into a kitty monthly and the group decides how it is spent. The women in Maya Puri raised and sent funds to the Tsunami Disaster Fund.

One of the major issues was to get the 2 toilet blocks, which are now used by the 10 000 dwellers, installed. This feat took no less than 3 years, with the local authorities quibbling about why there was a need! There are now concrete walk ways and gutters between the homes, drinking water and ground water pumps. All these from the efforts of the Mahila Mandel, the women groups in the slum.

In 2002 Asha helped all these women's group to become registered charities. This means they each have a legal identity in their own right and they visit the police and their local counselors and fight for the changes in their communities. Just astounding.

I have run out of time and still there is more to say. I do want to mention, that while all this may start sounding magical, the shock at arriving in Maya Puri yesterday morning left us silent. The entrance is through the scrap heap and the filth is indescribable. I have never seen such dirty children and men working must have the dirt ingrained, never to be moved. The site is industrial; machine grease, water, mud, oil and metal parts all around. Goats, children, hens and welding and banging all a cacophony of sounds and smells. An enslaught to the senses and emotions.

After the morning meeting, we had a walk through Maya Puri, the staff were very supportive and walked touching and talking to us all the way. Their support and quiet talking as we walked through the homes was what we needed. We moved on to the other side of the slum, where the children were scrubbed and the women once again in beautiful colours and smiling. The contrast so stark and showing us the true impact of the lane volunteers and the women's groups.

I have not told you about the prayer meeting in the afternoon, the singing and the testimonies told and heard and the fabulous fun face painting with the children. (I have now taken a few hundred photos, predominantly children and women) I have not told you about the heath care programmes or Delhi. So much to tell, so many experiences.

That's enough for now.

Monday, 19 February 2007


Where to begin? No idea, but a single computer, a connection that drops in and out and a queue behind me means I'll just give you a very brief update for now. I'm also not able to bring you any photos while I'm away, so you'll need to wait for those for now.

I was going to say "in a few words" but I can't. The past three days have been quite an experience. Today was our first slum experience and I really want to tell you about that, so I'll leave our arrival, Saturday and Sunday's events to another entry. Suffice to say we have had a gentle introduction to Delhi and have loved it all. (Air pollution aside - the air quality is shocking)

Today, Monday, was scheduled as our first day in the slums. We met after breakfast to pray for the day and talk briefly about fears and concerns. Really in the end we were all just wanting get started, so while there were a few concerns the main feeling was of anticipation.
Our first stop was Asha Headquarters, where we met some of the Asha team and were walked through a presentation of the work Asha does and the progress they have made. It's unbelievable what Dr Kirin Martin and her team have done here. I will do more entries on that talk and our morning meeting, but I want to get right on to our first touch of the slum.

We will be working in the clinic in Zakhira. This slum is split into two stretches. Both are sandwiched between the railway line and industrial sites. Before Asha moved into the area 4 years ago, there were fatalities as the children and woman would cross the railway tracks to get water from the other side. In the past 2 years they have improved the site by leaps, and now have paved walkways and gutters for the waste water. One of the most significant improvements are water pumps in the slum. This now means they no longer cross the tracks.

We were met with garlands of flowers and a wonderful welcome by the women in the courtyard of the clinic where we will be working. Many of the key workers in the slum spoke about the work they do, which is all part of the empowerment program that Asha runs. (I so badly want to write and write and write, but have a people breathing down my neck for the machine, so I'm struggling for words! - unusual for me...)
This is primarily a Muslim slum and so in the past many of the women were not allowed to leave their homes or if they did, moved about with their heads and faces covered. For them to be walking heads held high and head scarves thrown back is huge thing. They are all beautiful with colourful dresses and quick, shy smiles. For them to stand up in front of a crowd and tell us about the work they are doing in the slum is also enormous. If you find that my words are mostly about the women and children, it's because this is who Asha is working with. It's the women who are making the difference here.

I have to go, I can't do this pressure, but before I do I want to tell you about the children. They were just delightful. As we listened to the stories, I started to take pictures of the women and the children. The wonderful thing abut the digital camera is that you can instantly show the picture to the group. After the talks, we were shown around both slum sectors and took loads of pictures. Mostly of the children. Hunkering down and taking a photo, and then showing them the results was wonderful. They giggled and laughed and rushed around us. As I turned to look at other members in the team, they were doing the same. Everyone talking to the women, listening and learning about the life they lead and the work they do in the area. Those of us with cameras, also having fun with the children. What an experience.

Our programme is to paint Tuesday to Friday, with a visit to one of the other slums on Wednesday. We'll also be walking with and talking to the people who live their lives in these places. We need to be done by Saturday lunch time, when there is an official opening. We also plan to do 2 afternoons of workshops with the children. I can't wait. The most powerful thing these children can receive, after the basic nutritional, medical and health needs, which is where Asha is helping, is English and computer literacy. With that, they have a chance to escape this life and move to something better. Now there's a thought...

Gotta go. More later.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

A few thoughts before we go

Last night we prayed for the trip. We'll be leaving comfortable homes for 10 days. It's a short trip. The people we'll be visiting live in these conditions year round, for their lives. Libby reminded us as we pack to go that Zakhira is one of the poorest slums in Delhi. There are about 6000 people living in Zakhira and it's one of the 1500 slums in Delhi. That's 1500 slums in one city. The people are referred to as "the untouchables" and are considered by many as less than animals and are treated as such. They have no running water, electricity or toilets. They share their homes with the animals they keep and many family members. Disease is rife. We have had a string of jabs, are taking antiseptic wipes and have to watch the water we touch, use and drink and the food we eat. For us just a week, for them a lifetime.
How is it that the world has places like this? How can we change this? Small steps is all we can try.


Sunday, 4 February 2007

The Team and a Night out

If you've read the initial entries to this blog, then you'll know we had a sponsored event planned to raise money to take to the project in Asha, where we'll be helping a few weeks. The event was to built a few shelters and spend 18 hours together.
That was last weekend and the team built shelters and spent the night outdoors. I say the team built, not all the team built, but those who were able to get away from work put together 2 small shelters in the front garden of the church. (I was certainly too late and just added to the cardboard floors.) Here you see Jez in the frame of one of the shelters.

We all started gathering together just before 6pm on Friday evening and built a wonderful fire between the shelters, settling down to spend the night. Having had strong winds, plenty of rain and even snow in the preceding week, we didn't quite know what to expect. Any of those elements would have seen out cardboard and plastic tarpaulin shelters pulled apart. In the end all we had to face was a clear, cold night.

It was a good evening, although once we'd eaten by 8pm there was a moment of "we'll that's 2 hours done, now what will we do?"

Here are Richard and Michael ... and Val on the left.

Chris spent most of the time playing with the fire.

I don't have any great shots of the shelters. (Something to do with me typically accustomed to taking snaps of misty watery scenes...) Because Chris was so enamoured with the fire, the only pictures I have of the shelters include the fire and of course, Chris!

(Click on any of the images to see a larger image). So this is him again on the right, with the other shelter in the right.

Actually in many of the slum dwellings in India, there is not space for all to sleep at once, so apparently there is a concept of "hot bedding". If you know about a hot desk, you'll know the concept. We thought we'd just squeeze into our shelters, but in the end, 4 or 5 of the group slept outside, as our 2 shelters were quite small for 13.

Soon we settled into an evening of chatting and getting to know each other. Although all members of St.Stephen's, I didn't know any of the team and so this was an important evening for us.
Here are Alan, Barry and Libby. Libby is leading our trip. (Apologies to Barry for not getting a nice smiling shot)

I know it's a very short trip, but this will be a new experience for each of us in a different way and each member has slightly different concerns or thoughts. Not least of which is our lack Hindi and Urdu.

Here's another example. Just before out "camp-out", we heard that British Airways would be on strike the week we'd be flying and I'd certainly received alerts, advising to say if I was travelling that week, to change my plans. As this was not possible, we felt we had to hand over any worries we have and this week have heard the strike has been called off. All throughout the planning for this trip, I have been struck about how I should let go those concerns I have no control over and each possible block has been moved.

Now we have Sue, Andrew and Sam (our youngest team member).

Back to the night in our shelters. All through the night, we'll at least until about 1.00am, we had various visitors stop by and say hi and share a quick coffee. Some said it was warmer near our fire than anywhere else in the area, so I think we were cosy. I snuggled down around 1.30am. It's amazing how sounds are amplified at night. I was convinced the London night buses were going to roll over just near us, as they hurtled around the bend near the shelters. I suspect their "hurtling" wasn't fast at all, but at 3.00am it certainly sounded that way.

Some were up early, around 5am. (I finally moved before 7.00, must be boarding school training). I love that early morning. No-one awake and the streets empty - even the night bus has given up. I went for an early stroll and I posted these photos later.
This is Caroline on the left and me on the right.

I want to take photos while I am in India, but as I am more landscape than portrait photographer, will see how I fare there.

Once breakfast was over, we settled down to more fireside chatting and then tidying up and removing all signs of our presence. The last thing to do was a team shot just after midday, mission accomplished.

Friday, 26 January 2007


Some Reading
I'm reading three books. The first is one my mum loved and sent to me years ago. I have started it, but it needs a few committed hours to get going. That's the City of Joy by by Dominique Lapierre. The next is on tape and so I can 'read' while pottering in the kitchen. This I am enjoying and getting something of an understanding of the history of Delhi. I'm about 1/3 the way into that and am enjoying it. This is the City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple. The last , Holy Cow! an Indian Adventure by Sara MacDonald, is irreverent, but again, I should not pass full judgement until I'm done. They're all giving me a sense of the crowds and noise we'll no doubt encounter. My world is very quiet and peaceful; morning walks along the Crane River.

Raising Funds...
On Friday, 26th January we'll be building our shelter for the night. More detail on that in the post below which is from our flyer. It might be a bit icy overnight, as we've had snow this week and the temperature has dropped to seasonal degrees around zero (Celcius) for the first time this season. I think it'll be fun and a good opportunity for getting to know the team, specially as we've only met briefly on a few occasions.
More later.

18 hours in the life of a slum dweller…

On 26 January our team will undertake a sponsored event; to live as a slum dweller for 18 hours – in the front garden of the church!

We will attempt to build a slum hut using available rubbish and junk and then the 15 team members will continue to live, sleep and cook in two 6’ x 8’ huts for an 18 hour period. The weather will be pretty chilly, we will struggle for space and shelter during the day and night and our cooking facilities will be an open fire – these are just a few tasters of the challenges that the Delhi slum dwellers face daily. We will try to recreate the conditions and atmosphere as much as possible in order to understand a fraction of what it is like to live in such squalor.

The cost of the mission to each individual is approximately £1,500. This includes a contribution towards a team donation of £6,000 to cover the cost of the project we will undertake at Zakhira. This will provide for essential improvements to the infrastructure of the slum community clinic and for basic provisions for the slum children’s resource centre housed within it.

If you would like to sponsor a member of the team, please complete the form overleaf and return it, with a cheque payable to ‘St Stephen’s PCC’, to the person you wish to support (tax payers please tick the box near the top of the Gift Aid form).


To: St Stephen’s Church, 30 Crown Road, Twickenham, TW1 2AL

Please treat all donations I make on or after the date of this declaration as Gift Aid donations.
Please treat the enclosed donation as a Gift Aid donation.
If you are a tax payer, please tick

AMOUNT £…….....
(Please make cheques payable to ‘St Stephen’s PCC’)

Title and full name (please print)





…………………………………………..Postcode …………………….……

Signed ………………………………………………………………………….

Date …………………………………………………………………………….

You must pay the amount of income tax or capital gains tax equal to the tax we reclaim on your donation (28p for every £1 you give).

I am supporting the following member of the Delhi Team:

(name of team member) ………………………………………………………

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Asha's Mission


The Asha Community Health and Development Society was conceived in 1988 in response to the acute and distressing needs of the urban poor in New Delhi. Now 18 years later, with a vision to love and serve the poor in the name and spirit of Christ, the Asha family has grown to encompass over 300,000 people living in 46 slum colonies. With clear vision, focused goals, articulated objectives and well-implemented interventions, Asha reaches out to slum dwellers in Delhi to bring about a holistic and lasting improvement in their lives through the empowerment of individuals and communities and through raising their health standards and the conditions in which they live. Alongside tending to the physical needs of the slum dwellers, Asha also seeks to proclaim the good news of Christ through words and action and is seeing many people come to faith in Jesus Christ; small slum churches are being established within the slums as many testify to the love, faithfulness and goodness of God in their daily lives.

What it's About

My initial entry, "The Brief" is part of the flyer telling friends and family about our trip to India in February 2007. It is not my intention to maintain this blog for very long, instead I plan to track a few of the things leading up to the trip and then to do a write up after we return.

As I like to carry my camera around too, I'm hoping to be able to document as much of the trip, as is appropriate, with words and images.

Raising Money
Some of preparation is about raising money for our trip and to take to ASHA for our project there.

More on how we're raising funds for the project soon.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

The Brief

In February 2007, a mission team from St Stephen’s Church, Twickenham, will travel to New Delhi, India, to spend nine days serving the poor in the slums of this vast city. Working with the Indian NGO ‘Asha’, the aim of the mission is to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to just some of the three million people who struggle daily to live in one of the worst environments in the world.

As a group, we will undertake some manual work to help improve the community clinic at the centre of the Zakhira slum colonies in West Delhi. We will also spend time each day with individuals and groups of slum dwellers, listening to their stories, encouraging them in all they do, performing workshops with the children and generally working with the Asha team to bring hope into a seemingly hopeless situation.