It’s time to give. I have walked the walk and talked the talk. Now I needed to give. I had decided that I would buy all the resources for the slum school myself and give them in person. That way, I could decide what to buy, and being a teacher, I knew which resources would best benefit the children I had been teaching. The other reason being I knew that all the money that I had raised would be used directly for the children’s education, and not be lost or used within the charity system. The remaining money collected for the Brian Tumour Charity I would give personally to my friend Mat Bayfield, when I returned to the UK.
But, by buying all the books, I had not once given a thought to the way I was going to be able to deliver them. I needed help, and I had to withdraw my two sons from school to help me.
After looking at all the resources that I had bought for the school, even with help, and riding by taxi, instead of taking the train it was going to take two visits. So the first day I used Andrew my eldest son, and we ordered a taxi to the slum to meet Marie the teacher I had been teaching with the most. Andrew was excited about going to slum, to see what it was like and to meet all the children and the teachers. He has had to put up with all my stories over the whole time we have lived in India. Now he was going to see for himself and make his own opinions.
Sadly, when we arrived at the school, the children had not come back from their summer break, so we only met Marie. She was amazed by how many books there were and was more amazed at how Andrew and I had managed to carry them.
I had to tell her that I would not be coming back to work on the slum. After the end of June, and we both shed a tear. She then quickly said that it was not goodbye, and that our paths would cross again. I have found lot of Indian say this, and I like it, and with the time and experiences I have had, I am sure that I will come back. Who knows, it might be to promote my book about the walk.
We didn’t stay for long, and knowing I would be coming back for another drop off, made the fact that I was leaving Indian easier for us all to handle. I asked Marie when would the children be coming back into school, and she told me, tomorrow. So we left and I said I will see you tomorrow.
So, on the second visit the next day to the slum school, I also employed my youngest son, Theo, to help me as well. This time we had a few more books to deliver, but mostly we had to deliver all our no longer wanted clothes, that Marie would pass onto to children on the slum. Included were boxes of Lego and Konnex that the boys had out grown, duvet quilts and anything that would be useful that we were not shipping on.
Again we had to catch a taxi, and afterwards, get a rickshaw and train home, which the boys loved. The driver of the taxi was amazed by the amount of stuff we had squeezed into his car. He was also really curious why we were going to slum, and I had to explain that I was a voluntary teacher there.
This time when we arrived at the slum with bags and bags of stuff, the children were in class and learning. After removing our shoes, we entered Marie classroom, and all the children stood up and welcomed us. My two boys just couldn’t believe the amount of respect shown to us. Soon Andrew and Theo were sitting on the floor with the children and helping them with their work. Some of the new resources were already being used, and again, this brought a tear to my eye.
We then walked over to the other side of the slum to deliver all the resources that I had bought for the other class I had taught in. Again, I would not have been able to have transport all the stuff without the help of my two sons. When we walked through the slums, people were staring at us, carrying all these books, but the boys just smiled and followed me to the other classroom.
Here, just like Marie’s classroom, the children all stood up and welcomed us into their classroom. The teacher Misty was speechless when she saw all the resources that we had given to their classroom. The children had also made me a picture with some kind words on the back.
Soon, the boys were helping the children learn and then they joined in a game called ‘fire in the mountain’ where the children run around in a circle and the teacher sings ‘fire in the mountain, run, run, run.’ Then a number is called and the children have to get themselves into a group with that number in it. Lots of pushing and laughter, Andrew and Theo were enjoying themselves, one 6 year old girl would not let Andrew go and just kept looking up at him, he was double her size; it made me feel like laughing and crying at the same time.
The morning session was finished by everyone standing and singing the Indian National Anthem. Again we all joined in, I almost know it now!
We walked back across the slum back to Marie’s class, and the boys meet some more of the teachers. I promised that I would come back next week for the final time, even though I have still not packed all our stuff to be shipped. The boys loved it so much they also asked if they could come back next week too, and hopefully I will also bring my wife Michelle as this has been such a big part of my life whilst living here in India, I want my whole family to see and meet all the children and teachers of such a wonderful place. A Mumbai Slum.
As the title of this blog says, it never makes you poor when you give. I would say it does more than that, by giving my time and experience to these people, I have been the one that has received. I will never, ever, forget my experience here and I feel lucky that I was given the chance to teach in a Mumbai slum. I really do hope I can come back soon.
My task is complete.