|Christmas lights and a hibiscus flower for decor.|
Christmas morning found us making our way back to the airport.
Santa had not found his way to our hotel room. Oh well.
While waiting for our flight, we soothed our pangs of hunger with some Indian style Subway. I had the masala paneer sub, Karl the tandoori chicken. They were both delicious.
The flight was a quick two hours to Hyderabad followed by thirty minutes waiting on the plane while some passengers got off and others got on. Our destination of Vijayawada was only another half hour of flying.
We landed in Vijayawada and stepped off of the plane into the warmest Christmas I have ever experienced. A bus took us from the plane to the baggage claim area: a room with a guy tossing in luggage from the flight and people chaotically searching for their belongings. We successfully retrieved our suitcase and walked outside.
Waiting for us just past the door was a man named Ravi Kumar.
Ravi works for a non-profit human rights group called the Association of Relief Volunteers, or ARV. ARV coordinates with the organization Go Longitude-a website that organizes volunteers and fundraising events for ARV as well as a for a program called Educate Ghana. (Please click on this link to find out how you can get involved!)
“Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for giving your precious time to be here!”
Every Christmas, Ravi likely says these words to the new group of volunteers. Over the past several years he has worked with more than 400 volunteers. The vast majority of these volunteers are people on the JET program, teaching English in Japan. There is good reason for this:
After the catastrophic Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, Ravi was helping with the relief effort. This is when he met another volunteer who happened to be a teacher on the JET program. They formed a connection, which has turned into three annual volunteer trips to India. These three annual trips correspond with three breaks in the Japanese school years, ideal for JET teachers.
In fact, that is how Karl and I first heard about the trips. Two of our good friends had gone previous years and were strongly encouraging us to participate. So we did.
As we drove away from the airport, (I was SO happy to be done flying) Ravi explained that we were on our way to one of the homes of an ARV employee. We would meet the other two volunteers there and have our Christmas dinner before driving another hour to our hotel.
And finally…we could rest. The next day would be our first in the village.
|The first of many cups of chai. So delicious!|
|Coconut filled sweets|
|Can't remember what these were called, but they were so delicious!|
|Karl is excited to be eating.|
|The family who graciously provided Christmas dinner for us.|
|Ready to get to our hotel after a couple days of travel.|