BUiLD Reflection for February 2015
By Sambavi Seermaran
In the summer of February 2015 I travelled to the city of Bangalore, India as part of a group participating in the 40K Globe program. I arrived in India from a two-week trip exploring Sri Lanka, which definitely helped with acclimatizing to the cultural shock and chaos of India. The streets of Bangalore are absolutely jammed packed with people and cars; there’s dust and dirt everywhere and the noise and colour tends to overwhelm the senses. However, before long I quickly adapted to the vibrancy and richness of the bustling life around me. I met many of my future 40K team members before the official induction and we all became fast friends exploring the city and the surrounding sights.
After Induction at a restaurant just outside Bangalore, all 70 of us Globers were split into groups of 8 and sent to rural villages outside of Bangalore. We were all there to set up and run a social business that would use the skills of the local villagers and bring them a source of income. The village I lived in for one month was called Kannur and our team was running a project called Khushi.
Khushi was a business that utilised the tailoring skills of village women to make some very groovy boy’s shorts and unisex long pants that 40K would then sell in the Australian marketplace. The business needed to be self-sustaining by the end of February, which was a big task as it was nowhere near completion when we arrived.
The entire month in Kannur consisted of us forming a good working relationship with the two village tailors, making repeated bus trips into the city to visit fabric shops and cloth markets, talking to various designers and shop owners, as well as teaching local children in the 40K Plus Pod. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my experience in Kannur- to teach the local primary school children English for two hours every weekday. I was one of the lucky two people in my team to have this opportunity. It was truly wonderful to see the kid’s faces excited and happy to see us every day and they were always eager to hold our hands and sit with us in the classroom. The 40K organisation does a great job setting up these pods to teach English to these kids, who otherwise would not get the benefit of education in such a rural community.
During our month in Kannur, we had the weekends off to explore the sights and scenery of India. One weekend many of the Globers and I went to Goa for a short holiday on its sunny beaches. Another weekend I spent in Bangalore, shopping and relaxing in the city. I spent quite a lot of time at Bangalore’s Chikpet markets, where the cheapest and best quality Indian clothing such as saris and salwar khameez’s can be found. I bought many colourful saris, bangles and bindis as presents for people back home.
At the end of our last week, we managed to complete our Khushi project and employ one village woman to tailor boy’s shorts for us on a constant order each month until July. It was a successful end to a project that had many complications and problems. My team members and I had grown very close after living together for a whole month and we all were sad to leave Kannur behind us. On the final day of the 40K program, the coordinators organised a Holi fight for the 70 Globers on a mountainside.
We were each given bags of colourful powder to throw at each other. It was a memorable and fun morning being covered and pelted at with colourful powder. That night we had a farewell dinner in Bangalore and celebrated the end of a month’s hard work on the various businesses.
India is the most amazing and chaotic country. I truly loved the place and fell deeply in love with its culture, food and people. I had a fantastic time, and I can’t wait until I return back to its ancient shores.