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Triona Bracken Team Sundarbans 2018

This year I had the privilege of teaching in the most beautiful of places, the Sundarbans, located about 3 hours south of Kolkata
Views from the roof-top where we spent many evenings, watching the sun go down
Every morning myself and my teaching partner, Emmet would cycle 20 minutes to our school, Kalaishpur. There we taught 3 different classes between the ages of 3-12.

We would spend 50 minutes with each class in the morning, and play games outside with them in the afternoon, when it stayed dry at least. Rainy season in the Sundarbans should not be underestimated.

Meet 3 of our class 4 boys- Babou, Puspendu and Avishek, along with baby Avishek who is in pre-primary.

One of the things that makes the Sundarbans placement so special is the fact that you are living with 34 boys full time, in addition to teaching. These boys are part of a programme called Natuun Allo, which is a national child labour project for boys from the ages of 10-15 run by Sabuj Sangha, a partner organisation of SUAS, providing them with an education and safe place to stay.

Seeing these boys' happy faces was the highlight of our day
Every evening we'd go into the boys and play games, help them with homework, or teach them chess or guitar.
Final lunch with the boys and Bakul, the manager of the accommodation.

I had the privilege to be accompanied by 8 of the most inspiring, genuine, funny people I've ever met. Whenever the going got tough you always knew that these guys would be there to help you through it.

Us on Independence Day wearing Saris and Panjabis, traditional Indian clothing,

Another thing that makes the Sundarbans so unique is the sense of community. The place is so small that after a while you really get to know the people living in the village. We became great friends with Badsha, our chai man, and Dabo our egg-roll man. Going for a chai in the evenings became the Sundarbans equivalent to going for a few pints at home. It was a great opportunity to catch up with the team after the day and share our stories.

Our last night with Badsha

Every weekend we took the opportunity to take a well-earned rest and explore other parts of the Sundarbans, visit Kolkata, or have another team down to visit us.

After a 3 hour boat journey to visit a crocodile sanctuary. We were only slightly scalded

This summer was definitely eye-opening, and indescribable in a way. No amounts of words, or pictures can justify what it feels like to live in this stunning place, witness this amazing community, or be a small part of the lives of the happiest, most inspiring children and people I have ever met. If I was able to teach these kids even half of what they taught me, I would be delighted and extremely proud.

So if volunteering abroad is something you have ever considered I would advise you to apply with SUAS. Along this journey you will learn so much about yourself and the world along with making a real, tangible difference in the lives of some of these incredible children. All of the challenges and fears I thought about before leaving-the heat, the food, the bugs all seem insignificant to me now. I heard this quote at one of the training weekends before we left, and it's stayed with me since. 'All boats are safe in harbour, but that is not where they are meant to stay'.

So if this is something you think you'd like to do at some point, apply now for VP19. Because if not you, who? And if not now, when?

Created By
Triona Bracken
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