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  • Day11

    We said goodbye to Dr. Rahman this morning and left Babaneswar for New Delhi. We arrived around noon and checked into the Red Fox hotel, where we stayed our first night. Our driver took us to a restaurant in the downtown core and I had the BEST chicken Korma I've ever tasted. Then went to Connaught place, a CRAZY market in the middle of the city. Totally where I wanted to be!!!!! We fought through the crowds and had a few verbal altercations w vendors over prices... thanks to Susan who knows the ropes around here and didn't allow them to take advantage of her wide eyed white friend!! Lol.
    My Dream shopping trip complete I sleep in the same bed I did on my first night in India. Full circle ..... so much to process. I think I'll need some time for that. So much happiness to meet these children who have found safe haven and at the same time so much sorrow to look around and see so many vulnerable people in this place.
    Tomorrow we are off to the Taj Mahal, then airport, then home.
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  • Day10

    After spending the night at a university campus, we drove 2 hours to Gangam to visit our last Dream Centre. We are traveling with the director of GNI, Dr. Faiz Rahman and when we got off the van he was mobbed by the kids screaming "Daddy" as he got off the bus. He has 30 D.C. ... over 3000 children and he still managed to know them by name.
    When we arrived a family was standing off to the side. We quickly figured out that they were there to drop off a child. The Grandmother and mother had brought a little girl, no older than 6. The grandmother explained that her father had died and her mom remarried and had another son. The moms new husband didn't want the girl and was treating her badly. I noticed scars on her body. The mom was sad but said she needed to protect her so giving her away was the best option. No words.
    We played and danced, and a little girl no more than 4 fell asleep in my arms as soon as I picked her up. I learned her mother had died and her father couldn't take care of her and her sister. I wondered when the last time was that she had fallen asleep in someone's arms.
    A lot to process from today. So many brave, strong children I've met in the last 10 days.
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  • Day9

    So after leaving Jeypore we had to drive again through the mountains to reach Gajapati... another painful 7 hour drive. The trips saving grace was a half hour stop in a little town to stretch our legs.... had a fantastic matcha late from the man in the pic below..... far from Starbucks but good all the same:) finally was able to grab some pomegranate for the ride home :). Thanks again to TULU for getting is hoke safe in the rain on those crazy Indian roads.Read more

  • Day9

    Today we woke up early to make the drive to the Barrie Dream Centre in Jeypore. I was especially excited about this day as I was able to my sponsor child Muna. He was waiting for me as we drove in and presented me w a fresh flower necklace. He is shy and I tried hard not to overdo it but had to hold back tears as I hugged him for the first time. I let him come to me after that and he eventually came around and we were able to talk and get to know each other. I presented him with gifts I had brought with me. We finished the day kicking the ball around ... he's a good little soccer player! It was also a blessing to deliver presents to friends' sponsor children as well... i took video and gave hugs for friends back home. Meeting Muna helped me recognize that i need to take my responsibility as his sponsor more seriously and will do a better job going forward. I cried again as I left... I realize that meeting him is a rare opportunity I had been granted and I am very very grateful :)Read more

  • Day8

    Today our 10 hour drive from
    Babaneswar to Jeypur took 14 hours!! It was a tough ride ... but took us through some interesting towns and villages I don't think I would have seen otherwise. We ascended through a small mountain range and saw breathtaking views and tiered rice fields. People waved at the white people blowing through their village in the GNI van.... BIG thanks to our driver TULU who dodged cows, goats, motorcycles and people up and down a mountain to get us here safely.Read more

  • Day6

    Today was an awesome day of rest. We are in Babanashour at the GNI headquarters. Woke up late and went to the central market. I was in shopping heaven!!!! Then came back for a late lunch and sat on the roof of the GNI building taking in the sounds, smells and sights of the India countryside. Dr. Faiz Rahman joined us today and took us for curry at a small restaurant a 10 min walk away. Up at 5 am tomorrow for a 10 hour bus ride to the Barrie Dream Centre. So nice to have had a day of rest.Read more

  • Day6

    Ate breakfast in our hotel ... and drank a decent cup of coffee :). Travelled 2 hours to the district of Bhadrak to visit another D.C. called Tihidi. We were met at the road by the kids and walked on a dirt road through rice fields to the orphanage. The orphanage surrounded a court yard complete with a water well and goats. The kids performed dances for us, the we played games, soccer and did the girls nails. Hugged and laughed tons. The girls bombarded me with their names which I tried to remember ....I managed a few but difficult as they say their first and last name together and I'm never sure where one ends and the next begins. But as usual the children were gracious with me and ..... I met some older girls who are taking nursing at a local college. GNI pays for their education until grad school. All the kids I asked had dreams for their futures- IT, military, teacher,comp engineering... dreams that most Indian kids living in poverty wouldn't dare to dream. Our guide Rama who is now the assistant director of GNI grew up in one of the orphanages after his mothers death and fathers subsequent incarceration. He now has an MSW and told me the kids in his village drop out of school early to work. He is now studying law:)
    We left late afternoon and took the back way on foot and needed to walk through a few village yards and they graciously let us pass.
    The ride home was long through the rain but we finally managed to arrive at GNI headquarters... and crashed. Looking forward to the INDIAN MARKET tomorrow!!!
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  • Day5

    Today was a busy day ..... woke up at the hotel in Balasore and headed to Khemasole, a Dream Centre in a rural area of Orisa. It is the most isolated D.C. we have visited so far. We arrived and the kids had a dance program for us , then we played with them before lunch -made for us on an open 🔥 . I met a little girl who was too young to be legally there (all kids are over 6) but the mother of the D.C. had seen her regularly on the street begging after being beaten by her dad. So one day she went into the village and brought her home. She wouldn't speak to us as she is afraid of adults still but the D.C. parents said she is doing much better.
    We travelled again through rural India to reach the second D.C. that was close by. It's the Sirisboni Dream Centre. We arrived at 330 in the heat of the day .... I don't remember EVER sweating so much. We played outside for a bit then brought the girls inside for a manicure. Then we sang and danced with them a few more hours until we had dinner prepared for us. I could get used to Indian food for breakfast lunch and dinner!! Wow can these kids dance. They tried to teach me but couldn't stop laughing to make any real progress.
    Again, amazing children, amazing day, amazing India.
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  • Day3

    Got up at daybreak and travelled 5 hours to a leprosy colony and orphanage. The trip in was amazing .... a taste of rural India I felt privileged to see. When we reached the Refuge of Hope the kids were lined up and I started crying as soon as I saw them. They are kids who either have leprosy themselves or their parents do and they have been ostracized from their communities. We played games, some soccer, and took some time to do the girls nails.... and ate ice cream from a clay jar! I left crying as I arrived. These amazing kids blow me away. What a privilege to have met them....Now just sitting in a restaurant in Balasore to process the day.Read more

  • Day2

    I finally slept most of the night at GNI headquarters in Babanashour. Attended church, ate lunch and drove to Katcut to the Dream Centre there. It was pouring but once it stopped when we arrived but despite the rain we took the kids outside for a few games. Then Cheyenne, Susan and I did nails on the 70 girls who live there, and the guys played Soccer with the boys. (Indian girls don't play soccer). Some of the girls grabbed my arm and gave me an amazing henna tattoo :) Then they danced for us, and then we danced with them.. again for what seemed like an eternity. So amazing to have met these
    kids. The older girls I talked to are planning to attend university for nursing and medicine. These kids are safe and happy. And again, I'm humbled and amazed.
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  • Day1

    Woke up in Delhi and flew to Babanashour. Drove to the GNI headquarters then off to visit our first orphanage 90 min away in Puri.... formula one in a motorized rickshaw!! The kids were waiting for us and we walked them to the Indian Ocean to play games on the beach..... then came back and ... we danced for hours. I'm still in awe of what I just witnessed. 68 girls whose life's belongings fit in a small box... so full of joy...not to mention some great dance moves! Feeling blessed 😌Read more