A Visit to South India - Karen Martin
Karen Martin, a long time supporter of Salt of the Earth, has written an article to share her thoughts and feelings about SOTE's supporter visit to South India in January 2017.
"Arriving in Chennai was welcoming as we relaxed in the guest house and waited to hear more about our two week visit to see the new projects SOTE had recently adopted in Tamil Nadu.
This was my second trip to India and with a smaller group than two years ago. It had always been a secret ambition to see India as it really was ever since my nursing days. When I heard Janet Elisita, a SOTE Trustee, give a talk years ago about the work of SOTE and what was being achieved, I decided to give my support.
Now, years later, I was travelling to a new area and visiting SOTE’s new partners CRUSADE and the CARE Foundation. In addition we were also able to spend time in Pondicherry (an old French colony), visiting the Cultural and Heritage Centre of Auroville, and also Mahabalipuram (a 7th century coastal port and UNESCO World Heritage site).
Our party spent the first few days getting to know each other and the vibrant city of Chennai with guided walks to spice markets, food tastings, museums, temples and churches.
A few days later we visited both Minjur and Sholavaram to see SOTE’s partner CRUSADE. Seeing the work for the first time was thought provoking and as I watched and listened I soon realised that SOTE had chosen wisely. CRUSADE is working hard to encourage local people to become self sufficient and empowered using the resources they are offered. This includes regular access to health professionals, care for those with disabilities, education, self-help groups and tree planting.
The second project at the CARE Foundation in Chengalpattu highlighted the needs of the locals and SOTE have been able to set up a holistic child sponsorship programme focusing on education, child care, hygiene as well as the prevention of alcohol abuse, that is so prevalent in this community.
At the end of an incredible two weeks my lasting impression was that the work SOTE is doing (to improve the lives of those who would otherwise live in poverty) is being achieved in the most caring way possible. It is being run so efficiently by Reena and Tom with the support of so many people who give generously to allow this work to happen.
It has to be experienced firsthand to be fully understood and I also hope to visit again in the future. Thanks must also go to Eddie who spent many hours researching and planning the visit.
Thank you SOTE. You are all amazing!
To find out more information on SOTE's next visit to South India in January 2018, click here.