Northwest volunteers to India

Our first Courts for Kids project of 2013 was our third project in India, our second in partnership with an Indian organization called ALMA. This court was built at an orphanage in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, a little over 100 miles from Chennai, in southern India. ALMA works with the Yanadi tribe, at the very bottom of India’s historical caste system. The kids from the orphanage come from backgrounds of extreme poverty and ALMA provides food, shelter, an education, and an incredibly loving environment.

The sports court is a tremendous asset for the orphanage, considering there are no other courts within many miles. Kids from the surrounding areas are, for the first time ever, desiring to go to the orphanage to play on the court and interact with the kids there. It is hard to describe the incredible value this places on the lives of children who have been neglected throughout their lives, that they have such a prized possession. Sports is unique in its ability to bring together kids from various backgrounds, and this is very true in India, with its various castes and religions. This court will be a symbol, not only of hope and status for the children in the orphanage, but also one of peace and reconciliation for children from diverse backgrounds.

This project was coordinated primarily by Midge and Chris Dobbs from Vancouver, WA, who assembled a team of 8 volunteers, handled many of the logistics and spent countless hours fundraising. Midge and Chris also spearheaded the previous court project in India and feel a deep longing in their hearts to continue to help support the entire team at ALMA, most notably Rufus, whose father, an Indian pastor, started ALMA many years ago.

Here are some words from Midge:

My third trip and Chris’ second trip to India was a trip of a life time. Many people that I have seen since returning have asked if it was better than previous trips. No trip is better or worse, they are all different. This was a wonderful, wonderful trip.

The day before we left we were able to finish to court to allow for time for a court dedication and a sports clinic. The children had been happy and wonderful the entire week – and let me tell you that was nothing compared to the celebration and dedication. These children were SO happy it was amazing.

The dedication was amazingly unorganized and wonderful in the only way that we had come to know. It was perfect! That honored us all with shawls, had a plaque made with our name on it. When the dedication was done they poured thousands of flower pedals from the ceiling – and we danced and laughed for what seemed to be hours.

Coming home from a trip like this is difficult to say the least. To see what we have seen in the villages and then come home to our excess in the States is hard to handle, especially the first time. The team saw many people malnourished and in desperate for life basics. The amazing thing about India, and why we continue to go, is the people we encounter don’t want or desire anything more than what they have. They are the happiest people I have ever met, they literally live on faith alone. They are content with what they have and are happy to share everything with you. My most memorable moment on this trip is when we were in a village that was clearly malnourished. There were many children with red hair (a sign of malnourishment) and many other symptoms. They had prepared a meal for us to eat and when we were leaving they were handing us fruits as gifts of thanks. It’s not polite at all to decline gifts, we did manage to get out of the lunch, however we took their fruit and figured out a way to send them fruit as a gift later. It was a pretty humbling experience.