! Mikey managed to play a days of the week game with them, and I worked out a colours one, but we failed miserably to explain the concept of 'Simon says’ without a translator. When the smiling teacher returned we escaped to the First Standard where most of the class were sick in bed with eye infections so we had only 7 little 4/5 year olds to amuse. After Mikey blew up our inflatable globe and they all had a good look and repeated the place names we played a throwing and counting game. We were very impressed that they could not only count to 30 in English they could almost all count in 10s to 100. The teacher’s 2 ½ year old son, who comes to school with her, was also having a great time joining in with everything. I took a photo of him with his mum and a friend and he couldn’t stop laughing and pointing when I showed it to him. He grabbed it in his tiny hands and showed it to all the other pupils – very cute. After that the class recited every rhyme and song they knew, smiling endlessly and putting an enormous amount of enthusiasm into each one – see video. It was then time for the children’s lunch and we had ours in the Guesthouse, this time served by Sandrun and his wife Parvedi. Another enormous feast with 6 dishes, including soup to start and chips again. We tried pepper water for the first time, which is a kind of thin soup (very peppery and spicy obviously) which we were told is used to help digestion – definitely needed after the amount we have eaten since we arrived here
. After lunch we spent time fixing the bikes and preparing our route until we were summoned back to the school where the children were eagerly waiting in their best clothes to put on a dancing performance. A special guest from the board of governors was also there and he remembered me from when I came to Goodwill the first time with my school in 1999. Sadly he also remembered that we had done some truly awful country dancing as a performance for the children - remember that Kennedy, Clare, Maddy?? How embarrassing! I quickly said we wouldn’t be repeating it today, and he agreed it wasn’t a good idea! Both Mikey and I had to make impromptu speeches before the children began, and it wasn’t hard to say how much we loved it here and how great they all were. The children then honoured us with some cloths put round us. The actual dancing performance was amazing. Apparently the children had only spent an hour preparing and practising, but they performed 7 different dances in groups and were incredible. They were moving so quickly I couldn’t take photos, but the videos are fantastic. Perumel and Malika ( a House mother who had also been a child in the home when we had last come) then introduced us to a tiny girl who they said would be an excellent child for us to sponsor as both of mine have grown up and left in the 11 and 9 years since I last visited. We then had coffee and a very long talk with the Treasurer of the Charity who had come to see us. He was a fascinating man, and it was really great to find out the history of the Goodwill and the way they select the children in the home
. Goodwill’s focus on the importance of education for children as a means of finding employment and trying to end the cycle of poverty within poor and tribal families is a fantastic ethos. He explained that they have close relations with local businesses and provide practical courses in electronics and tailoring for those who don’t pass the examinations required to continue education beyond the 10th Standard.
Perumel said he would come and eat with us again for our last night, and this time he brought Mugi. Mugi and Perumel had driven Sarah and I to Trivandrum after our visit to Thandigudi in 2001 and the four of us spent a couple of nights at the beach with Maddy and Dom who they were picking up to take to the home. They were very annoyed that I hadn’t brought Sarah back with me, and Mugi said that next year Sarah, me, Mikey and Rob all have to come for at least a week, if not a month! Perumel had got chicken for us to give us energy on the bikes and also lots of vegetables so the four of us had a delicious dinner party. Amazing to be so cared for.
Amazing to lie in until 8 and then be brought and served by the most enormous and delicious breakfast by Sandrun. He had brought us a huge spread of boiled eggs, dosa, two curry sauces, sweet toast and local honey all washed down with more Goodwill coffee. Perumel then came to pick us up and walk us to the Primary school to watch the children's morning prayers and pledge of allegiance to their country. We had great fun visiting each classroom and having a look at what they were up to before leaving them to do some work. It reminded us both how annoying it is when a visitor comes in and really hypes up your class then leaves you to deal with the repercussions! We did some packing and sorting then went up to meet the children for their mid-morning playtime. It was still raining unfortunately and so the teacher in 4th standard was only too happy to leave us to it with her class who had been stuck inside all morning. We soon lost control, and had the children jumping all over us, it seems a very long time since either of us were in a classroom and after 20 minutes we remembered just how tiring it is