Welcome to our third edition of Bekind Update. We decided to make this edition a bit more interactive to give you a better idea of the work we've been doing on your behalf. This edition focuses primarily on Bekind's latest visit to Calcutta, which took place at the end of October/beginning of November.
Throughout the newsletter you'll see photos and videos which you can click on to view.
Going to Calcutta was an experience like no other. It changed my whole outlook on my life and the people in it. We all feel so lucky to have had the most strange, good and bad, emotional and scary best two weeks of our lives. We met the most amazing people, heard the most amazing stories and went to the most amazing birthday party ever! The whole trip was memorable and unforgettable.
The quotes (in blue) you come across while reading are the thoughts of the Castleknock Community College students, who travelled with Bekind this year.
I hope you enjoy reading this edition.
Bekind Ireland & CCC Oct Nov 2009.
The many months of planning, preparation and a fundraising campaign which surpassed all expectations have now become a chapter in the history of Bekind Ireland's second year of existence.
I started this newsletter sitting in the departure lounge of Kolkata International Airport somewhat in awe of the group of young Irish students from CCC who had worked as volunteers here in the City of Joy for over two weeks.Physically unscathed but their open and impressionable bright minds processing an overload of data which will take some time to absorb.
The itinerary was designed to allow them work with the needy, the poor, the street and slum children, the handicapped and the destitute in some of Mother Teresa's homes and orphanages. It allowed them time to visit and work with the projects and the NGO's (non government organisations) which Bekind Ireland supports and trusts.
My wife, Martina, finally made it to India making the picture complete for the Flanagan family, as all five of us have now been volunteers in Kolkata at various stages since 2004.
Our group of 18 comprised 12 CCC students; 10 girls and 2 boys, 2 female teachers, my lifelong friend and fellow director of Bekind, Niall Dalton, and his 19 year old son James.
Reflecting on this journey, another "alternative passage to India" makes me feel proud that our small country has produced such fine young students, young adults who were exemplary in their work, their attitude, their care and compassion for the poorest of the poor, young and old alike.They were a pleasure to have as associates of Bekind and fine ambassadors for their school and families.
Another type of ambassador in Kolkata is the taxi variety. The old yellow Austins which have not changed design since the early sixties symbolise the city in many ways- tired, old and battered but still working. My bond with this city grows deeper with each return. It still exudes an atmosphere of mystery, intrigue and excitement in a most chaotic form. Niall and I first came to Kolkata in 2005 and understand fully what our group have experienced as first time volunteers to this city of joy.
Each evening after the day's work was complete we gathered around a candle and discussed our experiences, sharing the highs and lows of the day. The parents of each student were also asked to light a candle in Ireland around the same time, establishing a daily connection to remind them of their son or daughter ,many thousands of miles away, the light of hope burning simultaneously in India and at home.
Blinded by western society, the wider Indian people try to make the best of a bad lot. I saw many things that touched my heart, my favourite place being Nabo Jibon. I will return.