Welcome to our eighth edition of Bekind Update. In this edition Brian (Founder Director) and his wife Martina share their experiences when they took the Bekind Boys on holiday to Puri in June 2014. Please like and share with your friends using the buttons above or below
As a young enthusiastic salesman, I would often be amazed by the trust customers placed in me. Many would be so open about their personal lives. At times I wondered was I a car salesman or a counsellor.
Finances, naturally, would be discussed, as well as family needs; couples in the 'fifty plus' category would say they no longer needed a large car, as their children had grown up. Perhaps something smaller would suit their needs.
They would comment on how quickly their kids had grown up and one could feel the sense of something special gone from their lives.
As a dad of three young children in the early nineties, that situation seemed so far away that I found it hard to understand; every day was filled with family life: getting our kids up, washed and dressed, ready for school or childminder, swimming, football, music classes, visits to Nana and Granddad etc.
Now as thirty years of marriage have elapsed, I too have become that 'fifty something' and for Martina and I those years of childrearing have disappeared in a flash, our adult children living independent lives.
Childhood is so short but oh so precious, as it is in those early childhood years that the person is formed, influenced by all that he or she witnesses and experiences in that formative period.
From all my travels to India over the last decade, seeing children without a childhood, it spurred me to make a decision just three years ago to do whatever I could to help at least some of them.
Making that difficult decision to open Bekind Boys’ Home at a time when Ireland’s economy was blindingly bleak and on the verge of collapse wasn’t easy. Many of us having to deal with financial difficulties and some hardship was nothing compared to life for many of Calcutta’s poor.
To be born a child of the street stigmatises that child for life. Often unwanted, unloved, abused and neglected, existing is a daily routine of begging and scavenging for scraps with the lowest forms of life, both animal and human.
Taking a child away from that existence and restoring a childhood is a reward beyond compare.
For our twenty little fellows whose home was once the street, the regular meals, the protection of a clean place to live and be nourished mentally and physically by loving staff has transformed their lives.
To mark our 30th wedding anniversary, we planned a holiday which gave us four days in Delhi. We started by going to visit Lucy, our "other daughter,” a young UCD Law Student and best friend of our daughter Katie. She, along with several other volunteers from Ireland, had given a massive commitment of ten weeks this summer to teach and work with the street and slum children with the Irish organisation Suas.
Our journey continued then, taking day trips to Agra, the Taj Mahal, and Jaipur and fulfilling a long term goal of completing the 'Golden Triangle.' We marvelled at the beauty and scale of the unique and stunning architecture in this area of incredible India.
We were to finish our holiday with a short stay in Abu Dhabi on the way home from India, taking in a ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster, which I assured my wife, “wouldn’t be that bad.” We are still talking… just!
The middle of our holiday was dedicated to our Bekind Boys with a week’s holiday for them and the staff in the beach resort of Puri, some ten hours by overnight train from Calcutta. The children had been eagerly anticipating this trip for about three months driving their carers crazy, asking on a daily basis when Brian Uncle and Martina Aunty were coming!
Arrive we did, to find twenty very excited little boys, who were to experience their first sight of an ocean and a beach holiday that was filled with fun and laughter. Day trips to the zoo, famous Hindu temples, camel rides, boat trips and dolphin spotting on Chilka Lake. Movies at night and building sand castles by day, riding the surf with Brian Uncle in rubber car tubes supplied by the local life guards (entrepreneurial?) made our week on the Bay of Bengal.
It was the week prior to a major Hindu festival in the town of Puri when thousands of worshipers descend on the place and mark the event called Rath Yatra. Three huge twelve metre tall chariots were being constructed in the main street from enormous tree trunks. Three teams of craftsmen working simultaneously in the baking heat and humidity to create these wonderful iconic symbols of Hinduism in honour of Lord Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe.
A little further north of Puri is the 13th century temple in Konark dedicated to the Sun God. A day trip to this ancient site allowed the children marvel at the craftsmanship of their forefathers who spent years building and creating what has been described as “poetry in stone.” It could also be described as “the Kama Sutra in stone” with multiple carvings of very amorous couples, triples, multiples in , well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Martina did her best to distract the children as the temple guide went into great detail in his description of the various characters etched in stone for over eight hundred years. 'Fifty Shades of India,' perhaps?
A few days in Calcutta allowed us take the Rupayan kids for a day’s outing to a water park and amusement centre. We visited our five older former Bekind Boys now living in the Hope Foundation’s Tollygunge home. We spent some time in the Hope Hospital where we met a little girl named Rajani who was awaiting an operation to give her a replacement limb for her deformed leg. We had a contingency sum built in to our budget for the Bekind Puri trip which was unspent: this money, €650, will now go to help fund her operation, which will cost €3,200 and allow her to walk.
The pictures attached to this newsletter will give an insight into our experiences, which we hope you will enjoy.
Once again sincere thanks for all donations, past, present and future, which enable us to give these special children a little of what they truly deserve: a childhood.
Bekind (IRL) Ltd is an Irish private limited company (Company Number: 448441) and Irish registered charity (Charity Number: CHY 17971), with its offices at 33 Woodpark, Castleknock, Dublin 15.
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