Sunday, 3 October 2010

Soft Spots And Gaps

This is one of my favourite photographs taken during my 18 months in India. The little girl was a full-time student at SISP, the NGO I worked for. She was one of a family of four - three girls and one boy - all as bright as buttons but, like most of the kids there, very poor. The little lad in the photo was one of the children who'd graduated from SISP when he made it back into mainstream public education. He returned to SISP in the evenings for help with his homework. For many children the conditions at home are not conducive to doing homework (there may be no table, or the house is too crowded and noisy, or there's no encouragement at home. Or worse.)

I had a real soft spot for that little girl. She would come and help me whenever I needed an extra pair of hands. I have another photo of her with a hand-drill when I was making a noticeboard. She would gather in the drawing materials or turn off the computers without asking, even if it meant she'd be late for break. And she would be the one to come and give me a hug on the few occasions I was feeling a bit down. I didn't resist - I needed it as much as she did! 

In fact I had a soft spot for most of the children at SISP and also for the volunteers and staff. It was like one big family and I was part of it. I miss those times. Don't get me wrong, the people I work with now and my teacher-students are all great, but it's not the same. There's something missing.

The day after tomorrow I fly back to the UK for three weeks to see my real family and friends. When I return to Sri Lanka I plan to fill the gap by working some mornings at the little Muslim school up the road. They tell me they're looking forward to me starting there. So am I!


  1. I love that photo! Sounds like you need to be working with kids, Clive. Have a great trip back :)

  2. Thanks Edna!
    I returned a week ago and helped out with the kids last Thursday - great fun! I'm going to go regularly every Tues and Thurs morning... More fun ahead :)

  3. Truly… such lovely image! I saw you mention skype in another post. Would you ever talk to a class about your travels? Just wondering?