Morning’s Blessings – Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 7

An interesting night was spent sleeping in the school hut on a wafer-thin mattress, underneath mosquito nets, to the sound of dogs barking, howling and fighting as we waited for the arrival of the flood waters – which never, thankfully, appeared.

As the sun began to rise on a new day on Rupamari Island, all seemed tranquil and idyllic in its orange glow. I took a stroll around the neighbourhood before breakfast and immediately felt my pulse rate lowering. It felt so right to be here and to escape the stresses of modern life. The sense of being at one with nature and experiencing the simplicity of life was exactly what I needed. I could not stop smiling.

A woman preparing her oven

Local life

A young woman invited me into her yard to show me how she was chiselling out the dried mud which would be the air vent for her oven.
I saw a young girl washing clothes at the village water pump and I witnessed a mother with her two sons, both pupils of the school, walking along the bank of the pond opposite the school hut. She was carrying a bucket in readiness for the fish and prawns which her eldest son was attempting to catch in his net.

Within a few minutes this family group was met by a man who would pay the woman just a few rupees and take the morning’s catch to market to sell for a profit. A scene which undoubtedly would have been replicated throughout the island.

Boy fishing

It highlighted to me just how vital it is to provide these children with an education, giving them the opportunity to obtain good jobs and allowing them to break this cycle of poverty.

At the water pump

Joyous interaction

Continuing my walk around the village, I met a group of men sitting on a bench waiting for their transport to work. Women smiled at me as they hung their sarees out to dry on rickety fences outside their homes or carried young children as they undertook the mornings household duties, while older children waved with wide eyed, open, innocent joy.

Both adults and children alike loved being photographed and they giggled at being able to see themselves immediately on the camera’s display window. This for them was a novel experience, as very few people own a mirror.

Men waiting for transport to work

It seemed surreal to be in a place so removed from the modern world and yet only a few hours from one of India’s busiest metropolises. I was mesmerised by the local life, by people who possess so little but have huge smiles on their faces and who are so welcoming. 


Farewell, Rupamari

We came to the Sundarbans for the children, to give the gift of school uniforms from their individual sponsors and to initiate the medical check-up programme, and I ended up falling in love with this countryside and the amazing people in it. 

Saying Farewell

As both rucksacks and ourselves were loaded onto the Tuk Tuk, I was saddened to have to say “Farewell”. The innocent, whole hearted, smiles of the people I was privileged to have met amongst the dusty mud huts will remain with me for a long time.

On our bone-shaking journey to the ferry port and towards our next adventure, my breath continued to be taken away at the colourful sights we were passing by. When we first arrived, just three days ago, I was shocked by the dust, the traffic, the noise, the broken buildings and the poverty. And now, I was amazed at how familiar these sights were becoming. No less shocking, but the prayer I made to the Lord before this trip was being answered.

“Lord, allow me to see the things You would have me see, with Your eyes and Your heart for this land.”

The road leaving Rupamari

Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 8 will almost be the last of my reflections!