Saturday, 17 December 2016

Where to from here?

It is hard to believe that nearly a week has passed since I left the illam.  Already I miss the clear blue skies and the amazing sunrises and sunsets.  It sure beats the grey fogginess of London in December, and I defy anyone not to miss the laughter and the energy of the children.  This is the view that gazes across the landscape between my little abode and where the girls live.  Some mornings the field would be filled with goats, sometimes not, but it was always a magical view.

The next step in the story of the children of the illam will happen in London. I plan bring some of the magic, the images, and the stories of the children, many that they created themselves, to be seen here first.  Images and introductions will appear on the blog throughout the Christmas period.  An exhibition is planned for January. Stay posted for updates.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Exhibition

Last night we held an exhibition of the children's photographs at the DHAN Foundation headquarters in Madurai.  We even had a number of International guests attend the opening.

Something special for our photographers to put on their CV's.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Very Tasty

"Very tasty Aunty"  the boys assured me as they handed me the bright red "vegetable" indicating that I should eat it.  Hmm what is it?  "very tasty" they repeated.

They were right, it was delicious, sweet and yet not overly so.  It had seeds rather like a zuchinni and the flesh was a bit like a very ripe persimmon in texture.  Seeing that I enjoyed their offerings, they scaled back up the tree to pick more for me.  It was hard to convince them that after eating six I really didn't need any more.

What is it called?  I asked. That proved to be a challenge, as the Tamil word meant nothing to me, it sounded like a cross between guava and coconut.

I was certain it was a fruit.  They kept insisting it was a vegetable.  A vegetable growing in a tree seemed unlikely to me.  I hadn't figured on a hidden vine entwined in the tree. Over the next couple of days the children and staff and with a bit of help from google, we finally found the english translation.  It is in fact a vegetable, it is an ivy gourd. The Tamil name is Kovakkai.   In English (or Latin plant name) it is known as coccinia grand is.

My new tasty treat is also laden with health benefits.  Lots of vitamin A and C, protein and antioxidants.  It has been used in traditional medicine to treat leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis and jaundice.  New research has discovered it keeps your blood sugar levels in check.  And it has antihistamine properties.  I'll try that on my million mosquito bites and let you know the outcome.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

More of the children's images

Another peek at some of the images the children have created.  It is fun to see images on a screen but there is nothing quite like a print in your hand.  So yesterday I took the hour long trip on the local bus to Madurai in search of a printer.  I had a lot of local help and advice so it wasn't too difficult to find a place that could produce some great hard copy.  Not only that but they printed them straight away and  Indian prices made it affordable to print plenty of images.

We're now planning an exhibition to celebrate their work.