Now back home, and after a few of days to get over the jet-lag, I sent off my hand-over report to my English MondoFoundation coordinator. I am pleased to say that it is all looking pretty good. Six weeks was always going to be too short a time to see any material effects (did you know that it takes at least three months to grow a carrot?) but work has properly begun on the first site and the first departures from plan have been 2/3 positive and only 1/3 unnerving…. Next week, I will meet with my coordinator and successor to discuss the practical ramifications of all this, and that will be that, at least for now.
Writing the report has helped me to summarise the business side of the experience, but I am struggling to know what to say about the wider trip. The experience has certainly affected me more deeply than I had imagined, let alone articulate. Staying with Jiwan and his family and working withh them and the schools, this was less of a visit and more of a complete immersion in a very different culture and way of living. At the very least, I do find that I am able to look at my western cultural surroundings with both more value and less attachment.
It has also been one of the most uplifting and satisfying experiences of my recent years; everything about it was new for me – working with schools, working with agriculture, working abroad. And doing it in the vibrant, emergent chaos of northern India; such a contrast to the apparent quietude of my rural English village. So, there is a lot that I shall miss – not least because I wasn’t there for the first poly-houses go up and won’t see the first crops go into the ground. I’ll get reports of course, not just from Jiwan, the project manager, but from the next Mondo ambassador who will be starting his visit in mid-May. I guess I shall just have to see whether I can get out there again.
And if you want to know more about what I was doing and who with, here are some links –
A video interview in two parts, with Mondo founder Anthony Lunch, about the work of the foundation.
And links to the MondoChallenge website and its sister volunteer organisation, Vanilla – Generation.
I’ll be publishing some other posts from Kalimpong and Nepal in due course, but in the meantime, here are some more pictures of the project, the schools and the team
One of the parents
Meeting Mala, the MCK agricultural advisor
Prayers at Pioneer school
Me at lessons…
Jiwan looking more relaxed than I’d seen him all visit.
Me (bottom left) being grilled by the three particpating headmasters.
And breaking news………
The first poly-house under construction!
 In business as in war and life, the whole point of a plan is to help you marshal your resources and get prepared. Generally speaking, if having got going, you think everything is going completely according to plan, you either weren’t being ambitious enough, or you are about to suffer a rude shock!