On January 4th, Floris Eland and Myrthe Minneart arrived in Varanasi, marking the kick-off of the 2018 India impact visit. They will be joined on the 8th of January by Katie Alexander and Mary Stevens from the UK. The main objectives for this impact mission were to assess the progress of the girls, reinforce our collaboration with our local partners, and help our local teachers with context-appropriate teaching tools and pedagogical training.
The team has been busy getting everything ready to get the most out of our third visit to the India project site. Katie and Mary ran successful fundraising campaigns to cover the costs of their travel and provide some of the equipment and materials needed for the trip, such as new gis for our local instructors. Mary, a veteran teacher-trainer, condensed her elaborate teacher training tools into a succinct, easy-to-use manual for Sohan Kumar, Devesh Verma and the team at Dragon Martial Arts Academy. Because many of the local karateka do not speak or read English, Mary had the material translated into Hindi by her friends Rajeev and Uma Joshi, then printed and bound at very short notice and for a very generous price by Mayo Digital Printing (Abingdon, UK), who also printed a set of FairFight gis for the team. The ladies also collected donations for the girls, such as skipping ropes, stationery and sustainable menstrual products. Thanks to everybody who donated their time, services, money or items to the project! We can only do what we do because of your support!
To provide a day-to-day account of the journey, the team started a blog, written by Mary and illustrated by Katie. In Mary's words: "We have a strong sense of purpose and momentum now. But still so much to do before setting off for the airport!"
BAck in Varanasi, first impressions
Floris and Myrthe were picked up at the airport by Devesh, and then finally got to meet Heifara in person in upon arrival in Assi Ghat. After a paneer dinner with Heifara, our guys collapsed for the night in their rooms at Ashish Cafe, the FairFight stronghold for the duration of the trip. The first full day was spent discussing plans and expectations with Heifara and Devesh, and we are happy to report that everything is on track!
Floris shared the following reflections on his first day in Banaras:
"Being back in Varanasi is very weird. Myrthe and I are still getting acclimated to the intense sensations and life in Varanasi, but we hit the ground running. As many may know the smells, noises and life in general are very different from what I'm used to, and the past 2 days have been a blurr.
We made sure to meet up with our local trainer Devesh, with Heifara from the Ashadiya foundation and of course to already say hello to the girls. In preparation of the arrival of the rest of the team we're talking to all relevant parties to confirm the proposed schedule and talk about expectations, as well as making sure we have an accurate picture of what is and has been happening in Varanasi.
I'm very excited, and I think I can speak for everyone to say that they are as well, and ready to give and get the most out of our time here in Varanasi!"