Visit Report by Juan Estalella Girón
I want to share my experience in Kerala with everyone and invite you all to go visit and enjoy this wonderful experience as much as I did, if that’s even possible.
When I got to the airport of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital city of the state of Kerala, I had travelled for two full days from Montreal. I had crossed the whole globe and carried a big lack of sleeping hours. After Father Jose picked me up from the airport and as we passed the main doors of the premises, I could not believe what waited for me at the front of the Sanni Bhavan. Sanni financed the construction of this building which has an IT room, various guest rooms, three rooms for over twenty-five of the children, a new bathroom, an office and even a gym. Sister Joice along with all thirty-seven children were waiting to welcome me with beautiful chants and posters. From that very first moment I knew that this experience was going to be totally live changing.
As the days went by I got used to the food and the climate. I have to say that Minnie and Deepa, the chefs at St. John’s, did make me special not-so-spicy style Indian food at first. The children quickly started to see me as one of their big brothers who tried to speak Malayalam, who had very cool games on the computer and who tried to teach English in the funniest way possible. Teaching them English was one of my favorite things in the whole trip. Seeing and hearing how they improved their vocabulary and their speaking skills made me happier and happier every day.
Apart from the great times we had in the classroom, the computer lab and learning outside in the park, one of the best moments of the day was playtime. From 4pm to 5:30pm, I would play soccer and basketball with the boys and badminton with the girls. This moment was beautiful because it was when I saw the children the happiest and when I had more time to be with them. If the children were busy with schoolwork, I would play badminton with Father Alexander and the doctors.
Everyone at St. John’s couldn’t have been kinder and more helpful in everything that I needed. Throughout my whole month at the hospital, I had the opportunity to do some tourism accompanied by St. John’s staff. I visited Kanyakumari and Devasahayam Pillai’s famous praying rock. These visits taught me about the Christian culture in India and allowed me to experience life outside St.John’s.
The highlight of the trip for everyone that was lucky to be at St.John’s this last July was the weekend spent at Wonderla in Kochi. One important member of Indigo Airlines got to know about the work that the fathers, sisters and nurses were doing with the kids at St.John’s and offered to pay for plane tickets for everyone to go to the amusement park. All the boys and girls and most of the sisters, nurses and cooks had never flown before so this was a really amazing experience for everyone.
Unfortunately, the trip to Wonderla happened to be my last days with the children. By then I had made good friends with all the boys and girls and we laughed together the whole time. I was also very close with all the sisters and fathers who gave me great advice that has been useful every day since my visit to India.
This experience taught me to value all the things that I have and that we tend to see as common and we do not give importance to. Having your family, friends, good health, clean water, enough food are some privileges that we take for granted but are actually very lucky to have.
Last but not least, I would like to personally thank Sanni Foundation on my behalf and on behalf of all the people at St.John’s for having given me the opportunity to have this experience and for being part of such a wonderful project that is helping many and many more each day.
Juan Estalella Girón