Besuchsbericht – Dia Naja – Januar 2019 – St. John’s
No words can fully describe what I got out from my one month stay at the medical village in Trivandrum, but here are some key moments and information that should be shared. As an 18-year-old, it was my first solo trip and coming all the way to the St. John’s from Switzerland was, I have to admit, pretty nerve-racking. I can now say that not one time did I feel uncomfortable or unsafe during my stay. I met the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever known. It felt like a home away from home.
On the 6th of February at 4 AM, I arrived in Trivandrum. Father Jose kindly came to pick me up at the airport. My first morning was a complete surprise as it was pitch black when I arrived. The singing of the birds, the amazing weather, the vegetation and all and all the atmosphere of the village was breathtaking. What was most incredible was how easy and quick it was to fall in love with the people of St. John’s; the children, the teachers, the patients, the doctors, and all of the workers in this little paradise. Most of them knew very little English but that did not stop us from forging great friendships. On the contrary, it made these bonds stronger. We could say so much just by smiling or holding one’s hand or trying to explain something by only using gestures which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, so we would laugh about it and try again. All of these interactions where so much more emotionally intense and touching than those I could have back home with someone I had just met. During this month I almost completely disconnected from my life in Switzerland as I was so absorbed by the life and energy of this place, I almost forgot I had a phone which is quite rare nowadays.
Something that truly impressed me was how efficient the St. John’s village was. The food was absolutely delicious. I got excited 3 times a day before each meal because I would discover local flavors which I did not know of and it was exquisite every time. Also, most of the ingredients were fresh; eggs, milk and nearly all of the fruits and vegetables are produced within the village. In addition, they have a system that recycles all of the used water. The water after its cleaning process, is used for agricultural purposes within the village.
During my stay, I mostly took care of the orphans living in the medical village of St. Jonn’s. I taught English to the smaller children who knew very few words. I had to teach the basics which are found to be not so interesting. This is why I included interactive exercises, these helped engage the children without boring them. I was surprised how willing they were to learn. I also helped teach in an art class. This was probably their favorite class of the day as I could see the excitement in their eyes and rush of happiness while they were working. They mostly painted, drew and did pottery. At the end of the month an exhibition was set up to reveal all of the children’s best work to the rest of the village. It was so fulfilling to see how proud they all were of their work and creativity.
Throughout my stay, I also wanted to properly capture what I was seeing every day, so I decided to make a small movie to share the atmosphere and beauty of the village of St. John’s. I hope this film can transcribe the life of this place and that it can inspire others to support this amazing institution.