Animating in India

On the 16 th of July, with the help of SPYS, I set out to travel to Bengaluru, India to meet up with the
Salesian Volunteers organisation- which welcomes, helps and sends out volunteers to
ongoing Salesian projects within the states of Karnataka and Kerala in India. After familiarising myself
with the Salesians residing there, I got to experience some initial insight into the Indian culture and way
of life. The plan then was to meet up with the Rector coordinating the project at ‘Devadurga’ and make
our way up using a night bus.

As soon as I arrived, I could not help but notice the initial surprised reactions of the children, that within
seconds, instinctively turned to pure joy, excitement and contagious smiles. It had already felt like a
second home – the unique Salesian spirit I was familiar with back home, and which I had immensely
hoped of encountering there, was indeed present.

During my experience there, I had to opportunity of aiding with the care of the hostel boys living there
with the Salesians due to personal family problems. The Salesians provided a home and formation for
boys and girls living in poor conditions around Devadurga and nearby villages. The project also included
a school with around 1200 students, which was particularly interesting as the Salesians really focused on
their vision of uniting and accepting all children regardless of their religious background.

The third major sector of the project run by the Salesians there was called the N.C.L.P initiative. The aim
was to rescue children that are forced into child labour around Devadurga and offer them a one-year
‘bridge course’ tackling the basics of Kannada (their native language) as well as English. During my time
there, I had the opportunity to be part of this initiative by teaching the children various basic English
day-to-day words. After school, I would spend afternoons animating, playing with the children and
learning their favourite outdoor games.

I have always admired the Salesians’ way of understanding youths - to truly listen, understand their
background, and to guide them towards, not merely choosing, but recognising the good in making the
right choices. Observing this actively throughout my five weeks in India, profoundly strengthened my
belief in the importance of all the work carried out by Salesians across the world.

On the 23 rd August, I began to make my way back to start closing another chapter of the book. This
however, just meant that it was time to start writing a new one – that being, with SPYS. I would love to
take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to them for all their help throughout my journey.
The admiration I have for them, and their work, has never been stronger and getting the opportunity to
work with them is truly extraordinary. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

- Ryan Hamilton