We are lucky at Lakeside to meet an amazing variety of people. From former British Cabinet Ministers to families on a round the world tour, from local Indians to people from the other side of the world, from the young to the not so young!
Greg Buie, who has worked with this organisation since 2004, brought a group of college students from the US, Canada and Switzerland, to work on local projects in India. The Indian projects aim to empower young people and women to better themselves. The project this group were working with is aimed at helping tribal children from the local hill areas to receive a better education, and so a better life for themselves and their families.
Please do take a look at the Visions Global Empowerment website. It is uplifting to see young people set up such projects, and other young people spend part of their summer vacation volunteering to help those less fortunate than themselves. We are privileged to meet many such people at Lakeside.
One of the things I love about living at Lakeside is meeting people from all over the world. We have some great conversations and many a friendship has been made over the dinner table on the roof!
We currently have 10 guests – 2 English, 2 Belgian, 2 Indian and 4 Dutch – with careers ranging through teacher, physiotherapist, PA for a senior executive in a well known airline, professional driver, engineer and steel producer, T shirt manufacturer and someone developing the use of drama with teenagers in India.
All of the guests speak English to a greater or lesser degree and, regardless of the difference in nationality, career or leisure interests (or perhaps because of it!), the group get on very well and have enjoyed some great times together.
We will certainly be sad to see them go as they leave us one by one, but we can be consoled with the knowledge that new guests will be joining us with equally varied, exciting and interesting lives and stories to tell!
We meet many people from all walks of life, and of all nationalities, who come to stay with us at Lakeside. We recently had a couple come to stay with us just for one night who live and work locally (in Madurai) and needed to get away for a break. I’m pleased to say they left feeling refreshed and ready for work once more.
Jesse (from America) and Susanna (from England) first came to Tamil Nadu in the aftermath of the Tsunami to do whatever they could to help the injured and homeless. Then, in 2007, they set up their own charity – Relief Projects India.
Female infanticide is still a problem in many rural areas of India and the first project that Jesse and Susanna were involved with was rescuing baby girls. For westerners it is still hard to believe that families will kill perfectly healthy baby girls just because they are girls. On the positive side there are many childless Indian couples who want to adopt, and they are willing to take a girl as they just want a baby, any baby, of their own. Many children have been placed this way, but those who are physically or mentally challenged are not so lucky. Jesse and Susanna are now planning projects to help these children. They are also working to help educate women and teenage girls in the hope that they will then have a brighter future.
Please take a look at the wonderful work that these people are doing. Jesse and Susanna do not take a salary from the charity, every penny raised goes to the children while they themselves live off their retirement benefits. A truly remarkable couple who show just what can be done with a little love, dedication and determination.
The photographs are taken for the Relief Projects India website.
If you have ever experienced or even heard about the standard of driving in India this might help to explain it. We were told this by an Indian visitor to Lakeside. To put you in the picture, the road from Kodaikanal comes down a mountain; it is steep and winding with hairpin bends and poor visibility in places – a bit like some of the roads in the Alps.
Visitor – I went up to Kodaikanal for lunch and had a couple of beers and a couple of brandies before driving back down.
Us – Wasn’t that dangerous?
Visitor – No. When you’ve had a few drinks but are not drunk you know that it will affect you so you concentrate very hard on the road and drive a little slower. If you haven’t been drinking you know you can drive well so you go faster and don’t pay so much attention.