I haven’t updated this blog in many months but today seemed like a timely moment to do so. I used to use it to keep track of what we did as a unit and share ideas with others but it has slowly turned into more of a traveling blog (Switzerland, super Guide conference and now India) and a place to post the articles I write for girlguidescanblog.ca.
Anyways, I might as well get started at the beginning. My long-time friend and co-Guider Marie-Eve and I left for India almost 36 hours ago. The World Organization of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has 5 Centres around the world. I have previously visited Pax Lodge in London, England and Our Chalet in Switzerland, but this is our first time at Sangam in Pune, India. Our primary goal was to visit our co-Guider, Kaitlin, who is volunteering here, but we also got to sign up for a leadership event centered around the 6th Millennium Development Goal (MDG). For anyone who doesn’t know, the MDGs were 8 goals decided upon by the UN in 2000 with results to hopefully be achieved by 2015. They are:
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability
8. To develop a global partnership for development
Young women from around the world were sponsored to come to this event (not us) so there should be a really interesting mix of Guiders.
Marie-Eve works for Air Canada so we were lucky enough to be able to fly standby. This meant that we didn’t decide that we were definitely going until a few weeks ago, when we were leaving until a few days ago and weren’t sure we would make it onto the actual flights until we did. In the end we took two 8-hour flights connecting through Zurich and a driver from Sangam came to pick us up for the 4-hour drive to Pune.
The flights themselves were fairly uneventful and we were very relieved when we made it onto the second one. We had a little trouble taking out money when we got here — India doesn’t let you bring money in — but eventually we got some and went to meet our driver. We were also very happy that he was there because we hadn’t been able to tell sangam until the very last minute what flight we were on.
It was past midnight here when we got in the car so we didn’t get to see much of Mumbai and the surrounding areas, but the driving wasn’t as crazy as I had feared. We had some enlightening conversations with our chauffeur as well. We asked him how cold it gets in Pune and he told us “very, very cold!” It turns out that that is about 13 degrees Celsius. He was quite interesting in hearing about our snow back home.
I guess he doesn’t come to Sangam very often because he got a little lost, but we eventually pulled up in front of a sign with the WAGGGS trefoil and got to step inside Sangam. The security guard woke Kaitlin up so that she could help us fill in some paperwork (it’s almost as bad as China, I guess they don’t know our unit’s “no causing paperwork” rule) and show us around.
We’re staying in a dorm that could eventually contain up to 12 people but so far there is only one other woman here. We haven’t talked to her yet since she was asleep when we arrived.
We got to sleep for a few hours and are now awake to start getting up and exploring Sangam and the surrounding community in the daylight.
The internet seems good so far so I will try to write again (with pictures) when I get a chance. I apologize in advance for any typos. I’m not used to writing so much on my iPod.