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Posted on: July 18, 2012

By Christie Van Vugt about her trip to Pravaham last year; we thought it would be good to share as Christie prepares for another visit.

Christie listens to Lucy giving the 2011 Report

Pravaham is beautiful anytime of year and October 2011 was no exception. The weather was unseasonably warm and the annual monsoon was late arriving but the campus was lush with greenery and flowers were in bloom everywhere.

On my first day there we had morning service in the chapel, followed by breakfast and delicious Indian chai (tea). I was in the classroom getting to know the thirty new students who were enrolled for the 2011/2012 year’s nursing program. Suddenly there was a lot of excitement. I was summoned to follow the staff back to the office to meet two new “kids”. The female goat I had been petting an hour earlier decided it was time to give birth and out came the twins! Below are some other brief highlights of my 2011 trip.

The first week was spent getting to know the new students and reuniting with the soon-to-be-graduates. The 7th batch girls had been home for a break and were returning to take a final practical exam before the official graduation ceremony. The baby goats were a constant source of entertainment. In addition to the goats, there are chickens, pigeons, parakeets, three small “turkeys” (they’re actually guinea hens) and two dogs. There have been monkeys on campus, but happily none while I was there! One evening we had an impromptu talent show in the chapel with singing and dancing. There’s video footage of me singing and dancing… but I’m pretty sure it won’t be released for public viewing!

Week two was busy preparing the campus for graduation. The new girls were fitted for their official pink uniforms that they will start wearing on graduation day. The graduating students each prepared a white sari to wear for the ceremony. Pastor Devadoss spent hours practicing a special song with the girls. So much time was spent singing that song that I actually learned to sing it too! One night we had a fun time stringing together “vidi malagai” (loose jasmine) flowers. The girls wear the finished strands in their hair. For a couple of days the girls practiced for the ceremony. In addition to their regular duties they spent their free time tending to the garden areas and making sure everything was extra clean. On graduation morning there was a flurry of activity before the guests arrived. This year I was lucky enough to watch the work that goes into designing the beautiful traditional welcome designs known as “kolom”. It is artwork created freehand on the ground with a powdered white marble and then filled in with colored kolom powder. All I can really say about the graduation is that even though very little of it is in English, it was a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. (The video footage is on DVD if anyone would like to watch it.)

The third week started with the annual old student reunion. There were seven 6th batch students who returned to attend this event, plus several girls from earlier years. I spent the rest of the week working on art projects with the 8th batch and taking photos of the girls. Before I knew it the students were all heading home for a holiday known as Diwali (the festival of light). Just before I left we had a little more excitement when a cobra was discovered in the classroom. My yelling “snake, snake!” didn’t bring a fast response at first, so I’m thinking “snake” might be a good word to learn in Tamil! And with that, the monsoon rains arrived and I said goodbye to Pravaham. It always feels like a final farewell… but just last week I started thinking about “on next year’s trip…..”   Shhhh!  Best to let John recover from 2011 before he starts to worry about 2012!   LATE BREAKING NEWS: two more baby goats were born the weekend before Thanksgiving!

Christie can be contacted at cvanvugt at cox dot com.


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July 2012
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