So the next day, when we braved the rain and floods to get to the village, we brought 1,000 kilos of rice with us to distribute to every single family in the village. They were shocked we were there. Amazed that we made the effort. And clearly thankful for the little bit of food we could offer them.
But the rain continued over night. And we were told the next morning that it would be impossible to reach the village. And that Chennai Airport (which we were meant to leave from the next day) was closed. So, on December 3rd, the other chaperones and I made the decision to load 26 high schoolers onto four mini-busses and travel across the Indian countryside for ten hours to the city of Bangalore where we would be able to catch flights to Mangalore and then on to the UAE.
Thank goodness the school's amazing travel agent was able to pull a bunch of strings and get us flights out when he did. Our other option would have been to stay put in Pondicherry at our hotel and wait for the Chennai airport to open. I am SO glad we chose to get out when we did. Had we have stayed, we most likely wouldn't have been able to leave until December 9th or 10th. And that would have been dependent on the road from Pondicherry to Chennai re-opening.
We made it home safely on the day intended albeit a little bit later (and half our group had to go to Dubai instead of Abu Dhabi). It was quite the adventure, but the students were incredible and all the chaperones kept their cool! It was a great trip, though I might take a year off before chaperoning another service trip!
We did have one day to work before the rain really got started. We mostly sifted sand and hauled dirt around, but there were a lot of smiles that day! We toured the local school and met the children of the village.Our students played games with the little kids and we had a great time getting to know the people we were helping.
And before the work started, we had a day to explore Pondicherry. We went to a place called Auroville which was probably the original hippy commune and is considered the point of origin for the spread of yoga and meditation to the Western world. The site was beautiful, and I loved seeing the 900 year old tree at the center of the commune.