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Volunteer and Intern Abroad since 1997
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By 6 years ago
Categories Kerala

When I first arrived in the Auxilium school on a hot Monday morning and had my first lesson with the kids from Manipur I was truly impressed by their passion for sports. We did some warm-up exercises, followed by a couple of drills and a short game. Considering their age, these kids are very disciplined and serious about their football. Playing barefoot doesn’t bother them at all and you will not see a single one of them hesitate for a second before they either run through the hills of garbage that lie on the field or climb up and down a wall if the ball decides to visit the neighbours.
Yes, and this is what the situation was like. As the waste disposal system in India is different from the one back at home (Austria), simply “throwing” the trash away is not an option. Instead, most people here collect their trash, pile it up and burn it, either in front of their houses or in our case, on the sports field. Thankfully, it rains a LOT or else we might be playing on not a green or a brown but a black football field.
The rain plays a huge role in this country. It cleans the air and the streets, it fills the lakes created by dams that power entyre cities, it makes the big variety of animals and other forms of life possible (including our own & the cockroaches in my bathroom) and it floods the paddy fields that give us the well known “Kerala rice” that comes in great amount with every meal. It also affects us in our day-to-day school life. The grass on the field has to be cut on a regular basis, the nets have to be cleared from all kinds of plants, storms fill the fields with litter that has to be removed and the most annoying part: you can’t take the kids outside when it rains. This may sound petty but go ahead and try to survive 45 minutes locked in assembly hall, a small room that echoes every sound you make, with 30 LowerKinderGarten (LKG) kids without speaking Malayalam, the local language :P.
But don’t get me wrong, the kids are great and I am having a great time. If it’s the Manipur kids, the young ones from LKG or the cool kids from tenth standard that are teaching me bad words in Malayalam, every single period is exciting, fun and rich in push-ups. In the three weeks that I have been here I have tried my best to embrace the Indian culture and teach the kids as much as possible. We have cleaned the field, fixed the nets, created an A-Team, organized games against other schools, taught the girls, who are incredible at dancing but lack basic sport skills like sprinting or throwing a ball, held tuition classes about health, the body and fitness and most importantly, we have had a lot of fun.
This Friday we will have Sports Day. For the last two weeks Coach and I have gone through every single standard (grade) and had them compete against each other in 100m sprint, long jump and other athletic disciplines. Unfortunately, Ross, the Aussie field coordinator and my mentor, will not be here for this special occasion. But on Friday nonetheless we will have the finals and a competition between the houses green, red, blue and yellow. It will be a blast and I am actually really excited and curious to see how it goes. All the best to you, kids, and “Oricko” ( meaning “Run” in Malayalam)!

— Stefan Reich, 2o11