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My name is Claire Ferguson, a Program Leader with Operation Groundswell, located in Toronto, Canada
Operation Groundswell is a Toronto based organization that organizes and facilitates 6-week educational and volunteer backpacking programs throughout the world for youth aged 18-30.

Welcome: We were warmly welcomed by the family. The guesthouse was very clean and we felt right at home! Even though it was late, they had dinner ready.
Homestay: The homestay was fantastic. Jeevan’s family is very kind and made us feel like part of the family. It was easy to spend hours lounging around the house.
Family and Food: Gunja cooks so much! I can’t believe how much food is prepared in such a small kitchen. Everything was delicious, and all our participants with allergies or particular food needs were accommodated. There was always LOTS of food, and although we aren’t used to eating so late at night, we were certainly always very hungry once dinner time came around.
Nature: The area is beautiful , although the thought of leopards made it scary to go to the bathroom at night.
Project: I think we were able to contribute what we could to the project, though we weren’t always sure we were being helpful. It wasn’t always clear who decided which member of the community would receive the toilet (whether the community at large decided, or whether the Verma family decided). It would have been nice to know more about the family that we were building the toilet for, to get to know them and their situation, or to learn more about the importance of a clean santitation system, as it is something we often take for granted at home.
Culture: Jeevan did a great job exposing is to Kamaon culture, bringing us to many temples in the area, and inviting us to part of a wedding ceremony. We weren’t really sure what the ceremony was for before we went, but we found out. More information about the marriage process would be interesting.
Community: I think we integrated really well into the Verma family, but didn’t engage much with the rest of the community. Everyone seemed very friendly and welcoming though.
Claire Ferguson
Claire@operationgroundswell.com
Toronto, Ontario
Canada
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I came to Mr Verma’s Project having no conception of what to expect but was very excited at the prospect of volunteering to contribute in whatever way I could. I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive about getting to Kanda, as I was travelling alone, however those concerns were soon relieved by Mr Verma who promptly responded to my phone calls and emails…. I was collected by his son Jitendra from Haldwani. The journey from Haldwani to Kanda is long but beautiful and Mr Verma son made sure I was comfortable. I arrived at Mr Verma home greeted by other volunteers and the family. I had a chat with Mr Verma about the project and help he would like and what I could do. He is a lovely man and keen to promote the project.
The day to day living for Mr Verma’s family is tough. Early start and late finish. Working in the fields, home and with animals. It is an extremely relaxed lifestyle here. You can do as much as you like or as little and soon the stresses of our so called developed world start to melt away. The children, Gautum and Shivam, Mr. verma grandchildren are gorgeous as is the rest of the family. After a happy two weeks stay here, I feel part of Mr Verma’s family. I have enjoyed the celebrations, of shiva day and rakhee day. In fact Mr Verma is now a brother having tied a rakhee on his wrist and was gifted as is their tradition which I felt a little uncomfortable about accepting. It just shows the generosity of Mr Verma and his family.
You eat the same as the the family which is grown and produced by them for their family and those like me visiting. I have been stuffed with plenty to eat during all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never eaten so much!!! The food is traditional Kumoni food which is a nice experience and tasty. At times a little spicy but then it is all part of the experience!!
During my stay I went to the local school to teach, helped paint a nursery school recently opened and generally with cooking and carrying iron rods for the current construction project. I have never dones such things before so was great. The children at school are cheeky and keen to learn.
The beauty of this place is undescribable. There are number of layers which makes ROSE beautiful. Its physical beauty. It is amazingly green, with flowers, butterflies and birds. When did I last hear so many birds I cannot remember. It is beautiful because of its simple and humble lifestyle. It is beautiful because everyone is so friendly, kind and grateful for you being in their community and your help. I have truely been touched and humbled by the beauty of Kanda and its people.See More
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I spent about two weeks in Kanda and loved every minute of it. Mr Verma and his family are very friendly, I felt immediately at home after arrival. The food was locally grown and organic, cooked to perfect Kumaon taste by the lovely daughter in law and Mrs Verma. People in Kanda live a very self sufficient life style which I think will be the trend for the future. Mr Verma seemd to …be very eco minded and also a very keen gardener, which I found very impressive.

During my stay in Kanda, I was involved in teaching in the local school, painting the walls of a classroom for a nursery, helping out with cooking, breaking stones for brick making, playing with the dog and cat and making short trips to the nearby town Bageshwar. Everyday I experienced something new. Locally people are very friendly and welcoming that made me feel even more at home.

On Indepence day we watched the ceremony held by the nursary, kids performed singing, dancing and poetry reading and their talents were very very impressive.

I also had the opportunity to visit a family shrine and learn from the owner different religous and cultural facts.

Overall, the experience I had in Kanda can only be discrided as fantastic and unforgettable. Never before had I been so involved in a cutural so deeply and almost in every aspect of their life. Kanda is definitley the place to be if you want real experience of North India.

By Guimin Ma from England
Email: guiminma@gmail.com

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Jeevan Paying Guest Unite celeberated rakhi festival on 13th August 2011 with overseas guests / global family members, A sacred thread tied by UK sister Anita on the wrist of her Indian brother Jeevan as a mark of affaction ( that bind the brother to protact her in time of crissis) on Rakhi festival .

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Some photos of Godess Parwati worship on 08-08-2011 at Jeevan’s house.

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We organised a Godess Parwati (Lord Shiva’s wife) pooja (worship)on 8th July 2011, our home stay Village Eco tourists enjoying and increesing knowledg about Spritual India, enjoyed unique cooking / festival meal,community particaption, celebration dresses and relegious Hindu customs / traditions.They enjoying with the taking photos , communicating with the community members and gaining experiences about Indian relegious celebration.
Jeevan

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Thank you very much for your hospitality . The famely were very friendly made be feel welcome into the home and the community.I have enjoyed helping at the school and on the construction and i look forward to hearing about it’s progress.
i wish ROSE all the best in the future and hope to return at some point.
Best wishes .
Guy Roger UK

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