by Nicole Duciaume
ChildFund Regional Sponsorship Coordinator
Americas Regional Office
Over the past 15 years, I’ve lived in and traveled throughout Latin America and even spent some short work assignments in Africa as well. But now, for the first time, I am in Asia—in Chennai, India, to be exact.
I am here representing ChildFund International’s Americas Regional Office at the ChildFund Alliance Sponsor Relations Network meeting. This is a unique opportunity for ChildFund Alliance members (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States) to come together to discuss priority issues to improve our sponsorship efforts and operations in our program countries around the world. We share best practices and lessons learned and help set priorities for the coming year.
I left Panama and nearly 30 hours later arrived in Chennai. After getting some rest, I set out on Sunday morning to explore the area in a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled, open-air scooter cab, of sorts). From my first hours in India, I can share that India is a carnival for the senses:
• Spice smells abound, wafting through the morning air.
• People are spilling out of stores, in the roads and out of bus windows.
• Horns are honking while bikes, mopeds, tuk-tuks, buses and vehicles weave through the streets.
• Roadside peddlers sell fruit, fish, vegetables, tires, sugarcane crushed into juice and coconut milk.
• Sunshine peeks out from behind the buildings and over the trees.
• Tile mosaics decorate walls, and even highway underpasses.
• Vibrant colors are everywhere — from Bollywood posters to political ads to colorful saris (not just red and blue, but fuchsia and turquoise; not just green and orange, but chartreuse and amber).
• Intricate religious shrines, decked with fresh flower garlands, are on several city corners.
• Storefronts sell electronics, fabrics, photocopies, jewelry, money transfers and meat.
• Green takes the form of trees, shrubs, flowers and city parks.
• Everyone seems to wear sandals…thin, worn and rugged.
• Cows stand idle on the sidewalks just outside ornate doors and gates.
Tomorrow we are visiting a ChildFund project community, followed by three days of conference presentations, discussions, debates and opportunities.