This Christmas, a seven-strong youth team group from Christ Church Downend - called Team India 2019 - left England on December 20, spending a full ten days supporting staff and children at Haven Home, near Vishakhapatnam, on the south east coast of the country. The Christian-run school and orphanage provides a home and hope for 100 children with the aim of lifting them out of the poverty cycle. It was set up by Benjibab and Krupa Yelchuri that has been running for over 30 years.
The team were engaged in a huge range of activities; they taught English and gave computing lessons. They also ran a sports day and lead games. Not only did the group take clothes donated by the people of Downend and wider community, fundraising enabled them to fund a Christmas present for every child and staff member as well as finance a bore well in a rural mountain village
One of the youth team, Luke, said, "each year that we go, we are always so impressed by how much the children have grown in confidence as well as how much their English has improved. As well as this, the friendships that we build are amazing and like none other, despite the slight language barrier". He continued "Haven Home is full of joy and laughter that is infectious, it puts a smile on your face for your whole visit. The children are caring, hard-working, funny and incredibly lovable, making it almost impossible to leave them behind. The friendships that we have with the children sustain us throughout the year, and we are already counting down the days until our next visit!".