Many of our guests are an inspiration, filled with spirit, soul and determination to make a positive impact on their global travels. Whether they were inspired during their Enchanting Travels experience, or come with an intention to be forces of good, we celebrate and appreciate them all.
Dr Alok Sharma, an ophthalmologist from Australia was inspired during a family visit to India when he noticed eye health was often overlooked by the rural poor. Without good vision, adults cannot work to earn a living, and children cannot learn in local schools. As a member of the Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga, Dr Sharma forged his vision: to establish eye camps in rural India. Ajoy Joshi, a renowned Sydney chef offered to travel to Wagga and cook an Indian fundraising feast. From the dinner and sales of Joshi’s cookery book, the enthusiastic Rotarians were able to kick start their project.
In 2005, Dr Sharma’s Delhi-based father got involved and drove a Bollywood-booming auto-rickshaw around 20 Indian villages in the Yamuna Nagar District, delivering pamphlets and chatting to the locals about their upcoming visit. Word quickly spread and when the Rotary team arrived, 2,000 people turned up for medical attention at their inaugural three day eye camp. The Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga paid for the cost of cataract operations, medicine, glasses and food for each patient and their carer. With the high level of care provided, not a single infection occurred in any of the treated individuals. Since this initial visit in 2005, the “Darkness to Light” project has spread to include dental check-ups for local schools, and to provide much-needed equipment to local hospitals.
“We not only enjoy one another’s company but endeavor to help those less fortunate than ourselves.” Philip Cross, Foundation Director, Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga
After the eye camps are over, the Rotarian volunteers travel around India and enjoy a much-deserved break with Enchanting Travels.
During 2006, a month-long Enchanting Travels vacation to India took Paul Wilkes experienced an encounter that would change his life – and the lives of others – forever.
Paul really connected with his chauffeur from the moment he promptly picked them up from their hotel in Cochin, South India. They shared personal stories and his chauffeur proudly chatted about his home town. Cochin. Paul had been reeling from witnessing poverty of young children begging on the streets, so he decided to ask an awkward question.
“What about the children, who is helping these poor little ones?
With time on their hands, Paul’s chauffeur hesitated and then replied. “I could tell you. But, if you don’t mind, sir, I’ll show you”.
Paul was suddenly launched into the world of Prathyasha Bhavan, an orphanage for girls that had been founded by a religious order of nuns over thirty years earlier. The children were well, dressed, clean, happy and very welcoming, but as he toured the premises he realized that the place was living on the threshold of mere survival due to ever growing numbers of children. He learnt that the children sleeping on the concrete floor of their school assembly hall by night. He met a little girl called Reena, who wore sunglasses, who he instantly connected to with her trusting big smile.
His host, Sister Sophy, explained how Reena had been previously begging on the streets with her mentally ill mother, before getting separated and then kidnapped by the beggar mafia who had plunged a darning needle into her eye.
From that day forward Paul’s life became dedicated to the orphan girls and sisters at Home of Hope and eventually to 32 similarly poor Salesian orphanages and schools in South India.
“In such a short period of time, Homes of Hope India-US has made a profound difference in the lives of thousands of children and young women. Our future could not be brighter, as more people learn about our work and join in. And just to think: it all started with a little girl’s smile. And because an Enchanting Travels driver was willing to go off the usual path and open up the real India to us.” – Paul Wilkes
Paul has managed to garner generous support from people, corporations, foundations, civic and religious groups all over the world, building four new orphanages, a school, providing labs, computers, medical supplies, wells, water purifiers, farm animals, over 300,000 book and diesel generators. Paul’s work continues.
Do you have a story about your life-changing experience with Enchanting Travels? We’d love to hear it: email@example.com
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