Friday, September 13, 2013

A family retreat


In July, the Residential Program kids had a long holiday weekend. And, after a hot, dusty summer (March - June in Pune) and a month at boarding school in the heart of the city, how better to spend a long weekend than in the rural outskirts of Pune, enjoying the lush greenery and clean, crisp air of monsoon season?


The children, Sangeeta, and volunteers Jenni, Katie and Marcela headed to an eco-farm called The Hidden Oasis in Saswad, a beautiful spot about half an hour outside of the city. There, they spent a great (albeit rather rainy and muddy) 4-day weekend exploring the farm, riding horses, learning the ins and outs of vermiculture, making friends with the animals (rabbits, cows, donkeys, etc), visiting a nearby orphanage for girls that is affiliated with the farm, daring each other to take turns on the zipline, scouting for ripe fruits and vegetables and filling up on delicious home-cooked meals. The kids unanimously agree, though, that the best part of the trip to The Hidden Oasis was tromping around in the nearby river and dam (check out our gang of meditating sadhus in the picture below!).

Adventures at The Hidden Oasis (click to enlarge)
They spent nights watching movies on a volunteer laptop (a throwback to our pre-projector days when all movies were watched crowded around a 15" computer screen), practicing Marathi (and learning a little German!) with the volunteers, and even throwing a late night dance party when MK didi and volunteer Abby joined them for their final night at the farm. On Sunday, everyone was sad to head back to school, but grateful to have had a long weekend spending time together and enjoying new activities.

We would like to say a big thank you to Col. Kulkarni for helping to put the ball in motion for this little retreat, and to Mr. Yunus Shipchandler and the staff at The Hidden Oasis, for ensuring that the children and volunteers had a fantastic stay. (And thank you to volunteer Marcela for so beautifully capturing the trip in photos, too.)

Happy weekend, all!

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