Today was our last day at Parok Bangkal and as such our team had an air of sadness as we anticipated having to say goodbye. We began the day by packing distribution packs for the community. Everyone got in and worked hard as we put together bags containing 3 Kilos of rice, 6 packets of noodles and 4 cans of sardines. Having something practical and helpful to do staved off the thought of leaving.
We were also given a tour of one the local properties that farm pigs. The family started out by buying 3 piglets and now has about 15 pigs and piglets. Seeing their piggery business taking off and providing for the family was very encouraging. Smelling the piggery was less great…
We had quite a lot of free time which our students spent talking and playing with the children of Parok Bangkal. The scholar students from IRC taught us how to make friendship bracelets and it wasn’t long before everyone was covered in yellow and black bracelets, anklets and headbands – a definite plus for any Richmond supporters. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that David Pitman didn’t have to be taught how to make the bracelets but just worked it out himself and seems to be rather talented at handy crafts for a bearded man. Kudos Pitman, Kudos.
In the afternoon our students distributed the food packages they had put together earlier. Having built relationships with the people of Parok Bangkal, visited their homes and seen their need, the act of handing over a bag of supplies was made all the more meaningful and satisfying. It was great to see the smiles on the faces of the community members as they received the packs, and even more so on the faces of your children as they handed them over.
Next came a round of world class volley ball, but the victory celebrations were quickly followed by tears as our departure grew near. We attempted a ‘quick goodbye’, like ripping off a bandaid, but the bandaid turned out to be longer and slower to remove than we thought! Although it was an emotional farewell, I guess this is a reflection of the relationships that have been built and the impact that has been made not only on the people of Parok Bangkal but also on our group.
We finished the day with a swim and debrief in the pool and I’m sure the events of the day and the past week will continue to be talked about as we move forward.
All is well, and it is such a privilege to be on this trip with your children.
Rachel Thyer (Sercombe) (…changing names is a long process!)