Posted by Edward Thomson
After returning from a hugely successful RFE trip to India, team co-leader Greta assembled a presentation for the club this morning.
As Greta explained, the focus of the trip, as organized by our hosts, was definitely on projects undertaken by the various Rotary Clubs from Chennai and others from the same District. Additional presentations on projects looking for international partnership that our club might be interested in.  The team were guests of honour at the dedication of a water and sanitation project for the Rotary Clubs of Madras and Chennai Chola.  The team also visited the Avarvind Eye Hospital in Chennai, and the MIOT Pediatric Cardiology Hospital in Chennai (for more on this wonderful hospital, visit  Here they saw the cardiac intensive care unit, with the youngest patient being 6 days old.
Fellowship is of course a big part of RFE.  Apart from being hosted by Rotarians, who kept them extremely well fed (judging by the pictures of a typical breakfast), the team attended many Club meetings and fellowship sessions, giving out all of the Club banners that we took with them. Our club was present and participated in the 90th anniversary celebration of the Madras Club, a wonderful and special event.  The team also got to visit a textile factory, a "happy accident" as Michelle put it, because the originally scheduled activity was unavailable.  Here they watched weavers using hand looms to wave beautiful fabrics for garments, some of which just happened to end up in the team suitcases for the trip home.
It wasn't all business though.  An important part of RFE is the chance to see the sights and absorb the culture of the country.  The team spent the last 4 days spent touring the countryside and going to the many different temples in the state.  Tamil Nadu Province was one destination, especially interesting was Pondicherry, a French oasis in a country largely influenced by the British.  Also visited was Trichy, the city of temples, named because it has so many..yes you guessed it.. gorgeous temples.  Also on the agenda was a visit to host Ravi's farm, where the workers proudly showed the contribution of the farm to the good of the community.  The team also got to visit a temple at night in the city of Thanjavur, a different experience.
Greta relied on all of the team members present to reflect on different aspects of the trip.  John Gale spoke of how the Rotary Clubs in India think big when they talk about projects, a philosophy he would like to see here in Kingston.  Ed reflected on the delicious food.  Michelle showed of some of the beautiful textiles that were purchased and the factory visit.  Heather reflected on the architecture of Pondicherry, and her disappointment in not being able to walk the streets more because of the condition of the sidewalks.  President Rick reflected on the intensity of everything, the surprising lack of spoken English, and the rather novel ideas on building construction.  Ana reflected on the graciousness of the hosts, and Greta spoke in her presentation about the crazy traffic, where your car horn is your best friend and no one ever wears out their turn signals.
All in all the trip was great.  We can hardly wait for the return visit of friends from India.  Let's show them some good Kingston hospitality!!
Thanks to Greta and Ana for acting as co-leaders.  President Rick thanked Greta for putting the presentation together, but gifted the loaf of bread to Mara Shaw, who was back from Loving Spoonful today.
The happy team!
MOIT Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
One of many Rotary Club meetings
The famous Indian breakfast
Weaver in the textile shop
The ladies in their finery at the Rotary Club of Madras 90th Anniversary
Trichy, city of temples
Workers on Ravi's farm
The team and their hosts