In 2019, the water crisis in Chennai forced us to move north. We loved our 18 years there, and here's why!
Brenda worked with a women's program in Chennai, India. While she was there, Brenda developed a profound respect for the Indian people and their customs. On returning home, she wrote Sisters of the Sari, a novel based on her experiences and the stories of the wonderful people she met and worked with in Chennai. http://brendalbaker.com/
1/10 - Be prepared to get up close and personal with the livestock of Chennai as they share the streets with traffic and pedestrians. Bullocks, horses, cows, and water buffalo are the most common, chickens can be seen scratching around in the dirt and the occasional herd of scrawny pigs will go trotting by.
2/10 - Some of the 70+ women and children residing in the shelter on an outing to the Season of Love Christmas Carnival. They are wearing new Christmas outfits donated by a local school. There are two shelters here. The short stay home is for women and children who are in family difficulty and the Drop In Shelter is for Trafficking victims. They love to practice their English on the volunteers.
3/10 - A very friendly stall owner at the local vegetable market in Perambur district, where the Center is located. The selections are limited but the smiles are plentiful. Most people in Chennai are friendly and interested in foreigners. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to charge three times the going rate for their wares and services. Be prepared to haggle.
4/10 - This is a good example of the chalk patterns drawn in front of shops and houses all over Chennai. For everyday, they are drawn in white chalk, for special occasions they are colourful and more elaborate.
5/10 - The Center's cook making a chicken biryani in the back yard for a special lunch. During the week, food is plentiful and tasty, but can get repetitive. Service on the weekends is a bit hit and miss, most volunteers keep a small hoard of munchies on hand and the restaurant down the street is always a good bet.
6/10 - When volunteers miss American food, they can always find a soft drink and a bag of chips at the local supermarket, which is also a good place to stock up on fresh fruit, cereal, milk, juice and that all important western necessity – toilet paper. There are simple cooking facilities at the lodging.
7/10 - Women from a local slum being given empowerment training by a Center's staff member. They are encouraged to form self help groups to organize themselves in starting businesses and effecting community improvements. As the number of these groups grows, they are becoming politically active, lobbying for changes to laws and government procedures.
8/9 - Teenage girls at a Human Trafficking awareness training in a Chennai school. Young girls are very vulnerable 8/10 to being trafficked, and awareness training for this high risk group is a priority of the Anti Trafficking team. Volunteers are encouraged to accompany training teams, and if they feel up to it, can participate in the skits and other presentations.
9/10 - There’s an internet café just up the street from the lodging, but you sometimes have to step over a dog to get in. Dog lovers should prepare themselves for some difficult sights, these are not the pampered overfed puppies of the west.