Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Namaste and Merry Christmas if I don't get back here before then.  Here's the latest...

I went to London after my visa run to Australia for a face-to-face interview for the World Centre Managers job.  The interview process took 5 hours and included a tour of pax lodge, a Skype call with the Sangam centre team chair in Peru, a written assessment on finance, an interview and time when I could ask questions.  211 people applied for the job and they picked me!!!  I was on the London Eye the evening after the interview with a previous Sangam volunteer when I heard the news.  We wanted to jump up and down with excitement but we though we had better not.  

This is one huge privilege and a journey that I’m equally excited and scared about entering into.  Donna finishes on the 18th of December and I commence on the 19th.  I have been busy cramming my head with as much of Donna’s brain as possible while at the same time being fully aware that we will not have a Programme Manager on the ground here for some time…another challenge!  

In other Sangam news we recently conducted an HIV/Aids advocacy seminar with 21 participants for 10 countries.  One of the highlights for me was the group putting advocacy into action as we joined other organisations from around Pune in a World Aid’s Day march on the 1st of December. 

Sonu – my Sangam cat – has recently had surgery.  Someone asked me on Facebook what happened to her and I hurriedly answered that she had ‘her lady PARTY removed’!  Indeed she has.  She will have her stitches out Friday thank goodness – no more cone head!  She now has her own Facebook page (Sonu Barron) and is aiming to be the most famous cat in the world. 

Other exciting family news in that Dale and Yanny had another baby.  She’s very very cute and her name is Asia Jenna Barron.  I’m very excited about the middle name (of course) and will be doing my best to get across to Hong Kong during the Indian summer (April/May) to spend some time with them all.

Our next event starts on the 21st of December with 30 participants for the UK and Australia.  This runs until January 1st and the next event starts on January 3rd so a very tight turn around for us.  Our annual centre team meeting runs for the 18th to the 22nd of Jan so I expect to come up for air around the 26th of January.  Until them I hope you guys have an awesome Christmas and New Year and do eat some Christmas fare for me!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Guess most of you will have heard by now that I have been to London to interview for the position of World Centre Manager here at Sangam.  I was offered the job the same day as I was interviewed and I was in the London Eye with Sophie when the phone call came.  (Sophie was a volunteer here at Sangam who lives in London and just went home a couple of weeks ago).  Here's some pic's taken from my phone when we were on the Eye - we were very excited so had to take pic's even if they didn't turn out very well!!!

I loved the London Eye!!!  It's very exciting and also very scary at the same time to be offered the position.  I've not officially accepted the job yet as I'm still waiting to see a contract so I'm sure there's still some negotiations that need to happen but all will turn out just fine.

Been back at work here in India for two days and so much to do with Donna leaving in less than a month.  Now we have to work out what to do about a new Programme Manager...

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Kamini and I have just had the most awesome two weeks in Australia and I thought I'd share some of it mostly in pic's.  There's a recurring theme - it involves a lot of BLUE (the sea)!!!

We headed up to Mumbai with Aruna who needed a lift to Reshma's place near the airport.  It was good to share the journey with her.

In Singapore we had fun in the butterfly garden - they really were incredible!

When we got to Hobart it was really cold - six degrees!  Mum met us with the puffer jacket held out for Kamini and it was her clothing of choice for most of the trip.  This photo is of our first night in Hobart with Kamini acting as a seal - she makes a good one I think!

Lunch on Bellerive beach - the first of many beaches in the trip!

Our visit with Sue and Rod was very special...

After Hobart we headed North to Launceston where it was a little warmer - the jacket is off!  I had a guide meeting in the Gorge about fanTAStic and Kamini played with the peacocks.  She couldn't understand how the national bird of India could survive in the cold of Northern Tasmania.  I had no answer...

We got to hand out on Susie and Gordy's 'farm' in Lilydale - Kamini thinks she may like to work on a farm!  The sheep and the chooks liked her and she in return...

Plenty of friends and fun in Bridport.  Riding the scooter with safety gear - Kamini mowing the lawn for the first time - the beach - BBQ's - bike rides - FRIENDS - and MY beach!

We visited a few schools and Kamini played teacher and on the way back from Winnaleah we met an echidna.

We also hung out with Britto's baby - she is just 10months old if you can believe it???

It was then off to Sydney for more beaches and more friends...

We also celebrated a belated 50th for Merial and an early 50th for Ro.  More beaches and friends...

All topped off last night with a special meeting with Jan, Lynda and Bob - a ride on the Manly ferry and some great conversation and connections!!!

Kamini has headed home today and I'm doing more time in Sydney waiting for my delayed visa - hopefully I will be on the way soon.  For those of you who have been part of the action thanks so much - it could not have been better!  For those of you we missed - sorry - it was so packed - next time!!!


45th Birthday

I know it's been a while since Sangam's 45th birthday but I couldn't help sharing a few of my favorite photos!

This is how beautiful Sangam looked for the birthday - all dressed up for the party!  Anita did an awesome job with this pic!!!

There were way too many highlights of the birthday event - 60's dinner and crazy wide game in full costume, kid's birthday party with children from the community across the road from us, campfire and sleep over with 60 guides and scouts and much much more.  Here's a few of my best bits...

One of the things I'd been wanting to do at Sangam since I started was poolside movies and let me tell you - they were awesome!  Sophie (one of the volunteers from the UK) had her parents come and visit and they brought a whole heap of blow up seats with them and the participants brought some along too.  Our carpenter made a frame and a sheet and the new projector that does rear projection worked amazingly.  This will be the first of may poolside movie experiences I reckon!  If you'd like to experience floating popcorn servers you know where to come...

We had a really cool logo for the birthday and here it is in some fab formats - the cake, the welcome rangoli out the front made by our volunteers in training Sayali and Aarti and a flower carpet that Kirti and Kamini made outside the hall!

On the birthday day there was an elephant - her name was Laxmi and she was 40 years old and just the coolest elephant I've ever met - not that I have met many!!!  You can check her out here in some of my fav pic's of her...and by the way - I have her phone number if any of you want to come over and hook up with her!!!

One of my favorite parts of the birthday was the community partner forum we ran at the end of the day.  Some of our key partners formed a panel and we asked them questions and then we formed some small groups for discussion.  It was a really important part of the day in terms of how we work with our partners and just rounded off the celebrations perfectly.

Hope to see some of you guys at the 46th birthday on October the 16th next year - we'll have just as much fun!!!