How to try and sum up 14 pretty incredible days in a single blog post...
I've met over 50 rather special individuals who have benefited directly from our innocent Foundation
Drunk about 20 cups of hot milk, straight from the yard
Been given one jack fruit
Had 2 delicious coconuts from the tree
Been lucky enough to sit in on 3 of the monthly meetings run at local village level by disabled people for disabled people, where the big decisions get made.
And almost been launched through the roof of 1 Indian bus (note to self: never, ever sit on the back row).
Trying to give a picture of all the people that I've met is a lot more difficult. I've been totally blown away by the sheer determination to drive change that I have witnessed this past fortnight- but one of the most striking examples I've seen is a man I met called Poundurai.
ADD met Poundurai at a Federation meeting for disabled people that they attended about 5 years ago. He wasn't in a leadership role at the time, but they noticed his potential and began working with him more closely over the years to support the work that he was doing.
5 years on, and he now represents over 2300 disabled people in a block of over 40 villages in his area. He's the elected President of the Disability Development Trust, a co-ordinator of the governement disability programme, and Leader of the National Federation for the Blind, fighting tirelessly to make sure that disabled people get a fair deal. He and his team have helped more disabled people get bank loans than any other group in the area, they've taught parents of severely disabled children how to teach their children to wash and dress, and they've ensured that when things aren't right, they're addressed.
When I was there, we spoke to a lady whose postman had been skimming 500 rupees for himself off the government benefits that he was supposed to be delivering her in full each month. Apparently this is rather common.
From the look on Poundurai's face, I suspect the postman might think twice about it next time.