[VOLUNTEER] Saksham – Child Education & Women Empowerment @ Jaipur, India

Posted by swisscheese on Mar 21, 2018 in airbnb, jaipur, volunteer

I went to India the day before my birthday last month and initially, I was a little scared since the news on rape cases at India is so widespread. I was skeptical to make a reservation at a AIRBNB accommodation initially but after hearing from a couple of people that they stayed in the AIRBNBs at India, I went to do the comparison between AIRBNBs and hotels. It seems like both the budget and high end hotels have mixed reviews of the good & ugly side of those hotels. As for AIRBNBs, I chose the ones with reasonable pricing and with absolutely no bad reviews at all. One of the three AIRBNB choices for Jaipur that I have narrowed down for my travel buddy, Laurie to select is Deeptin and Nitin’s home! Deeptin and Nitin’s home caught my attention the most as they are maintaining an NGO and we can volunteer for their NGO if we would like to. My passion has always been about volunteering and creating an impact on others so I was glad when we finalised our accommodation at Deeptin and Nitin’s AIRBNB.

The day after we arrived at Nitin & Deeptin’s home, we were so excited to volunteer at their NGO, along with our two other AIRBNB mates and 3 people from the hostel they are taking care of as well. He was showing us the slump areas, where the houses are too tiny and poorly maintained and the kids were roaming around in the streets. Nitin bought sweets for us to distribute to those kids. Then we went to a sheltered area, where we had to take off our shoes and could finally play with the kids whom he educates. We were singing along to “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” and all sorts of nursery rhymes with them. Then, after practicing all the English songs with them in a circle under the shelter, we went outside to play Ringa Ringa Roses with them. When the song ends with “ALL FALL DOWN” and they were trapped in the arms of Simon and the other volunteer’s, they will be excluded from the game and the game continues with the remaining kids that did not get caught. My job was to keep them in line and keep them going throughout the game.

The children became so comfortable with us that they started taking selfies with us and they were raising their hands to give us high fives. It was really fun watching them smile and laugh. I am very impressed that the money collected from Deeptin and Nitin’s AIRBNB and hostel are used to buy uniforms, stationary and necessary items for the education center. When it was time to say goodbye to them, we were so sad.

I was amazed to see the classroom Nitin created for the children and women to be educated in. As you can see from the first picture, it symbolizes for women to open their eyes and be educated in order to widen their horizons and grow. Women are capable enough to achieve great things and metamorphosize like butterflies. Although women and men have different gender roles in certain societies, their rights are still the same.

As for the second picture, it states that “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the zvery most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.” Nitin got the children he educates to cover their hands with paint and place their hand prints on the wall. This adds more meaning to the decoration of this education center.

The third picture shows the list of women’s rights and calculation that Nitin has taught to the women and children respectively. He mentioned that they maybe able to count even better than us. This should be fairly accurate since we are so dependent on technology to calculate for us these days. The yellow paper with Hindi words on it is a memo written by an uneducated woman and when translated to English, it goes like that:
“Whatever we say, however we write them. How does these Hindi letters look like?
This is a school, how do I come to know?
How do I fulfill my dreams? How do I express my words?
How do I teach my siblings? How do I make someone my guru?
Will I be called illiterate throughout my life?
I have made a firm determination. I have to study. I have to do something different in my life.
I will make my own life. If anybody stops me, I will not listen to them.
I will follow my own path. I don’t need any support. I will be my own guru.”

This portrays how much women need to be educated and empowered. Apart from sharing with us his vision on continuing this education center for children and women, teaching women to sew in order for them to have skills for a more comfortable life and opening more sewing centers for women to work in, Nitin was so sweet to teach us the basics of the Hindi alphabets, as depicted in the forth picture, although of course, we might have forgotten it by now.

The last picture is a lovely picture of the founder of this NGO (Nitin) and all of us whom volunteered that morning.

Just look at all the lovely pieces sewed by the women that Deeptin educates! So just to fill you in a little, the education portion of the NGO is done by Nitin and his wife, Deeptin teaches the women how to sew in order for them to be financially independent and skillful. A lot of the cloth provided for the women to sew are from Non-Profit Organization and villages that use organic farming methods. If you look closely at the beautiful prints on the clothes as shown in the first to forth pictures, those prints are the result of using block prints called bagru and dabu print, which is sourced from a village named as Bagru, 30-40 km away from Jaipur.

In India, 1 kg of cotton requires 22500 liters of water. As organic farming uses lesser amount of water due to no chemicals being used, India contributes to two-thirds of the world’s organic cotton. This is only 2% of the country’s cotton acreage though. Thus, purchasing organic cotton is always highly encouraged! Not only will the people in Nitin & Deeptin’s NGO be paid fairly, it will be a fair trade for the people supplying the organic fabric and this creates a sustainable environment.

Although we did not have time to take pictures of Deeptin and Nitin’s AIRBNB because we arrived late on the first night and was busy throughout the second & third morning, the above pictures depicts the scrumptious food cooked by Deeptin & there is also a portrait of us and the well respected couple who not only keep evolving the NGO, takes care of their AIRBNB and hostel guests very well and have a home to care for as well!

P/S: Just to let you know, breakfast and dinner cost 300 INR each but totally worth your buck!

Both Laurie enjoyed our stay at Jaipur a lot because we learnt a lot from our Airbnb hosts, made a lot of new friends with like-minded people and found our stay very meaningful even when we did not have time to see more touristy places.


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#488 Lickety Ice Cream & Waffles @ Bussorah Street, Singapore

Posted by swisscheese on Feb 7, 2018 in egg waffles, ice-cream, singapore

Han, Wai Ming and I have not reunited for a long time, thus we were thinking to meet up for coffee a day before new year eve. Han did some research and gave us a list of cute places to check out, take a break and take photos with. Out of the five options she gave, Lickety caught my attention!

34 Bussorah St,
Singapore 199452
6291 7670

Han and I met at Bugis station so that we could walk over to Lickety together. It was drizzling at that time and we were sharing one umbrella together. Thankfully, we managed to reach Lickety without getting drenched although google map was not helpful as we thought that Bussorah Street is the street after and had to walk back once again. We were surprised to see how crowded and small Lickety is so we decided to wait outside for about 10-15 minutes before we managed to get a table at the corner of the cafe. There are only 2 small tables inside the cafe and 4-5 small tables outside the cafe so a lot of people were eating and standing at the same time. A lot of customers were looking at us because Han and I just purchased 1 mixed red velvet and original egg waffle filled with 3 scoops of ice-cream (earl grey and fig, taro yam and coconut and mint) and topped with colorful toppings and marshmallows as taken in the 8th picture. However, we kept hogging onto the table because we were taking photo at the corner of the cafe with the logo name as depicted in the 7th picture.

When Wai Ming has yet to arrive but we have already finish our dessert, we continued putting our bags on the table in order to reserve the place and went out quickly to snap some shots with the pastel colored entrance. While Han was taking some pictures for me, I saw Wai Ming and burst out laughing! We went back in and order another set, which consists of red velvet egg waffle filled with taro yam, speculoos and earl grey and fig ice-cream topped with fruit loops and caramelized nuts as seen in the 8th picture. Since there were no customers sitting at the entrance seats, we went out to snap more pictures while waiting for our dessert to be prepared as shown in the 9th picture. The good thing about Lickety is that the server will look for you to serve you your ice cream even if you are outside or inside the cafe though they are very short of staffs. The staffs also did not chase us out when we were waiting for Wai Ming after we have finish our desserts.

Initially, Han found the dessert delicious but towards the end of it, she felt that it was too sweet. Wai Ming was very impressed with the cuteness of the cafe and taste of the dessert that she highly recommends this place over another ice-cream shop nearby. I was so addicted to it as I shared one set with Han and another set with Wai Ming. Guess what happened next? I brought my boyfriend to try this the following week and he loves it! We tried red velvet egg waffle filled with passionfruit raspberry sorbet, mango sorbet and speculoos ice-cream topped with colorful cornflakes and Oppa’s favourite pocky. Oppa is usually a sorbet person, while I am always going for gelato and ice-cream. This is a refreshing change though! Please note that our dessert set comprising of egg waffle filled with 3 scoops of ice-cream and topped with two toppings cost SGD$13.90 (USD$10.53 / CAD$13.17), which is quite filling and good for 2-3 people to share!

Opens daily from 11:00am to 10:00pm
Nearest Station: Bugis via Downtown and East West Line (Blue & Green Line Respectively)

There are plenty of ice-cream stores around the Masjid and most of them are HALAL Certified since there are  many delicious Turkish and Malay eateries around the area but I did not imagine finding this hole in the wall ice-cream store if not for Han!


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