Our annual WOHAA Winners Trip to Chennai, India was once again a huge success. For Team Apex from Dartford Grammar School, the overall winners, it proved to be an excellent, once in a lifetime learning experience.

The five eighteen-year-old girls and Rajni Sriram began their weeklong adventure by taking a flight to Chennai, with a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi. As we landed, no time was wasted as we were very excited to go to the school and meet the children there. Upon reaching the school, we were met by the dynamic Principal of the school, and soon assigned classes, to start our teaching.

The school children were very excited to meet us. Our girls were able to work with the students throughout the week, taking part in their day-to-day lessons, from singing nursery rhymes to the younger students to teaching the older children Maths and English. German and Spanish were an absolute hit! One of the many inspiring aspects about this school was that they valued their morals and taught children how to practice respect and how to treat others with kindness, alongside their academic studies which created an overall extremely positive environment for everyone.

Much like the children who were provided free lunch by the school every day, we were also served vegetarian food with the difference of it being catered to our westernised lifestyle. After lunch, the students at the school had the moral duty to wash and dry their plates before leaving. Another interesting aspect to the school is that each student has a notebook that they use for daily self-analysis where they write down all their achievements of the day as well any improvements they could have made.

On the last day at the school, there was a cultural exchange programme where the school children performed acts such as karate, yoga and dancing for us and our girls performed two songs in English as well as a poem for them. We were very touched when we were given special handmade gifts from the students to show their gratitude.

The second project that WOHAA runs is the Slum Children’s Evening Tuition Project to help children living in inhumane, shocking conditions with no running water or proper sewage. A lot of these children have to work to provide for their families and therefore miss school. This is why WOHAA provides free evening tuition everyday at the ten centres in the north of Chennai which help up to 600 children. We visited one of these centres, met with the students and the NGO who helps run the project and were greeted with roses and snacks. Each student told us their own family story.  The teachers at this Centre, also shared their experiences and how happy they felt to be teaching these children.

Finally, on the final day of the trip, we were able to go sightseeing starting our day off by getting henna done and then visiting the famous St. Thomas’s Church situated on top of a hill, followed by a trip to Marina beach to cool ourselves down! We also visited an very famous ancient Hindu temple full of stone carvings finally ended our day by shopping.

This annual WOHAA winner’s trip to India is what makes our charity unique and special. We recognise and reward our UK participants and ensure that they learn to become global citizens in its true sense.

Leanne Baffour -  Team Apex – Dartford Grammar School

The trip to India was by far a humbling experience! As this trip was my first time setting foot in Asia I was buzzing with excitement to experience a brand new and beautiful culture. Upon arriving at the school I felt privileged to be greeted with such excitement, each of us receiving our own personal roses! When teaching the classes I was extremely impressed with the intellectual level of all the students as well as the positive attitude to learning, which is so rarely experienced in the western world. The children welcomed us with introductions, Moral based songs and wide smiles. In the many classes we played mathematical games and taught languages such as German and Spanish. The children picked up everything we taught surprisingly quickly and were enthusiastic to learn about different cultures. One lesson which was really enjoyed was our African culture lesson which was ended with African music and colouring African patterns. Nevertheless the highlight of the trip for me would have to be the assembly hosted by the school on the last day. I was amazed at the talent exhibited by the children of all ages! Perhaps the most poignant example of this is the display of the yoga in which the young boys performed many thrilling and difficult tricks. The many talents of the children was very evident from this afternoon. What’s more, in this afternoon assembly we were able to see the vast impact we had on the children as they displayed to us their appreciation of everything we had taught them. It was amazing to be able to share parts of our culture with the children in Chennai. I am so appreciative this one in a life time opportunity. I know for me this trip has opened up my mind to wonders that can be achieved though the thing that united us all together... Education!