Friday, September 30, 2011

Checking in with you from Coimbatore

#ibmcsc ibmcsc india
The course over the last week has been extremely packed! Let me give you a brief summary.

Our plane from Mumbai to Coimbatore.
My plane took off from Oslo, Norway early in the morning on Friday, September 23rd. After about 13 hours of travelling, with a layover in Vienna, I finally made it to Mumbai, India late in the evening the same day. I spent the night at a hotel near the airport, before catching a plane heading for Coimbatore.   
The India 12 team outside our hotel, Deja Vu, Coimbatore.
It was extremely exciting to meet the team face-to-face, after having had weekly calls since the beginning of July. We spend a lot of the time together - eating dinner, checking out the city, and doing other activities - and have started to know each other well. We have even hired a Yoga teacher to come over to our hotel two-to-three times a week. Today, we had our first session, and I must admit it was surprisingly hard to do some of the exercises.
Guess what? I know how to iron my own shirts!
My lodging has been great, though a little bit cold. Until recently, my air conditioning system was stuck at maximum cooling! Imagine this powerful machine pumping ice cold air into your room all night – it was just like sleeping in an igloo. I was all bundled up in clothes, including a hat and gloves, in India!
Celebrating Amanda's Birthday.
Food-wise we have done quite well, so far. There has been a good variety of Southern Indian cuisine, where we mainly have enjoyed vegetarian dishes. However, I had a major incident two days ago; by mistake, I put a whole red chili in my mouth, and started chewing.... ouch!!
Check out those red bananas in the back.
On Monday, we had the Corporate Service Corps-kickoff where all the NGO partners, the CDS representatives, and the IBMers met in the conference room on the hotel premises. We introduced ourselves to each other and had some delicious Indian lunch before the Corporate Service Corps-teams started discussing their assignments with their NGO partners.  
The Corporate Service Corps kickoff.
I have great respect for the work that is being done at Sankara Eye Care Hospital, and I am very humble about the opportunity to volunteer at this institution. I recommend everyone to read about their Gift of Vision-program that is all about helping the rural poor people of India, through providing them with completely free eye surgeries. 
Information meeting for the employees at the hospital.
The rest of the week we have spent most of the time at the hospital. Our statement of work has just been settled. One of our main tasks is to help the hospital identify, map, and to put all their processes into a structure. Right now, we feel a little overwhelmed. However, we have put a realistic plan in place, and we are moving at full speed ahead!
The hospital is self-sufficient when it comes to milk - a total of 70 liters are produced every day!
#ibmcsc India