A Seaside Adventure takes place in September 2019

After 16 long years of loyal service, our entire team on the ground are whisked away for a well-deserved weekend break.

Since 2004, a great number of medical camps and other activities have taken place at the Haven centre in rural West Bengal, serving the needs of hundreds of patients on each occasion. In addition, the centre provides essential healthcare and education everyday for the impoverished local villagers. The articles in this website of all of our projects are a record of Haven's history and detail all the different ways we have tried to help the local communities. One thing across every article, however, remains the same and that is the concluding paragraph where Haven reserves its biggest thanks for our partners on the ground: MBCF. It is solely due to their dedicated and tireless support that enables Haven to continue with its essential work in the depths of rural India.

The Haven-MBCF Family, as it has become, has never had the time to enjoy just being together other than during the activities and camps at the centre when manic work schedules take precedence. And, along with being together, we wanted to thank the MBCF team properly for all their hard work right from when Haven began. So, Haven members planned a weekend break to Puri from 5th to 8th September for all 18 of us. This meant the everyday running of our centre could resume on Monday morning after only a two-day closure.

This really was an adventure for many of the MBCF staff who have never left Atla Village! Located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, the Puri beach is home to some of the most stunning views of the ocean and at the same time is a part of the city which is also famous for its religious significance. The 12th-century Jagannatha Temple is located there and is visited by millions of people every year. On route to the ashram where we would all be staying, we asked the youngest member of MBCF, Rumki, how big she thought the sea could be. Having never seen the sea before, and after a minute of serious thought, she replied it would be about ten times bigger then the pond in Atla village. Her reaction on the beach, staring at the horizon was to say, "I can't see where it ends! What's on the other side?", which was answered by Lotika, one of our learning centre teachers, "Thailand! Thailand's over there!" Opening up the scale of the world and what lay beyond the waves.

With a minivan at our disposal, we took a wonderful roadtrip to the famed 13th-century Konark Sun Temple some 35 kilometres away. The Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the Sun God. Shaped like a giant chariot, the temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings that cover the entire structure. It is the best-known tourist destination in Orissa and has been a World Heritage Site since 1984. After a quick stop for breakfast, we made the most of the glorious scenery and views along the golden coastline. It was sheer pleasure just to be all together for rest and enjoyment and the joy we felt resulted in lots of spontaneous jokes and laughter and loud sing-alongs throughout the journey.

Once we had completed the tour of Konark Sun Temple, we browsed the many pavement stalls selling their colouful wares and all of us made sure to buy souvenirs and mementos to take home as memories of our time together. Next came lunch and this turned out to be a real feast of mouth-watering dishes cooked in the traditional Bengali style. The lunch became a double celebration of not only delicious food but also to mark the birthday of MBCF member, Mithun, who was so delighted, saying he had never had such an amazing birthday treat. Heading back for our last evening together, we reflected on what a grand day out we had all had. On our overnight train journey back to Kolkata, we realised how precious this brief trip had been and how much companionship and happiness we felt by being together. So many good memories to look back on!



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