Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Namaste from Hyderabad! Alyssa and Marissa here! We spent our first day exploring the big city of Hyderabad and were again impressed by the beauty and history that our new home holds.

We started off our day going to Charminar (left) which was built in 1591 and translates to "Four Towers" in English. The famous structure was built to commemorate the elimination of a plague epidemic from this city.

Hyderabad is famous for a lot of things, one of which is BANGLES! Again, perfect for the two of us. We haven't bought any yet, but we are getting a good feel for prices. The famous place to get the best selection and best prices is right by Charminar.

After Charminar, we headed off to the Golkonda Ruins. If you look closely at the picture you can see the ruins in the bottom half of the picture, and part of the city above them. We remember being so confused because people kept clapping at the bottom of the ruins. At first, we thought they were trying to scare the birds off. It turns out, people were clapping because the clap and even talking can be heard at the very top of the ruins (where Marissa is in the picture). Apparently, the King would know when visitors had come because the servants would greet them at the right spot so that the noise carried directly to the top of the ruins. Below are more pictures from Golkonda.

Although we both greatly enjoyed exploring the wonders of Hyderabad, starting our first day of work was definitely the highlight of our time thus far. We are working for a public-private partnership called the Centre for Persons with Disability Livelihoods (CPDL). CPDL is an organization set up by the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) and the Wadhwani Foundation which enables people with disabilities to hone in on their skills and attain long-term sustainable employment. Most students go through 2-3 months of training during which time they also receive room and board, counseling, encouragement and inspiration. Between the government-run SERP and the privately-owned Wadhwani Foundation, all training and living accommodations come free of charge to these students.

We were honored to be able to meet all 40 students currently training at the center on our first day. We had the opportunity to sit down and ask questions and were so moved by hearing all of their dreams and aspirations. Many of these students come from families who live below the poverty line and freely express how thankful they are for this amazing opportunity. The program is intended for students between 18-32 years of age and has specialized training based on the students age, experience, educational level, and skill preferences. The ultimate goal is to place these individuals in sustainable careers where they can not only earn a living, but create a life. We learned so much just by sitting down and conversing with the students which really ignited our motivation and vision as we start our projects.

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