Our final day at Bondeni was a busy day full of activities. The day began with some of the group splitting off to make final home visits to meet the families of sponsored children. The rest of the group stayed at the school and broke into smaller teaching groups. Two groups went into the classrooms to talk with students about their experiences at the elephant orphanage, while a third group debriefed with the Bondeni teachers and delivered the curriculum that will continue the discussions on conservation in the classroom. Right before lunch, the whole group came back together to deliver milk to the children in the school as a special treat with lunch.
After this treat, our team transitioned to preparing a surprise teacher appreciation luncheon. The teachers, social workers, and staff at Bondeni work tirelessly everyday to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of every student in the school. As a team we wanted to recognize and appreciate the staff for their dedicated service to the school. We arranged for a “feast” to be catered to the school by the Grace House staff. For less than the cost of what most Indy residents would pay for lunch downtown, Grace House prepared a beautiful buffet of appetizers, entrees and desserts for the staff. Teachers were given time away from their duties to come and enjoy a lunch together.
Afterwards our team prayed with each staff member and presented them with a small bag of gifts and flowers. It was clear that this act of honor and appreciation deeply touched the whole staff.
After lunch it was time for the Bondeni staff and student farewell celebration. Our team was treated to performances by the students with song, poetry, and dancing. Our hearts were touched as several members of the Bondeni staff shared words of thanks and gratitude for our service with them over the past week. The celebration concluded with the sharing of a cake and a dance party with the students. It was a bittersweet celebration full of joy and laughter, but also sadness at the realization of the impending goodbyes. After a week at Bondeni new friendships had been made and old friendships had been renewed.