A GLOBE-TROTTING grandmother who has returned from a charity mission to India admits it was one of the most emotional experiences of her life.
Monica Isle from Pocklington jetted out to Goa earlier this year to work with children from the slums.
The active 68-year-old, who was a founder member of Pocklington Ramblers, had been looking for a new challenge and came across Children Walking Tall - a charity that has set up a drop-in centre where some of the poorest youngsters in the world can be fed, clothed and even schooled.
The grandmother-of-eight signed up to work for four months, but admitted that searing heat became a problem as she struggled to maintain her weight.
Having just returned, she explained: “It was just fantastic but it was just so hard because of the heat. It was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day and I lost over a stone.
“I went with the intention of working 12 weeks and I managed eight. You are out in the open and it just gets harder and harder. By the time I’d done eight weeks I was shattered.
“One volunteer, who was only 20 years old, only managed three weeks.
“It’s so moving and so emotional as well - the children just have nothing, absolutely nothing at all. It brings it home how lucky we are in this country in that respect.
“I was keyed up with it all before I went but it’s just so emotionally draining.”
Monica flew out in January having raised over £2,000 to give to the charity. As part of the agreement, her flights, accommodation and living expenses came out of her own pocket.
She checked into a hostel to help keep costs down and five days a week she caught two buses to the drop-in centre, Mango House, near to the town of Calangute.
The mornings would be spent working with the children doing craft work, before having to bowl up over 200 bowls of rice and curry to be taken to the youngsters living in the slums.
The afternoon would see Monica and the other volunteers continue with the crafts before playing games with the youngsters in a bid to teach them English.
Those lucky enough to go to school would then return and the volunteers would help them with homework.
Some days they would take a van-load of youngsters to the river to help wash them, or on occasions, they would be taken on a day trip out.
Monica helped take 44 youngsters to a water park, where she paid the £100 entry fee out of the money she raised before leaving the East Riding.
“You work from nine to five and it’s pretty full on,” she said.
“I would never question where the money goes to with this charity, none of it is wasted anywhere.
“They do not throw their toys away or spoil them, they will play with a broken cricket bat or a punctured ball because that’s what life is like there.
“It’s not Christmas everyday but they make sure they get the simple things.
“I missed my family but not for one minute would I not recommend that to anybody who has got the energy or the time to go. It’s an experience of a life time. It’s a means to an end what they do out there.”
She was also given the chance to visit some of India’s top attractions during her time there, including the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Wagah border ceremony between India and Pakistan.
However, despite working in the popular coastal area of Goa she says she preferred to stay away from the tourists.
She said: “There were British people on the beaches but I really did not want to mix with the tourists because I did not want to be one of them.
The people of India are lovely, by the time I left Calangute, it was like being in Pocklington because I knew so many of them!
“It was very emotional to leave, it was just awful. I did not say any goodbyes, I just walked out of the field crying my eyes out, but I can say I was very lucky to have had the opportunity and the experience of such a fantastic charity.”