India is one of those countries that you could return over and over again and have a completely different experience, as the entire landscape is as eclectic and versatile as the people who encapsulate it. Southern India, Kerala will always be a bucket list destination that still conjures up mystery and intrigue. From getting lost in the lush backwaters to waking up to chanting and soft bells in the distance, this is a place that inspires all of the senses to be illuminated. Spices and incense smoke waft through the air as decorated tuk-tuks clamor amidst the hectic, yet perfectly synchronized balance of mammal, machine, and man. The most beautiful and distinct colors can be seen in India, woven into the saris, painted on the holy cows that roam freely in the roads, to flower petals that can be seen on the ground outside of the ancient temples. India beckons for dreams to realized and realities to be dreams. Joining you is Jordan Ashely, Founder of Souljourn Yoga. Chelsea Gilson, Tour Leader of Willow & Blair and Alyce Biddle of My name is Kumar Foundaiton.
THE PROJECT WE ARE SUPPORTING
What? An engaging yearlong programme of activities for secondary school aged girls delivered to them outside of their classroom. The programme will aim to increase confidence, inspire and educate them about topics they wouldn’t learn about in school. Why? We wish to tackle some of the repeated problems we see regularly affecting girls we work with; child marriage, teenage dropouts, teenage pregnancy, lack of ambition, low self-esteem and self worth. We believe that all the girls we work with can do whatever they put their mind to in life, but they are too often limited by the barriers that society, their families and even the education system places in front of Indian girls. We would like to use the donation from Souljourn Yoga and Willow & Blair to plan and deliver a year worth of activities under this program. Girls will meet once a month outside of school time.
Ideas for activities include:
• Self-defense and martial arts
• Yoga and meditation
• Career talks and mentoring
• Advice on higher education, travel or apprenticeships
• Talks and demonstrations from successful Indian women
• First aid course • Talks about sexual health, menstruation and pregnancy
• Swimming, trekking and dancing
If we raise enough money we would also like to fund a special weekend residential trip for girls on the program. Most of the girls on the program have never left their district, let alone the state of Tamil Nadu. We believe that taking a group of girls on a trip away from their homes will give them valuable new experiences and open their eyes to new things.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION – MY NAME IS KUMAR (MNIK)
The story of how My name is Kumar got their name is the story of one child, Satish Kumar. But Satish is one of many children that make up the My name is Kumar Family. In 2012 Renee and Tim (co-founders) visited CARE Foundation for the first time. They planned on spending six months working with the charity to look after the children before they moved to London for study and careers. They loved every minute in India, fell in love with the children and their temporary home in India. Leaving was one of the hardest things they have ever had to do, but they knew they would be back one day to visit. They didn't expect that when they visited CARE Foundation again in 2013 they would be told that the education projects were at risk of closure because of a cut in funding. Something needed to be done urgently to stop them having to send all the children back to a life of begging and poverty. In response to the problem, My Name is Kumar was set up to support CARE Foundation and carry on giving and education to the children.
One day, back in the early days of our charity, Renee and Tim were driving from school to
school in search of a place for two of their newest recruits, Satish and Saravanan. Now usually
Satish and Saravanan are cheery and cheeky boys, but they both knew that this day was
particularly special for them and they had to be on their best behaviour. They were heading to
meet with the school principals of all the best schools in the area in order to get a place at
school for the next year. If they played their cards right and behaved themselves they would be
joining the other children on the school bus each morning. They were very nervous.
At each school they were asked to introduce themselves to the principal. This should have been
easy, but for Satish who has a lisp, it was hard! At the first 3 schools they visited his name would
come out all wrong when he introduced himself; “My name is Ssssatttisch” he would say. Satish
got more and more frustrated, until eventually enough was enough...
At the last school they visited Satish was asked to introduce himself one last time. Satish stood up, looked the principle straight in the eye and fiercely said “My name is KUMAR!”.
They all started laughing, and the principal looked confused but impressed at this confident
young man! They decided that Satish’s confidence and resilience was what they wanted their charity to be about.
MNIK want all the children they look after to be able to stand up and shout their name
with pride. That’s why they decided to call ourselves My name is Kumar.
Satish and Saravanan are only two children of many, but they managed to inspire everyone in a
way that they could never have imagined.
Backwaters Boat Tour
Kochi Town Visit
Traditional dance class
New Year’s Celebration
Thanjavur Temples Tour
Tea/Spice Plantation Tour
Tradtional Dance Workshop
Scenic Drive Across South India MNIK Community interaction/activities/visits Agasthiyar Falls Beach Day
Ayurvedic Spa Treatment
Transfers to/from Airport
$300 US tax-deductible donation to My Name is Kumar Foundation
Travel Insurance (Compulsory for anyone who travels with Willow & Blair and Souljourn Yoga)
All foreigners entering India must have a valid passport and visa. The passport must have a
validity that extends the duration of your stay by a minimum of 6 months and has at least one
blank page. To apply for a tourist visa, visit: https://www.indiavisa.org.in/apply-visa
Entry requirements can change at any time, so it’s important that you check for the latest
information. Please visit the relevant consular website fo the coutnry or countries you’re visiting
for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarize yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
You will need to provide flight information at the time of booking to your tour so we can arrange
your private transfer to our first meeting point (Soma Kerala Palace)
Our drivers will be waiting for you with a sign at the designated waiting area of the arrivals
terminal, where you will be assisted with your luggage.
Soma Kerala Palace
Cochin -Kumarakom Near Murinjupuzha, Chempu
P.O. Vaikom, Cochin College Rd
Chullickal, Kochi, Kerala 686615, India
Phone: +91 4829 271 350
Check in is from 2pm. If you want to arrive earlier this is absolutely fine, however please note that you may not be able to check into your room until 2pm. You are more than welcome to leave your bags in the foyer and the hotel staff can provide recommendations whilst you wait.
You will need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy this trip. All levels and fitness abilities are
welcome to the yoga classes.
There is no standardized tipping custom in India. However, tipping small service providers such
as restaurant and bar waiters, hotel staff, reception, cleaning personnel, bell boys, taxis and van
drivers is an appropriate practice that will be greatly appreciated. It is important to note that the majority of dining establishments servicing tourists will include a
10% upcharge for gratuity.
It is best practice to dress comfortably and modestly in India to avoid any unwanted attention.
Shoulders and knees should be covered for temple visits.
FINISHING POINT INSTRUCTIONS
Your tour ends at the Leela Kovalam Kerala. We ask for your flight details prior to the trip to
secure your private return transfer to Trivandrum International Airport. Should you be staying on
in India or departing for a different location; our staff can assist. Please inquire with us upon
ATMs in India are predominant in principal cities and will generally accept cards on the
Mastercard and Visa networks. Please consult with your bank before your trip to ensure your
cards will work abroad. Note that when using your credit card there is generally a fee of 5-10%
when purchasing products or services.
While larger restaurants and stores will likely accept credit cards, the majority of services and
shops will only accept cash. Carrying large amounts of cash can be a high risk anywhere that you travel. We recommend a combination of cash and cards. Bear in mind ATMs are sometimes inaccessible. US dollars, British Pounds and the Euro are all quite easy to exchange to local currency and some establishments will accept Euros in place of Dirhams. Banks and some hotels will provide an exchange service. Traveler's checks can be difficult to change in India and we do not recommend them/
▪ Flight info
▪ Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
▪ Passport (required) (With photocopies)
▪ Any required visas or vaccination certificates
▪ Lip balm
▪ A mini first aid kit (bandaids, antibacterial gel, imodium, aspirin, any prescription drugs
you’re prescribed, antihistamine, mosquito repellent)
▪ Your Favorite Toiletries
▪ Comfortable Footwear, Preferably closed toe shoes
▪ Airy and Modest clothing (pants, long skirts, tshirts, long sleeve blouses)
▪ A lightweight Rain Jacket
▪ A swimsuit
▪ Beach Cover Up
▪ Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)
▪ Day pack or crossbody purse
▪ Phone and charger
▪ Cash, credit and debit cards
▪ Camera, memory card, battery and charger
▪ Locks for bags
▪ Outlet adapter
▪ Fitness Attire you feel comfortable practicing yoga in
It will be an average of 25 degrees Celsius (77 fahrenheit) in Pondicherry and 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) in Kerala.
Meet and assist on arrival into Kerala, private transfer from Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) will be provided. Get settled, unwind, and relaxed. We will meet for an opening ceremony and evening yoga practice before dinner and a good night’s sleep as we begin our amazing journey together.