Changing Lives in Chennai

My name is Nicole Guarino and I’m a dancer and also a member of the Scottish Dance Theatre. Through my work I have the privilege of traveling the world. During my tour in India I had the opportunity to visit a Christian NGO in Chennai called CMCT (Christian Missions Charitable Trust). Regardless of beliefs, I believe that the work founded by Colleen Redit is wonderful and should be supported.

Colleen was born in New Zealand and moved to Tamil Nadu in southern India in 1964, when she was only thirteen years old. For two years she studied the language of the Tamil region, and moved to Chennai where, at age 15, she started this charity known today as CMCT. She started it in a garage, coaching girls in crafts and other activities. Today, more than 400 people work in the building of the CMCT which now has a hospital, a church, an orphanage for more than 150 children, a shelter for women, an industrial training institute for men and an artisan training center for women . In addition, the charity has a school that educates approximately 1350 children.

Initially the plan was for me and 3 other dancers to lead a workshop with the children of the orphanage. However, when we got there, we realized that it was extremely important for them to show us every corner of that building. We started visiting the hospital that is open 24/7 and accommodates 17 beds. There are 5 regular doctors and 16 specialists who work part time. Many of these experts are the best doctors and surgeons in India that offer their volunteer work. The hospital has a laboratory, an x-ray unit, a pharmacy, an operating room, MRI equipment, delivery room, physiotherapy departments, ophthalmology and dentistry. I can not deny that the conditions of the facilities were pretty basic, but regardless, they can provide free medical care to over 150 people per day!

We also visited the orphanage and women’s shelter. In the eyes of everyone there, you could see gratitude. The smile of every child touched me and often I had to control the tears that were about to stream.

We were served lunch and soon after started with the workshop. The children were having class, so we started the workshop with the girls and women of the shelter. At first they were shy and withdrawn, but dance has a magical language, and after 30 minutes we were all dripping with sweat. We heard laughter, applause, shouts of joy. An experience very exciting for them and for us. We still got a tour of the space where women are trained in crafts, and had the chance to see the final result of the beautiful items created for bed and bath.

India, in general, is amazing. Words are not enough to describe this country. Beliefs, gods, animals, people, faith, language, everything is mixed there. But what I realized is that there is a common belief between those who want to succeed. Willpower and determination of those I met in CMCT is what I will take with me as inspiration for my life.