Saturday, December 4, 2010

November Retreat and the start of December

Once again I find myself apologizing for my lack of posts. It has been a busy few weeks culminating with a wonderful retreat with my whole India family.

This month our retreat was in Wayanad in the north-eastern portion of Kerala. To get there we had to take a 3 hour train ride followed by a 3 hour bus ride up into the mountains. Wayanad is know, amongst other things, for its tea production and in the cool climate it thrives.

The mountains, which are part of a long range of moutains (the Western Ghats), are home to a large tribal population. If you remember one of my past blogs I discussed the lives of Dalits. Tribals do not technically fall in the caste system but they are none the less of the most marginalized and systematically oppressed people.

In Kerala at the time of Indian Independence and the creation of the modern state of Kerala the elections were one by the Communist Party of India. One of the first pieces of legislation that the party passed was a land reform act returning land to Tribal groups who had, for various reasons, lost their land.

Now, however, many of them still find themselves landless-- having sold their land for as little as a few bottles of alcohol and some cigarettes.

These people education is poor and that was often taken advantage of by wealthier land prospectors.

In Tribal communities today alcoholism and unemployment are high and, like the Dalits, structural system in place on help to keep these people down.

During our four day stay amongst their community we were able to meet many Tribal people. We even attended an Alcoholics Annonymous meeting at a local home.

The people of this region are trying to struggle with the challenges ahead.

We will be returning to Wayanad in late Spring and we are all looking forward to the refreshing cool mountain air!


We are finally into December and I only have two more days as a 22 year old which is quite hard to believe. I can remember being 8 as if it were yesterday. But experiencing this time of year is integral to my time here in India. Spending this time away from friends and family only reminds me of how important they truly are.


  1. As we decorated the tree and began putting up our other decorations, it was hard to think about you being so far away for your birthday and for Christmas. I am thankful for the modern technology that will, hopefully allow us to be in direct contact both of these days. Don't forget to get pictures of you in your choir "dress" tomorrow.

  2. i just noticed... no more chacos in your background... just dirt. Why the change/ good post :) happy almost!!!!!!!

    p.s. the vibes concert was this past saturday. me jess and giselle went, it was sad, but i was proud of our wittle babies

  3. You remember yourself when you were 8! I remember you from the time you were just a bump!! - you're a bit bigger now, but just as special.

  4. Sad to hear another story of native people selling their land for "firewater". A common story all over the world I guess. Congrats on the B'day - I can barely remember 22 or 23, but I know it was then that I moved back to Rock Hill from Florida. Good move on my part. Next week is graduationpalooza - both boys end their college careers. Look out real world! How's the ball team? What's the wildest thing you have eaten? Keep the info coming.
    Gary Brannan

  5. Hey Jim just been catching up sorry we didnt manage to speak on your birthday grandpa & I did try while we were SNOWED in TOGETHER(dont laugh)Back home now I have emailed some pictures take speak soon Love Christine xx

  6. Jim, Just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. As I mentioned in my last post, both boys graduated last week from college. Certainly a milestone as you know, but really just another step in their journey. It has been a time for reflection and somehow the things I remember first are all good things, proud moments, fun times, special events. This adventure you are on is all of those things wrapped into one. I believe you will measure alot of your future decisions and opinions based on this experience. Enjoy it, get all that you can get out of it, be a sponge.
    Merry Christmas. He who has no Christmas in his heart, will never find Christmas under a tree.
    Gary and the rest of the Brannan family.