A New Beginning
Thandiwe Gobledale – India
Thandiwe Gobledale – India
Vanakam! Greetings! I wake up to the voices of mynah birds and crows in the trees above my room and small children all around. This morning is my third morning here at the Family Village Farm, locally known as M.B.K.G. Pannai. Pannai is located about 12km (a little more than 7 miles) outside of Vellore, a sizeable town in the northern part of Tamil Nadu. Pannai was founded in the mid-seventies by Dr. Pauline King and falls under the jurisdiction of the Church of South India. I live in the residential section of Pannai with children who are either orphans or whose families cannot afford to support them and send them to school.
And who am I that I have come to make my home here for two years? My name is Thandiwe, a name that proves as difficult and unfamiliar to people here in India as it does in the United States. I graduated from Pomona College in southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies this past May and spent my summer working at Horton Center, a camp run by the United Church of Christ in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There I lived in a deliberate Christian community and worked to create a place where campers could be themselves, their best selves, and feel connected with God and others.
I have grown up all over the world, the child of missionaries who have chosen to have many homes in many places. I was born in South Africa and lived in rural KwaZulu Natal until I was 6 ½ years old. From there my family moved to New Hampshire where my parents worked as local church pastors for 3 years. After my parents resigned from their job in Franklin, NH, we lived in Chicago for about 9 months as my parents waited for their next overseas assignment. We ended up in Zimbabwe for 5 years (I was between the ages of 10 ½ and 16) before we left for 3 years in Cleveland where I graduated from high school.
A 4 ½ month study abroad experience in the eastern Himalayan region of India instilled in me a love and interest in this country, and so my senior year of college, I got in touch with Global Ministries to see what opportunities they had abroad for a recent college graduate, and I expressed a keen interest in returning to India. The opportunity available was here at Pannai, the specifics of the job fairly undefined. I see my role here as being to learn what life is like for the children, women and men who live and work here. I am here to live and grow in solidarity and community with the people here as well as to share the enthusiasm, experience and gifts that I bring. I have faith that God will give me the insight and strength I need to contribute meaningfully to this community.
I look forward to continuing to share my experiences and work with you. For more information about MBKG Pannai, a former volunteer set up a website that has quite a bit of information www.mbkgpkasam.org. The peace of God be with you.
Thandiwe serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Family Village Farm located in Katpadi, Vellore, India. Thandiwe serves in organizational assistance, counseling, accompaniment at the boarding homes, and teaches English and music. Thandiwe was appointed by the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Her ministry is possible because of funds provided by the Week of Compassion of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Children at the Family Village Farm can be sponsored through Global Ministries Child Sponsorship program. Click here to learn more about Child Sponsorship.