A GROUP of kind-hearted South Tynesiders have been to India to help tsunami-hit orphans.
Pastor David Schofield, of Living Waters Church, in Alice Street, South Shields, and three of his friends travelled to Machilipatnam on the south eastern coast, on February 22.
Machilipatnam was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which left 110 children orphaned and in need of care.
An orphanage has been serving children, including homeless youngsters, for more than 30 years, but the financial burden placed on the centre has left it struggling to feed, clothe and educate the children.
Some children are from villages so poor that literacy rates are less than 15 per cent.
Mr Schofield went to the orphanage with Dave Cooper, and Simon and Kathryn Doneghan.
He said: “We went there thinking we were going to be helping the children of the orphanage, but we came away feeling like they had helped us.
“Visiting somewhere like this really makes you appreciate the things that you normally take for granted.
“These children don’t have computer games and things like that, yet they’re so positive.
“Everything they have they want to share, despite having so little.”
The group spent 10 days in Machilipatnam caring for the children, helping to educate and entertain them, and visiting churches in the area.
Mr Schofield added: “At each church we visited the praise was lovely. Totally different to our own, but spirit-filled. The services are normally lead by a single drum, but in some churches multiple drums.
“At the last two churches we visited we arrived late and unexpected, but were made to feel most welcome. It was great to see the spontaneity that is missing in our own churches.
“Seeing the conditions that these people are living in really does change your whole outlook on life.
“We’re so glad to have been able to help.”