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Mac Jenkins inspiring journey to India

At the end of May 2023 Mac Jenkins embarked on a journey to India to deliver cricket programs to young kids.

For 10 days Mac helped, guided, and supported the young children and found himself learning so much more.

Let’s find out more about Mac trip to India.

Tell us about your recent trip to India?

I travelled to India, specifically Delhi and Ghaziabad to deliver cricket programs and activities to underprivileged children in the Delhi NCR region.

During my time there I set up base and ran clinics at the Seva Group Foundation, which is an NGO (Non-Government Organisation) that works for children who are orphaned, abandoned, or whose families are unable to care for them.

What was the catalyst for you getting involved with charity work on the sub-continent?

One of the parents of the children I coach returned from a family trip to Cambodia back in January 2022. During the trip they had made a connection with the Cambodian Children’s Fund. They showed photos of the trip to me, and it made me think about what I could do to make an impact and contribute more broadly. For me, cricket was the obvious outlet and what better place in the world to combine cricket and charity work than in India.

Was it a daunting experience travelling to a country you’d never been to and travelling alone the whole time you were there?

It was but it just forced me to stretch myself and get out of that comfort zone. Ask anyone who has visited India, it is indescribable. The energy, the noise, the pace…as soon as you get there your senses are heightened. When I look back now, the whole experience was exhilarating.

Even the simple things like navigating where to go, developing contacts, organising travel, conducting the sessions on my own and, before I left, coordinating with different clubs and sporting bodies for donations…it was a whole new world of responsibility to take on.

How did you go about devising a program that would inspire the under privileged boys and girls you came into contact with?

My coaching philosophy has always been “what would I enjoy, if I was in that position”. With my time running MJCOACHING I have been able to observe and develop activities that seem to engage and motivate younger cricketers in a one on one or small group environment to help them enjoy every session. Part of that is also verbal encouragement. So, I did have to adapt my approach when trying to create fun for 100 non-English speaking children.

I created a program that allowed the children to understand and enjoy themselves more through visual learning, and making sure my body language played a part – full of smiles and positive hand gestures and the odd shouting in support.

The program specifically focused on the fundamentals of the game which we then practiced in a competitive environment, which I can confirm got very loud!

How were you received by the community you visited, and can you tell us a little bit about where you were?

I can’t properly explain how fortunate I was to be welcomed so warmly into the community. It was so humbling. The foundation/school was in Ghaziabad, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Delhi.

The school’s Chairman flew in specifically for my visit and was gracious enough to spend time with me, taking me on a tour of the city, the schools and providing the wonderful background on how everything started.

What was the most rewarding part of the week you spent in rural Delhi?

The meaningful relationships I created with people who welcomed me so warmly and gave me an insight into their lives and culture. It’s something I will always cherish.

What have you learned from the experience?

I developed a newfound appreciation for resilience. Many of the adults and children I had the pleasure of meeting face significant hardships, whether that be environmental, economic, or health related. But their perseverance and strong sense of both community and family is amazing.

The trip also gave me a far better understanding of the poverty and inequality that exists in under privileged areas around the world. Seeing the living conditions and challenges faced by this community is a stark reminder of the disparities in access to resources and opportunities compared to those available to us in Australia.

Would you do it again?

In a heartbeat. It is looking likely that I will be back in late March (depending on how the mighty UTS North Sydney Bears go this year!).

When you look back on the journey, what is your fondest memory, and what did you learn?

The fondest memory for me would have to be the children remembering my full name. From initially walking in with the kids not knowing any English, to leaving with them saying “thank you Mac Jenkins” is something I truly can’t describe.

The biggest one would be gratitude. It is easy in the life and environment we enjoy to just take it for granted. But watching and listening to the kids and adults at the foundation has changed my outlook. To see the pure joy and happiness in those kids at the foundation, despite the challenges they face, is something I will never forget. It’s made me far more appreciative of all that I’m lucky enough to enjoy from a lifestyle perspective in Australia.

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