When the new Indian family moved in and bought the shop, I was selfishly very happy. As a seven year old, I was over the moon that 'proper' Indians had moved in and my mother and I were no longer the only 'Pakis' in the village. They had two children the around same age as me. They were darker than me, they had Indian names, they were Hindu and they owned a shop.
As a sector, we've been burying our heads in the sand and hoping that the negative press and public opinion will soon subside but it's been a year and the angst and anguish doesn't seem to be getting any better. The longer there is a misconception about the work we do, the fewer funds there are being brought in and, as a result, fewer lives are being changed.
Well, I'll be, says Juliet Kinsman. I went to north India for a week's holiday, ate to my heart's content and spent most of my time supine. And you know what - it was the most life-changing holiday I've had. That's because Vana Retreats is a new breed of destination spa with extraordinary wellbeing cuisine, ideal for anyone who fears abstinence or bootcamps. This salubrious road to wellness is smooth and only gently sloped.
In the UK, when you're sick you go to the doctor and expect a swift and accurate diagnosis. It is rare to be told that your symptoms are unheard of or to be given a completely incorrect diagnosis. In many countries though, this is commonplace, especially when it comes to lesser known diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.
While my travels have been daunting at times, there was one thing that remained familiar and readily available: social media. What was even more surprising? The notion that people just like me were now packing up their bags and making a living off the very platforms that served as my lifeline in unfamiliar territory.
Landing in Goa I found myself instantly falling in love with the inherently chilled, lushly tropical beach state. Quickly finding myself nestled in the back of a bright white resort car, the drive from the airport to Resort Rio in the north gave me the chance to marvel at Goa's serene green fields, tranquil rivers and multiple palm clusters.
Today is World Water Day and this morning over 650million people around the world woke up with no clean water. That's one in ten people. Forced to drink, cook and wash with dirty water, people are at risk of getting sick and missing vital days of work and education, trapped in a cycle of poverty. Last month WaterAid invited me to travel to India with my 12-year-old daughter Glenys to see the situation for myself. I visited Sanabenakudi, a remote village in east India, to understand what everyday life is like for people living without access to safe water...