Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 13

Today was the kids special day. The employees from the Marriot Hotel in Chennai came to RSO to serve lunch to the kids and to play a game of cricket. The kids were so excited about it! They even made signs to cheer for the RSO team.

Tonight was movie night for the kids. The older kids watched Goosebumps and the younger kids watched Cars 2. I chose to hang with the little kids. I love Cars 2 but I ended up playing hand games with little Shalini most of the time. She is darling and I couldn't say no. But I at least got a few minutes of snuggle time at the end!

Day 12

Normally we don't tour until Saturday, but this Saturday will be a special day for the kids and they want us to be on campus. So we spent the day in Mamallapuram. It wasn't nearly as busy as Pondicherry was last week. My favorite purchase was a pair of alladin pants.

Before heading back to campus we spent a little time on the beach. I've always been afraid of fish and as a result have never been in the ocean past my knees. I sat there and wished I was brave enough to get in because the cold water felt so good after sweating constantly for the last 2 weeks, but I just couldn't do it. So I watched the waves and enjoyed the scenery instead. But I did get my feet wet! So I can at least say that I've been in the Indian Ocean :)

On the way home we stopped for Prota, the only food here that I really enjoy so far.

It was a pretty relaxed day, but nice to have a break.

Day 11

I was on education again today. The kids are so cute in their uniforms and their accents are adorable. It's fun to listen to them read and to help them fill out their worksheets about the books, but my favorite is working with the little kids on phonics.

This girl sang for each letter...
(Letter "a")
 "the yay says a, the yay says a, every letter makes a sound the yay says a" 

Education days are fun becasue we get to eat lunch with the kids.

It's also nice to have white rice instead of red.

And it's fun to have time just to visit with the kids.

One of the girls tried to explain to me how to cook white rice. She didn't realize that I eat it back home. It was pretty cute.

Each group that comes to RSO gets to leave their mark by painting a mural on the wall that surrounds the campus. We were lucky enough to have some very artistic girls that helped pull ours together. Tonight we all got to help with the painting.

Day 10

                            I thought my second day to do medical would never come.

Today I chose to assist the nurse. I sat while she cleaned the ulcer and removed the dead tissue. Then I would wrap the ulcer. The blood and rotting skin didn't bother me, but I was nervous. I was nervous before I started and I was nevous the whole time that I was helping. I would like to say that I got a little more comfortable after each wrapping but I didn't. Each foot, hand or leg that I wrapped was such a different shape that figuring out the best way to wrap never really happened. It was like starting new each time.

The first patient that I saw was a tiny, frail looking woman. She had lost both of her feet and all of her fingers, and she depended on other people to move her around. As a man sat her in the chair at my station I noticed how uncomfortable she was. We cleaned and wrapped the ulcer on her foot and then we started on her hand. She was crying and I just sat there not knowing what to say. I have heard that leprosy affects the nerves and as a result patients loose feeling in the affected limbs. From that fact it was hard to tell if she was crying from pain or if something else was making her upset. Either way she was suffering, and it was hard to watch when I had no way to comfort her. She didn't speak englsih and I don't speak tamil. So I wrapped the remains of what was once her hand with tears in my eyes wishing that I knew what to do to give her any amount of relief.

I look fowad to the day that I see her again and can hear her story. The day that I can hold her perfect hand as I try to understand what she went through during this life.

On our way home from the colony we stopped at the zoo and rented bikes. We had a blast!

My favorite animal was the white tiger.

This evening we did art classes. I brought finger paints with me for the little kids and they loved it!

We started off somewhat organized and had everything under control. But things quickly took a turn and there was paint everywhere! The kids mixed all of the colors to make brown face paint and one boy was walking across the paintings that were lying on the ground to dry. But the kids had fun and seemed to enjoy every minute of it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 9

Another day of community service!
Today was by far the easiest construction day that my group has had. Partly becasue we have learned the best techniques from our last projects and partly because we had several breaks. We started by filling in the toilets with dirt like before. Only this time we had help! There were two men that stood inside the hole that has been dug for the septic tank and handed the dirt to us from the bottom. I'm not really sure why they were there today, but it was nice!

Yesterday I ordered some pearls from an organization called Pearls with a Purpose. They have gone into one of the leprosy colonies here and have taught some of the women how to make jewelry with pearls. As we were eating our lunch we realized that the group of women sitting behind us were filling our orders. It was so fun to see the process of my braclet that I received as we were leaving.

After our unusally long lunch break (we had an hour because we couldn't find the man that was supposed to tell us what to do next) we filled the previous hole with dirt. They had lowered the cement cylinders while we were eating so we just filled in the sides with the dirt. It seemed odd to be putting any amount of dirt into back into the hole that had only been dug an hour before.


After we finished we moved on to a new toilet. We got to the house and sat in the dirt while we were waiting for our instructions. A woman soon scooted to her doorstep using her arms and what remained of her legs and greeted us. She had a warm smile and waved to each of us. I overheard her speaking to her husband in tamil and a few moments later he brought out their mats for us to sit on. Such a small thing but it meant the world to me that she was so considerate and would do what she could to make us comfortable.

Our activity after our construction projects was the highlight of my day. RSO does micro-lending within the colonies to help the people start buisnesses and become self-sufficient rather then begging on the streets. In one colonly the patients have started an art school. I had heard about the school before coming and a painting was what I wanted most from India.
There were hundreds of paintings to choose from! It was so overwhelming to pick just one.

But this is what I chose in the end.

I love my pearls and I love my painting.
I am amazed at the talent that some of the leporsy patients have.
Hands that are disfigured or have missing fingers may not be the considered beautiful to the world. But the power behind them is beautiful. These people have found ways to express themselves and are able to use those hands to create something beautiful.
Those hands are full of love and a passion for art, and they belong to beautiful people.
That makes their hands beautiful to me.

Day 8

My group was on education today. Usually we tutor during school hours but today was a holiday so there was no school. The kids were just pulled from their hostels throughout the day instead. Getting the kids to tutoring on time was a little crazy. Someone also decided to pull apart and deep clean the computer lab which put math tutoring 2 hours behind. But everything worked out in the end.

This is the back of the school

Today I was thinking of how incredible the school at RSO is. It's basically a boarding school. Most of the kids live here but they are not orphans. 80% of the children come from leprosy colonies and 20% come from the surrounding village. Leprosy affects the whole family. Not only is the individual with leprosy outcast from society, but the family is too. They are forced to move to colonies and they become untouchables. Doctors won't treat them and others won't employ them. People with leprosy basically end up alone and begging on the streets. Even if a child is free of leprosy they live with the same stigma. Their parents use them to beg on the streets in efforts to earn more money, and they are unable to go to school and gain an education.

RSO outreach has litterally turned lives around for 200+ children. I was looking at the children today and thinking of how beautiful they are.  And then I pictured each of them on the streets begging, and living in the small huts that I've seen in the colonies.

RSO has opened opportunities for these kids that most children in India never have. They are attending a good school and being taught by americans, learning english, having 3 meals a day, clean water, and hundreds of volunteers to love them. They've even had dancers from broadway come to teach their dance classes. These kids will have the skills neccessary to become successful memebers of society if they choose to use them. They will have opportunities that they never would have had withtout RSO.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 7

I'm so happy to have had a day to rest! Usually we all have the opportunity to go to church in Chennai on Sunday but the vans were picking up more volunteers today, so there were limited seats on the bus. It turned out well because I was in need of a day to catch up on sleep and journal writing.
This afternoon the internet was out so me and my roommates decided to play games.

Whoever lost each game had to drink a glass of water. The first person to use the bathroom lost. It was a good way to rehydrate!

We started Phase 10 and half way through the internet came back on, what a happy moment that was! 

Tonight we ate dinner with the kids in the dinning hall. Every night we eat red rice and curry. Some people love it but I'm really not a fan. Luckily I brought lots of snacks!

My house was wild at family time tonight. Actually to say that they were wild would be an understatement. The house mother was gone again so the kids tried getting away with as much as they possibly could. They did have a funny moment though. The girls took turns standing on a stool and singing Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning. Most of them could only sing the those first 4 words in english, but they thought they were hilarious and it was adorable.