Wednesday, July 6, 2011

spending some time in Vandelor - 7.6

I joined the medical team today at Vandelor, a colony of patients and their families near the school. It was very similar to other times that I have gone – we have a blood pressure station, a medicine station, a “check-up” station where they talk with Dr. Susan and get all of their paper work filled out, and a feet washing, oiling, and bandaging station.
I want so much to talk to these people in their own language. Sometimes there will be someone who knows both Tamil and English, but more often than not, you have to find other ways to communicate. There was an older man who came in today for a checkup and to have his feet cleaned and redressed. He saw that I had a camera and anxiously pointed to me and then to him over and over, apparently wanting a picture. He would be smiling really big before the picture, and then he would stop smiling for the picture. I kept saying no! and would make a smile with my fingers pointing at the corners of my mouth and point for him to do it. For some reason he thought this was really funny so he would do it back with his hands and laugh and show all of the patients and make them do it. Soon enough, there was a small group of patients sitting in line to talk to Dr. Susan and they were all grinning from ear to ear! That was probably one of my favorite parts of today…

*"Grandpa" with his grandchildren and daughter :) - he was so proud of his grandchildren and kept asking for us to take more and more pictures of them

So many people are just looking for someone to talk to. They just want to know that someone cares and knows how they feel… a friend. For example, as we were beginning to clean up all of our supplies and load up a bus, there was a lady standing outside by the building. I just went up and introduced myself and was trying to get her to tell me her name… I don’t think that she quite understood though. After only a minute I could see that she had tears welling up in her eyes and she started talking very fast in Tamil. I could not understand a word that she was saying, but from her hand gestures thought that she was saying that she and her four children were hungry. She continued to cry and would lay her head on my shoulder just sobbing. I finally got one of the other patients that I had worked with earlier to translate for us. She told me how her husband had just been taken to the hospital about a week ago and had been diagnosed with leprosy. They have four little children that were at school at the time, but she was not sure how her husband was going to support the family any more. We just sat there and hugged and I told her that I would keep her and her family in my prayers. That was all that I could do. They had packed up the bus and were ready to go. I said my goodbyes and hugged her one last time. I wish that there was more that I could give to her and her family, but you have to focus on what you can give and then give all of that.
*My friend waving goodbye through the bus window :)

Their lives reap humility. Everything about their lives makes them focus on God and for the most part, that is how all of the patients that I have worked with have been- they have been and are suffering through many things, but they still have a beautiful way of finding joy and praising God. They are a great example to all of us of how we should be. (just a side note, every patient that I have met follows Hinduisim, but what is interesting is that they will pray to God, our God, and praise Jesus… so they believe in Jesus as well!).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7.5 - a story with Sathya

Today I ended up doing construction instead of medical… We went to the colony in Monalapurnum (where Sathya’s grandparents live) about an hour away from the school and moved more bricks to different homes for them to build their own bathrooms! We formed assembly lines to load up each truck and then unloaded them at each of the homes and then…went back for more!! We walked past a home where they were building from the bricks that we had moved earlier – it was rewarding to see the final product!

We were able to stop off at one of the colony’s art schools (one of the microcredit portions RSO) and see some of the art work that they sell their. I bought this purple one from N.Shantin (who is standing with me in the photo).
*Me, Kim and Traci (Kim, sitting on the bricks did not know that we were taking the picture!)

A really sweet story from Sathya tonight…
She ran into family time tonight, holding something behind her back. She had the biggest smile on her face and I knew she was up to something :) She had one of the girls cover my eyes and then she placed a large “package” in my hands and ran out of the room laughing. I looked down and saw a bunch of little presents wrapped together in white paper glued shut with purple paint that I had left behind from art classes last week. Inside each one was a little present, carefully wrapped in the thin white paper. The first little present had two small hair clips and a bright yellow hair tie. In the next one was a book cover… one of the stretchy fabric book covers that I loved when I was in middle school! And in the last one was a friendship bracelet made out of India’s flag colors (white, green, and orange). The last present had a piece of dried plaster that we had found in some of the paper cups we had used for our art class as well and on it she had painted, “I love u c” (c for corey… what she normally calls me :))On the very top, she had taped a letter that was one of the sweetest letters that I have ever gotten… at the end of her letter she wrote, “Never forget me when you go home to America. I love you to the moon, to the sea, and back around the earth. Love, Sathya”. I couldn’t help but cry as read her sweet note, holding her gifts in my lap. I went and found her, hiding behind her door in her room…she saw that I had tears in my eyes and said, “don’t cry corey”… I told her that I had just cried because I was so happy. She had gone to so much work to make everything for me and had used so many of her stars that she had worked so hard to earn to buy me presents. She was so giving and her love and her willingness to give so much had touched me.
These kids have so little. They are here at the school for a majority of the year (they have a month – two month break) and only get to see their families once a month during the rest of the time. They own a couple of outfits (maybe three to four each) and have everything else that they need. The leaders in the school have set it up so that they really learn to earn a lot of what they have. To do this, they have a point system set up for the kids and with good behavior they can earn stars throughout the week in their homes and in their classes. They can then save up their stars and use them to buy school supplies (if they loose of their school supplies, they are expected to save their stars to buy more). They can also buy little trinkets in the star store with their stars (such as some of the gifts Sathya had wrapped up). She had saved over one hundred of her stars for my gifts… she, at age twelve, is more giving than me at age twenty one… She really gave of all she had. Sathya teaches me each day to love more and give more of myself. She is an amazing example.
I know very little about Sathya’s life other than what she has shared with me (what I had shared in a post yesterday) but from what I do know, she has had a very hard life and has often, I believe, felt a huge lack of love and compassion from her family. And yet, even though she may have not been shown the love that I have been blessed with my whole life from my own family, she is still able to show so much love and give so much of herself to others.
I was talking to Buela tonight as well. She was just baptized this past Sunday! She and some of the other kids have a seminary class each day (they are studying the Old Testiment right now). She talked to me all about some of her favorite hymns and said that her favorite hymn was “I Stand All Amazed”. It is my favorite hymn “because it gives me so much comfort and makes me strong”, she said. Comfort and strength is given each and every one of us through the spirit (and in this case-through music) in a way that is personal to us… but it is also universal and can unify us even when we live and have lived different lives as it did tonight as Buela and I sang hymns together :)
Singing to all of the girls is once again my favorite end to my day. Nashanthi will always just lay there and hold out her hand for me while I sing to her and the rest of the girls. It is really sweet. As I sing to them, she will stroke my hand until she falls asleep. She is a sweetheart.

Monday, July 4, 2011

stragler pictures...

*These are some other pictures that I wasn’t able to put up from last Friday… our power has been out for a couple of days!

*Anitha showing off the little origami basket that she made out of mango leaves (I call her my “little monkey” now because she is always hugging you and climbing all over you :))

*It was my “families” turn to clean the bathrooms each night this past week! Yea for bucket showers and squatters!

*Nashanthi (in the pink) is a very quiet girl, but one of the sweetest. All of her work is done very neatly and carefully...she is also one of the most polite :)

*I had the chance to “teach” another painting class! Luckily the paint ended up being washable because it was EVErywhere!!!

*Sponsers… she was so excited to show me the letters and the pictures of her sponsors… they pay about thrity dollars a month to help her get through school and will send them pictures and letters all of the time! A lot of the kids love their sponsors like they were their own family! -- not all of the children have sponsor though...

good to be back... happy fourth of july!!

On our way home from New Dehli, we were passing through one of the local colonies in our bus around midnight and as we pulled into the colony, we saw fireworks start going off! We were all really excited thinking that some of the coordinators had gotten fireworks and had set them off for the fourth of july (because technically it was the fourth!). It ended up being for a Hindi temple celebration though that they always have on the fourth- what a coincidence! Some people on the bus started singing “America the Beautiful” and the “Star Spangled Banner” – this fourth of July is very different from any fourth of July that I have ever had… BUT never in my life have I been more grateful for the freedoms that I have in the United States. Although our government is not perfect, our founding fathers set forth very perfect and righteous principles and values and we have so much to be grateful for in America.

*I put this up specifically for you Jess... this is your signature silly face and when I did it to Kishor he thought it was really funny and wanted to take a picture :) scary. i probably should NOT put this one up...

*Sathiya and Maryambee in between tutoring sessions :)
Play time is normally exhausting but one of the best things Ever!!! The past couple of days, we have normally chosen to play hide-and-go-seek, and I am always it no matter what and then we run and chase each other for over an hour! We found an ant hill the size of four basketball’s today which was pretty cool too!
Sathya is almost thirteen and can show a little bit of an attitude sometimes which is kinda funny :) She has become one of my best friends here and we always have fun “talking” just the two of us. She has opened up so much the past week about her family story and just life in general and it is fun but sad sometimes to hear her background. Her father ran away years ago and her mother lives in an asylum. Her grandmother and some of her siblings refuse to talk to her and to her mother. Her aunt takes care of her now when she is “at home” from RSO. I hear story after story each and every day of the kid’s past or families and am amazed at the love that they can still show regardless of their backgrounds. There have been multiple experiences that show me though that even though these kids and patients have gone through so much, there are angels that surround them and help them. I do not understand why some people have to have so much pain in this life, but I do know that God, somehow, makes everything perfect in the end. So no matter how unfair some of these children’s situations seem or how unfair it may seem that some people have to suffer from such a terrible disease such as leprosy, I take comfort in that knowledge, although it doesn’t take away the pain that you feel for them each and every day.

I thought of you tonight Dad :)- Nashanthi, Maryambee, Anitha, Nageshwari, Sathya and I played “climb the mountain” for about twenty minutes during family time! It has become one of their favorite games which is good and bad because some of the older girls are up to my chin and I can barely lift them! Haaha! It is good to be back at the school with the kids…
Each day I miss my family more and more, but at the same time find that my heart also grows more and more for these people… especially the kids and a part of me wishes that I could keep a part of myself here and a part of myself back at home in ohio…

*It is good to be back :)

Seeing the “other-side” of India

This weekend we took a short day and a half trip to New Dehli to see the Taj Mahal (the Taj Mahal is surrounded by two temples on its opposite sides but itself is actually a tomb built in rememberance of Shah Jahan's third wife- it is known as a “symbol of eternal love”. We left our hotel at about five am so that we could see the taj mahal with the sun rise. Because it is made out of marble, it will take on the color of the sun light around it so it will be a brilliant white, light blue and purple, or a light orange! It was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been!

We also saw the Forts of Agra (built by Shah Jahan’s father) which were also very beautiful. Everything had so much beauty and detail.

Afterwards we took a rickshaw tour of New Dehli. India is soo full of people! Everywhere you turn there are hundreds of people running around. Some of the streets that our “drivers” took us down were probably about eight to ten feet wide and would have people walking and traffic going both directions! At one point there was a cart that was full of rice and about six men were trying to push it in front of one of our friend’s rickshaws. Their driver got really mad at one of the men pushing the rice cart because they kept running into them so he hopped off and they started punching each other in the middle of the street! Yikes! Ally and I were not sure what to do… our driver hopped off and was trying to break up the fight… I snuck a few pictures, haha?!?!!

*We also got to ride an elephant and pet some monkeys!

The trip was just another testimony to me of service and how much happiness it can bring to your life. Although I spent part of my weekend seeing the Taj Mahal, being here at RSO with the kids and patients is so much more memorable, rewarding, and special. It is good to be back. My team is getting up early tomorrow morning to work with the medical team which I am really excited about!!