Saturday, July 12, 2014

What our days look like...

During the summer months, we have a new group of volunteers coming every two or three weeks. These volunteers go on rotations through Education, Community Outreach (construction), and Medical.  We have had the privilege of going out on these rotations with the groups.

Here is Camry and Liberty on their first day of Education. We always wear a scarf when we are working in the school with the children. Otherwise, we just wear a tunic and chudidars (pants that are often baggy on the top but tapered to be snug at the ankle).

Liberty with Sabari going over his ABC's. 

These little girls are so adorable.  Brooklyn is working with Diyasri (Dee-ah-sree). She is so teeny and totally adorable. Her grin is the biggest thing about her. Camry is working with Yamenishri (Yaw-men-ee-sree). We just love these little UKG (Upper Kindergarten) kids!

Camry and Liberty have gone out with construction twice and come home exhausted and a little sore, but since I have never gone out with them, I don't have any pictures. 

When we go out on medical, the small kids and I do water management and Liberty and Camry normally do blood pressure and eye drops. 

This picture was from the very first time Lon and I went out to a colony with just Avery and
Cohen. The nurses from BYU were here and one was kind enough to include Cohen and Avery. Water management is simply taking the basin after a patient's foot has been soaked and washed and dumping out the water. Then you rinse the basin with "clean" water and then with antiseptic solution. Then the basin is ready for the next patient. I put CLEAN in quotations because it is still considered gray water for us Americans.

Liberty doing eye drops...

Avery and Camry doing blood pressure...

Whatever rotation we go on, we are gone from about 9 am to 2 pm.  Then we come home, have a couple hours to rest and relax in our air conditioned house and then we go out for playtime. 

The kids are so excited to play with the volunteers.

My main job happens during playtime...I head out to the playground to round up children who need to write letters to their sponsors. It is a very rewarding job. All the kids I have worked with so far are so excited to get letters from their sponsors and are so very sincere and careful in their letter writing and so intent on making it very beautiful and they love to draw pictures.

Here is Cohen and Camry out with Sudha (SOO-duh).

Cohen is still very unsure about all the kids. He has a fair amount of anxiety about being with them, so right now, we are settling for him to either go to lunch with the kids or playtime with the kids.  He has had a couple fun times...once he played hide and seek with Avery and a group of 6 or 7 little girls and one day he played "Sevens" with the older girls. It was so very cute to see him interacting with them. I snapped this photo right as he messed up and ducked his head. The older girls are really cute with him and are less overwhelming to him. They don't really get in his face like the littler ones.

The girl to the right of Cohen is Priyanka. She is always so kind to Cohen and tries to draw him out if his shy little shell.

After playtime, we come home and have about 45 minutes until our dinner with the volunteers up on the roof of the green house...just above where we live. 

We have Indian food that is made for us over at the cafeteria and then fresh fruits and vegetables cut up by the volunteers. As we are eating, we each share our low and high from the day. We had an awesome session that just ended and it was so fun to share everyone's experiences.  Even our children share their highs and lows and it is really fun. Tonight, we ate had dinner inside our house since it was just our family and the long term coordinators. Cohen surprised me tonight by opening up his journal and sharing his note from the tooth fairy. (He wrote a note asking the tooth fairy where she lives. And the tooth fairy left a note for him explaining that she lives in an empty coconut shell high up in a tree!)  It was adorable and I was so excited to see him becoming so comfortable with this group of college kids. 

Speaking of Cohen, he has lost not one, not two, but THREE teeth since we have been here and each time he has gotten over 30 rupees (fifty cents) from the tooth fairy. ; ) 

After dinner with the volunteers, we come back down to our house, one child does the dishes while the rest are supposed to be getting ready for bed.  We tuck them all in bed but they rarely stay. ;  ). We are constantly having to kick them out of our room. Everyone loves our bed. (In their defense, it really is the only nice bed in the house.) Cohen has even started a new campaign. He wants us to all take turns sleeping in different rooms (including me and Lon) so that sometime, he would get a turn in our nice bed. ;)

FAT CHANCE, Cohen!  ; )

Another part of our every (week)day life is our beautiful house cleaner...Selvi. She speaks almost no English, but we tell her Nandri (thank you) every day. She sweeps, mops, takes out the trash, and cleans the bathrooms. She also does the dishes if we have not gotten to them, so now I make sure that one of the girls does the dishes every morning before she arrives.

One day, I came in the front door and the girls called out to me..."Mom, come and see. Selvi is doing Liberty's henna." They had been fiddling around with some henna they bought at the Junction (a very crazy little intersection about 2 or 3 miles away that has a number of little ramshackle shops.) I guess she came over and motioned that she would do it. I was so delighted that there had been some small connection with her. A couple days earlier, I had been over in the Volunteer hostel and she walked past me into the common room and said "Family". Then she went and got out one of the children's memory books and it turns out that two of her sons go to school here at Rising Star and there was a family photo in his memory book. I was so happy that she wanted to show me her family. 

I want to get a picture of her sweeping one day. Their brooms are actually quite graceful and there is something peaceful and calm about their sweeping. 

She also did Avery's hand that day...

Selvi has four children (which is quite rare in India). They are all boys and they all come to Rising Star. We have met them all and they are such good kids. They some of the beat behaved kids in the whole school. Their names are Ashok, Vijay, Moorthy, and Karthik. (The th always sounds just like a t.) The two older ones live here at the school and the two younger ones live at home with their parents in the nearby village called Thottanaval.

India, as I am sure you know, is extremely overpopulated and so the government is very active in family planning campaigns. In fact, almost since day one I have wondered about a saying that is painted on the back of most trucks.  "WE TWO. OURS ONE." Turns out it is a family planning slogan. We also see "ONE IS BEST" everywhere. When we asked our director about it (we were on a long drive with her and kept seeing the slogans) she explained that the government offers free sterilization after the first pregnancy. Also, whenever there is a tubal ligation or vasectomy (even after two or three kids), that family will receive rice and money from the government! And some schools offer a free education if your child is an only child!  Isn't that interesting?

It is a different world over here. But we are loving the adventure. 

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