Thursday, June 9, 2011

Super Busy

I am so sorry. I have been so busy with these wonderful kids and the leprosy colonies that I have just not had time to and blog. I have been dutifully journaling and you will get my whole India experience... eventually. I just have not had time to add the pictures and spend time on the computer. We are going to the Taj Mahal this weekend, and then a 2 day trip to a leprosy colony. I will put up my next post when I get back in 5 days. Love and miss you all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 4- Morning Village Walk, Karyunalaya Catholic Mission hospital

We had the opportunity to walk through a local village this morning. It was pretty amazing and just fascinating/ super sad to see these beautiful indian people and their harsh conditions. They work so hard and I am continually impressed.
The people didn’t speak English but we stayed and somewhat visited with them. More than anything, we just tried to show them we cared and were interested. The kids had some gold in their jet black hair and I thought it was pretty and sunbleached. Turns out, golden hair like that is a sign of severe protein deficiency and malnutrition.
The kids we visited with were the poorest of the poor village. The village had a big celebration and feast and let the people eat in order of their rank. Men rank higher than woman and it depends on where they fall in the caste system. Supposedly these little kids ate the very last and just ravaged the left overs. Its heart breaking to see but its weird because your mind doesn’t not quite grasp it. They run up to you and are so happy and want to hold your hand and just have this smile on their face. Its hard to associate that these kids who are so happy are beyond starving because they’re not sad like I feel they should be. The people here have this sweet simpleness to them. They find joy in the little things and do not seem to be bothered by their conditions. I think its probably because it’s all they know.
We hung out with a group of kids and a mother bathing her child. The baby was probably just under a year but wasn’t named. I guess they name the child at around a year or so. She was doing a morning routine of putting oil and powder on the baby’s body. I wish I had a translater there to tell me why she does this. All the children wear ropes around their stomachs to make sure they are growing. I think it also shows if there is swelling in the abdomen. I think it is just an ancient tradition because the kids at rising star have a medical clinic and don’t really need this, but wear it anyway. She also had this little girl that was the sweetist thing ever. SHe was scared of us, but how I loved her. Just absolutely precious.
My professor, Cherly Corbett, hung back with me to talk to these people while everyone kep walking through. She is the whole reason why I got to come to India and am so grateful to her. I have grown to really love her a lot and value her friendship. I love how real she is and that she is a nurse practitioner. She was the one who told me to hang back and that you really get a true feel for the people by spending time with them even if you can’t fully communicate. She could not have been more right. I was bummed though because we were walking through the village early in the morning at 6:30 am, so I just wore my night shirt with my chudidar pants. I wish I would have been wearing my full indianoutfit that I wear everyday. I wouldn’t have felt so American and like a foreigner. It really wasn’t that bad, but I just like feeling like I’m trying to be one of them as much as possible out of respect.
The craziest thing about the whole experience was seeing these people that are beyond poor but have television. We saw telelvision satelites on shacks. It blew my mind. I guess if they are going to be around all day, the might as well have television. I just neve would have expected it out here in some rural area.
They have a saying here out Rising Star Outreach called “TII” meaning “this is india”. Things just get messed up and happen that are out of your control, so you just have to roll with the punches. For instance, the schools randomly decided this year that they were going to start 15 days later. So our teachers at the school don’t have the proper books or anything yet. They are just winging it but doing a fantastic job. Also, our vans break down all the time. We were going to go out for our day trip and our new air-conditioned van broke down and we had to wait about half an hour to leave. They finally were able to fix the old school yellow school bus (it used to be their only vehicle) and we took that. It had no air condiionting, a few windows are missing, and the door doesn’t close. And we had to all push the bus to get it started.
It was pretty cool, and I felt super like we were in India. My friend, crystal, and I sat in the doorway the whole time and just loved the freedom.
We were only going a short ways, about half an hour, on rural roads. But if we were going on our normal adventures to the city which are about 2 hours each way, I’m sure I would have felt differently. Part of that, has to do with safety and awkward, sad situations. Beggars see us white girls driving down the srett and come up with their little babies and beg relentlessly on our windows. Rising star is trying to teach these people to be self-sufficient so they ask us not to give them anything. It’s sad to see these people teaching their kids to beg at such a young age. Sometimes I feel so helpless but my friend made a really good point that rung home. Sometimes it feels like you are so small that you cant make a difference. But its just not true. We can make a difference, one person at a time. It’s like the story in the bible of the good Samaritan. It was just one man helping another one man.
We went on our day trip with Dr. Susan to a Karyunalaya Catholic Mission hospital that is run by nuns.
We were expecting to see about 150 patients but we found out that the government was giving out free rice that day. Consequently, we only had about 10 patients. Classic example of “TII”. I have learned that you might have a different experience than what you originally planned on, but just go with it and take it for what it is. I have developed beyond chill attitude about our expected schedule. I just go where I am told and don’t know what the next day will entail until the morning of. Anyways, there was a little baby and mom who came in. Because of the language barrier, we thought the mom was the one who was sick. When we were in the middle of taking her vital signs, my friend laughed and said the chart said the patient was one years old. We laughed under our breath but played it cool and switched over to the baby. This baby was beyond adorable. I was the one in charge of listening to her but she didn’t want me to come near her. She would start screaming which makes it impossible to get an accurate assessment. I started playing games with her with my stethoscope and bouncing it off her arm and a huge smile lit up her face. Cuteness like that is so infectious that it made me smile. I was then able to continue my assessment and we were friends.
There was a little boy and girl there whose parents work at the mission. They hung out with us thoe whole time and the little boy was a definite highlight. He was so.. full of personality and very fun. We played hand/ clapping games with them and they loved it.
Two things all the kids love here no matter what age are clapping games and cameras! Its funny because kids in American don’t play those games after like second grade, and even then, only the grils play them. But here, everyone plays them and they love them. Also, if any of the kids every see a camera, you are immediately swarmed by them. In fact, I don’t even know if swarmed covers it. They all want pictures of themselves or they say “I take, I take” , or “one more picture, auntie”.
I am continually taken aback by all the htings that we have in america that we take completely for granted. Since we finished earlier, the nun came in and asked us if we could help make cotton balls. She then rolled out fresh cotton. We had to separate the layers of it and then roll part of it into a ball and then put another layer around it, roll it kind of, and tie it into a knot. Talk about laborious for a stinkin cotton ball that you could buy 200 of for $1 in the US. When we finally finished the huge roll of cotton, she brought in more cotton and sticks. She then showed us how to make cutips and we helped with that. It was just mind-blowing that they have to make all these things individually by hand. It just puts everything into perspective and we were more than happy to help. These nuns are incredible and are so devoted to these people.
The nuns kept offering us food but we were pretty full so we politely declined. Everywhere you go in India, the people usually always offer you something. It is a cool culutural tidbit but I wish I knew if it was impolite to decline. When I went back to the room our stuff was in, they had put all these snacks and a pitcher of CHILLED water (which is the best thing ever) in our room. The nun walked in right as I saw it and was so happy that I wanted to partake of some of the stuff. I said thank you again and quickly grabbed a glass and poured the water into it. I was so beyond excited until the water came out a yellow milk color. Turns out it wasn’t water but was instead, buttermilk. I was disgusted but the nun was staring right at me. I had no choice. I drank it. Imagine liquid form of sour cream with a hint of nastiness. Gross. All in a day’s work in India.
We left the mission a lot earlier than we had planned on and the bus driver started mumbling something about a farm. I swear I am always getting taken to a random place because our drivers (in a bus, riksha, or otto) all have a cousin or something. Talk about family relations. Anyway, we ended up at this farm. I have never run across someone so happy to see me. Im not kidding. This farmer was like a boy on Christmas morning that had just converted to christianyit and had to endure watching his friends open all of their presents every year, but now it was his turn. Seriously that happy.

He kept showing us everything about his garden and pulling off random leaves for us to eat, plants for us to smell, and so on. It was pretty sweet. We saw his banana trees, eggplant, sugarcane, water well, and all this other stuff.
One of the leaves he handed us to try was probably about 1 cm by 1 cm. We started eating it and Dr. Susan quickly jumped in and said to only eat 1 or 2 because they were packed with iron. They were surprisingly delicious and I was sad to only have 3 ;) He also showed us this lemon grass that smelled EXACTLY like lemon and some plants that make lipstick. We ended up being there for about 45 minutes and we were gdragging towards the mniddle because the heat was indescribable. We were out there in the middle of the day and it was by far the hottest I have been in India. But the rad thing was he gave us sugar cane to eat. IT was so stinkin cool! HE hacked some off, then we peeled it with our teeth, bit it and sucked the sweetness out. It was delicious and like nature’s Gatorade. It gave me such an energy boost which equals a mood boost in such intense heat. Overall, we all loved the farm and the farmer. And as a sidenote, the farmer was an old man but proabaly the best looking man I have seen in india.

We also stopped at an emu farm. By this time, I was just so dang hot that I was ready to be done traveling around but I just went with the flow. It’s sometimes hard to want to take advantage of these cool opportunities when you are so tired. We didn’t get to get super close to the emus becaseu there was no one there to ask permission. We just saw them from about 30 yards. Interesting fac though—Emus cost about 4,000 rupies each (45 rupies= 1 dollar) which is a TON of money in india. And they sell their eggs for 1,000 rupies each. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of emu meat sells for 450 rupies. Sounds like a good investment to me. I bet its beyond DIFFICULT to save that much money in India. Actually, impossible is more like it. The majority of the people in India make less than $1.25 a day.
Today was the first day that exhaustion really took its toll. When I got home, I just passed out. I slept for a solid hour-in-a-half. I am trying hard to really take advantage of every minute and opportunity that I possibly can.
I felt a little off at play time. Looking back, I think it was that my body was having a hard time recovering from the extreme heat. And I had woken up from nap earlier than I would have liked to be to play time on time. I kept bouncing around from activity to activity but just didn’t feel connected. I finally sat down and was just sitting there for about a minute. When, all of a sudden, Mahalockshme looked straight into my eyes from way across the playground. This huge smile ran across her face and she sprinted over to me and jumped in my arms. It made the world of difference and helped me to realize and remember why I am here. We played the game where you try and slap each others hands before the other one can pull away. She would ask me my name and try to distract me and then slap my hand.
She is a tricky little one full of attitude. She is probably 8 years old and I couldn’t get her name right for a few days. I must have asked her 20 times. It got to the point that whenever I would ask her, she would yell it at me. So it’s extra fun to be so close with her. WHIle she was sitting on my lap, I saw a boy, Basha, who was just hanging out by himself and asked him to come sit by me. He seemed kind of down and reluctant. I asked him if he liked being at Rising Star and he said no. The kids pretty much all love it here but they sometimes have off days where they really miss their family. He didn’t really want to talk or interact much after that. I coaxed him a little and finally got him to play the hand slapping game too. I wasn’t sure if I was coordinated enough to play one hand with each kid, but my superior athleticism continues to impress me. :p He was laughing the whole time and just loving it. It was so tender; every time he got out on the game, he would laugh and bury his head into my lap while I patted his back. He didn’t leave my side for the rest of the time. We played other games and I had a blast. It’s humblying to realize that while you are here serving these kids, you are tho ene really benefitting. That changed my mood for the whole day and filled my soul with joy.
Family time was really sweet tonight. I wanted to really interact with these girls and after my walk through the village, I decided I wanted to start really learning about these sweet girls and getting to know them. Instead of reading stories, I just decided to talk to them. Well, acutally, we always read a few stories no matter what, but just not the whole time. They started asking mea bout my life and if the 3 of us girl volunteers were married. We said no and had them guess our age. The giggled up a storm and guess ranged from 18-25. I finally told them that I was almost 22. This lead into a conversation about American marriage vs. indian marriage. Depending on your religion (hindu or Christian), marriages are still arranged. The boy, his parents, and their relations come to the girls house. They bring gifts consisting of a Sari, fruit platter, bengals, and some other stuff. The man’s parents look at the girl to see if she is beautiful enough. If they like her, they ask the girl’s parents if she will marry their son. The girls parents ask their daughter if she likes the boy. If she says yes, then they are engaged and trade silver plates. The groom’s parents give the brides parent’s their son’s silver (dinner I think) plate and the bride’s parents give them their daughter’s silver plate. Then the bride’s parents give the groom’s parents a sum of money called adowry. Dowries are illegal in India but everyone still does them. Dpending on the situation, they get married in anywhere between a few days and a few months. Once they are married, the man gives the wife a thick piece of rope to wear around her neck and 2 toe rings for each foot to put on her second and third toe. The man doesn’t wear anything to show he is married. After 3 months, the woman changes to a thin rope and her husband gives her this pendent of his choice to put on it. We were talking to one of the cleaning ladies here about it and aked her to see it because it was covered by her sari. She got this weird smile on her face and showed it to us and then when we bent our heads in to see it, she pulled her sair over it really fast. We were really confused. She told us that the pendent is purposefully covered by the sari because it is a secret for you and your husband. One of our instructors was wearing a pretty anklet. The cleaning lady laughed at her and told her you never wear only one.They come in a set of two and you wear one on each anklet. I thought that was weird but I guess it’s the same as earrings. You always wear two and they are a set. It was fun to learn about indian culture from the kids.
We come to RSO and just give these kids so much affection and love. But this affection is really just superficial to us or infatuation with how cute some of the little ones are. Tonight was so different. It was the first time that I felt like I was really getting to know them and was their friend. Spending that time really bonding with them was great. It makes me really love them and l now look forward so much to family time because I feel like its real. And because you can only read so many stories. I have read that Winnie the pooh story 4 times. Also, I have told just about every Disney princess story, but the deifniet favorites that are always requiested are (in order of amount of requests) 1)cinderalla, 2)rupunzel, 3) sleeping beauty. This has been a problem because I don’t really know the story of rupunzel or sleeping beauty because I have never seen either. All I have to say is thank goodness for Tangled!
For our little devotional as nursing students tonight, we sang “Have you done any good in the world today?”. We all laughed a little bit because ALL we are doing here is good. That’s the whole reason we are here and we serve day in and day out. All of a sudden it hit me. Sometimes I will sing that song in church and really have to think if I have done any good. It made me kind of sad and realize that I can be so selfish at home. I live in this little bubble that is all about me. I really hope that I can take away the serving mentality from here and make ait a prioirity in my life. At home, I am so focused on all the stuff that doesn’t matter. So much of our lives is just fluff that doesn’t matter. Our supervisor Kim 1, pointed out that we are our aw selves here. We don’t TV, or books, or school, cute clothes, or stuff to hide behind. You are what you are. And I love it. I want to let this place mold my raw self into the person I want to be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 3 - Vandulor Leprosy Colony

This is Turio. A cute boy who lives at the colony today.

I realized today that I just had a normal size breakfast consisting of a bowl of cereal. I can’t decide if my body is kind of adapting or if I was just in a hurry because we skyped longer than I thought. I was pretty hungry within a little while so I’m sticking to the “just being in a hurry”.
Yesterday I tried to wear the sandals with moleskin over my feet but ti didn’t work so I wore shoes and left the moleskin on. But when I took the moleskin off it had kind of moisten my scabs and pulled them off. It set me back a day in the healing process so I wore shoes again. I think because shoes is all I know here that I will just keep wearing them even after my feet heal. I like knowing my feet are proetected and they allow me to do anything and I don’t feel like Im buring up because its all I know. I am digging wearing these chudidars. I seriously wear a rather ugly one but it is the most comfortable thing ever and we are all about comfort here. I feel like I was made for india—no makeup, hideous and comfy clothes, hair in a ponytail, outdoors, and heat. I love it and in fact, I think Im really starting to get used to it. The trash in the street, the unbearable heat, the crazy traffic, and everything Indian just seems completely normal. The thought of leaving is unbearable.

I met Dr. Susan who is the head honcho Doctor here. She is so dedicated to the cause of leprosy and goes to the colonies everyday to change banadages and help with wound care. She is an Indian doctor that just blows my mind. I introduced myself as Laura and she replied “nice to meet you, Laura Barker”. It totally took me aback. I found out that she has memorized all of our full names. Wow, I can barely get people’s first names around here.
We are here with a group of medical students from UC Davis and they are driving us absolutely insane, especially this one boy. I prayed extra hard today that I would be able to learn to love him. The problem is that they are very condescending. Like extremely so. But the irony of it all is what kills me. Here is the deal: I have been in the hospital and had condescending doctors before and you just deal with it. But these medical student are only in their second year! For those of you not familiar with the medical eduation system, here is how it works. Nurses jump into clinicals their first semester in school. Therefore, we have been working in a real setting for about 2 years now. I’m talking dealing with doctors and patients, starting IVs, giving meds, doing assignements on patients, being in the hospital for 12 hour shifts, and doidng everything a nurse would do. On the other hand, medical students only do bookwork for their first 2 years and then spend the next 2 years in the hospital. Therefore these kids don’t know jack!!! Example: Their group did skin assessments on the boys yestererday while we did them on the girls. If a kid had a problem, you were supposed to write a referral to the clinic and have the kid come back at 4. Our group did thorough assessments and then if we found something would write on the referral “ inner right elbow, small, circular lesion, probably rash”, then sign our name and tell the child to come back at 4.
The other group wrote things like “spot on leg” and DID NOT tell the kids to come back! All of our kids showed up on time and the doctor knew exactly what and where to look for and could call the individual nurse if he had questions because we signed our name. It took 30 minutes to do our kids and was super efficient. It took 2 hours to do the boys because they didn’t know what they were looking for an dhtye had to try and go hunt all the kids down at recess on a 10 acre lot. And its much harder when you dodn’t know the kids names and who is who. Case and point is we are so much smarter than them and so much more experienced but yet they are condescending. That is the part that just drives me up a wall. We don’t’ have to have a ton of interaction with them so its not a huge deal. Its just annoying. And they were condescending to our professor, Cheryl, who is a nurse practitioner with a bunch of experience. She can prescribe and is pretty much the equivalent as a doctor. That just crossed the line for me.
I wanted to write a few randoms of indian culture. All the girls wear jasmine in their hair to make them smell good. Its their equivalent of perfume. Indian culture is a very physical one. The mothers will say that their kids are misbehaving so they have to slap them around – this child was 9 months old. Consequently, the kids are pretty physical towards each other and that’s just the norm. A man and a woman cannot hold hands in public or show any kind of PDA. But it is perfectly acceptable for 2 men to hold hands, and I witnessed that first hand today. Clipping toenails is often considered a medical procedure. People who have shoes often still walk around barefoot. They drive like wild maniacs and on the wrong side of the road. The horn is a constant sound and a necessity for survival. Because of this. All fo the volunteers and RSO are not allowed to operate any motor vehicles. I saw cows with blue horns today on the side of the road pulling a cart. The cows whose horns are painted are higher up in the caste system. There is other cool stuff, I will just have to write it when it comes to me. Also, we are not allowed to eat the fruit from the fruit stands unless it has an outer covering that we can peel off.

Today was my first day in a leprosy colony. In all honesty, I have loved being with the kids at RSO so much that I wasn’t that excited about leaving them to go to the colonies. When I got there, it all changed. I realized that everything here is so awesome and I enjoy everything I am getting to expereicne and do. I absolutely love serving more than I could have ever imagined. There is something so rewarding about humbling yourself and serving someone who is mamed and has nothing. Knowing that you can make a difference in that person’s life means more than words can describe.
We showed up in our medical vans and I was a little apprehensive. This was my first time really working and interacting with people who were missing limbs and had open, gaping ulcers. We set up shop in an open building with fans. It was pretty hot but totally doable. The other groups room was supposedly scorching hot, so I was grateful for that. We had 5 stations—blood pressure, blood glucose, taking off bandages and soaking the feet, rubbing oil on the feet, then debridement and wrapping. I started off doing the oil station. You rub oil on the bottom of the feet and on the dry, rough skin to hopefully keep it from cracking and causing another ulcer.

I then moved onto the debridement and wrapping station and that was alittle out of my comfort zone. You are supposed to cut the dead skin off around the ulcer and all this junk. I would have normally been fine but I watched the alter do it to a guy before I started and he had one on his should. She started hacking off his skin and it was bleeding pretty bad while he was wincing in paoin. I soon found out that most are just on the feet and they cant feel anything, so it was okay after that.
It’s hard knowing you are helping someone but yet hurting them in the moement. I have never liked that part of being a nurse and it has always been a challenge for me. I tried extra hard to look them in the eyes and let them know that I cared instead of just looking at their feet. I said vannukum (hello) to all of them and “unga payerenna?” (whats your name). I tried to make small talk here and there but its kind of hard when we speak 2 different languages. Mostly I just smiled and let them know that I cared for them.

While I was waiting for the patients to come to my station, I started playing with the kids. I would clap one and then pat on my legs, and then on my face. Then I did that again only I did it twice, then 3 times, and so on until 10.The kids were trying so hard to copy me and they ate every second of it. This culture loves to dance and sing and play games like that.

The kids continue to win over my heart. They were my absolute favorite part of the colonies and I made an effort to know their names. I’m telling you, that goes a long way. I also got to pump water out a well/ huge spicket for the first time. That was pretty cool and it made me very grateful for running water. We are so dang lucky in America. All you have to do is turna nozzle and you have hot and cold water at your disposable and however gig of quantities.
After we were done, we went and walked in the village. My group left before me because I wasn’t quite done. When I finished, I asked micheal, miguish, and rabida if they wanted to walk around with me and I offered my hand. They immediately fought over who got to hold my hand, so I eneded up holding 2 kids hands in one of mine. It just blows my mind how open these kids hearts are, especially beacsue they are so shunned from society and have nothing. It’s just insane to try and wrap your mind around.
We got to talk to the people and hear some of their stories and tour one of their houses. It had 2 small rooms, one with a tv and they all slept on the ground. Also, one woman was making her lunch on a campfire and that was totally the norm.
This is their kitchen...

and bathroom

Another woman had leprosy and must have been no more thatn 4.5 ft tall. Both of her paretns had died and her husband was the man with the shoulder ulcer. They ahd married but they couldn’t have kids and he had taken on a second wife and she had 2 kids. I don’t know if that’s culturally acceptable or if they just have to do that to survive in the colonies. We had our driver translate for us what she was saying. Anyway, she was the first woman that seemed really sad. You think they all would be but they are so not. Everyone was so kind and so happy, and especially happy that we were there.
When we got home, Ashely was still way sick. She ahd spiked a 102.7 degree fever so I hung out with her for a while and helped her get some food adn different things and scratched her back for about half an hour. She was borderline tears when I was scratching her back because she said that was what her mom ddi when she was sick. I feel so bad for her because being so sick here is just so physically and emotionally exhausting because the conditions are not ideal adn you don't want to be missing out on everything. After that, I spent about an hour journaling. I am trying so hard to really document this experience and it takes minimium of 2 hours of my time everyday. That is pretty much all the free time that we have to just chill adn relax. So I have made it a goal to not go on facebook or look at blgos oor do anyhting else that wastes time that most tof the other girls are doing. I don't miss out on any of the actiivites that we do though. I am just trying to really be in india while I am here.
Play time with the kids was a little harder today. Since we went to the colonies, there are no bathrooms and so they told us to not to drink a ton. We were supposed to get up early adn drink a lot and then pee it out before we left. But I didn't drink a lot in the morning cuz I was doing other stuff and just. I think I was borderline dehydrated and got a headache and just felt a little weak and irritable. Its SHOCKING how fast your body can get dehydrated here because you sweat so much. I learned my lesson adn won't let it happen again. I guzzled a bottle of gatorade so that helped, but I still didn't have as much fun beacause I didn't have the patience that I normally do. I still managed to play with the kids and it was good. one kid asked me to swing him by his feet aroudn in a circle and that caught on like wildfire! I had like 8000 boys running aroudn yelling "auntie, auntie, me next, me next!" The only problem is that as the spinner person, you can only do that for so long before you get waaaaaay to dizzy. I finally like laid down in the middle of the grass hoping that would give me a break. Boy was I wrong! That just made me an easeir target. I was like a prey that they had just taken down adn the predators swarmed in, THey started jumping all over me and grabbing my hands to try adn pull me up. It was actaully pretty comical. They would get so close to pulling me up adn then I would pull them down. It turned into a game adn was a nice break for a while.
Dinner continues to be declisious. I decided taht I am going to start taking pictures of our food every night. Dinner is really the only authentice indian meal we have for the day. We ware welcome to join the kids int he cafeteria adn have indian food for all 3 meals but no one does. I might when we are aroudn for lunch but a lot of the days we are out and about in the colonies or serving somewhere off campus. Dinner is so awesome becaseu we take it up on the roof and eat it. ITs right when the sun is going down and the weather is awesome. Its probably only about 85 degress instead of 100 and it is fantastic!


We went to our houses tonight and the kids flocked us when we came in. We read stories with them but they don’t have very many books, so I read Winnie the pooh “How to plant Rabbits” garden for like the 4th time.
And my tushy started to really hurt by like 8:10. Sitting on a super hard floor with kids sprawled all over you takes a tool after like a half an hour. We started singing and dancing and it turned into a fun party.
We snag songs like old macdonald had a farm, bingo, and twinkle twinkle little star. I was shocked because the kids knew all the words. We had riled them all up and we are supposed to kind of calm them down and get ready for bed. So I told them that since all the stars are bright and far away and only come out at night, we had to sing it very quietly to not scare them away. It was pretty funny because the kids sang it so quietly and then if someone sang it too loud they would hit and shush them. Overall it was a pretty dang good day

Day 2- Skin Assessments

I woke up this morning at 5 am and my bladder was about to explode. I don’t know what happened, but I have turned into an 80 year old woman and have to pee every night. I can’t stand it, especially when I have to go pee in a hole and could get eaten by a creature. Sadly after that, I could not fall asleep. We have a room with chudidars, so I went out and ravaged through them until I found one I liked. It’s hard to get one that isn’t too long. So lame that I am underdeveloped in the womb and have short appendages (diagnosed by my lovely father). I tried to go back to sleep but it was useless. My bed is right under the window (which is barred) and the sun kind of hits me. That put me at about 6 hours of sleep and I need more than that so I had a pretty bad headache. I took some Tylenol and that helped. I think I will get more because I will just be so exhausted. We all naturally go to bed pretty early and wake up early too. I think it’s just adjusting from the time change. And I feel like we have constantly been on the move and in airports and airplanes during all hours of the night.
They put us into 3 working groups and I love my group. It consists of Jessica, Kim, Whitney, Ashley, and our professor Karen. I pretty much like everyone but these are the girls that I really like!! I feel so lucky to be in this group. Our group was in charge of doing skin assessments on the girls. It started off so awesome and I was so stoked for it! I was loving every second of it. I really really love the little girls. There is this one girl named sagamary and I absolutely love her. She has so much spunk and is just so great. She jumped in my lap and we played and laughed immensely.

I feel so good and happy and like I belong here. A few people told me that I should be coordinater here next year and that my personality was made for this. That made me feel so good and I just feel so awesome here. I think at the very least, I want to sponsor a child and try to see if other people would like to also. It would be so rewarding especially if I personally knew the child. It only costs $30 a month. I think that is a sacrifice worth making for sure!
In spite of the crazy heat and nasty sweat, I love this place so much. The most accurate description I heard of the weather is as hot as a desert and as humid as a rainforest combined. I really think if I still like this place after these 3 weeks, I might come do it next summer. I think it would be an awesome experience and maybe I could bring Carly with me or something. I guess she would probably be too young. After 4 hours of this, it got pretty tiring and it tried my patience a couple times. Oh and the older girls reaked because they were in that puberty age. The majority of the kids had scars that were healed but very intense. I got the feeling when I was doing the skin assessments that many of these kids had been terribly abused and it was kind of hard to swallow. We asked one girl where she had gotten the intense burns and she replied, “my mom”. I am determined to just show them as much love as possible and leave everything I have to give here.

The kids are starting to remember me and build friendships and trust me. I love it. I saw V-Davy when I was walking back to my hostel and she came up and gave me a hug.
I also say Sagamary and she came up and jumped into my arms and asked “are you coming to me home tonight again?” I replied yes and throw here in the air. Her laugh was angelic and I can’t wait to see her tonight. The consistency of going to the same kids house every night is a great thing.
Sidenote—we eat so much food!! I am like an empty pot. I am so starving all the time and think I will eat all of my American food just to increase the qunaitity. I don’t know what it is but we are all just scarfing the food down. Whoever said I was going to lose weight in India obviously has never lived here. I think I am going to come back obese. I had 2 bowls of cereal and a piece of toast for breakfast. Then a pb and honey with another bowl of ceral and a granola bar. Fatty coming at you.
When we were doing the assessments on the girls, they started to get more shy and hesitant as the older girls came in because we were doing a very thorough skin assesment. I must have said "don't worry, we are all girls" or "I will do it really fast" a thousand times.
We finally realized why we are so stinking hungry all the time. They have almost no protein in their food so you can eat this huge meal and then you are hungry just a few hours later. I don't know why I didn't realize this before. Moral of the story-- there will most definitely not be any left over food that I brought. Tina is on the loose!
Play time was the absolute best part of my day. In fact, I would say it has been the best part of my life in the last 6 months! Words cannot describe the happiness I feel when I am with those kids. I really really really want to sponsor one. There is the sweetest little girl named tamalarsi and I am determined to win her over. She is just so cute and a little sweet, free-spirit. I think I want to sponsor Tamalarsi. She is 5 and one of the apples of my eye. She is so cute and was just wandering all over the place (in and out of the rooms) when we were doing the assessments. She is just so curious and climbing all over everything and so sweet. She is one of the kids that has truly stolen my heart.
There are a bunch of new kids that need to be sponsored and I want to bring pictures back with me and see if anyone in our stake would be interested. It is just such a great cause and it comes so to life when you are here with them. THey are real people that need our help. Giving $30 a month is nothing to us and it is life-changing for them.The kids are really starting to warm up to me. I spend every ounce of time with them that I can and I can honestly say that's the best part of being here. I don't really even have a desire to go and worke in the leprosy colonies tomorrow (we are to never refer to them as leper colonies or to the people as lepers. It is very derrogatory and it classifies them as lepers instead of people with leprosy). I just want to stay and be with the kids. I am working so so so hard to learn their names. It makes all the difference in the world. I got to see some of them during assessments and then at paly time which is everyday from 4:30-6 pm. I have not had any interaction with the boys so I tried to meet the boys at recess. I met a ton of kids and we had a blast. I played basketball with one boy, and pushed a bunch of kids on the swing. The biggest hit was that I could turn the merry go round really fast. I think that's one thing that really won over their hearts. I was drenched in sweat but thats not much different from normal so no big deal. One kid finally went flying off pretty hard, so we had to take a break. I went with him to help get cleaned up and is name is adavan. He is such a little cutie. (This is a picture of him eating lunch)
I also played cricket with some boys and they weren't going to let me play beacuse they thought I was some unathletic girl. I finally said just let me hit one. I got a "home-run" and then was allowed to join :)
I bounced around a lot during playtime and asked so many kids their names. I met this boy named stephen who is 14 and is awesome. He is so fun and sweet and is super excited because his sponsors are paying fo rhim to go to america when her turns 18. He taught me this little hand game where you slap hands adn spell out P-I-S-O-P-I, and then cross arms and yell pepsi while you pretend to drink one. It was pretty funny. They eat taht stuff up around here. "Down by the banks" is very popular and other such games. After I met all the kids and interacted with them, they loved me. When I first met them last night, the younger girls hung out with me but a lot of them just ignored me. Now they flock to me. It is the coolest thign ever and I love being with them. I honestly didn't know my heart could be so full. I can't wait to play with them tomorrow. Sagamary saw me walking and ran up and gave me a hug and said "are you coming to me house again tonight?" It was the cutest thing and just absolutely melted my heart. V-davy was dying for me to stay for prayer time (thats what happens after play time) but i couldn't because its so distracting. I love that they want me around.
Tonight instead of spending time reading the kids stories and getting them ready for bed, we did louse busting. The kids have all been home for the month of may and usually come back with lice. SO we shampooed all of their hair and then wrapped them in towels to sleep with overnight. Supposedly this has worked in the past and they count on it solving the problem. I loved doing this!

It was cool to be so hands on and do everything to help these kids. When I showed up they swarmed me. It's such a difference from last night. They wanted me to sit by them adn kept asking me my name instead of just calling me auntie. And they LOVED it when I could tell them what their name was. They kept asking me "whats my name?" The nursing program is a peace of cake compared to remembering all of their names. I am actaully suprrised at how well I am doing with it. I really am working so hard to konw them it's jsut difficult beause they are so foreign. I swear I asked this one girl her name like 400 times. She started just screaming it back to me, but now shw has warmed up to me too and tries to help me. I can't even remember what it is right now-- this name is seriously going to be the death of me.

And it's so stinking hard becasue we don't get to read them on paper. We jsut have to hear them tell us adn then try to go off of that. Some fo the names are subustri, jamaire, gokuraj, reisha, shelleeni, and so many more. Anyway, the kids were hanging all over me and I loved it. A couple of them jumped in to help me with the shampoo for the lice just becasue they wanted to be with me.

They love taking pictures and being in them and then seeing them after. It's kind of funny but neat. Also, most of these kids have a begging background, so they just grab and take what they can get at that moment. So they kind of don't have manners but are really sweet at the same time. We are trying to teach them at rsigin star to ask for things and we never give them any kind of hand outs. They have to earn things at the "star store" to teach them to be self sufficcient and reliant. I took a bunch of pciturs athe lice thing but none at play time. I will have to figure out how to get pcitures while playing witht he kids because no body wants to stop adn snap photos. I guess I have 20 more days. I can't believe it has only been one day. I feel like I have lived here forever. I know that sounds cheesy but its really how I feel. Back to the pictures. So I was taking pictures with the kids dring the lice and I felt so good when v-davy ran up and put here arm arond my neck and asked this girl to take a picture of us.

IT was so special and she wasn't doing it just to be in a picture. These kids hearts are so open to us and its amazing how fast they can melt ours and make us open them to them. Its so amazing to think that these kids are so loving after all they ahve bben through. At the same time, I think they are also yearning to be loved and so they are this way. I love love this place and really feel like it is the best place on earth. I seriously think I am going to come back here next year aftera i graduate for the summer. The thought of leaving this kids is unbearable. I don't even want to to think about it.
Also, Ashley has gotten way sick. I spun her around on the merry go round and then she puked evreywhere. Needlesss to say, she has thrown up 6 times int he last 4 hours and feels terrible.We think she has heat stroke. I have tried to help her the best i could and arranged for her to have a blessing. I am so gratfeul that we have worthy preisthood holders here. There is just someting so comforting about knowing that you can always have a blessing if something goes badly. It is so incredible hot here adn i don't thikn we realize how easy it is to get dehydrated FAST because we sweat so much. I am being very careful about it, so don't worry.