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.