Thursday, July 9, 2015

Leper Colony Life

Venacom from Rising Star!! I absolutely looooove it here, I'm dirty and sweaty and exhausted but so very happy. The children are my highlight so far, they remind me so much of my kids in Fiji. Haha the only difference is that these kids are used to white people volunteering with them, so sometimes they're more interested in my phone than me. But we have "story time" every night where we go to the girls hostel and "tuck them in" I guess you could say. Lindsay and I were assigned to a room with older girls and I'm super glad because they know English very well and we're able to have good conversations with them. They sleep on the floor with just a thin blanket and a pillow. Compared to the rest of India, the volunteer toilets in the elephant house are considered upper class, even though it's literally a porcelain hole in the ground. That still takes some getting used to, especially in our long chudadars, or Indian outfits.

The construction rotation was exhausting because we carried bowls full of bricks for 3 straight hours. The Indian workers stare at us girls and we can hear them laughing at us as they carry 20 or so bricks on their heads. In India any interaction a girl (especially a white one) has with a man can be considered flirtatious, so I have to be very careful even introducing myself to people. The one and only place in Chennai where holding hands is acceptable is the zoo, which we visited yesterday! It made me happy to see so many cute Indian couples out on dates. We also went to a typical Indian "mall" or "junction" and I bought stuff to do henna tattoos.

The medical rotation is always a favorite, and personally I think our group visited the best colony because we met Abraham. Right as we walked up he started singing and clapping with his deformed hands, it looks like he's missing fingers but they're really just tiny stubs. We all joined in his clapping, and as soon as his song was over he started praying out loud. I have no idea what he was saying but it was amazing nonetheless. Then we set up shop and I had my own little station for the eye drops. I was in charge of recording each patient's name and of course putting two eye drops in each eye...some patients were more challenging than others. And some eyes were harder to look at than others because leprocy causes the face to droop, which means they have a hard time blinking and often their eyes dry out and they go blind. Also it's extremely hard to get a patient to look away from you when they don't understand any English. But when I was all done and the patients were having their ulcers washed, Abraham came and sat by me. At first it was just silent, but then I told him I liked his singing. He immediately bobbed his head and started up again haha, it goes on for at least 5 minutes. Everyone loves him. 

The education rotation is often the most challenging, but for me the most exciting. There can be some extremely difficult students, especially Sribanu who fell asleep when I was trying to help her in the computer lab. But I loved working with the fourth graders on math today, at first my boy was super confused and frustrated but it was so fun to see him slowly understanding it and doing it on his own towards the end. 

I love the other volunteers, you basically form an automatic bond with people when you suffer through agonizingly long plane rides and a never ending heat. Faith and Carson are AMAZING, I didn't realize Carson is the main leader here for the summer! Faith is the education coordinator so we're with her all day when we have the education rotation, she's pretty much perfect. All of the coordinators are in their mid twenties and I haven't met anyone in charge yet who's older than that. 

Lunch and dinner are rice and curry curry much curry. And I definitely hate curry I've decided. But for dinner we also have a lentil soup that I put over my red rice and there are hard boiled eggs, served warm. Today for lunch I cut myself an apple and had peanut butter with it, so life is good. But thanks to all the snacks I brought, I'll probably be the one and only person capable of gaining weight in India. My biggest complaint is only having one clean drinking water faucet, which means brushing my teeth/retainer is at least a 10 minute process because I have to get a cup of clean water and take it to the bathroom. The bucket showers are actually sooooooo awesome, when I get home I might just fill up a bucket haha instead of using the shower head. 

Well I love you guys, hope all is well back home. It's nice having wifi but at the same time I miss just being away from everything haha, that's why I haven't been texting much. I'll keep you updated on all my adventures and don't worry, I take my malaria pills. 

P.S. Kiss Zeedo and drive Tono Penske for me.

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