Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yeah, so I kind of love these kids.

Today has been a great day.  Our good friend and co worker Andrea (Birdy) is here for 2 weeks!! It's so fun having her here and I can't wait for her to fall in love with this place like I have.  Also, I am in love with the kids here and anyone that has read my blog before already knows this fact, but today was just one of those days that reminded me of what I already knew...that I love them!

Last Tuesday I took over teaching the choir class for one of our teachers, Berlyn, that left last week to go back to the US.  We actually lost a lot of people because college started back up for them again.  We had the best group of long termers here this summer and I miss them so much!!  I wish they could have all stayed until I left.  Anyway, back to choir.  So, teaching choir last week was a freaking DISASTER, TRAIN WRECK, whatever you want to call it.  I just call it hell.  The kids were loud, obnoxious, annoying, rude, little punks.  They played with my laptop, and took my iphone and got me locked out of my phone by trying the wrong password too many times.  And it wasn't all their fault.  My itunes was acting funky so I couldn't get some of the accompaniment to play, and I also didn't know how to lead some of their songs.  It was all around a bad time and was my "low" for the week.  But today I asked Celina to come to choir with me and play piano for us, and lay the smack down if she needed to.  Celina is the Education Director and the kids respect her like none other.  I am tempted to ask Celina to come to every choir class because today's choir class was the way it should be! The kids listened (for the most part), and we were able to get through a ton of songs.  I even let them listen to 4 songs on my computer and let them pick what song they wanted to work on next.  It was between "Heal the World", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Can you Feel the Love Tonight", or "What a Wonderful World".  Let me rewind real quick.  Last weekend the kids watched "Journey to the center of the earth 2". staring The Rock.  In the movie, The Rock plays "What a Wonderful World" on a ukulele.  The kids LOVE anyone that is ripped, especially WWE guys.  Want to guess what song was the lucky winner?  You guessed it..."What a Wonderful World". I am excited to teach it to them!  It was nice to have a day like today when I thought the choir kids were adorable. I hope it stays like this, but I won't hold my breath for every class to be this good :) 

Another thing that made me grin from ear to ear today was seeing Hari's HUGE smile when he came to tell me he finally bought the cricket bat I bought for him that he had to earn with good behavior stars.  It's taken him weeks to earn enough stars for it.  I wish I had a video camera in my mind sometimes, because when he saw me he was so excited to tell me he had bought the bat, that he literally ran up to me and jumped into my arms as I swung him around in a giant hug. The cricket bat I bought him is almost bigger than he is, but he  LOVES it!  It has yellow and orange on it, and yellow is his favorite color (my favorite color too). This kid is so special to me.  He is funny, happy, smart, and all around just a great kid!  And best of all, I am pretty sure he likes me too and is happy I am his sponsor which is always a great feeling to be liked by a cute kid :).  The bat is almost as big as him, but he loves it and says he'll grow into it and get "big" like his WWE idols.  Sure. 

Callie told me she was talking to Hari the other day and he was asking her when my birthday is.  She told him September 30th, and then he started talking in Tamil to his friend Arun.  Callie found out later that they were talking about where Hari could buy chocolates for me for my birthday and that he was going to write me a birthday letter.  I can't handle the cuteness. I may explode. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Humble Pie

Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  I got plenty of sleep (which has been rare for me the past few days), but for some reason I woke up in a tiny funk.  Part of my bad attitude was that I had planned to get up early and run the track this morning, but when I woke up it was pouring outside, and I didn't want to run in the rain (which thinking back, I should have just gone running anyway).  I've been feeling so unhealthy here.  I take for granted the abundance of anything and everything that is accessible and HEALTHY to eat in America, especially Trader Joes!  I want their black beans and salsa so badly!!  I crave protien like none other!  There is plenty of food here, just not healthy options unless I just want to eat cucumbers, oranges, and apples all day long.  Anyway, that being said, I had committed myself to start working out and doing my best to eat healthy while I am here, so I was majorly bummed out that my day started off the way it did.  After I got ready for the day, 9 of us hopped in the van and drove to the Polambaakam Leprosy Colony.  On the drive there, I was still not feeling happy.  I was sitting there feeling kind of out of it, and sorry for myself (and maybe a little homesick).  When we drove up to the colony, I was happy that it was a colony I had been to before, and I remembered a few of the people.  We started setting up the different stations (bandage removal, foot washing, oiling, bandaging, eye drops, blood pressure, and glucose stations).  I followed Amy, our Medical Coordinator around so I could get a refresher on where everything goes.  In a few weeks all of my coordinators leave, and a new volunteer session begins...and I am on my own for that one, so wanted to make sure I know what I am doing.  Amy is a rock star.  She is very compassionate, and the people in the colonies love her.  After just a few moments of being in the colony and interacting with the people, my attitude changed completely, and I was immediately humbled.  The people in this colony have daily struggles worse than I could ever imagine living with.  Some have absolutely no fingers, and somehow the women manage to dress themselves every day in a sari (I still have all of my fingers and cannot dress myself in one).  Some have lost most of their feet and toes, some have lost an eye or both eyes.  I was at the eye drop station this time, and had a man come up to me for his eye drops.  He only had one eye.  As he sat there I dropped 2 eye drops in his eye.  He can't speak English but tried to tell me by pointing that he wanted more eye drops in his eye, and also in the socket where his other eye used to be.  So I kept dropping eye drops in his eye and the absence of his other eye for a good 5 minutes.  This broke my heart because I knew he just wanted to be soothed and I wanted to do whatever I could to make him feel more comfortable, even if it was for that 5 minutes.  I am amazed at how every time I go out to the colonies I feel more blessed by the presence of these magnificent people that I feel like I am blessing them.  Also, helping the leprosy afflicted in the colonies just reminds me of how far Rising Star has come since 7 years ago when it began, and how many BEAUTIFUL children now have a future because they are able to get out of the colonies, get away from the stigma of leprosy, and get a great education.  Anyway, this was just a great day.  We ended our day with going to a temple that was up a hill.  It kind of reminded me of the Leonardo DiCaprio "Romeo and Juliet" movie from the nineties.  Here are some pictures from my day out in Polambaakam.

Me putting eye drops in a patients eyes

This lady (I don't remember her name) is so hillarious! She loves to laugh and is always smiling.  None of us understand a word she says, but she is so funny a sweet that we just communicate by laughter. 

Amy washing the lady from the previous photo's feet.  Amy has gone into the colonies almost every day this summer, and bonded with this woman on her visits.  

This is the hill we had to walk up for the temple.  It was a doozy, but at least I got my workout in for the day.  We all were sweaty messes afterwards.

These bible scenes were on the path on the way up to the top of the hill. There were a ton of them and they reminded me a little of  the "It's a Small World After All" ride at Disneyland, except that we definitely were not being transported in a boat, and there was no singing.

Mother Teresa

The Gang!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's Fancy Time!

A few weeks ago a bunch of us volunteers were invited to attend a wedding in Walajabad, India.  Sharmilla, a nurse at the school, was getting married and was nice enough to invite us all to her wedding festivities!  This was exciting for us not only because we love Sharmilla, but it was a chance for us to get all dolled up in traditional Indian clothing!  The weekend before the wedding, I went shopping and bought my first Sari (also spelled "Saree").  I wasn't sure if the sari I bought was too fancy, or not fancy enough for a wedding, but when I arrived at the wedding one of the Indian ladies I work with here said I looked dressed up almost like a bride would be.  Um, that's kind of embarrassing.  Way to over do it Julie!  But what the heck, I LOVE my sari, and it was a blast.  I had no idea how to wrap myself in a Sari, so I asked one of the housemother's named Poongodi, to help me get dressed.  She and Abarna (another housemother), wrapped me up, did my hair, lent me jewelry, and henna'd my hand all within 30 minutes. 

Getting Sari'd!

 Amy getting dressed in a Sari by Poongodi and Abarna too!

Poongodi is awesome!

Poongodi and Abarna did my hair like a traditional Indian woman does her hair.  I love the way it looks in pictures, but I am not a fan of my hair being pulled back all the way.  But I decided to go all Indian!

Berlyn and I lookin fierce!

Sharmilla, so beautiful at her wedding!  I loved her yellow sari!

We threw jasmine at the bride and groom after the ceremony.  It smelled so amazing!

I've noticed that most Indians don't smile in pictures, even if it's their wedding day.  Any time the camera was not on them, they were smiling :)

We ate Biryani for dinner... which consists of, wait for it... RICE!  The kids love Biryani.  It's pretty good... has chicken in it and a lot of flavor.  There was also some stuff that tasted like thick, sweet cream of wheat with raisins in it. It was tasty so I ate all of it.  Here's Sarah and Miranda enjoying their meal!

Berlyn tries to creep her way into every photo. Just a classic example :)

There were tons of cute kids at the wedding too. This kid was not liking the photos though, or all of us pointing at him as you can see by all of the hands in this picture.

Too cool for school

Lastly, some guys got their dance on at the reception.   

It was so special to be invited to a wedding in India, and I had such a great time.   I love India.