Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friday, October 27, 2012

I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives. ~Tracy Chapman

The last day has come to an end. Only cried twice today which is actually better than I thought. I Exchanged e-mails with Sister Matilda at the end of my Shift in the Early Intervention Department and then had the honor of meeting one of Chennai's best pediatricians. He was very welcoming and was very pleased with the Global Volunteers work with them.

Stephen, my driver was confused when I started to cry on the way home. It was so hard to leave those children and Sister Matilda knowing that there are so many children that she wants to help but does not have the funds for. It only drives me to get a plan together as soon as I return to the states!

In the afternoon I was invited to Steven Raja's (my host) mothers home for lunch where I met his mother and father, sister in law, and neice. The food and the company were wonderful and although English was not their first language, we were able to communicate easily and Stephen was always close to help when we got stuck.

I was so excited when after lunch, Sheeba brought me out back to see her collection of parakeets. (and I am not kidding when I say collection) I did not stop to count but it was close to atleast 17 or so. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise sitting under the red bannana tree and watching the birds... it was really, really cool.

We returned back to the neighborhood where I was able to pick up a few little cookie treats for the children at SEAMS, and have a quick cola before heading to the Mission.

What a difference from the first day that I did visit, where I had to walk across the couryard and into the hall to see the children. Now they wait on the stairs and run to us when we come in the front gate. It truely fills your heart when they charge you yelling "Sister, Sister"... (actually "Sista Sista") Only this day they were dressed in their best party clothes. The boys were ready, but the girls lagged putting the finishing touches to their braids by adding bows and pinning their scarves to their shoulders.

Our special send off was started with Sheeba adding fresh flowers to my hair and taking pictures with the all the boys and girls, each one trying to get as close as possible to me all trying to take my hand or stroke my arm. It was really amazing, and left me wishing that I could have one more day with these little ones. We danced and sang and shared oranges and cookies and played a rousing game of Simon Says.. I made sure that I was out pretty quickly so that I could sit the the little ones and watch the kids enjoy themselves.

Good bye is not acceptable in Tamil... they will only say "see you later", which is pretty much my philosphy too! Good bye is too final, and I do hope to see these children again one day. They are all so very special and I will hold them and my my memories with them in my heart forever! When it was time to go, I had 31 little ones following me to the gate asking over and over " sisah, you come back next year?" please sistah, you come back next year???" Try not to cry when you hear that... I dare you... it's impossible! I know that the money we raise for them will go to good use, and I look forward to helping their future become a little more easy. Stephen Raja and Sheeba do so much for these children, I cant allow them to do it on their own...

A treat tonight! Stephen and Sheeba took me to a beautiful Indian resturant this evening as my farewell. The food was yummy and I have finally gotten used to eating with my hands! (I am pretty efficient at it if I do say so!) Although I do enjoy the American custom of eating with utensils it was fun to try!

Upon our return home Sheeba made coffee and we sat for a bit looking at my childrens photo's on the computer, and I showed her pictures of my home and some of my dear friends. Sheeba and I have become great friends, and I am certain we will keep touch when I get home!

I have an hour left..... So so very sad to leave India, I have another family here in India whom I care for and I feel as though I will be leaving a bit of my heart here. Stephen and Sheeba were so amazing at making me feel welcome and comfortable. They truly love the work they do and the country in which they live. Stephen and Sheeba are wonderful teachers of their country and the cultury. I will miss them Dearly! I am already planning my next trip here. This experience has changed me for the better and working so closely with the caring people of India will make me work to be a better person my entire lifetime. I love you India and my new family... I will see you soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~Mohandas Gandhi

Legos….. Take Two!

Today was started after breakfast as Stephen Drove me to the hospital to work in the special needs department with Sister Matilda. Sadly it was a festival day so I was only able to work with two little ones. One child with CP and the other is still clinically undiagnosed by the Doctors. Unfortunately what this child suffered from, so does his older sister. There I also metal amazing woman who was one of the developers in the project. I thought she was one of the Doctors who worked in the hospital until she told me she was actually an enginier with no background as a physician in medicine at all. She helped start the program and before she knew it she was also a volunteer! She was amazing, friendly and very insightful with a drive to learn all she could about special needs children so that she was more equipped to help. She showed me around the facility and made me familiar with the supplies that they had to work with. I really look forward to working with her again tomorrow, where we will share ideas on how we utilize different resources that we have in the US to supplement what she is doing now.

After the hospital I arrived home to lunch which was followed by a bit of shopping for my families souvenirs at a wonderful bazar that worked with artisans that ensured no child labor. I found really wonderful treasures to return home with.

Our drive home from the city back to the suburbs was and always is quite the adventure. The hundreds of people, the hundreds of motorshaws and motorbikes, (which were usually carrying up to 4 or 5 people) along with, I am pretty sure, every car in India. I think there is some sort of agreement with the motorist here also that you Must honk your horn every time you see a human being…. as you hear an almost constant honk in the city! I was relieved to get back to the guest house and the quiet!

We arrived home and began preparing for SEAMS where Stephen and Sheeba carried box after box of books for the library to the car and bags of medical supplies for the new supply closet.

We arrived at SEAMS and the older boys immediately began finishing the new shelves while the younger boys sorted through books and flashcards while Sheeba and I sorted school supplies and medicines. I have never seen young boys work so hard, what was funnier was watching them try to stay on track as they wanted to flip through the colorful books more than anything. It was not easy keeping them on task!

After the work was done we were able to go back down stairs to the main hall where the rest of the children worked on their legos again. Only since it was day two with the legos, the creativity was flowing and instead of just fish, we were seeing lego houses, robots and something Im pretty sure was an artist creation! They played for hours with just a handful of the famous plastic toys!

Sheeba then handed out corn on the cob which was a giant treat to the children. I watched in amazement as they picked kernel by kernel making sure not to drop one. (some even managed to eat half of the husk)

We ended our day saying goodbye to the children before our short journey home through the winding streets that were still full of people due to the festival. Another successful day in Chennai… I can hardly believe my time here is almost over. It will be sad to say good bye. The positive is that I will see my own children when I do. Peace

Peace & Love!



Monday, October 22, 2012
There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. ~Mother Teresa

First Official Day!

Today was my first official day in Chennai, India. I arrived on Saturday and had two days to get my bearings and reconfigure my sleep.

We started our day with yet another wonderful breakfast with Stephen and Sheeba. I was worried that I would not acclimate to Indian food, and actually hoped to return home a few pounds lighter. That will not be the case! The food prepared for us is wonderful! I clear my plate and often go back for seconds at each meal. Sheeba and Stephen are amazing hosts. They treat me like family and go above and beyond to make me feel welcome, safe and at home.

The weather finally cleared today after my first two days of rain. The sun was a welcome addition as we headed to Assisi Illam, a Day Care center that also takes care of orphans and semi orphans. This center is run by the nuns of the order of Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. There we met Sister Rose and Sister Metilda, the two amazing women who are in charge of this facility. They care for approximately 25 children in the day care and 30 children in the orphanage.

The children were very excited to see us arrive and quickly greeted us with smiles and warm welcome. It is amazing what the Sisters have done for these children nurturing them with love and the appropriate amount of discipline that they have are growing to be wonderful kids! I loved every minute of being their and spending time with the sisters and the children. The giggles were endless and the both Sister Rose and Sister Metilda were full fun both with a great sense of humor! We brought along lego fish which the children took great care to assemble and show us with great pride when they were complete. Stephen gave me the grand tour of their beautiful facility before we played games and then headed for home.

After yet another fabulous Indian lunch I headed up to my room to prepare for our visit to SEAMS Children's Home. At SEAMS, Paster Arul Pragasam and his wife Pricila care for 39 orphaned, semi- orphaned and poor children ages 5 to 18. There we built new shelves for the library so that the children could store their books safely. As a few of the older boys helped assemble the shelves the younger children were also elated by the lego fish that we brought along with us. Although some did struggle with the task, it was great to see the children who did finish work to help the others . Sheeba brought along pomegranate that the children relished every bit of in complete silence. It filled my heart to see them so happy.

Weather permitting, we will start at the hospital in the morning. Today we were planning on going, but due to the mud from all of the rain, many of the facilities declared it a holiday. (in New England we would refer to it as a snow day… only with mud) I look forward to tomorrow and what new adventures I will have.