Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Angel Home, Part 3

Rose Bud standing in the road in India 
"Look, Mom!  I'm standing in the road!"
Directly after this she was run over by an autorickshaw.
(not really)

When we returned from the beach, the boys were whisked off to change and have lunch. Theresa sent out for lunch for us and we had Vegetable Biryani rice, butter paneer and Sambar, along with butter naan. The paneer and sambar were spicier here. (BTW, total cost to feed all 11 of us with tons of leftovers was about $23) The drivers went and picked it up. The orphanage provided plates and serving spoons, but didn’t have many regular spoons, so most of us ate with our hands, Indian style!

After lunch we brought out our bags of donations and played with the kids. Leslie brought a box of sensory items for Michael which all the boys loved. I would never have thought to put it all together, but it was great. She had a mirror, vibrating pens, a slinky (big hit!), a sparkly rubik’s cube, one of those pin things where you put your hand on the back and the pins push up in the shape of your hand, a squishy ball and little cars.

I had the two bags of clothes and had brought some small games I’d bought for Sunshine and never really used. They really were a last-minute afterthought and I threw them in because I had room. They were very simple, educational puzzles of two or three pieces , a concentration game with all sorts of photos of objects and a strange little set of cards made for babies to discriminate same from different. The boys LOVED them! All the older boys loved doing the puzzles, and because they were only two or three pieces, they were simple enough to put together. They didn’t pay any attention to the activities on the puzzles, but simply liked putting the pieces together. (For you educators out there, they were self-correcting, 3-step sequences (egg, chick, chicken, for example) and number matching (picture to word & numeral) puzzles).

It was fun to interact with the boys. They are all very gentle and loved having new stuff to explore. I was really glad I’d brought the games as that kept about half the boys busy for quite a while.

Rose Bud and Judah

Faye had brought a parachute and the boys had fun with that for a while. Leslie brought a hammock swing for Michael and we installed that from the ceiling and gave all the boys turns. Michael was in HEAVEN. He giggled and laughed out loud when he was in the swing. Of course everyone wanted a turn and when we took him out, he cried in a high-pitched, pitiful cry.

Michael Laughing in the swing
Leslie came especially to work with Michael, for whom she has a soft spot. Actually meeting him broke her heart. She is devastated to realize that in the reality, her 5 days won’t make a difference in his life. She had hoped to work with him and teach some techniques and therapies to his caregivers, but Theresa has explained that they probably will not be followed.

The caregivers love the children and take very good care of them. But this is still India and things are still done in the Indian way, which to us as Americans often seems archaic. Maybe it’s running a home for 16 boys as opposed to a more “normal” family situation, but it’s hard to give individual attention to just one. Beulah, the house sister does therapies with the children, but there is only one of her and she can only do what she is shown how to do.

Toys are not generally available but might be brought out for special occasions. I can’t say that they don’t have an opportunity to play with things on a daily basis—I only saw one day in their schedule and it was a pretty special day because of our visit. But it’s not like a daycare center in America where there are shelves of things available freely. Things are just done differently here.

Leslie found, in interacting with Michael, that he is quite bright. He’s not allowed many opportunities to do things like the more capable boys are. He is pretty sheltered. The case is the same for Solomon, who suffers from severe seizures. Theresa said the caregivers never used to let him go in the water at the beach, but she insisted he be allowed to and he loved it. They are overly protective of some of the children, sometimes unnecessarily.

About 5, we packed up the four boys who were to come back with us for our class. This included Isaac, Caleb, Christopher and Judah. Linda has fallen in love with Judah and wants to smuggle him home in her bag. He is equally smitten with her. He is very quiet and shy and has a terrible rash, which Theresa was dismayed to see. They are going to take him to the doctor today, since he will be in Ongole. Simona played ball with him outside and got him talking. He told her the ball was red and some other things and he seems to not have any special needs. Sarah is a little perplexed as to why he was included in the new group from the orphanage.

Isaac sat on my lap in the car most of the way back. He found a journal in the seat pocket and was reading the numbers to himself. Caleb is quite verbal, although hard to understand because of his CP. He and Simona chatted about all sorts of things on the ride.

One funny driving note: We got caught up in a rush hour traffic jam. Apparently 5:00 is the time the buffalo herd comes home. They are driven out to pasture from the village, picking up each home’s buffalo along the way down the main street and then brought back again in the evening. Each buffalo turns in or is collected by its owner as the herd passes by and is then tied in the yard. Water buffalo are used solely for milk. Sim said the meat doesn’t taste good. She likes buffalo milk and said you can only get it from your own buffalo or a local person who will sell you some. Milk in the store is cow’s milk. Her grandma often gets it and Sim has it there when she visits. So anyway, it took us a while to navigate through the 30 or so buffalo on the main street. They don’t pull over for honking.

Our team was dropped off at the hotel, with people interested in shopping to meet back at the car in 10 minutes. The boys were herded into the other car and taken to Victory Home.

Theresa and Sim took us to first, an ATM for cash and then to a shop that sells salwaars and saris. Leslie, Linda and I each bought a salwar and Rose Bud got a beautiful yellow sari. She loves to just drape it around herself at home, but she is going to wear it to Victory Home tomorrow. She paid close attention to Linda’s lesson at Angel Home.

After lunch at Angel Home, Linda had somehow offered to buy a sari from the housemother. Not wanting to give her a used one, she gave Linda a brand new, unworn one. The housemother, the cook and Beulah gave Linda a lesson in putting it on and Linda practiced doing it herself about twice. It really is beautiful!

Clothes shopping took about an hour and all together we spent about $36 for our two outfits. I think I paid that much each when I bought my salwars in Bangalore.

Outside the sari shop was a cart of colored powder, now nearly depleted after a day’s shopping, for people to buy for decorating the sidewalk. You buy it in a paper packet by weight. RB and Sim had to poke their fingers into it.

Next we walked across the street (we crossed a street!!! Albeit not a very busy one) to a bangle shop where RB fulfilled her greatest desire to buy herself a whole armful of bangles and several for each of her friends. She also got bindis and I got a cheap little autorickshaw for Sunshine.

By now it was 8 pm and the restaurant was open (they have a thing about opening at 7:30 or 8, morning or evening!) so we ordered dinner. When we were finished, Sarah had arrived to pick up Theresa and Erin was with her. Erin is the other blogger who is here right now and will be staying about 2 weeks. She also plans to come back in the summer for a month.

AFTER all of that, we finally dragged ourselves to the internet café next door to hurriedly read email and post blogs. Well, blog. I’m the only one able to keep up right now.

Tomorrow’s activities involve a sort of repeat of today, only at Victory Home. If we were overwhelmed by the 16 boys there, today we will be DROWNED by the 68 kids at Victory Home. Theresa has said that RB and I will meet all the children today along with the rest of the team and begin our classes tomorrow. Realistically, we’ll only have our group of kids all day Friday and Saturday and Monday morning, with the possibility of Sunday afternoon, as well. We’ll see how exhausted we are. At least now I know I’ll have plenty for them to do!

We also will be going to Theresa’s guesthouse apartment for dinner and a planning meeting this evening, so if we get back late, I may not be able to post tonight.

It was exciting to meet the boys today. They are wonderful and they have a very nice life. All that can be done for the boys is being done now and Sarah has a wonderful thing here.


1 comment:

Nikki said...

I SO enjoyed reading these posts, and loved all the details! I cant wait to go in May :)