Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, Our Camp in the Morning

Friday evening, India

Friday morning at home

What a great day! I was up at 4 today planning my camp activities. I had all these random, but related things I had planned for the kids to do, but really was never able to gather them together into a coherent schedule. Without know the kids, I couldn’t really plan which things to do when.

We were actually supposed to begin our camp yesterday, but plans change here on a dime and it ended up that the whole team met all 68 children throughout the day and that really was the best option. We got to know all the kids, they got to at least meet us and I wasn’t just thrown into a room with strange kids and them with me.

So at 6, Rose Bud and I got up and began to sort through the 2 ½ suitcases of materials we’d brought with us, figuring out what to bring for the day and which activities to do when. We threw everything out on the bed and talked it out. This was also really great for coordinating our efforts, since I had been mentioning things to RB in the month before our trip and she half-heartedly listened, in a teenage way. It didn’t really mean anything to her until she was here and really understood what we’d be doing.

She was very enthusiastic in helping me think through the plans and talking about which things would work best.

We got to Victory Home about 10 and right away went up to our room. At first, I was dismayed by how small it was. It is only about 8 x 15 and I had hoped to do some raucous games with the kids in there. It contained two leather couches and a large exam table, plus they had two children’s tables in there for us.

I had them take the little tables out and we shoved the exam table against the window and the couches beside it.

In hindsight, the room was perfect, because the kids are like popcorn. If their lid is off, they fly everywhere. The small room kept everyone contained in the space we needed them to be in.

Ok, that was all very vague. This is as much a diary for me to remember the trip as it is to inform any readers, so I apologize if I am boring you to tears.

We began with Ring Around the Rosie.. We have two non-walkers (Paula and Rachel) but everyone else can get around really well. They loved this and we even had the two new little blind girls in with us, M and M. I am just in love with these two. They are bright as buttons, especially M1 (she was the one I was playing with with the bear yesterday) and their little fingers are just exploring and feeling their world non-stop. They are so eager and we tried to include them whenever we could. They were hesitant at first, just because they didn’t know what to do, but we had Simona with us for translating, and they especially needed that, since they couldn’t see me demonstrating things.

Also in our room today was the in-house teacher. We were using the physiotherapy room, off of which is an office and the office lady (she might be an accountant) and the physiotherapist hung out with us part of the time, too. Halfway through the morning, Linda also joined us.

The kids loved the song and dance. Next we did Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes and I did M & M’s hands through the motions for them since they couldn’t see. About 3 or 4 of the kids can do it all themselves, a few try and a few needed help to work it out (Heck I get confused by the motions!) They loved this and kept begging to do it again. Our last game was Simon Says. I started being Simon and then RB did it. Then I asked Hannah to do it and she was so shy. Simona told her what to do and she couldn’t think of anything. Finally one child did do it and after that, the floodgates were open and everyone wanted to choose what Simon would have us do!

Our next thing was colors and I used the tiny chunky books we had brought along when we picked up Sunshine. He wasn’t much interested in these little books which have traveled to India twice, but these kids loved them. Each little book is only about 3” square and is about just one color. Red cherries, Red shoes, Red crayons, Red umbrella, Red car. We did the sign (sign language) for the color and I did the signs for the objects if I knew them. They (the girls at V Home) watch the Signing Time videos everyday and Rachel knows all the signs for everything. Hannah also knew many and the rest of them picked it up quickly.

They are so cute because, in true Indian school fashion, when you say something to them, they all repeat it in unison.

When we had finished the books, I got out the rainbow coloring pages and showed them how to color in the stripes. Many of them are very meticulous and this took way longer than I had expected (which was fine). Typical of boys, Isaac only drew a colored line through each stripe instead of bothering to color the whole thing in. I got out tape and hung all their pictures on the wall.

They all got thirsty and kept asking for drinks, and they do have a snack time at 11. An ayah (who is probably not really an ayah, but a cook lady) brought up a huge bowl of chana (chickpeas) and divied them up into cups for each child. Seriously, this took them half an hour to eat. And they would drop one on the floor and they or another child would just pick it up and eat it. They shared, they stole, they spilled, they put them in their pockets for later! They finally got water to drink and we sent a few to the bathroom.

Our next excursion was to the roof to play matchbox cars, which was mostly a disaster. One child had to use the bathroom but didn’t want to go downstairs, so she just went off in a corner of the roof. They spent much time hanging over the edge (a very low 30” edge, I may add—this mama didn’t like to see that!) yelling down to their friends in the courtyard below (I think what they had to say was, “Hey! Look at me! Neener, neener, neener!”)

Funny toy car story: Christopher watched while I handed out all the cars and I handed him one. He shook his head no and said something, so I reached in to get him a different one. He rejected that one also and I finally understood him saying, “Qualis” which is an SUV here. I laughed and told him I didn’t have a Qualis and he accepted a racecar instead.

They chased, and fought and tried to escape downstairs. We handed out the cars and drew sidewalk chalk roads for them, mostly in which they weren’t interested. We finally had some success in sitting them all down in a line and having races. We played a little tag, but mostly it was chaos.

Just when we were ready to pack it up, a cook lady brought us a tiny cup of the very best coffee and cream ever, so we had to stand around distracted, drinking our coffee! The kids ran amuck while we did and a little bit we didn’t care. Ok, RB hates how I wrote that, so what I meant was, we ignored them and let them run amuck while we enjoyed our tiny cups of coffee!

By now it was 11:30 and we intended to paint with them, but there was some concern about their pretty dresses. We asked about different ones and we waited and waited, but none arrived, so eventually we moved on to cutting.

Sarah had some cutting books (pages of lines for the kids to follow and cut on, increasing in difficulty from straight lines to zigzags to curves, etc. When I first pulled out the scissors, they all made scissor motions with their fingers at their hair!! I said, “no! no! no hair! Paper! “ and made Sim translate so they understood not to cut their hair!

They LOVED the cutting! Each one did two pages and they didn’t want to stop. About half of them could cut on their own and the other half needed help to hold the paper. Some of them really only have one usable hand, because of their CP. Caleb, especially loved the cutting and begged for more, even asking first thing this afternoon to cut again. Several of them were able to move on to zigzags including Hannah and Christopher.

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