Saturday, January 16, 2010

Making a Difference

Two things I want to think about.

How has my coming here made a difference?

How can I continue to help?

I HOPE that a major part of the work I’ve done with these kids this week has been to reveal their potential.

Several of the kids go out to school and are average to above average students. Several of them are new kids who haven’t really been evaluated. Several of them I feel like might have been overlooked and by including them in my group this week, it’s been seen what they are capable of.

Sarah described Indian people in general fairly well when she mentioned this week that her physiotherapist is a “minimalist.” (that might have been his word, even) He doesn’t want a lot of fancy “stuff” to use. He knows simple techniques that work with the children to improve their strength, flexibility and coordination and he is satisfied with that. Perhaps there are tools that WILL be more efficient or successful, but he’s not really interested.

(disclaimer: This is the gist of what I understood from a brief conversation with Sarah and my own observations and other conversations with Theresa. Maybe I’m way off here)

This seems to also be the case with the ayahs. They are here to clean, change and feed. Not really anything else. They don’t see their role as including playing with or stimulating the children. Sarah and Theresa are working to change that, but it’s a mindset and it comes slowly.

Sweepers? They sweep and mop the floor. They don’t clean toilets (actually, Theresa said, NO ONE seems to clean toilets! Kind of like at home.)

The teacher teaches in a traditional Indian way. Class sizes are large. The children sit quietly on the floor and listen and recite back. It works very well for them.

We swoop in and we do things differently. I planned my activities in the way I know how, which is American. I was willing to be flexible. I didn’t need the kids to be at tables and chairs. They are used to doing school on the floor, and that was fine (gives us more room to jump around for our active games, anyway).

What I hope they take away from my different way of doing things is not that my way is the right way, but maybe new ways of doing some things.
I also want more than anything for them to see that Shalene is coloring and repeating the names of the colors to me in her slow, quiet way. She’s a little like a turtle—every movement is very slow and determined, yet smooth. I want them to see that she is sewing on the lacing card and stringing beads and all on her own, initiating COUNTING the beads 1-2-3, in English! She has been so overlooked! SEE her now! I have great hope for Shalene in this place where there is love and opportunity and she is valuable.

I want them to see that the kids love to do wild things. They like to draw with sidewalk chalk and play Duck, Duck, Goose and cut with scissors and finger paint. It’s a huge mess and a crazy time, but they love it!

I want the kids without a voice to be heard. There are so many silent ones here, either because they are silent by choice, or no one has ever listened, or they physically can’t speak. But they have things to say if you watch and observe and listen.

Sarah shares this perspective and this vision, I know. It’s not that she is preventing this. It’s a matter of culture and staffing and ratios and time and traditions. It will all come. It will.

And when I get home? I want to sponsor Shalene. The biggest way you can help Sarah is to sponsor a child. A full sponsorship is $150 and people have been asking me, why so much? Every other place you can do sponsorships are $30ish. But this is the cost of running the home each month, divided amongst the kids. It takes THIS MUCH!

If you can do $150, that’s great. But if you want to help and all you can do is $30, DO IT! We can do no great things, only small things with great love. (Mother Teresa) Do your little part. If five of you do a little bit, you’ve cared for one child. If noone steps forward because they think their part is too small….well then, where does that leave the kids.

Starfish, people. Starfish!

Please, please pray. Pray for the health of the children, for provision for all their needs, for spiritual health, for Sarah and Theresa and all the staff to be healthy and emotionally strong. And for God’s guidance each day.

If you can come, do come! You will not regret it! There is much to be done here.

I hope that by my trip, and my blogging, more people hear about the wonderful work Sarah is doing here and will pitch in and join her in this.

That’s how I hope I will make a difference.

And while I was waiting for stuff to load, I went and read Leslie's blog and she just said all this way better than I did. So go there.

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