We haven’t even been here for 48 hours and I’ve already had so many wonderful experiences.
Thursday morning we all wandered around the CRHP campus. Some of my classmates got a private tour of the CRHP hospital from the hospital manager. Haley and I caught up with them for the end of the tour. We met a young woman who was a burn victim. I later found out that she was set on fire during a dispute with her mother-in-law. This young woman has a contraption set up so that a sheet drapes over her body but doesn’t touch her. It’s been a whole year since the incident and she still hasn’t healed. She has had to learn to sleep up-right so as not to ruin her dressings. Meeting someone who has to live with so much pain every day really puts things into perspective.
After the hospital, Haley and I wandered to the other side of campus where we saw a group of children playing on a little play ground. We saw the teacher and she told us we could play with the kids, so we joined right in with their recess activities! Haley pushed kids around on little cars and I played cricket with some of the kids. They loved having us adults there willing to run around with them and spoil them with attention. We loved that they were so happy to see us and included us in their games. The preschool teacher informed us that the children were from the village slum across the street. Friday morning we would learn exactly how close-by the slum is to the CRHP campus.
Friday morning, Haley, Krista and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. One of the volunteers at the agency, Kris (an older woman from Belgium who has been here before) got up from the breakfast table and said she it was time for her to go to the slum and pick up the pre-schoolers. We asked her if we could go along and she said of course. The three of us accompanied Kris and the preschool teacher, (Mina? a nice Indian woman) to the slum. We took a little yellow van over and it was literally a 5 minute drive down the road. When we got to the area, we all got out of the van and walked around to announce that the van was there to take all the kids to preschool. The slum was like nothing I had ever seen before. Whole families live in these tiny one-room huts. If they own animals, they keep them right out front. They have to cook and bathe outside. They use cow dung to make the fire to cook their food. We met a beautiful 12 year old girl who had just gotten married. There were other girls who looked like they were younger than me who were pregnant. Almost all of the young girls were carrying a baby on their hips. Some of the young boys looked like they were going to school; others were helping their fathers with the animals. They were all so excited to see us. Many of the people we met asked us to take their picture because they enjoyed seeing themselves on the camera screen. An old lady wanted her picture taken and we got in the photo with her. She was so excited to be in a photo; after it was taken she did a hand gesture that means “I love you”. It was so touching that this simple act of taking a photograph could make someone so happy. It’s hard to complain after seeing little children taking care of babies, living in dirt homes. The fact that they were still smiling says a lot about the human spirit.
I’m excited to continue to step out of my comfort zone and experience rural India. I’m also excited to witness the changes CRHP continues to make in the lives of the people living in the Jamkhed district.