Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 7 - Sooch Village

We spent part of today taking videos of the volunteers talking to the individual children to send back to each child’s sponsor. We thanked the sponsor and give them a little update about their child. The children weren’t quite comfortable with us yet so it was hard to get them to open up. We then rounded all of the housemothers up like we did at Rourkela and after thanking them for their tremendous work with the children, we gave them each nail polish. Purple seemed to be the favorite color but the women were so gracious, insisting the house mother next to her choose her color preference first. Most of them immediately began putting the polish on with big grins on their faces.

I got to know the kids more today. We brought out the coloring books, stickers and pipe cleaners we had bought. The kids go crazy over what may seem like little stuff like this. I was instantly surrounded by dozens of kids begging for a simple pipe cleaner. Hands outreached, begging “Uncle” “Uncle” and pulling at my arms. Funny thing was, they had no idea what to do with them. I made a quick pair of eyeglasses out of them and put them on. Big mistake. The kids now all wanted me to make them a pair. The idea was to get them to be creative and make things out of them. Instead, I was like the guy who makes balloon animals at the country fair as the kids lined up to have me make something for them. Every one wanted spectacles. We also had temporary tattoos which were a huge hit, especially with the boys.

I brought out the several pair of drum sticks I had brought with me along with a couple of egg shakers. I made a makeshift drum set out of a two liter water bottle mostly filled with water (the bass) an empty plastic peanut butter jar partially filled with water (snare), a steel kettle, a steel plate (china symbol), plastic bowl and I set it up next to two PVC pipes running out of the building and a plastic trash can that I could beat on. It made a pretty decent set. The children really had no idea what I was doing at first as I set it all up. As I started playing, about 60 of them crowded around in amazement. I handed out a couple of pair of the extra sticks that I brought and a shaker and got the children into the action. Eventually, I handed all of the drumsticks over to the children and stepped back to watch the chaos. It wasn’t long before they had a pretty decent beat going. I left the sticks behind for the kids, likely to the dismay of the housemothers who will now have to deal with the kids beating on everything in the house!  Video here of them playing.

It was time to start preparing Sooch for Diwali. Lights were placed around each of the 11 home doors as well as the main admin building. We then filled 100 small clay pots with oil and a wick. The pots are placed at the highest point of the house so all of the rooftops were lined with them. The village looked great after dark with all of the string lights and candles. Next up: Ice Cream and sweets time! We brought in ice cream from the town 30 minutes away. As the kids were chowing down, I snuck off to set up the firework display. After they all ate, they were escorted to a field next to my set up. We handed out sparklers to everyone….they loved it. It was then time for the “big” show. I used sparklers to beginning shooting up bottle rockets. The fuses were almost non-existent, each only about half an inch long. Just as I touched the flame to the fuse, it shot off, shooting sparks right by my head. The housemothers came over and got into the action, lighting off fireworks with laughing uncontrollably. The closer the fire rockets came to hitting someone, the harder they laughed. It was so great to watch them cut loose tonight.

Later on after the fireworks, I was walking down the walkway to the main gathering area and noticed 5 girls sitting in a circle singing a song (in complete darkness). I quietly took a seat next to them and listened. Their little voices were perfectly harmonized. I pulled out my camera, flipped it to video and began to record the sounds. I then closed my eyes and let their soft Hindi verses take me away. Beautiful.

Over at the prayer hall (an outdoor gazebo where a lot of the home gatherings take place), music and dancing had ensued. The younger girls showed off some contemporary moves as the housemothers enjoyed classic Indian line dancing. Everyone was having a blast.

This trip has emphasized more than ever that with a loving, nurturing environment, happiness follows. Material possessions don’t factor into the equation. There is happiness all around here. A one year old playing endlessly with a bottle cap he found, another boy running around with a piece of thread tied to a kite made out of sticks and a plastic bag, hoping for just a little gust of wind to lift his creation into the air, even if just for a second. Another, with a well-worn matchbox car, tied to what looked to be several threads of material joined together, pulling the car through the dirt. All enjoying themselves, as all children should. Such a different life than living a day-to-day existence because of poverty, begging on the streets, laboring for a few rupees a day or worse yet, lured into child trafficking or prostitution.

The woods surrounding the Sooch Village home are filed with tribal villagers. As Sooch quieted for the evening, I could hear them beating on drums in the dark night. All around us, invisible in the night except for an occasional flashlight, were thousands of villagers. We had hoped to head into town to check out the local Dewali celebration. Unfortunately, we were advised to stay within Sooch’s walls due to the Naxal activity in the area. Many of them live just outside of the ashrams gates.

1 comment:

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