Thursday, June 4, 2009
Sticky and Hot
In India I wake up sticky and hot to the sound of children laughing and Indian music ringing in the distance. The smell of spices and human waste, cows dogs and the hot sun baking it all together permeates the air.
India wakes up before the sun and sleeps during the day. My experience here at Rising Star has been wonderful and I feel blessed to sharing my talents in such a powerful way. Within the past few days I have already faced many challenges but the staff and the volunteers are wonderful, they help make everything better and everyone wants the dance program to succeed. The greatest struggle we face is sustainability, I am working right now on trying to train some of the house mothers here at the school. We’ll see how successful my attempts really are.
Yesterday was rewarding I tought 2, 3, 5, and 6th standard. The 5th and 6th standard were very receptive to what I was teaching them and we had a lot of fun. One of the most rewarding things about teaching them is having them run up during free time or before they go to bed saying, “Katie, Katie, Dance Master look look...” and they will show me what we did during class. The kids work hard they rise before the sun which comes up around 5:45 every day. They get ready and go to school and then have a 45 min. lunch break at noon. After lunch they go back to school until 4:00. When they return from school they have play time but if they are not good in school they are required to stay in their rooms and study. At 6:30 everyone eats. The children break up into their families with their house mothers for dinner. After dinner we go up and put the babies to bed and send the older students back to school where they are required to do their homework until 9:30 at this point they come back to the hostel and get ready for bed. Indians work so hard and in terrible conditions. Living here has made me feel so grateful for the many many blessing God has bestowed upon me. Despite their difficult schedule the kids are all very happy. They work hard and play hard, I have never heard any of them complain about their rigorous schedule. They do not know any better.
As much as I love the work that I am doing here I must admit that I am still a little bit frustrated. It would be much easier if I did not have work on creating this program and could go with the volunteers. Mangula only gave me 3 classes a day and then I teach centers in the evenings.
Last night I taught my first center to the second standard and it didn’t go very well. They were all very rambunctious and it was hard getting any of them to focus. Their were kids playing soccer and blowing bubbles near by and many of the kids wanted to go and play. Just about the time I was feeling frustrated one of the boys came and tossed a ball at me, they clearly did not want to play. When I caught the ball I held it high, all the children were watching and I told them we will play catch but were going to do something a little bit differently. When you catch the ball you either have to hit a pose or do some sort of move and so I demonstrated. I held the ball up high and then plied and touched the ground with the ball I stood back up and tossed the ball to one of the boys he caught the ball and copied the move I had just done!! Okay I thought, this just might work, we continued in this fashion for the next 10 min. and the kids were moving their bodies, dancing and working on their eye hand coordination all at the same time. After about 10 min. their attention had been lost and so we moved on. I started teaching them an Indian dance with some indigenous type of movement, the girls especially loved that hands and the similarities to the Baharatntam. In about a week there is going to be a traditional Indian dancer that is going to come and live at the school for the next year. I hope to work with her and learn from her. The fact that she is here will really help keep this program sustainable.
Despite my aching body and extreme heat I love India. The children are wonderful and their hearts are so big, they are ready to love and be loved.
Last night I went up and started to read a group of girls the book, “I’ll love you for always.” Half way through the book I started to get tears in my eyes thinking about how much I love these children have and how much their parents love them. I don’t think I could send my child to a boarding school and it is not easy for all of the children, but the curse of Leprosy has created such an awful prejudice and this is just one of the ways this mental curse may be broken.