So today we ventured into the leprosy colony to do construction. For 5 hours we moved brick, moved sand, and moved rocks. There was some type of end goal... I think it was to lay the foundation for toilets... but honestly I didn't focus on it and could be wrong. What was amazing was how quickly I, as well as all the other ten group members, were able to lose themselves so swiftly in the work. It was like the quote said earlier by Gandhi, "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others". I think the field of neuroscience also backs this quote and it seems pretty intuitive. When one is focused on helping another individual, because the human mind is wired so that only one thought process can remain in the conscious thought, the individual literally forgets their own problems for a while. A form of meditation that also has tangible evidence of good if you will. I really enjoyed todays hard labor, particularly because I struggle living in the moment and I felt like the whole five hours I was preoccupied with work today I managed to stay there mentally. As wise men say "stay anxiously engaged in a good cause". And I forgot to mention that it was overcast and cooler than normal... around 95 degrees with 80 percent humidity. I did sweat more than I ever have at one moment in my life though.
20 minutes later
There was an hour break that split up our work day and during that time we meandered throughout the colony and met numerous different people. These people had HUGE smiles on their faces when I would ask to take photos with them. Despite being afflicted with such a physical and social degrading disease, they had the best attitudes:
Legit beard. Check out fingers for early signs of leprosy. Actually I meant late.
This guy jumped up from his chair to take a picture and then when I showed him it he nodded his head. His man boobs also bounced a little bit but I don't he did that intentionally. Or did he?
The day care in the colony... I promise they were more excited about seeing us and getting their picture taken then they appear to be. After showing the little girl her picture she smiled at me and started playing with her hair as if to show it off.
Baller old lady. She had the biggest smile and walked around holding mine and Nels's hand for a bit.
We walked into a Art School that was started with the micro loans given out by Rising Star to the colony members. I was extremely touched by this school. Art (the painting form) has always been a struggle for me to create. I'd like to think that my attitude is as Nietzsche describes when he said "Sometimes an admiration... for an art is so great that it deters one from striving to possess it". Looking at the art done by these leprosy afflicted individual gave me a chance to delve deep into their psyche and better understand the way their identity and individual is structured. I almost felt as if I was intruding when looking upon the paintings. As they say: (this was taken from art school's wall)
Guy showing off his painting... I think he wanted us to buy it but I had no rupies.
Likewise with the girl.
We also visited a health facility and managed to take some sweet pictures with the sick colonists. At one point we had a song going that all the people were stomping and clapping to (well... some attempting seeing how there were a few missing hands and feet!):
This elderly lady, after seeing the picture I took with her, busted out laughing and couldn't stop (kind of like how my Grandma Nelson laughs at times)
Don't know why we flashed the gang sign!
This guy was clapping to the songs we were singing
As a side note- there are animals chilling everywhere around here. Roaming might be the better word for it. Everything from cows and goats to monkeys and dogs, these animals find the colony and India just as much at home as the human inhabitants.
Monkeys upsetting the locals by stealing their food
Random goats on side of the road foraging.
Also, here are a couple more pictures of my hostel I am staying at:
The bucket shower... I hate it when people take all the cold water....
The Indian Style Crapper.... you figure it out
Tomorrow I am going to be apart of the medical team and am looking forward to telling you all about it!
Sneak preview of me at the hospital with patient Rameesh!