I arrived at Rising Star yesterday. The trip from our hotel to the enclave was a little more than two hours long. India is nuts. The place is so poverty stricken that words truly cannot describe it. I'll make sure I put up some pictures. The people are also extremely friendly and nice. On the way to Rising Star we waved at a ton of people and every got huge smiles on their faces and waved back.
It was another insane drive... but this time we really did have the best driver in Chennai:
After we arrived we were given a tour of the place. I'll post some pictures to show you better than I can describe it to you:
Elephant House(Volunteer Hostel)
The Well which we draw our water from... we have to close our mouths in shower to avoid getting bacteria or parasites. Only one tap is drinkable water.
The back entrance to the school the children learn and live at.
Me, Nelson, and some of the volunteers hear in the Mango Forest.
Following the tour we had orientation and were shown to our rooms and met our bunkmates. Our rooms are very spartan. Six bunk beds for 5 people. 1 Small desk, 1 chair, 2 shelves, and 2 windows. But the most important part... Air Conditioning. Sure, the power surges on and off every hour. But we have A/C gosh dangit. And we NEED A/C because it is soooo dang hot and humid. I thought it was bad getting out of the airplane at midnight. During the day, the temperatures skyrocket to around 105 to 110. This wouldn't be so bad if that is it. I mean, I am from AZ and that is just a typical AZ day. But this is in 90% humidity. I feel like I have to swim through the air around me. /end rant on hot air.
Once the orientation was over, we got to go and play with the Rising Star kids across the yard. They are awesome. They are so energetic. So happy. So full of life. I think I've encountered the first big mystery I want to ponder on in India. How are these children, who are sons and daughters of leprosy afflicted parents (don't say lepers, it is considered an insult) who have begged their entire lives and sleep on brick floors and have a small cubby with all the clothing and possesions they own, how are they so happy? Truly, as a whole, they are happier than any group of children I've encountered. They are also extremely intelligent.
They also LOVE human touch. I swear all the kids wanted to do was ride on my shoulders and hold my hand. At one time, I had one kid on my shoulders, two on my arms, and one dangling on my back, arms around my neck. That only lasted for a few seconds before I face planted in the mud and then had the kids clean me off.
After play time we walked back to the Elephant House (volunteer hostel) and had dinner on the roof on palm fronds surrounded by the Indian Jungle with the sun setting in the background. I'll bring my camera next time so you can appreciate the beauty as well.
'Family time' followed the dinner and we helped the children with their homework and played games like 'concentration', rock paper scissors, and ninja.
A funny side note: A couple of the children during the earlier play time asked what happened to my eye. I slyly told them I got in a fight with a bear. They went crazy and were extremely excited. Anyways, when I came back for family time, about ten of the children 10 years old and younger ran up to me and demanded I tell them the story and that I was their hero. I sat down on a bed and they all gathered around in front of me. I really spiced up the already sneaky story and the kids were completely it. When I made bear noises some of them even jumped or shuddered in fear.
The best way to picture this is to remember Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when C3PO was telling the Ewoks war stories. This may seem a little racist to compare Indian children to Ewoks, but I mean no disrespect! It really was like that. Now they all look up to me and I feel a bit bad about my deception but hey...(Ansley and Cooper don't read this!!!) parents tell children Santa is real so I don't feel too bad.
I'll blog about today's experiences tonight or maybe tomorrow. Till then!
Oh fine here is a sneak peak of what I did today after doing construction in the leprosy colony!
Me and Nelson with a super sweet leprosy afflicted individual
And to tease you for the next blog....... MONKEYS!!!!!!