I’ve been taking all these notes and wanted to write so much every day and by the time I sit down in my room, I am just over having to process anymore. I find myself trying to be in each moment as much as possible and I can tell my brain is just not working any more by the end of it all. I swear I am trying to do some catch up writing this weekend!
One thing I have been thinking about so much this week is the extraordinary ability to love by all the people I have met in India. Everyone has a story of course, but it is quite intense when you start hearing how much these children, house mothers, and teachers have seen and been through. Especially, the children because when you see how happy and accepting of love they are, you would never guess it. They have volunteers coming in and out over and over, but sometimes within even the first 5 seconds of meeting you they form this seemingly eternal bond even though they know they will have to say good bye, again and again. I was further reminded of this in the last couple of days, because they have been my first days back out into the colonies as well. I’ve often wondered what they think of us trekking through all the time. I see that we are making a difference, but I have to wonder if some of the people just want us to leave them alone. Maybe there are some out there, but it is undeniable that the patients we see are overjoyed to have us there. They wince and complain, but they are equally happy to have a laugh (usually at our expense), share their stories, and pinch our cheeks in gratitude. And many of them love to have their pictures taken and see them afterwards – it usually ends in some pretty good chuckles and hugs and more pinching of the cheeks.
I think one of the conversations that will stick with me for a long time was when RSO’s COO was touring me around the colony yesterday and explaining about the depression a lot of the people in the colonies undergo and the desire to commit suicide. He told me that one of the things they all said was that the volunteers make them happy. That they make them feel worthy and that they matter. I guess they also complain when just the usual nurses go because they are not as nice as the volunteers. They enjoying having the fresh faces coming in and when there are big enough groups it helps because we can individually take time to listen to someone’s story or simply be with them. It also made me realize that for all the times we get stared at on the street or startle small children for being so pale, going to the colonies is the only other time aside from school when children will just run up to you and want to play or the adults welcome you with open arms and no reservations. I know it is because they are used to volunteers coming in and out, but it is a safe and happy feeling. Acceptance – they show it to us because we show it to them.
Rani – the little girl above was a prime example of the amazing spirit of so many people I have met in India. She just wanted to play with everyone and run around and never stopped. Always smiling and laughing no matter what. She reminded me so much of my first time in the Walajabad colony and how I fell in love with this little girl there 2.5 years ago. I finally realized today that this little girl is the same one whose spirit I have been admiring these past 2 weeks. Shalini is now at Rising Star and it makes me so happy to know this little girl who loved to dance and sing so much now has the opportunity to be in a place that encourages that behavior while providing an education. She is only in 1st Standard but I can already sense she will be auditioning for Life Dance in a few years time and becoming another future leader and ambassador for change in her country. I hope all little girls like Rani and Shalini are provided the same opportunity.