Sunday, May 30, 2010

...and then there were 170

The children are here!!! Finally! We knew it was going to be a long day of head washing and lice checks, so we all put our hair in the tightest buns and braids we could, then went to school.
These are my wonderful roommates of the parakeet room.
Eliza, Audry, Me, and Tenney
The children stay in groups or 'families' of around 16, each family having their own three room apartment in a large hostel building. House mothers are assigned as 'away-from-home' mothers for these kids while they stay here the whole school year. We, as volunteers, are paired off and each pair is assigned to a home. This is Lauren and I beside one of the many murals in our home. "India is my Country."
Around 10:30 this morning, all of the families with their children began to arrive. They had little picnics in the mango grove beside the new school building. It was sad to see them say goodbye, especially the ones where they are the only children. But, they all carried in their suitcases or simple bags of three outfits or less and had their hair all done up in flowers and seemed generally really excited to be back. The RSO school is a safe, clean, and really loving environment for all the kids and workers. I have been so so impressed with everyone.
This is little K. Gracie. Some have the same names so yes, we call her by her fathers first initial (K) and her given name (Gracie). A-dorable. We could request being placed with girls or boys, and older or younger. Of course I chose girls, and thought younger would be fun. And that's what I lucked out with!
We spent some time just getting to know names as the kids trickled in all morning and afternoon long. Learning names is one thing. Learning names in a foreign tongue is insane. And it sounds so much prettier when they say them. I'm working on perfecting my Tamil accent.

Happy! ...
...and then time for lice checks.
Welcome back to Rising Star! Now dunk your head in this bucket, slap on some oily lice-egg- killing-shampoo, and let me comb through your hair to pick out dead bugs.
That's a rough welcoming party.
Some of my girls. I have 18 so far.
{Priya, Sagayam, her sister Rosemary, me, Vijaya, & Usha}
I had no idea who this little girl was, but there was something special about her. She is very unassuming but seems somehow confident in herself. I had the best job of the day. Remember the laundry from yesterday? Well, I got to sit down with each of my girls and go through their things, then take them to the room with all of the laundry and let them pick out panties, and one to three outfits depending on what they had or did not have. This little one, Priya, pulled out one outfit and nothing else. I kept asking her, "Where are your clothes? This everything?" She finally got out that her clothes "were washing." I wasn't so sure, so I had her walk with me and show me. She took my hand and we went round back to see one pink dress and one panty drying on the line. Ok, that was it for my heart. She had it. I loved taking her in that room full of clothes and getting her new pretty girly clothes. Very quiet and just calm. Then, at dinner I learned this about her...
(Amy is talking about Priya's father. The first sentence is difficult
to understand, but Amy is telling us that his face and profile is entirely
flat and that his wife left him. The last sentence
is difficult to hear too...but she say's "I think when God
decided to give this man Leprosy, He also decided to
give him Priya." Turn the sound up.)
I had no idea. For some reason she's just who I connected with in the first few hours and it's like Amy said, there's something different and angelic about her. I think I was just drawn to her genuine calm, confident, and knowing spirit. Then when I learned more about her, she had my heart again. Every night at dinner we tell our highs and lows of the day. Priya was my high.

Their drinking water. They all share a communal cup at a faucet and the rule in India is that when sharing a cup, nobody is allowed to touch their lips to it. I also thought it was cute that they always took off their shoes before going into any of the houses. Culture.

After we were all finished checking people in, lice checking their hair and 'shopping' for outfits, it was prayer time for the kids.

Lights out at 9:00
Every night now after dinner we have two hours to go and read to them, sing, or help with homework. This will be tiring after long days of work, but special in its own way I'm sure.
They have 6 beds per house, yet none of them choose to use them. They prefer to sleep together on mats. Culture.

So glad the kids are here. It was feeling quite empty, now it's 170 fuller!


  1. Thanks for your post =)
    And thank you for posting about your time there. I make a point to read it with each new post...!

  2. I can't imagine leaving my child at a school to be parented by someone else--I'm so glad that's not my trial. (And I'm glad that leprosy isn't my trial either, just for the record.) Keep hugging those kids.

  3. I really can't find the words for all of this. Those precious children. You have never looked more angelic yourself...not surprised with your spiritual connection to Priya. No doubt her awareness and feelings for that which we can't see are akin to your own...that sweet photo of all of them asleep on the floor! I know you are loving the colors and patterns of the clothing.

  4. I just feel the Savior's love for all of us through your blog. Thank you, Anne Marie!

  5. Ohhh those kids! I have no doubt that the end of the day when you are reading, singing, & helping them with homework (despite how tired you are) will be your favorite two hours. They are going to love you!