Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Power of Touch

The Power of Touch


The last few days I have had the incredible opportunity to visit a leprosy colony and visit with some people who are leprosy affected. Rising Star Outreach is working on an anthropology project this summer where they will be interviewing the people in the leprosy colonies and finding out their life stories. I cannot even describe the powerful affect that these people have already had on me. Yesterday I walked around the colony with a translator and visited with three different people. I will briefly describe my interview with the first man.

Subramanayan is 60 years or older and is living in the leprosy colony of Bharthapuran. He lives in a humble small room that was very dirty and had a small mat that he slept on, on the ground. When I approached with the translator he was very happy to talk to us, but still had very little energy. The color in his eyes had turned a yellowish color, I’m assuming that many years of suffering and having leprosy has made them this way. The first thing that he told me when I sat down with him was that today is a good day to die. He was born in Kanjibadi with his parents; they died when he was 4 years old. He moved to Bangledor where he lived with his Grandmother who also died. He likes to be alone. He came to the colony so that he could be alone, but he does have friends at the colony who are helping him. He now has no family. His older sister died of tuberculosis about ten years ago. He had a wife but she died several years ago as well. The only way that he has made money was from weaving pants when he was younger. Before he was really sick he would go to the village to beg, but now he is too sick to even go and beg. All he feels that he needs is one meal a day to get him by, and sometimes it is even extremely hard to get one meal a day. He also spoke with me about his religion and his feelings on God. He is still Hindu but believes that there is only one God who watches over all. He knows that God gave him this trial and he is waiting for the day to greet him again.


Sitting and talking with this man helped remind me of many things. It is hard to understand why God gives some of his children some amazingly hard trials. This man has suffered his entire life and has had no family to endure it with. But despite the trials he has been given, he continues to give thanks to his God daily. He said that God gives him the confidence to move on and he waits for the day to greet him again. Near the end of the interview I got very emotional and told the man that his heavenly father loves him so much and that he loves all of his children equally. I took hold of both of his hands and he was so surprised because being a person affected by leprosy you feel as is you are cursed. No one voluntarily will touch them. It is amazing the affect that a small touch of love will have on a person. Not only was I helping him, but he was helping me. Amazing. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

India = Foreign..... so foreign

Hi Everyone!!!!!
First I want to apologize to my mom and dad. Ha they really really wanted to talk to us on skype last night but the internet connection was so bad and we couldn't hear them! I was also pretty much falling over because I was so so so dead tired from a long day and my jet lag. I felt bad because they wanted to hear about everything! Hopefully they read this soon so they can know that their daughters are doing great! Love you mom and dad!!!!

India is about the most foreign place you could go in my eyes. I saw plenty of crazy things in China, but I think that India has already beaten the craziness of China. Yesterday morning we had an orientation where we met with the coordinators and found out what it is that we will be doing for the next few weeks. The whole time I was listening to them I was just like, holy freakin cow, this is the coolest thing I have ever heard in my life, no joke. Then we were put into families with the kids who live here at the school. My family is so cute! There are about 15 little girls with a bunch of names that sound like jibberish to me. I hope I can start learning their names, they are so hard to say! So we had lunch with the little girls. They were all laughing at me because I was eating with my left hand and that is extremely offensive in India, I got away with it in China, but I won’t be able to here! After lunch we got on a bus and they took us to one of the more advanced leprosy colonies. It is more advanced here because they have been using micro loans for about 10 years now so many of them have started businesses and it is almost like their own community. It was incredible humbling to see the circumstances that they live in. It is so hot here and humid and pretty much miserable if you don’t have a good place to live. They all used to have leprosy so their fingers are sometimes missing and their feet are also hurt. But they have been helped by the clinic nearby to help stop the progression of the leprosy so they are doing ok now. There is an art therapy school at this colony where the leprosy-affected people spend all morning every day painting beautiful pictures. We spent a lot of time there talking and visiting with them. Some of them spoke a little bit of English. They sell these paintings all over the world it is really incredible.
After the colonies we took the bus back to the Rising Star Outreach campus and prepared for dinner. We spend a lot of time on the roof of our housing, which is really neat! It is spacious and beautiful few of the jungle the surrounds us. In India they eat a lot of their meals on banana leaves because it is the most hygienic thing to eat on. So we ate dinner on our banana leaves. The dinner was really good! Indian food is pretty spicy, but I am doing ok with it so far. After dinner we went to our families and sang songs with them (primary songs) then we told them some stories. We then out the little ones to bed and took the older kids back to the school so we could help them with their homework. By the time we got back it was about 9:30 and I was exhausted!! The kids were making fun of my and a few other volunteers when we were helping them with their homework because we were falling asleep, literally. So I slept very well last night!
This morning a group of us woke up at 5:30 to go for a jog. We probably jogged 2 miles around the village nearby here. Then when we came back some of us did yogo on the roof. I will just say that I have never sweat some much in my entire life. I am usually not sweaty but I was dripping the entire time. It is so humid here! We are constantly drinking water because you just sweat so much.
So today we will go with our group to our separate activities for the morning, then we will meet with the kids this afternoon to tutor them and play games. India is great! I know that this is going to be an incredible wonderful and rewarding experience.
Ok I have to go, but more updates to come so keep checking my blog! Tara also has a blog too and she will be updating it often as well. Here address is

20 Hour layover- Singapore

All of our flights went so well! We were very blessed to not have any problems making any of the 4 flights that we had to, to get all the way here to India. We flew to LA where we met the rest of the volunteers, then we had an 11 hour layover to Tokyo, we had an hour and half layover in Tokyo, which was pretty cool. Then we had a 6-hour flight to Singapore. We got there around 11:30 PM on Saturday night and our flight to Chennai was not until 8:30 PM on Sunday. We took a bus to a hotel where we rested a bit and then spent all morning and afternoon in Singapore. Singapore was great!! First the airport there has been said to be the best airport in the world… and I would totally agree! I didn’t really take any pictures in there, but it was amazing. Oh and it didn’t stop there. The city is really incredible. The first language in Singapore is English, then Chinese, and then Mandarin. It is really clean and beautiful. I have been to Hong Kong a few times and the city really reminded me of the atmosphere in Hong Kong. We hired a little van to take us on a tour around the city. We spend some time in China town, little India, took a boat tour, and went to some cool Muslim temples. It was a perfect 20-hour layover! It is a very cultural city and is supposed to be extremely expensive to live there. Around 70 percent of the population there is in government housing. I would love to spend some more time there!

So we went back to the Airport and had about a 4 hours flight to Chennai India. There is a 2 ½ hour time different between Singapore and Chennai so it was throwing us off. But all is well now!

These pictures are all from the day that we spent in Singapore. The last picture was taken in the Tokyo airport. Catie had her first experience here with the squatter toilets, she was pretty excited about that!