Thursday, July 26, 2012

Leprosy Art

Day 14 - 26Jul2012

I was on construction rotation today.  The last time I did construction was the first full day here and after two days in a row of tutoring, I was ready for a break.  We headed out to a colony to work on installing a few bathrooms.

Our first job split our team up.  I was assigned to work with three paid Indian workers with two other volunteers.  Our job was to help the workers move the dirt they had dug up for the bathroom.  At first we formed an assembly line to pass the dirt in these huge bowls to each other.  The Indian workers didn't speak any English so eventually they just motioned to us where they wanted us to stand and where they wanted us to throw the dirt.  We worked liked this for a couple of hours.  To pass the time, the other volunteers and I started singing primary songs.  I know the workers couldn't understand us, but there had to have been some spirit surrounding those songs that they could feel.  I felt it.

About half way through this assignment, the little old woman who lived in the house we were building a bathroom for came out and talked to us in Tamil.  Since we definitely do not speak Tamil, we just acknowledged that she was speaking and she left.  When she returned she had orange sodas for us.  We were grateful for the sodas!  However, we soon realized that the glass bottles the sodas were in were not for the drink she gave us...Pepsi is not an orange soda...we drank them anyway even though they had probably been refilled because we didn't want to be impolite.  We figured that the carbonated water would kill anything that would hurt us.  It has been over 12 hours now and I have not had any symptoms...dodged another bullet...hopefully!

The art school.
We broke for lunch and enjoyed about an hour break to explore the colony.  We were able to visit the art school in the colony.  The art school is a place where leprosy patients can paint and then the school sells the paintings.  It is a great way for the patients to earn some money since most are not permitted to work anywhere else.  The wonderful thing about the art is that most paintings are done by patients that are missing fingers.  I bought a beautiful painting that I love and was able to meet the painter.  She is a beautiful woman.  I'll love that painting for many years to come.

After lunch we went back to work.  This time we used these weird shovels to shovel rocks into gunny sacks.  We then hauled the sacks to various houses for the bathrooms.  As always, it was extremely hot and I was extremely sweaty by the time we finished.  The work here is hard in a good way.  Romba Kaaram had a great time working today.

On the way home, we stopped at "the junction" for some of the girls to buy henna.  I saw a monkey climb down from the roof of the shop.  Scared me to death!

In the evening, I added my name to our portion of the wall.  Our theme is "It's All About Love."  Family time was really fun tonight.  I played a version of the card game "War" that I've never seen before.  The rules these kids make up are pretty cheeky.  It took me about 10 minutes to understand all of them.  It doesn't help when they try to explain it to me in Tamil.  And just when I think I understand, I'd make a move and then they would tell me I couldn't do that.  I kept telling them that I thought they were cheating and they'd just laugh at me...I think they were taking me for all I had.  I shuffled the cards at the end of the game and they really liked that.  I tried to teach Vicky how to do it, but his hands were a little too small.

Tomorrow we are going to Mamallapuram for shopping!

Day 14 Complete

Firsts/Realizations:  Everyone squats differently while using the squattie potties.  I believe my squatting technique is the most efficient.  Also, Top Ramen is the most delicious food item on the planet...right now. 

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