The meeting with the rotary club finally happened, it took about 4 weeks from initially writing the letter to actually getting a meeting with Samuel. Most importantly however, it was a success! They’ve agreed to donate some cement and sand to the school to level out the ground where the children play, thus making it a lot safer! It probably won’t happen whilst we’re here though because Mahendrian, our CEO needs to measure the school grounds first and get back to the rotary club with the measurements. Unfortunatley, it’s a well known fact he works on IST, that’s Indian Stretchable Time not Indian Standard Time if you catch my drift.
I sent a letter to both my primary and secondary school, I especially expected to get a reply from my primary school but nothing has arisen so far which is a shame. Thinking about possibly ‘popping in’ on my return and seeing if I can get round them that way.
We’ve started getting more to grips with what each community needs from us, which is typical as our time is almost up. Most visits now consist of structured English lessons depending on each communities literacy rate and attention span! Tollgate is the most difficult for us to teach because they’re not only the poorest community but also the most uneducated, many of the parents do not see any point in sending their children to school.
We have also started the basic health camps I spoke about in a previous post. The first being today in Tollgate, they’re also the village most in need of this. Many of the children (and adults) have obvious health and hygiene problems here. Black and yellow teeth, dirty skin, snotty noses, nits and infected cuts. We met one girl today who had cut her leg, which had obviously got infected and from the looks of it flies were laying eggs in it. It’s spreading and her knee is very swollen. Jenny ended up helping her clean it and then had to get Rajhni to explain to her parents how to maintain it or it’d get a lot worse. Then we met another little lady, who’d taken a right beating - by means of a stick in the eye! She can barely see through it, it’s yellow and pussy and spreading down the side of her face. We advised she needs to see a doctor immediatley or she could loose her eyesight, but no one seemed to care which was upsetting. None of us have a medical background so couldn’t help her unfortunatley, but as far as basic health and hygiene goes it’s common sense if you’re educated, but neither the parents or their children are.
We taught them about the importance of washing their hands before and after eating and after using the toilet, as well as keeping their nails clean. We then got out some soap and they got really excited as we showed them how to properly wash their hands. You’ve never seen such hysteria over a bar of soap! Next week we hope to speak too them all about maintaining cuts, nits and coughing and sneezing.
When I visited Tollgate the week before actually I met a little girl called Banupriya. She’s only 8 and suffers from severe learning difficulties and also has several physical disabilities. It really upset me seeing how she was treated by the other villagers, however her family do seem to care for her. NEWS have helped her greatly recently by applying for a disability card which her family weren’t aware of, which means they get 1000 rupees a month. NEWS have also found her a specialist school where she’ll get the proper care she deserves and hopefully learn a trade so she can survive in future life. I won’t lie, she proper warmed my heart and anyone who knows me well enough will know that is not a common occurence! I felt so sorry for her and it got me thinking about how other people in India with similar problems are viewed - and it isn’t great. You only have to look at an incident the other week when I went for a swim at one of the hotels in Trichy, the manager thought we were working for the ‘Spastic Society’ needless to say my mouth dropped when he said this! Also, many parents will deny their children even have a problem when they’re diagnosed, it took Banupriya’s parents a while and the parents of a child in Devarayaneri still deny it now. He has obvious learning difficulties, but they’re convinced the problem is because he eats with his left hand!? For anyone who doesn’t know, the left hand is seen as the ‘toilet hand’ in India. Let’s just say along with womens rights, India has a loooooong way to go on rights and views for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilites.
We will continue these basic health camps throughout the week and into the next (and final!) week of our time here in Tamil Nadu.
Kavhita has specifically asked we speak to the older girls in Poolongudi about UTI’s and feminine hygiene, should be interesting speaking about such a personal subject. I’ll make sure I’m prepared for any bizarre questions!
We also met a doctor at a medical centre about a week ago whose agreed to do a health camp this Saturday at Pudhukkudi. This is great news as I think they’d really benefit from it because a pregnant girl recently died there, despite being offered treatment to get what the problem was fixed. However, because of a combination of not being education on modern medicene and gypsy superstition she didn’t go for it and along with her unborn baby, died.
This Friday we’re going to have a sports day at the school in Devarayaneri - think egg and spoon and sack races! I’m really looking forward too it. We’re planning a small leaving function also.
It’s strange to say that next week will be my last week in Devarayaneri, as much as I’m excited too see my friends and family back home, part of me wishes I could of done more during my time here. It’s difficult too see where you fit in, in such a charity that has already been established for 22 years and once you do work out where you fit in and what you can do to help it’s time to go home. Maybe a little something for the ICS scheme to combat? As I know I’m not the first person to say this.
It’s time for me to pass out anyway, I’m absolutley exhausted after last night. We found yet another dog, who Sapphire called Paul? Don’t ask! He’s the cutest one so far but my god does he not shut the hell up at night! Sapph let him sleep in the hut and he started whimpering, so she put him outside when he started actually wailing, so she brought him back in when he continued whimpering… so on and so forth! Let’s just say none of us got a good nights kip!
Rox - x