that malaria pills and I are good friends. Almost 2 months down and 75 more days of hanging out in the morning with those blue pills. So far, these little guys have been good to me although I did hear that one of the other Missionaries of Charity homes has malaria spreading a little. No worries.
Anyways, since coming back from Bangalore, life has become a little more of a routine. Sundays are spent going to church in the morning and then lunch after wards. Mondays I go to the organizations business and help with the bags they make (http://www.saribari.com/). Tuesdays I take the 7:20am train to Prem Dan and help at the recovery house. We then have prayer around 3pm at another location. Wednesday, I volunteer again in the morning and then hang out in town. I think we went to adoration at the Mother House that night. Thursday, I went to the volunteer appreciation day that they have once a month which lasted from 2:30pm till 7:45pm. Friday, we had our weekly meeting at 9am at Beth’s flat and then volunteered that night at the house for the dying. Today, I’ll be hanging out with a girl I met earlier this week. It’s a pretty sweet life.
Kolkata Christian Fellowship on Sunday mornings is amazing. They have only been around for the last few years starting in the pastors home after a need was brought forth for a church in a certain area of the city. I like his heart for people and the way he presents the Bible and God’s love without fire and brimstone methods. There are about 15 slum kids that come each week and it’s great to have a church that really does serve it’s community and doesn’t have a rule where they can’t come to church (some don’t let the poor inside which is lame). They sing songs in Enlish as well as in Bangla so its a good time to work on my pronunciation. The people are very welcoming and there is a good mix of foreigners and Indiana.
Helping this Monday was a challenge. Sometimes, when I don’t drink enough water and it is really hot and humid, my head starts to black out and it isn’t the best. It happened about 4 or 5 times within a matter of a few hours when I would stand up. I think that because I was also on cold medicine as well as extra strength tylenol didn’t help. Nothing bad happened and we sat for the majority of the work anyways so I was okay. One of the women saw my foot and told me to take off the wrap. I stood there as she massaged it and rubbed the swollen areas- luckily I had that extra strength pain meds in the system 🙂 My foot actually looked like a foot afterwards which was amazing. The knob portion on the ankle is still a bit swollen but in all it looks better. The lady was really concerned about it and you could tell that she liked helping rub it out.
Afterwards, I called the Peace Corps and found out I’m medically cleared to go anywhere in the world. My paperwork is being sent to Washington, DC, to be reviewed for Subsaharan Africa, urban youth development. Still nominated to leave in August and the countries I know of so far that people are being sent to are Namibia and Uganda. *Crossing my fingers for South Africa* I also spoke to Sallie Mae who I have one loan through (could pay off but would rather not spend the money if they forgive it when I’m in the Peace Corps). The loan is now in forbearance which is fine with me. I’ll have some extra cash when I get back to visit people!
Tuesday on the 7:20am crazy train, I made a friend with this lady who has a very small baby. Of course, I couldn’t really have a conversation with her but I could understand a few small things she said and could ask her “Tumi nam ki?” which is “what is your name” and some other simple things. Seeing her play with the small baby boy and then how she would move the baby so he could see me and his eyes extremely wide was adorable. Wednesday morning, she was sitting down when I got on but when there was space in the aisle, she moved out to the middle so we could have another bonding moment or something. I like her. She smiles a lot and although she is one of the poorer looking women on the train, she is rich in love for her child.
Prem Dan has been great lately. There are about 5 female volunteers that are traveling on their own and hearing their stories and being a leaf on their tree has been enjoyable. Our kindred spirits are relaxed as we do laundry, make beds, have our chai and biscuits. I’ve talked to one of the girls about extending my time here and traveling north with she and a friend in mid June. We’ll see. Also, my little old lady is doing better health wise which makes me so happy. Before leaving Tuesday, I saw some of the Indian women bring in this frail body with the skinniest limbs on a blanket.
When I first get there, I always make sure to say hello to a few of the ladies I’ve built stronger relationships with. While doing so Wednesday, I saw the new girl. I went up to her and said how I was glad that she was there and that I hope she is doing alright. She has the prettiest face and women here always love a compliment so I told her that she was beautiful. She said “Thank you. You are so kind and pretty.” It’s interesting how the women think that simply because you are white you are pretty. Anyways, she took me off guard by knowing English. We talked a couple more minutes but then I had to go do laundry. I came back an hour later and sat with her for a good 45 minutes and brought along my bangla lessons. She is sooooo smart!!!! She could understand pretty much anything I said and would correct me in my pronunciation. She could read ‘comprehension’ in English. It was so cool. She asked about my family, where I was from, stuff like that. I asked her how about her family, and she got teary eyed as she said that she missed her mom and dad. She had gone to school until 10th grade but became paralyzed on one side of her legs and then broke her other hip or something so they brought her to the house. She kept asking what my name because she was going to write her parents later and tell them about her new friend Sandi. It’s stuff like this that makes it worth seeing all the suffering and feeling like my heart gets ripped out daily. I signed up to switch houses that works with kids, but I have issues these days with always leaving and having relationships built then being gone. It’s part of life, I know too well, but sometimes I just wish I could stay in one place and have deep, strong, relationship. Oh, so is life.
Thursday, I went to the volunteer appreciation thing which is only done once a month. About 45 of us met at the Mother House and then walked to the Bishops House to watch The Legacy. It is a film about Mother Teresa and her life. As she sat with a simple background behind her, her wisdom flowed from her lips about helping the poorest of the poor and even extending that to those who felt in despair, forgotten, lonely, and unwanted. Hearing the other sisters share about their experiences with her and how they honored and respected her is intriguing. We broke into small groups and discussed the movie and what it means for each of us to be in Kolkata volunteering. I’ve found that a lot of the voluneteers, although they have a community of similar people, are still questioning what they are doing here and are somewhat lonely in this place. They are drawn here, yet don’t know why they stay or how it is really helping them. Hmmm… We then had a catholic mass, which I cluelessly followed along, where a guy started the process of becoming part of the church. It took forever, but was cool to see him smile as the priest annointed him.
Friday, morning meeting went well and breakfast made me want to go camping. Nothing like fried potatoes, eggs, toast, and mishti doy (sweet stuff thicker than pudding). Later when we volunteered at the house for the dying, I didn’t mind it as much. Maybe because there wasn’t as much crying or painful yells. I french braided a ladies hair, helped another do some arm things, sat and pretended to understand Bangla, helped feed a pregnant lady that is 7 months along, and it just seemed a lot easier emotionally. I don’t like death. I don’t like pain. I don’t like hearing people hurt. It hits a little too close to home. We ended the day on the there on the roof with chai and watching the sun go down. It’s a pretty site above all the buildings and being able to see the children playing in the streets.
Well, I’ve spent a little longer than I should have on here and need to get going. It’s getting better. Still get frustrated when I see and hear some things, but I’m a little better adjusted and more rational. Ha! Who am I kidding?