Saturday, December 24, 2005
Hanging in A'bad
Greetings from Ahemdabad!! Tarak and I have been here for the last week, and will be leaving for Mumbai (another wedding) in a few days. We’ve been staying with my parents, relaxing, and trying to limit our shopping that had been getting out of control. We also contacted our friend Ami’s sister, Anjali who has been here for the past couple of years through Indicorps and got us in touch with an organization called Manav Sadhna. It’s a great foundation-its’ basic mission through the Gandhian philosophy is that of serving the underprivileged through creating and promoting educational and career opportunities for children, women and communities. Their office is in the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram and they have over 38 projects throughout the slum areas, which help over 4,500 children!! The best part of these groups are the simple things they do that have a huge impact. For example, a well known problem is the lack of water sanitation and cleanliness. Well instead of simply preaching it, they put it into action by taking kids off the street, bathing them, dressing them, and letting the kids see themselves in clean new clothes. These habits they take back to their families and communities. Some of kids who have grown up around this center, are now volunteers working to spread the same message of the importance of education.
Anyway, we were lucky enough to set up a few health camps, to perform medical exams on the children in the "anganvadis" (kind of like preschools) and then work in their evening clinic. It was crazy to see these poor kids, who for the most part, were malnourished, anemic and as a result were always victim to chronic skin infections, parasites, poor physical and mental growth and developmental delay. You’d never guess from their smiles, their love and their constant running around that these medical problems affect them.
On a random note, it is NRI season here!! (non resident Indians) (like us). It’s so funny because apparently, the locals make fun of NRI’s…there are even articles in the paper on "how to spot an NRI"..(things like..wearing tacky shorts in the Indian winter, shielding themselves from the sun, carrying around water bottles everywhere they go, packed cereal boxes, etc etc). All of the store owners are ecstatic (it’s their big season)..it’s pretty funny to see the influx of Indian parents and teenagers from the U.S and U.K coming in and just shopping like mad. Man, but I get so mad because I proclaim always to be super FOBy and yet still they spot ME out…I will even have Indian clothes on, hair pulled back, shawl on even though it’s 55°, and NOT shielding myself in the sun, and STILL they say "it’s they way you stand, or the way you carry yourself, or you’re just too tall"…anyway, Tarak keeps telling me to give up..but I will NEVER…