There are No Simple Days


Today is Children's Day.  We spent it in the country.  We went to visit a home for children with disabilities started by a friend here.  She has spent her life in the area of social services. The children are sent by the government, and the monthly allowance from the government barely covers the cost of food, much less anything else.  The government depends on these NGOs finding funds, mostly from foreign sources.  My friend must beg. Basically that's the government's solution.  And I have to interject my perspective, namely that India is not a poor country but it is a country of poor people.  In my ten years here the divide has become wider.

The home has just relocated to a new place.  We had been to visit the children in their previous home in the city.  I think of our girls as doing "community service" in spending time with the children there.  I am attached there, even though I promise everyone I won't get involved.  But the woman who started it is older than I am, and asked if I could take care of her children if she died.  What could I say?  So I said yes and now she tells me they are my children also. 

The Shishur Sevay mission is about our children.  My personal mission includes the children I can't take care of.  I want to know about them, what can be done for them, how to bring attention to their lives… We are a model here.  A model must be used, talked about, held up as a way to care for others. 


We made our visit a picnic, brought our own lunch, and then brought misty doy (sweet yogurt) for the children.  We came with all our children and the staff.  One of our childcare workers broke down in tears, cried on my shoulders, when she saw a severely ill hydrocephalic baby.  Some of these children are not expected to live long.  Others look to me like children who would be gladly adopted by those (mostly) foreigners who reach out to adopt children with disabilities.  When adoption was easier, too many healthy children were labelled as having disabilities in order to get them adopted.  I used to read posts from new adoptive mothers in the US, "My son was deaf but when he got here he could hear."  I've heard the same about blindness and even about Downs.  I spoke once with a doctor in India who used to do the clearances and he stopped doing it because it was all so fraudulent.  But still, I wish these children could have a chance.  At the moment this home is a good one.  I don't know what will happen when the government forces them to "fill up."  It's complicated.

Two older girls are working there, both "given" to the home as workers from the same institution where my girls were.  One of my girls knew one of the girls there.  Those girls have not been educated, won't be educated.  Our girls understood the opportunity they have been given.  The message did not go unnoticed.  One of our girls talked with my friend about getting education for those girls.  It was a good discussion and she learned that vocational training will start.  My girls have their missions too.

I didn't know until last evening that we were going there, namely I hadn't decided.  We were supposed to be somewhere else, at a program for Children's Day at a museum.   Yesterday we were at the museum with the school where the girls go.  It was a hard day with an absence of adequate supervision, and just too many things that went wrong, including one child being left behind.  It was a day spent in a situation where I mostly didn't know what was going on because of language.  But I do know chaos.   The trip was supposed to be about education but it became more of a social outing for the adults while the children ran wild in the museum. It's complicated and I'm assuming there will be repercussions due to my disapproval.  It was a clash of cultures.  I understand now what happens when Shishur Sevay goes on trips.  Teachers just don't get involved.  I took it personally but it's the culture. 

Yesterday it was also clear how different my girls are.  They were well behaved throughout.  I was mostly disappointed as I had sponsored this trip so their classmates could see what they had seen.  I once took 150 girls to Fun City, from an orphanage, and they were well behaved.  This was an anomaly, anarchy and mob rule by 6-9 year olds.

I had to re-think today, what we would do.  I just wanted a good day with the kids, without tension, without expectations of anyone else.  This is the last break of any sort before exams.  And, then there is the problem of taking ANY trip to the "countryside."  At some point I expect to say more, but during an outing this summer we inadvertently became hostages to a rioting mob.  We barricaded ourselves in a room in the house we were visiting, while the mob smashed windows.  We were able to reach police by phone, and then the RAF or Rapid Action Force.  We were eventually released, one by one, like you see on TV in hostage situations.  With policemen holding rifles and shields across their chests, we had to wind through a mob of screaming men, calling us the most vulgar names they could think of. The press was there snapping pictures, but it was never reported.  It was complicated.  It is the reality of life here.  Mob rule pervades.  

I suppose you could call what happened to me yesterday PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  When the 6-9 year olds went screaming through the museum, out of control, all I could think of is what they will be like one day as rioting adults. Yes, I was reminded of that day. Writing this is therapy.  I have a better understanding of yesterday.

We visited Ramkrishnapur a few weeks ago.  We have all been there many times, as Bubbi used to live there.  The girls were nervous.  We talked about it.  They were fine.  But Ganga was not fine.  She kept trying to move her body in the direction of getting off the bus.  She was tense, went into more spasms than usual.  When we got there she started to cry until we guessed, and asked her if she was afraid.  We asked if she wanted to go home and she gave the biggest yes she can do.  So then I could tell her this was different, that the bad people were not here.  She didn't really relax until the ride home when she fell asleep on my lap.  Today she was fine.  We all talked about how the countryside reminded us of what happened.  In the worst of it I kept asking, "God, do you really think you can get us out of here?"

So today was for healing, for us as a traumatized family, helping others as a way of healing ourselves.  I wrote last about the girl who prayed for God to give her the power to heal her little sisters.  Today another girl said to me, "When I die I hope my eyes can go to that baby who can't see."


I'm holding a wonderful little girl here.  I was trying to see how much she and Ganga would communicate.  Ganga recognizes Cerebral Palsy in others. Ganga was happy to hold her hand, but in this case she preferred to pose for the camera.


As you see, this little girl makes eye contact, or tries to!  She is basically "with it."  I wish she could find a home.  I truly understand the problems with international adoption, but sitting here, holding her on my lap, watching her look at Ganga, I wish she had a family.  So does my friend, who loves her but still wishes for a family.

ORPHANS:  The Lost and Unclaimed Luggage of Humanity




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. charlene
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 07:32:51

    So thoughtful and a wonderful read. Thanks for posting this.


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November 2010
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