New Delhi day 4

New Delhi

Every day we are here, we are more inspired. Very few Americans, in my experience, understand tolerance and acceptance with the depth and breadth that most Indians seem to. Because of this there is a focus on social activism that I haven’t experienced much in the States. Sean wants to move here. It is the first vacation where he isn’t talking about how much he misses Jezabel, his pug. I told Sean he cannot move here until he finishes college, and then it is all up to him anyway. He loves working with the kids, especially the littlest ones.

We are loving it, with a caveat, Jim has Delhi Belly. That is what they call the stomach flu most people get in their first week of staying in Delhi. Married to a woman who can eat unwashed leaves and laugh it off, ah the inequities of life! Poor guy, he can now say he threw up in a slum in India.

Sean and I started our day at the Vidya school. I taught a lesson about nutrition, right up my alley. Sean was asked to teach math. His least favorite subject. He was doing okay until he asked the kids to calculate 0/3 which has no solution, oops.

Sean said, “Mom, two of the girls would rather do math than play tag.” I hate to tell him, but that was me as a little girl. How could my son not love math more?

I am really proud of how Sean is handling himself. I am not the only one either. The director of the program, Bella, told him she is very impressed with him. She said that many kids who come with their parents spend their time complaining and comparing India to the US, instead of appreciating India for itself. Sean was invited to participate in a teen project for teens 15 to 18 held in Dharamsala, India in the summer.

Today they are playing freeze tag.

This is what Sean has been waiting for! He loves working with these little ones so much.

Here Jim and I are with Dr. Rekha Chaturvedi. I have met three women in three days who make me feel inspired to think harder about making a difference on this small planet we live on. Rekha told me the crèche program, the program that gets the little ones in, was started by her many years ago. I was told later that Rekha is a very powerful woman in the slums and with community service advocacy in Delhi. The children in the crèche have mothers who work. Before the crèche they were left at home on their own or with slightly older siblings. They were not getting the love, care, or food that they needed. She and other workers went through the slum communities talking to parents and convincing them to leave their little ones at the crèche where they would receive food, attention, and love. Once these children graduate they are not abandoned by the program. There is a network of programs that help them all the way through to graduate studies if they make it that far. Sean wants to spend the entire time we are in Delhi volunteering, not traveling. The two women working in the crèche were both success stories coming out of these programs. At the end of the last two days none of us in our group want to leave and go back to the CCS office. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to stay later and go help at a computer center for older kids.

Here is a link if you want to learn more about the work Rekha and her colleagues are doing.

I commented on how welcoming everyone in the slums is. Rheka told me when they started bringing volunteers in, the people asked her what they were doing there. The slum dwellers thought we might be coming in to laugh at them because they have so little. She assured them we were there because we love all people and want to help all of them to have a better life. Yep, that sums me up!

I bought myself a sari in my favorite color. I have my eye on another one too. I just have to see if I can figure out how to put this one on well enough to ever wear it. This is the sari before the piece has been cut off to make the blouse. I also had to have a petticoat made to hold the fold up.

We had to take the sari to a tailor shop. I was given careful instructions about where to go. Do you think I ended up at the right shop? Everyone who knows me knows the answer to that question! Jim has never been able to figure out how someone so good in math and science has no sense of direction. I hope this tailor does a good job. We will know the answer in two days.

Oh my, when did I get all those wrinkles 🙂 it beats the alternative though. The tailor is helping me choose petticoat fabric to match the sari. Look at all the bolts. There are more behind the door at the back.

Here is a little temple to Ganesh beside a tree.

Alecia and I took a yoga class.

Then we went to an open air artisans’ market. This fellow is from Kashmir; his name is Sarfaraz Ashraf. Jim and I now have a family in Kashmir to visit if we ever go there. They live between two lakes. We are now Facebook friends, so if any of you have questions about Kashmir, you can ask them. Seriously.

Check out our posts from yesterday here and here.

Delhi Day 3, post 2 of 2, Learning More


Delhi Day 3, post 2 of 2, Learning More

We all went to our placement yesterday and were expected to dress in our outfits we bought. We learned that in India teachers are expected to be treated with respect. The female teachers here wear the salwar kameez or a saree. This is considered more formal clothing.

I learned that there are two types of pants that go with the salwar kameez, loose and tight. Here I am with the tight pants on. This is before wiggling the rest of the pant leg over my foot on the one side. I let the sales girl pick out everything except the tops. I  chose a top and had her choose the rest.

Here we are in our work outfits. We bought two. I will show you the rest tomorrow. From left to right we are, Patrice, Alecia, Blair, and Wendy.

These are our chefs making saag paneer. After getting the spinach, saag, ready they left the kitchen. I took a piece of another vegetable they hadn’t chopped up yet and ate it. AFTER THAT, what an idiot I can be sometimes, I asked if it was okay to eat it. They said yes but only after it has been washed. 6 pepto bismal tablets later I was back in business. I did not get sick either so no lesson learned. I am writing this the next day. I had been so careful up to that point too.

For the first two dinners they made us what I consider unhealthy types of American food. Pizza, chips, soda, veggie burgers, and fries. Sean has LOVED it all. At breakfast I asked if we could have India food instead for dinners. They told me that they were making the food for Sean, lol, so he would feel comfortable. How thoughtful that was! Sean thinks they make American food better than Americans. I have to admit, the fries were something special.

We are having dal instead of pizza tonight.

Vickey has 5 colors of turban he wears. He interchanges them. His beard is also long, coiled up, and pinned close.

These photos are the lane we take walking to the school in the slum. Every single person we saw said hello (almost all said it is English) and smiled. The feeling we got was very warm and welcoming.

India is a place splashed with color everywhere.

Sean and I are learning to play the Indian game Coco.

It is a tag-like game with 2 teams. One team crouches down with every other person who is crouching facing opposite the person next to him or her. The other team runs around the people crouching tapping some of them on the back of their head. You can only tap them when they are facing away from you. Once tapped you can get up and chase the person or anyone else on their team. If you catch them they are out. You can sit down when you want and let someone else from your team be tagged and get up and run.

This is the group Sean and I are working with for the first 2 hours during our placement. They are 2nd and 3rd grade students who need extra help. I am to teach them science (can you believe the luck!) for the first hour. I was asked to teach them about the nutrition and what the different food molecules do in your body.  Sean will be tutoring math for the 2nd hour.

The first group of children is where Jim and Alecia work for their 3 hours. The second is where Sean and I work for the last hour. They are the little ones. Two of them got into a fight over who could sit next to Sean, so I separated them and put one on either side of Sean.

Here we are at the large Vidya school.

This is a chemistry lab, all funds for constructing and running this school come from donors, many of them corporate donors like GE.

The school was started by a woman who was horrified to learn that many of the slum children, particularly the girls, were not receiving any education.

The students learn computer coding starting in 1st grade.

The school is a gem in the middle of a slum area. It made my heart feel bigger to see what these people were doing to help these kids. I feel really fortunate to be even a small part of it.

As we were driving back I saw this girl, she ran across the busy street and here she is walking alone. The striking contrast there compared to all the school children we saw is heart breaking.

For the first half of the women’s issues class Sean had a lesson in how to play cricket. He loved it.

Check out part one of this post here.