Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blood Moons and Dreamland

Finally,we are back in civilization, with access to internet.  So here is a much overdue update on the last few days spent at Dreamland children's home.

Many religions believe a Blood Moon is magical.  I’m now a believer. We had three nights of incredible "blood moons" while we stayed at the Dreamland orphanage and every part of the experience was indeed magical.

Look at Rainey's amazing photos of the sunsets

It was a 5 hour drive from Aurangabad to Dreamland over VERY rough roads.  Pot holes and unpaved roads were more common than asphalt.  We stopped several times along the way for bathroom breaks (only squat toilets, of course), roadside chai and dodgy-looking - but actually very tasty - snacks.

Starbucks.. rural India style

The roadside vendor had a machine (that grinds out hush-puppy-like snacks) that clearly has been around since the turn of the century. Hand crank.  Open fire.

If you ever want to know what it is like to be a rock star…. visit rural India with a bunch of Western teens.  Within minutes of us stopping for tea, we had drawn a crowd.  Everywhere you looked, in every direction, every eye was trained on you. Several people video taped us on their phones... for all 20 minutes that we sat and drank tea.  Not sure who wants to watch that video... seems totally boring ... but they diligently recorded it.

Dreamland is so remote that we actually slept on the complex with the kids, something I have to admit I was a hesitant about, but which turned out to be an incredible experience.  Yes, the beds were hard. Yes, we only got cold water bucket showers for the past 4 days.  Yes, we ate curry and curry and curry. And yes, it was magical to wake up every day with the kids and be there when they went to bed.  A really unique and special experience.

But let’s start at the beginning.  Once again we were met by a drumming band and a gaggle of boys: all excited for our visit.

Naturally there was great ceremony associated with our arrival:  bindhis (the dot on your forehead) and flower garlands for “Good Luck.”

Dreamland is a boys’ orphanage run by Baba and Monica Kolkani: a couple with BIG hearts and lots of love.  They have been around for 30 years and got incorporated into the Miracle Foundation organization about 15 months ago.

This amazing couple take care of 67 polite, funny, warm boys aged five to nineteen.  

We each got assigned a team of our own...and my group was - of course - the best !!!

Day 2 was a full work day:  painting blank white walls with murals, teaching English language programs on computers we brought with us, crafts, cricket... you get the picture

With a little effort, we took plain and gave it pizzazz

Pretty talented art work .. with lots of help from the kids and housemothers

The boys do not have any access to computers so the laptops were a big hit.  Going through the English program was a cooperative effort.  First try, first level, great deliberation from the group of boys on how to answer every question, great angst when they got an answer wrong: Score: 97% correct.  Clever, clever children.

Day 3 and 4 at Dreamland were equally special and FULL of activities including a 4 hour dance and skit show, a visit to a rural village, dressing in saris again.... BUT  it is midnight in Mumbai and we have a 4:00AM wake-up call so I'm signing off now.   I'll try and blog about the rest of our time at Dreamland while at the airport or in Istanbul.  So many great stories to tell and photos to show.

Just know that we are all safe and on our way home.


Ryan said...

Thank you! What an awesome experience for our son!

Unknown said...

What an amazing trip. The colours of India are spectacular and the children seem very loving.


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