Friday, January 8, 2016

First Day at HMM orphanage AND observations from the road

After a long travel day yesterday- from Delhi to Bangalore to Trivandrum - we got to sleep in a little this morning and did not have to be at breakfast until 8:00AM.  On this trip that's the equivalent of sleeping until noon.   It felt truly decadent.

Our hotel is just a 15 minute Tuk Tuk ride away from the orphanage.  We arrived at the HMM children's home around 9 AM and were met by true pomp and circumstance including an entire drum band, 80+ girls all dressed up in their finest clothes and a number of welcoming ceremonies.

Huddles of giggly little girls squirming with excitement about getting to meet us

A row of beauties who presented us with handmade shell necklaces and bindi blessings (a swipe of red and gold mud/paint on our forehead)

The kids had created a flower petal mandela for us

And perfected a series of dances for our entertainment

After the introductions were over, we each got assigned a team of kids (6-8 kids per ambassador). First project with our new team: decorate head bandanas with each child's name. It was a great icebreaker and really helped everyone learn names.

Next, we took a tour of the facilities.  The children's bedrooms are bare with only bunk beds and white walls.  The kids sleep two per bed.

Our job - over the next 2 days - is to paint and decorate these walls to liven up the space.  We took on the project with real gusto, working in 95+ degree heat for almost 6 hours. And the kids really pitched in and helped us every step of the way

For example, here is one wall in various stages:

To a finished project with a super cheeky - and very special - little girl called Javita (she is on my team) standing before it.

I'll be honest.  We totally rocked the painting assignments ... and turned plain walls into pure pizzazz !!! Take a look at our masterpieces. And remember, the rooms were like saunas and the electricity was off for most of the day so we did not even have fans. It was brutally hot but clearly true talent cannot be smothered.

Now, granted, we had a lot of help...

We took a break for lunch.  The teens helped serve the food to the kids.

And, since there are only enough plates at the orphanage for every child, we ate our lunch off banana leaves.

Rice and vegetable curry.  Chipatti bread.  A curry potato dish and several relishes (some of which were spicy enough to blow the roof off your mouth).

But the true impact of today was the kids themselves.  Happy, beautiful, self-confident girls.  They break your heart:

The orphans stuck close to the teens and became quickly bonded. All through the day we also got to play games with them and ended the day with a dance party.

Isabella and her posse

Observations from the road:  I've spent the last few days blogging about what we have done and not really highlighting what we are seeing.  And the sights and colors of India are incredible.  So  here goes... what we have seen along the way.

Wherever you are... there are cows everywhere.  Literally. In the road, next to the road, in the markets.  Because cows are sacred they go wherever they want.

Men sit and gossip ... everywhere in the world

The sari colors are amazing

Family group photos have a different color scheme here ... brilliant jewel colors are a fashion MUST

Babies play with their moms... again, everywhere in the world

You have to go through TSA quality screening to get into any hotel. First your handbag is sent through a metal detector and then all women get secondary screening in a frisking booth where a woman either gropes you or waves a metal detecting wand all over you.

Little girls like sparkly shoes ... everywhere in the world

The teens have put in some long, hard travel - and now work - days and still no whining or complaining.  A real wow.


Roy and Marcia Hall said...

Awesome!!! A wonderful story in a troubled world. Really beautiful.

Take care,

Roy and Marcia Hall

Beverly said...

Really amazing what you have been doing. our hats off to the young people you are showing what needs and can be done with effort.
Would love to help. let us know.
Bev and Buz Nason

Unknown said...

So sad that all these kids have no parents but they are the lucky ones to live in a home. Thanks for making their world brighter

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