Friday, December 14, 2012

'Tis the Season... To Be Kind

As everyone knows, it is the holiday season. Time to shop, give gifts, be with family and friends, and listen to hundreds of Christmas commercials. You have heard this a million times, but more than anything, the holiday season is about giving. Not just giving in materialistic items, but giving love.

For the past couple of days, coincidence has given me the chance to share my love. First, the Operation Smile center is on top of the MMC Hospital. Under the hospital wheelchair ramp, you will find a family's home. When I came here for the first time in November last year, there were three children and one mom living there. Now, there are two moms and six children. I have no idea where the new people came from.

Some days, I just walk back under the wheelchair ramp and yell "Rupa, Samil," and out come running two of the kids who live there. If they're not in their tiny hut, I can easily find them riding their bicycle out in the parking lot. It is so much fun to play with them for five minutes after lunch.

So for Christmas, I decided to get them a present. I found a great coloring book called "The 365 Days of Coloring." It is a 365-page coloring book with one drawing for every day of the year. When I handed it to Samil, with the other kids by his side, he held the heavy book in his hand and said, "WOWWWWW." I also gave them a bunch of crayons. In my broken Assamese and with extravagant hand motions, I encouraged them to share the crayons and the heavy drawing book with the other children in their home.

And they knew what I meant. To show that they understood the book was for everyone, they started passing the book around. For these kids, sharing is not a word that is part of their vocabulary. They have to fight for everything they want. But these kids were all looking at the book together, getting ready to draw together. So, maybe sharing will become a word in their dictionary soon.

Samil holding the coloring book. 
A happy family of six.  
Photo shoot time begins!

Samil loving the coloring book. 
They wanted to sit in the chair, pose for the camera and pretend like they were reading a newspaper. 

Another story along this theme of giving took place last night, while I was walking in Fancy Bazar. As I have mentioned before, Fancy Bazar is the largest and most crowded market in Guwahati. I was walking out of a store there when I walked past a man begging for money. His arm was completely burned and contracted. His face was burned to the point that he could not shut his eyes or blink.

The Operation Smile center does a few burn cases, so I thought I would tell him that Operation Smile might be able help. To do this, I had to find someone who spoke English and could translate for me. At 5:45 P.M., the busiest time in Fancy Bazar, with barely any space to walk, I started shouting, "Does anyone speak English? Does anyone speak English? Does anyone speak English?" All of a sudden, I ran right into the family of the child life therapist who works at the Operation Smile center. The chances that I would run into someone that I knew in Fancy Bazar... very slim. It was like it was meant to be.

So, my friends helped me inform this hopeless man about how he could get help. With his shirt off to show shoppers and pedestrians his deformed arm (and thus be able to beg), and his eyes wide open with a look of despair, he quietly responded and said he would walk a couple blocks down to the center the next day.

That whole next morning, I was beside myself, wondering if when I got to work he would be there. Arriving at the hospital, I walked up the stairs, holding my breath, and sure enough, there he was, in the waiting room, fast asleep. I am sure his life is exhausting for him, and any time that he sits down with nothing pressing to do, he sleeps. Within a few hours the doctors looked at him and decided that they were going to try and do surgery on him. So now it is just a waiting game and we will have to see how things turn out.

I hope these two stories of simple acts of kindness inspire you to also do a simple act of kindness today. Good luck!

Sending smiles and a happy holidays from India,

Other photos from the week:

Remember this adorable little boy and his mom from the follow up camp I attended in November? Look below!
He got surgery! YAY!

Before and after and look below. 
2 weeks after his surgery! 


  1. Dear Hannah

    I look forward to reading your blog. I can't begin to tell you how much I admire your many acts of kindness and the work you are doing.

    This is going to be a magnificent part of your life. One that will carry you through your life,
    You are an amazing woman and I congratulate you and your parents for being such great people.
    Merry Christmas to you and all your friends and family.Cathy Goldman

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