Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Love in a bath

At Pratyasha we partner with a group of orphanages in Guwahati run by an organization called Snelyahla. They provide a lot of help to us in the slums of Lakhotokia, where we do a lot of our work. They often bus 30 or so girls from Lakhotokia to one of their orphanages. And then they let us use their facilities. We spend the day teaching the girls about hygiene, nutrition, and health care. We also play with the girls, bathe them, feed them a massive lunch, and otherwise just have a fun girls day.

Last Saturday, Pratyasha hosted a "Girls' Street Kids Day." It was a blast.

The day began with the bus ride. Kristin and I rode on the bus with the girls to the orphanage for about 45 minutes, but I could have stayed in that bus for the rest of my life—girls crawling all over you, sitting in your lap, falling asleep in your arms, giving you kisses on the cheek, and singing loudly in your ear.
The bus ready to go to the orphanage. 
So excited! 
Best bus ride of our lives.  
When we got to the orphanage, the girls ran straight to the playground, darting around, fighting over who got the swings and who got the seesaw. Of course, we had to remind them to share. After an hour of playing, we finally got them settled down. Then we taught them the proper way to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Pretty soon it was shower time! It is so cute. The little girls just strip off their clothes and open their arms as if to say, “IT’S SHOWER TIME, BATHE ME!!!!!!!” They cannot wait to get wet, soapy and clean. The older girls go in a private bathroom and shower themselves.

Play, play, play, play, play...
Listening to Kristin teach hand washing and tooth brushing.
Teaching hand washing. 
I was having so much fun washing the girls’ hair and scrubbing their dirty feet that I did not notice my own hands. After the last girl was squeaky clean I looked at my palms and fingers and they were totally black. Every line in my hand was black with dirt and soot and every under fingernail was filled with grime.
Scrub a dub dub! 

Long story short, if we able to transform the girls from dirty to clean, well after their showers they went to play on the playground again and were immediately covered in dust again. Oh well, I thought. It’s all about having fun anyway.

After the shower, each girl got to put on a new clean outfit that was donated from Operation Smile Sweden nurses. (Thank you!). The girls are quite picky about which clothes they get… they want to look fashionable. But I think they were all happy in the end. Then, we ate a massive lunch, which included rice, dal, potatoes, and chicken. (Of course before eating, we practiced washing our hands.) With our stomachs full, we painted our nails, played a lot, and passed out more healthcare kits.
All clean in her new clothes. Ready to go!

Beautiful girl. 
Lunch time! 
Lunch time!

Lining up (which is rare) to receive a health care kit.

The bus ride home was so sweet. Girls were falling asleep left and right. I am telling you, it was an exhausting day.
A long day proven by a nap on Kristin's lap. 
The day before this street kids day, I got very sick from drinking bad water. Frankly, I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a truck had hit me. I did not know if I would be able to spend all day controlling and playing with a pack of rowdy girls. But the moment they saw me walking to the bus, and the moment they all jumped off the bus to come give me a hug, it did not matter how I felt because they made me feel all happy and joyful inside.

On Sunday, when we went to do our usual feeding in Lakhtokia, the girls were so proud that they were washing their hands exactly as we had showed them. Some of them even started singing Bollywood songs because we told them to sing a whole song to time hand washing. The girls were all wearing their new outfits. Even though they had just seen us the day before, they were as excited to see us as
 hey would be on any given Sunday.

Sending smiles from India,

Group photo from girls day out! 

Sunday feeding. 

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