Fun with the Little Ones at Assisi Illam

Fran at Assisi illam

Team Journal by Fran for Wednesday, 27th July 2016.

I was awake before the call of our crow this morning. I have concluded that my strange sleeping hours will make the adjustment for the 12.5 hour difference between Arizona and India time a bit easier when I return to the States. I have been able to spend quiet reading time in those strange hours. After my early morning activity and after a wee nap, I was ready to begin my day.

The morning drive to Assisi Illam is always entertainment for me. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s line, “There is something that does not like a wall. . .” In India, “There is always something that does not like a lane or line.” After we leave our narrow street from the Global Volunteer Guest House, the way has markers for three lanes or four lanes or two lanes. I have never seen traffic willing to stay within the lanes. In the morning, the three lanes actually hold four loose and fluid lines with motor bikes slipping between those ever changing fluid lines. This morning we faced another challenge. Normally when we leave the main streets for Assisi, he maneuvers the little car down curving lanes just wide enough for one car and perhaps a pedestrian or motor bike. As we approached Assisi’s street, We noticed a big pile of sand on the street that simply would not allow a car to pass. We stopped the car so Sheeba and I could walk the rest of the way to Assisi. We carefully avoided puddles of undisclosed origin and the cow dung (not difficult for a woman who grew up in Iowa).

We arrived at the day care to find twenty little ones sitting on their plastic chairs while they were echoing the names of vegetables and fruit on a chart. The leader pointed to the fruit or vegetable and called out its name; the children called back the name. I joined in this activity. What fun. Then we sang songs. The chairs were stacked and I showed the children Bear, Bear, What Do You See? on my IPad. They repeated lines like, “Bear, Bear, What do you see? I see a red bird,,,Red Bird, Red Bird, What do you see?” The colors and the sweet voices make it a most pleasant experience for me. Of course, the day continued with the routine of the previous days: play time, toilet time, DVD entertainment and lunch. I am learning more about these little children. One who has had a runny nose and tears for the past two days found my lap a comfortable place. The tears stopped. I think she would have come home with me. But there is a story about that and about the other children as well. That is so true of life. We often stand outside the lives of those around us without knowing their story, a story that makes them who they are.

After our ride back to the guest house in traffic that was much lighter and less challenging, we enjoyed lunch of crab other good food. I also learned to carefully watch what I put in my mouth. I chomped down on a hot, hot chili from what had been a rather mild dish. The experience defies words adequate to describe my surprise. (I noticed this evening that even Stephen put such a chili on the edge of his plate.)

We had our information wrong about Maheshwari, her interview is actually tomorrow so we had an opportunity to polish sentences and answers to anticipated questions. She is so very brave to accept the challenge of the interview. Maheshwari is from a rural village and so lacks the aggressive mind set of the city people applying for the position. Sheeba mentioned that there are those from outlying villages who actually complete the college course and opt for simpler jobs because they fear an interview. She is a remarkable young woman, indeed. I told her I would be thinking of her while she is in the interview

My time with Nishanth included three parts. We reviewed English words from yesterday, N read about a poet and his poem. We stopped to find the meaning for unfamiliar words, and finally finished the time practicing past, present and future tense of verbs. He is taking our notes with him to review so we will be ready to move on to a new lesson tomorrow.

After dinner, I returned to my room for a good rest since we will leave at 6:30 a.m. to attend the large market. Each year that I have volunteered in India there has been a holiday. This year is no exception so there is no school. We have the opportunity to explore the market before I do volunteer work later in the day.

Message for the day : If you want to touch the past touch a rock. If you want to touch the present touch a flower. If you want to touch the future touch a life.

Visit Global Volunteers’ Volunteer in India website page to learn more about service opportunities in Chennai. Or, chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions and other program details.

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