First week of our volunteer camp is done and dusted, and I feel I could use a little dusting myself! The places we are working at are filthy! Our program runs in the morning, where we visit the orphanage and again in the afternoon where we are helping with an 'empowering women' class. I love working with the women. A lot of the women are in there early 20s and have such a different, harder life to my own. They live in a slum, most have children and find an hour in the afternoon to learn after all their housework is done and before preparing food to sell in the evening. They are so interested in learning it's inspiring. All those years i hated going to school seem even more of a privilege now. The ladies are not allowed to leave the community without a family member so the class is held in a ladies hut, it's tiny especially when you squeeze all the ladies and their children in but they make it work! So far we have learnt about continents and oceans. They are so open to learning about the world when to me their world seems so small. I can't imagine not being able to leave home, or a suburb. We are putting together a book for them with things they can study on their own as they have trouble getting volunteers to help with that particular program, and can go months without helpers.
The kids at the orphanage are really cute! They are so happy to see you every morning, and even though we have been told not to cuddle them, I cant help it! Especially when I was teaching them the word "higher!" on the swing and made 2 of them flip off.. I felt so bad but I don't think they will forget that word! Lots of tears! The kids need love..the sisters that run it are rough as guts and I think the only human contact they get apart from the volunteers is a slap across the head.
I spent my birthday morning at the orphanage they all sang happy birthday, and wore party hats. The ladies also sang to me (if you know me well youll know I hate the birthday song being sung to me!) and when we returned their was a volunteer meeting where the camp had organized a birthday cake for me, (more singing!) I wore more cake on my face then I ate. Apparently it's the way they do it here, they feed the birthday person cake and smear the icing on their face.. Was a bonding moment. I had a great birthday though and won't forget it! We finished the day with a dinner and bonfire, and madameji (a lady who runs the canteen and calls everyone Madame-Ji.. Ji is a term of respect) performing a dance with a water bottle on her head. She is hilarious.We have one more week of volunteering.. I'm enjoying it but will be happy to have our own room back and to be off a top bunk! Will write again in Kerela!