This is the man that was blind for 20 years and can now see-all because of Dr. Kumar. He sang this song when we arrived to his colony. He was so excited when he saw us get out of the car!
After our 2 days of traveling in Andhra Pradesh we had one day to be at RSO before we left for Delhi and Agra. We could either choose medical or construction. I chose to do construction and it was a hard day. It felt so good to move my body after sitting in cars hours on end. We were helping build bathrooms for 4 different houses. We had to carry cinderblocks that we so heavy you only could do one at a time. Every step was so hard and the houses were in all different directions. I have bruises and marks on my wrists from carrying the blocks. We moved smaller bricks, buckets of rocks and mixed cement on our heads to help finish part of the bathrooms. Later we had talent classes. There is no way to control these kids no matter how hard you try! All the kids were everywhere, markers missing, stickers vanished…all in a matter of 20 minutes. At dinner we did our highs and lows and added something that we have learned here. It was really amazing all the things people said. Here are just a few things I have remembered:
-Expect the unexpected. Sometimes what you outwardly see is not what is true.
-In order to progress and move forward with our lives, we need to live in the moment. Have no regrets and put your all into everything you do.
-Put your emotions and selfishness aside in order to help others. Everything is not always about you and what you are dealing with. Be thinking about what others are going through and you will see a change in your attitude/your situation.
-Get lost in service.
-Accept everyone for who they are. There is no room to judge anyone. We are all amazing people who have so much to give, so much talent, so much to teach and learn, so much love that we need to give others the opportunity to change our minds.
-Love your life and be happy.
-We can learn a lot of other people. Always be looking at what you can gain from other people.
-We are so insignificant. There are billions of people in the world but it is amazing how significant we become when we are helping someone in need. When we are in the colonies, the people act like we are so important. We can made a difference in others lives.
-You can love someone without knowing them. Language is no barrier.
-Patience. ”TII”-this is India.
-If you are drawn to someone or have a connection/feeling about a friend, kids, roomates, etc. Listen to that because they mean something. Take advantage of those times.
This past week has been crazy! Such a whirlwind of every kind of emotion. Last monday was a normal day here at RSO doing medical. When we got to the colony Bethelnegal, we met this amazing man. He was sitting out on the steps of their community center waiting for us to arrive. As soon as we got out of the car he was greeting everyone, yelling, praying and singing “hallelujah.” Dr. Kumar later told us he had been blind for 20+ years and has had surgery to fix it and can now see (at least somewhat better)! It was so interesting watching him has he hobbled on one good foot, no fingers, dirty clothes and everything else you can possibly imagine. He was so happy. So grateful. So excited about life. He was trying to tell us that he needed sunglasses so Dr. Kumar gave him some and this man was so excited. It was like a little kid on Christmas. He wanted us taking pictures of him with them on and didn’t leave until our group left, hours later. Even though the gift was something so little, so overlooked and simple-to this man, it was like gold. Watching him try to put them on with his palms was so wonderful to watch. It reminded me that these leprosy patients are in need of so much and the littlest things we can do, what we can give, mean so much to them. I have been thinking how much we are blessed. Why was I chosen to be born in America where we have freedom, cleanliness, education, moral laws…etc and why were these people chosen to live in a state of unfortunate health, poverty and corruption? We live in such a world of constant unhappiness, wanting what you don’t have, wishing you had more of this or that. These people in India have so little, next to nothing in terms of materialistic objects. Their culture is so different…most kids are sexually molested or abused, husbands constantly cheat on their wives, women’s rights are overlooked..the list could go on. But the amazing people I have come in contact with here in India choose to view their life full of happiness and joy. They have taught me to look for the good in every situation, because if you look for it, you’ll find it.
Tuesday and Wednesday….where to begin? We woke up around 4 and left by 5 to travel to Andhra Pradesh. This is about a 4-5 hour drive, but of course in India, it took us about 8 hours. We were all in and out of sleep-I would wake up and our car was stopped for an hour-just sitting there-no one knew what was going on-and then I would fall asleep, wake up again and we would be driving…this happened for quite some time. One of our cars didn’t have correct paperwork saying it could cross the border, we got pulled over, paid a “bribe”, rented another bus while we left the other van on the street, 2 of Dr. Kumar’s helpers that were traveling with us had to get out of the car and cross the boarder by foot and we picked them up after we were in the state. Our hotel, “The Grand Hotel, Really Grand” was different I guess you could say. So dirty that we all brought our own sheets and towels. The people we came in contact with in Andhra Pradesh were so dishonest. I think this trip is when we realized how morally corrupt India is. When we finally got to the colony, it was amazing. Their community center was filled with people that had been waiting since 9 that morning and we arrived at 3. I remember just an overwhelming feeling of love and graditude. We greeted everyone and they stretched out their hands, wanting to be touched and say thank you-you could see in their faces they were so happy to see us! When we all made our way to the front, we looked out into the group and saw faces with tears streaming down. They gave us drinks and made sure we were comfortable. We all felt bad because we were there to serve them and they were so concerned about us. All the ladies gave us flowers to put in our hair and at the end of the day a few men were showing us their church that is a room connected to the community center. It was decorated with streamers and lights-they were so proud and wanted to show off their hard work. We helped about 85+ people and finished around 8pm-the latest Dr. Kumar has ever worked. As we were driving away everyone was waving! It was so neat to serve these special people. The next day we went to another colony. This one was a little different. A smaller community center, 130+ people waiting in the rain for us to come. Colonies in general don’t get much medical attention, and this one in particular had so much anxiety to get help. Everyone was pushing their way to get seats. It is usually first come first serve when other doctors come. They rarely have enough medicine for everyone. I cant even describe how busy and crazy things got. There were too many people in that tiny room that we would take breaks outside. I helped bandage which was really hard to do. The smell of their ulcers, seeing what they looked like, skin falling off onto our laps, flies everywhere..etc. It pushed me a lot. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t stand the smell, my uneasiness…I needed to put my emotions and selfishness aside..I needed to be strong for them and get the job done. They have to live with this everyday, the pain, the loneliness, the rejection. One of the men that I helped came in crawling, both of his feet were stumps. We washed his ulcers and bandaged him up. He was uncontrollably shaking the whole entire time. His chest was moving fast and you could tell he was in a lot of pain. A few of us surrounded him to help comfort his anxiety. I helped walk him out..he got on this metal bike that you pedal with your hands-and drove to his house. These are just a few stories and I don’t think I could even write enough, explain enough of what I saw but seeing these colonies made me step back and think about what’s important.
“The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are.”
We are all leaving tomorrow at 5 am to drive to another state in India called Andhra Pradesh. We are going with Dr. Kumar to a colony that has never been visited by volunteers before and they speak a different language. I am excited! It will be interesting to see how things go..we get back Wednesday night. More stories to come!
The kids sing this song a lot and I absolutely love it. This was when the older ones were gathered around for prayer.