Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two Wheels and Animal Prints

Anan always has high adventure activities planned for us after doing medical service in the colonies. 

This week he took us to the ZOO! 

We were going to ride a golf cart around the zoo as a group, but instead we decided to ride bikes! 

A man wanted his son in our picture and I'm sorry but I gave him a wrong email address when he told me he wanted to send the picture to me. I had one on my camera, I didn't need it. 

The bikes were the best part of going to the zoo. 

Everyone was so excited to ride bikes except for my roommate from South Africa, Maryke. I was not a thoughtful roommate at all. Before we left for the colony she told me she wasn't feeling well. I completely forgot until she had to stop biking and sit out the rest of the day. Whoops. 

The funny thing about the zoo in India is it has animals that we see all the time in Utah, like deer. 

Anan took us to see the deer, otters and peacocks; all of which are pretty common. 

We told him we wanted to see the big animals, but he had spent so much time taking us around the bird section that we had to speed through seeing the tigers, giraffes and elephants. 

Having red rice and curry every night gets pretty boring, so after begging and begging Anan took us to Pizza Hut. 

I shared with my starving roommates back at Rising Star.

Pizza Hut is SUPER. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Ray of Sunshine in the Midst of Sorrow

As I've said before, medical days are my favorite days. 

The experiences on those days can be hard. It's frustrating to see the sorrow and suffering  of those who have leprosy. I want to be able to change the way society views the disease. I want to be able to give them all the love in the world and let them know they are important. 

It's easy to get depressed while experiencing such tragedy. 

When the mood is heavy I am grateful to have someone who always brightens the day. 

Anan is our bus driver on medical days. He has become a close friend of mine. 

He has a talent of making everyone around him feel special. 

It could be his smile, maybe his steady laugh or just the way he says all of our names in his thick accent. 

Or it could be the fact that his favorite song is 'Who Let the Dogs Out'.  

In case you are unfamiliar - Who Let the Dogs Out Music Video

He is really good at making animal sounds. While we are driving he sometimes surprises us trying to make us think either a duck or cow is in the bus with us. 

He makes sure everyone is accounted for and he always looks out for us. 

In Poducherry he was our guardian angel. My roommates and I were looking for the Bizarre but we kept getting lost. Every time we needed help, out of nowhere Anan would appear. It was so nice to hear him yell "Hi Sarah" from across the street and come over to help us find our way. 

Even when we tell him to drive like a race car driver, he is a safe driver. That's saying something for the way people drive here- on the wrong side of the road, swerving in and out and honking at everything. 

Anan has picked up a few English sayings like 'bless you' when someone sneezes and 'sharing is caring'. He buys a bag of cookies everyday and while driving us back to Rising Star he will pull them out, say 'sharing is caring' and pass them around the van. 

He is happy making all of us happy. 

It also seems like he knows everyone. When we are discouraged or unsure of what to do he always tells us, "Don't worry, I know a guy." He does. He knows many 'guys'. There is something about him that just attracts people. 

I absolutely love being around him. I can't help but smile. He has such a positive outlook on life in a place where there is little. It's the simple things that make life whole.

I know I will always remember this new friend of mine, but I hope I never forget the way he made me feel. He sees something special in everyone because there is something special in him. 

If I can only take one thing back from this experience, I want to remember to treat everyone around me the way Anan treats people.

A good friend is a treasure. Being a good friend is a talent. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I have been surrounded by teaching my entire life. 

My mom recently retired from teaching elementary school. She was a reading specialist and helped kids who weren't on reading level but didn't qualify for special education. 

Through the years I spent plenty of time with her in her classroom. I have been exposed to so much education and structured teaching. I've even helped teach classes while my mom's co-teachers had to take care of things. Call me a teen substitute teacher. 

There were plenty of times my mom told me I would make a great teacher, even though she didn't wish the occupation on me. 

Rising Star advertises this volunteer experience mostly having us do medical care for those who are afflicted with leprosy. While I was explaining what I was going to do before I came I talked about how it will help give me experience for my medical career. 

In reality this experience would do much more for me if I was planning to be a teacher. 

Which after today I am certain I will never do!

The only reason this girl liked me was because I shared my Nature Valley granola bar with her, which was totally against the rules. I'm a rebel. 

All the volunteers are split up into three groups and we rotate daily between medical care in the colonies, community service doing construction and tutoring the children at the boarding school where we are staying. 

My group has only been able to do medical care twice and as you can see from my blog posts those are the most amazing experiences I have had. 

When my group is assigned to tutoring the children I am a slacker. The first time we had education I had a valid excuse for falling asleep while the children were reading to me- I hadn't been able to sleep the night before. Since then, I have had two other tutoring days, and yes they have been just as miserable. 

Today I purposely made a girl get the wrong answer on her math homework and had to walk out of the room to make my blood stop boiling. 

She knew the answer. I know she knew how to do the problem. We were working on rounding. She was not trying to figure it out myself. I was frustrated. 

She looked at me and asked if her answer was right every time. She guessed and then expected me to tell her the answer. Typical child, I know, but I just wanted her to try. 

I was a real big bully making her get the wrong answer.

I have never stayed for the whole day of tutoring. My cot in my nice air conditioned room is much more appealing to me than either falling asleep with the children or wanting to pinch them. 

I have so much respect for all teachers. Thank you for putting up with me and helping me learn and grow. Thank you for having the patience I don't have. Thank you for all the time and preparation you put into teaching. 

I love my girl Amsa
She was the only good part of tutoring 

Mom, you are amazing. You inspire me and I have so much respect for you teaching children how to read. It's hard, but so necessary.  I think you should be here teaching these sweet children, not me.  This is your element. A great retirement option, I'd say.  :)

One Person Can Make A Difference

Be the change you wish to see in the world. 

Last night during dinner Amy, one of our coordinators, read us a blog. 

This story comes from Dr. Kumar,

"I am back to blog.. After almost 6 months i am back from hibernation..

This is a story of a man who makes me wonder, What will make these people cry?
It is amazing how they take all their losses, all their sufferings, but still hardly let out their emotions..
But, i guarantee when they do it, it will seriously make you think..
I have always noticed this man, sitting next to me on the floor every time i visit his colony. He would come first and sit next to me with his medical case file, never in a hurry and never misses a single medical visit. He just had one leg, the other one was artificial.. Eventhough i have the medical history of most leprosy affected people i treat, his was always missing, may be after seeing him all day next to me and always smiling i didn't bother to stir his past.
In May 2010, i was going through the medical records, and found out he wasnt there for past 2 visits, i was anxious, he was always regular, if he didn't come then something must be wrong..

On my next visit i went to his house to look for him, it was closed from inside and i knocked it, no one opened it for a while, i enquired the neighbour, they said he is in the backyard where they wash clothes, i went around to see the worst thing of my life, yes.. he was cutting the dead skin in his ulcer and two dogs close to him..
He tried to get up after seeing me, and said he is in serious pain and these dogs are his friends guarding him from other dogs.. Thank God..
He said he went to three hospitals and they said its very infected and they cant handle it there..
He himself recommended a place that treats only leprosy affected and he believed thats the only place for him to be admitted and operated. Its a 5 hour drive from there.. I wondered how he is gonna make it with such pain.
I assured him of all the support that i can do to help him, i arranged the head of the colony to accompany him and his wife.. At the last minute i went back and gave my cellphone number to him to call me if needed.
The next day around midday, i got a call while i was driving my car, usually i dont answer any calls when i drive, but that day i stopped my car and answered the phone, it was krishnan, he said he was stopped at the gate and they said his ulcer smells too rotten so that others will run away.. then i checked the google in my mobile to find the hospital number and talked to the head doctor there and convinced him that this man at the gate is an unfortunate leprosy victim who can be saved by a small effort by modern medicine, and all his medical expenses will be taken care off.. And i made the colony head to travel back to collect my letter and cheque for the surgery, i was later informed that surgery has been done..
Three weeks later i was told he is back home after surgery and i met him. He was about to cry, but he didn't, he said
"Sir, i was standing at the train station at that time when i called you in your cellphone, my wife was with me, i didn't tell her anything, but i decided not to be a burden for her anymore, i decided , if doctor sir answers i will live, if he doesn't i will jump before the train"

I was stunned, What ??? Answering a cellphone can save a life? I didn't have any words to say him, he told me this in all pain with no tears, the tears have dried up from their eyes decades ago.. Now he doesnt have both his legs, but he is free of pain.. Smiling..

I realized, you don't really have to move a mountain to help others.. Just small things.. Now i carry two batteries to my cellphone everyday..
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted. -Mother Teresa"

Today I had the opportunity to meet the man in this story. I was on the medical rotation and we were at a one of the larger colonies changing bandages and giving medication. I noticed one man with a prosthetic leg. Amy told me this was the man from the story. 

I watched him on the floor layering his socks one after the other to make his leg fit into his prosthetic boot. My heart pounded thinking of his life and what a simple act of kindness meant to him and his family. 

Dr. Kumar made a difference by simply answering his phone. 

This morning I was reading the Book of Mormon in Alma. Chapters 17-20 relate the story of Ammon who goes to the land of Ismael and becomes a servant for King Lamoni. As a servant to the king, Ammon used his talents and strengths to bare testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His church to King Lamoni and his people. He baptized many and established a church in the land. 

I was amazed at the difference one man could have on a whole group of people by simply serving and using the opportunities given to share his knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Ammon made a difference by simply sharing what he knew. 

I hope I can make a difference in someone's life. 

I had the opportunity to wash the ulcer's. I wanted to wash their feet. One man had the worst ulcer I've seen. His toe nails were rotten and outgrown. I had a tool to trim them, but his nail was so overgrown it wouldn't fit in the tool. I worked for a long time trimming his nails. Pieces were flying all over the room. I felt bad when one flew into his wound. 

I really enjoyed cutting his nails. I know how good it feels to have my nails cut and I felt some relief being able to do that for him. 

I am having experiences that show me it's the simple things in life that matter. I've always known this. Everyday I have to remind myself what I really desire so I don't get wrapped up in what I think I need to make me happy. 

All I need is family and good friends, people I can love and serve with all my heart. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Babies

It's hard not to pick favorites.

My very first day at Rising Star I saw a cute little girl from the second story of the girls' hostel. She started yelling my name. Don't ask me how but she could read my name tag from where she was. She ran down and straight to me. Since then, she and I have been inseparable. 

When I was assigned my family I was disappointed I didn't have her family. 

Her name is Mary and she is in the same family with all my other 'favorite' gals. Their family is named Sarah's family. I think we were destined to be friends. 

This is Mary and her cute little brother. 
She is such a good sister. 

It's probably for the best that I am not in their family because I am with them every play time anyway. Sometimes I stop by their room on my way to my little boys for family time. 

When I stop by they love to put henna all over me. Tonight Amsa wrote her name on my hand because I keep forgetting it and they wrote my mom's name, Julie. They love to ask about our moms. 

These girls are my babies. 


Amsa and Degiva

They are divas, they have so much attitude.

They are always jumping on me and hanging all over me. 


These little girls have so much love for each other. They scream at each other and fight over my iphone but at the same time would never leave each other out. They are family.