Made by Survivors | thriving and then surviving


thriving and then surviving

10 Jan 2009, by elance programmer in Uncategorized

ok so first off, the past few days at Sanlaap have been both demanding and satisfying. as of friday, we have nearly finished the entire pre-school painting project (the only thing left is the clear-coat). as has been the case all week, the girls just took to the task with great aplomb… it hasn’t mattered if the required painting was for speed and maximum coverage, or for great attention to detail, all they’ve needed is the most basic of instruction and the work just gets done. the pride in their faces as they do it, and the fun we have had along the way has been one of the priceless aspects of this trip.

several of them even enjoyed playing jokes on me later in the week, the first being that every time i had a paintbrush in my hand someone would come over and ask me for it. they really seemed to get a kick out of watching me NOT paint. so i played along, and started acting like a quality control boss – standing over their work and pointing out every little flaw i could find. it was the kind of humorous banter that would have barely stood out to me in another context. but here i couldn’t help but notice how much trust and comfort stood behind their humor…

in one week we have all seen quite a transformation in these girls. once again, i am struck by the privilege of doing this work. and then came the trip to Varanasi, a notable holy city north and west of Kolkata that many have said not to miss… ok, so when things go bad on a trip like this the temptation is to edit events slightly so as not to create worry back home. i’ve decided not to do that, but also not to go into, um, unnecessary detail. and by the way, think of the following less as a complaint, and more as an observation. first things first, we made it alive.

after 17 hours. on what was scheduled to be only a 12 hour ride (ok, I should and do know better than to rely on schedules here). with two team members suffering from an apparently food-induced stomach bug that required many trips to the fragrant and well-used toilets. and of course, with a train packed with all sorts of people, including the requisite chaiwallas and other purveyors of trinkets, spicy snacks, and even this mysterious looking cake in a bucket (i was remotely tempted to try it, but thankfully thought better of it). and lastly, the train rocked like a cradle and stopped as often as a mail truck.

it was comical for a while… and i believe it will be again, once we survive the 16+ hour return trip to Kolkata. but now that we’re here, and the doctor has come and our friends appear to be improving, i can finally breathe a little… and begin to relax on what is intended to be a "getaway weekend." we intend to do yoga in the morning (there is a yoga instructor coming to our guest house to lead a private class!) and then make a visit to some temples in the area and walk the winding ghats (alleys) of Varanasi. i think that kind of day is just what the doctor ordered. then come monday, we’ll be able to go out and visit one of our NGO partners a couple of hours away (they are involved with fighting a particular form of slavery called debt bondage). let the adventures continue! until next time…

  • Potential Abolitionist!

    Your blog entries are well written and help us to feel a little of your experience. While I’m sure the conditions are equally as deplorable as they were last year, your perceptions focus deeper into the feelings and transformations of the people. It is hard to imagine seeing past the filth and sadness, but the joys the children and people there express for your presence must be rewarding beyond comparison.
    Good choice probably to skip the “cake in the bucket”.
    Be safe and be well. You are all in our prayers.