Monday, December 31, 2012

Day One

My first experiences have kind of been a shock which I think has helped me acclimate a little faster. My first meal I pulled bone and cartilage out of just about everything (I gagged a little). The first night I found a mini tarantula in the bathroom and I took my bucket shower with a nice little frog. My first day in town I saw several naked men. I'm not just talking about them urinating on the side of the street or just wearing underwear. They were straight-up-naked and like 4 feet from me. I was a bit uncomfortable but what can you do? I also had to ride a motorcycle with one of the native workers but you're not supposed to touch the opposite gender or show any affection, or even be alone with them. I could not hold on the bike because the roads are SO AWFUL so I put my arms around him... let's just say that was another moment I'd like to forget. So, I'm embarrassing myself like a normal American.

I don't know if I have explained to people what I'm actually doing here... I'm working with an organization called RisingStar which is stationed in Provo and here in Chennai. They primarily work with curing leprosy as well as local construction projects and they have their own school here on campus for the children of leprosy affected families. It's actually a really nice school and they even have people in the area trying to get their children in it. The reason why is because here they teach English which will improve the job options of these kids tremendously and because class sizes are smaller. There are only 20 kids per class here and in the public schools they have 60-70 kids in a class. People from all over the world pay to come volunteer in the school/colony and my job is to be their coordinator. I'm in charge of the leprosy colonies so I take the volunteers out daily and teach them what to do and help them become comfortable with the people they work with. I also help in the school and with anything else they need.

The colony I visited yesterday was quite the experience. I don't have any groups at the moment so it was just me and the medical team who went so I did just about every station. In the colonies we take their glucose level to check for diabetes, take blood pressure/pulse, remove bandages, clean wounds, oil, and then wrap them up and send them off with medication. I'm in rural India so these colonies are just isolated villages. They have their own businesses and such going on so they're pretty functional. The problem is that Indians think leprosy is a curse and not something curable so they shun them from society. Many will not get treatment because they are afraid to admit that they have it. So this is where RisingStar comes to help. I feel so bad for the patients though. It looks so painful. They have no fingers or toes. Their eyes dry out and they go blind. Yesterday I cleaned out huge ulcers on their feet... many were infected and oozing. But they can't feel them so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad. It was really fun believe it or not. I'll post some pictures of the colony next time when I'm not so busy working the stations.

Here are some pictures of my house/campus.

Mango/Coconut Orchards. We're on 14 acres of land in the middle of nowhere. It's gorgeous! 

The School (The Gem of this side of town)

 Soccer field/track for the kids
Where we get the water...
 Beyond the wall of campus. Cobras, scorpions, monkeys, you name it. 

Welcome to India! I will post pictures of the colonies as soon as I get them. Happy New Years! (I just slept for New Years... there was NO way I was leaving campus and I was tired). 


  1. Replies
    1. Emily! I know. I've been jealous of your adventures so I decided to take one myself. We should swap stories when I get back. I know you've got to have a few!

  2. Anita! I love reading about your adventures there. How long are you going to be in India?