9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
The day ahead called for some good ol’ fashioned manual labor, a day to build character, if you believe in such nonsense. To see what previous “Half the Sky” groups had accomplished on this day in the years before, we visited a village whose water tank had been installed by other University of Washington students. These water tanks have become of great importance to these trips because of the terrible waterborne illnesses (and sometimes just the scarcity of water) that many of the villagers must live with because of the poor quality of the drinking water.
While there, we also had the pleasure of playing with the cutest kids ever. I do realize that I say that everyday but that’s because everyday it is true. One of them caught my eye especially and captured my heart, a little boy in an orange shirt, no older than four. He is a diabetic and must take insulin shots everyday, and is cared for by not only his parents but his teachers and fellow classmates as well. One of our local leaders for the day, Vishwanath, mentioned that each child only succeeds with the help of the entire village. My mother, as many of you know, is a diabetic as well, so I know firsthand how difficult it can be (at times) to ensure the safety of her health. And she has access this little boy does not, as well as over 40 years of experience taking care of herself. So I believe wholeheartedly that it does take an entire village to help these children succeed in life, the type of bond that is rarely found in the U.S.
Anyway, here is where I would put a bunch of pictures of cute children so you could have a glimpse into the great morning that I had this day. I won’t lie, I tried stealing my little diabetic friend but his fellow classmates threw themselves at me, though this was more an attempt to make me stay than to prevent their friend from leaving. Pictures to come at the end, I promise they will be worth the wait!
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Once I unwrapped the binding of little children’s arm’s from around my legs, I rejoined the group and we drove to a nearby school. There, we planted fruit trees so that once they bear fruit, the school’s cooking area can use them to provide healthier, safer meals for the young students. And yes, the young students were very cute (again), following our every move and repeating our every word.
Because she is letting me write in her cool journal and because she is my friend, I have decided to include a section in certain posts dedicated to the thoughts and feelings of one Courtney Arrington. Though the thoughts and sometimes graphic language (not really) is her own, I will use my superior grammatical skills to deliver them to you in a more eloquent manner.
Adventures of Courtney: Long bus rides. Liters of water working its way through my digestive system. A bladder too small to combat this combination for much longer. I had no choice. I had to use the school’s restroom, even if the hole in the ground terrified me, even if i was too hot to find any ounce of comfort. The room, dark and smelling of urine, reminded me, if at all I had forgotten, that I was deep in rural India, with no immediate escape. Luckily, I have the best friend ever, Wally, to tell my story should I parish.
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Finally arriving at our main destination for the day, another school in the heart of rural India, we presented the teachers with the gift of compassion…and also the gift of $2000. This money was raised through internet fundraising sites as well as many of the students selling car wash tickets to friends and family. With this money, the village could purchase and install a water tank that would provide them with safe drinking water. To help with the installation, we borrowed pick-axes and shovel-like tools and tore away at the ground in an effort to loosen the soil and dig a hole for the tank to sit in. We also painted parts of the school blue and planted trees all along the outside of the classrooms, hopefully giving them a more aesthetic school ground. Children as cute and as kind as these deserve something good, and I feel honored, as the rest of the group does, to be able to give them something they need, even though it is a part of our lives that we take for granted. Though we still have over three weeks in India, this will surely be one of our most influential days.
Biome Trust: http://www.biome-solutions.com/whoweare/