June 26 - Saturday
I am trying my best to keep my blog updated with everything that is happening and going on but it seems that the closer I get to the end of my trip the faster time is speeding by and the less time I have to steal away and write about my days.
This past week has been jam-packed. I started teaching English lessons everyday beginning on the 14th but I think I have updated everyone on that.
We started watching a Korean “movie” on the 11th and we still have not finished it - not from lack of trying. I think it was sold to Lama Tenzin as a movie but in reality it was a television series. It is such a good story - we are ALL addicted and can’t wait to see what will happen next. We really thought it was going to be about 2 hours long but when we put it on my laptop to see the menu we saw that there were actually 20 episodes. Each episode is about 45-55 minutes so you can see why this is a marathon event. Last night we finished episodes 15 and 16 and started 17.
Every Sunday is cleaning day - for everyone and everything. And by everyone I mean all the animals too. The funniest thing I have ever seen must be kids giving sheep a bath. Hilarious. The only animals that don’t get baths are the birds and the fish but I think if they COULD wash them, they would.
So, about the animals...CED has quite a few animals here. They have a front yard area that is the home to 2 sheep, about 30 fish in a little pond, and two different cages of birds. Then there are the day dogs and the night dogs. The day dogs include Darling, the momma dog, Tiger ( white fluffy dog) the daddy dog, and Zema and Metto the puppies of Tiger and Darling. Zema is the Tibetan word for beautiful and Metto is the word for flower. The girls get to stay outside at night but Tiger goes inside the courtyard so he doesn’t fight with the Night Dogs - Kahyio,Tashi, and Singhi. The night dogs are a little more rough and tough while Tiger is called the “Reception Dog”. They ALL get baths on the weekends - it’s a whole process and very entertaining from my perspective - the dogs don’t quite agree but at least I get a good laugh.
Sunday is also wash day for clothes and kids - everyone washes/ takes showers during the week but on Sunday they all get a good scrubbing from what I can tell - hair washed, which normally includes tears from Kunchuck who seems to love swimming but dislikes baths.
Before I came to India I asked Lama Tenzin several times what I could bring with me for the kids and he always responded that we could buy 3 times the amount for the same money in India - I just needed to wait until I got here and we could go shopping or see what the kids needed. So I packed gel pens, Bic pens, pencils with American flags on them, Blow Pops, Tootsie Roll pops, balloons, bubble gum, a couple of Charleston calendars and postcards and pecans(thanks mom). They have loved all of the little gifts which I most likely spent about 50 dollars on.
Well, for 50 dollars I was able to buy new shoes for ALL of the boys and for another 75 or so I was able to get new handmade shoes for ALL of the girls. My friends Lorcan and Lizzy sent some money with me and the kids were thrilled to hear that people they had never met were buying them shoes. They are all so happy with their new shoes. The shopping part was just as much fun for them- on Tuesday, we all loaded up to go get the girl’s shoes and then the next day just the boys got to go shopping. On Friday Lama Tenzin and I went to pick up the girl’s shoes and let Karma (the mom) pick out a pair as well.
On Wednesday, the older kids, Lama Tenzin, and I all went shopping for “colors”. The children all picked out colors for their rooms. For the first time in ten years, the walls of their rooms are colors other than the peachy cream that the entire orphanage is painted. Of course, I was thinking four rooms, four colors but Lama Tenzin was thinking 20 kids, almost 20 colors. The kids picked out a different color for each and every wall - Happy Hyacinth was the most popular - appearing on three walls in three different rooms.
I don’t know if it has come through in my writing or if I have hinted at Lama Tenzin’s nature - he is one of the most determined and focused individuals I believe I have met.
He is also one of the hardest working people I have ever seen - he is constantly thinking forward and considering his actions and deeds and the effect it will have on the children’s futures. It really is amazing how much he thinks about.
He chose painting the walls as a project because it will make them happy for years to come, they can look around and enjoy the colors each day, they were involved in making the decisions, and they would remember me when they see the walls.
Well, in keeping with his character, on Wednesday night after dinner we started right to work. Tenzin and Samdup went around and puttied the holes they found and removed nails while two teams started applying primer. We were able to get primer in three of the rooms - we finished around midnight. On Thursday we finished the primer in the fourth room and started painting. We painted ALL day - for almost 12 hours we painted. Four colors in each room - working in teams to paint two colors at a time.
Yesterday, we applied the second coat to all of the rooms and after lunch the children were able to reorganize their rooms and get settled in again.
This is my Taj Mahal - and I mean that quite literally. The Taj Mahal is known as a monument and labor of love. I love these children and the money I spent on paint is the money I had budgeted for a trip to see the Taj Mahal. So, I will return to America from India without having seen the famous Taj Mahal but I have seen the effects of Happy Hyacinth, Mango Mood, Summer Fern, Code Red, Soothing Sapphire, Green Apple, Gulf Stream Green, Spinach Soul, and Wild Pink and that my friends is love - real love in the hearts of children with smiles so big that the joy just spills out and covers me like the paint on the walls - a permanent change that has made ME so happy.