It’s been a hard week at the orphanage. The kids are SO sick and the caregivers do not seem to have any sensitivity to them. It’s now been a week since Pinki threw up on me and she’s only gotten worse. They’re not themselves, they’re weak and fussy and sweaty and they have no appetite. Yet they’re forced out of their cribs, not allowed to sleep, literally force-fed (noses pinched so that they’ll gasp and eat the food). I’ve found myself in tears a few times this week. There’s this one 13-year-old, I think her mother works there and she comes in to help, and she could potentially do jail time in the USA for the way she treats the kids. Today she slammed a boy down to the ground on his head. When she tries to take the kids we’re holding we just grab onto them harder. There’s one baby boy who’s deaf and they take him from us when he falls asleep and smack him until he wakes up crying, and then put him down on the floor.
To be fair, I think a lot of this is cultural differences, I don’t think they’re purposely trying to harm the kids. They are, with the exception of this week, relatively healthy, they have clean clothes and very nutritious meals, they do get some positive attention (I saw a caregiver picking up a kid and talking to him while showing him pictures on the wall). But to my admittedly quite sensitive American self, it’s been hard to handle some of these things.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with one of the less-sick but very clingy kids, Nikhil, who IS an Indian Chris James, which of course makes me love him even more. Pinki alternately grabs for me and pushes me away. She really just wants to sleep in her crib all day, and she’d probably get better if she would be allowed to get some rest. There’s a little boy, maybe 4 or 5, who’s just come back from the hospital from some kind of bladder or kidney surgery. He’s so skinny with that big malnourished looking belly and his skin’s a bit gray. He has a deer in the headlights look because I don’t think he’d been held while he was in the hospital. I’ve been trying to carry him as much as I can and he doesn’t quite know how to be held. He seems pretty bright and can speak sentences to me in Hindi, and I’m constantly praying that he’ll be able to grow up and be healthy.
We’ve been trying to decide what the kids’ names would be if they were American. So far we have “Kevin” and “Charlie Bubba Chubcheeks”.
I’m really loving my friends here. It’s making me sad thinking of leaving them now, and it’s so funny looking back on thinking that I’d never make friends. I know I’ll probably feel the same way in Dharamsala (I leave next Monday), so remind me of this fact when I inevitably feel down after I get there. The girls here even re-worked their weekend getaway plans for next weekend so I could come with them before I have to leave.
I’ve been having some bizarre, vivid dreams from my malaria pill. Last night I formed a band with Kerry Butler and Idina Menzel. We were all supposed to be in college and it was mandatory for some class that we form a band. For those of you who follow NY theater, this grouping meant that I would stand in the back and not sing or be seen for fear of ruining that singing perfection. I also woke up the other night convinced they had moved mine and Julie’s beds outside of a temple. Only when I saw the red balloon that the crazy mime gave me did I breathe a sigh of relief that I was still in my bedroom.
We’ve had a couple of hilarious cultural experiences in the past few days – will post on those once I steal the pictures from Julie and Annica’s memory cards. Let’s just say they involve a really odd museum and a world record. 😉