Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It’s been a crazy week.

Last Sunday one of the Aunties here passed away. She was a former orphan who grew up here, and had then worked here throughout her life. She’d suffered from ill health & Alzheimer’s for quite some time, and her passing away was not unexpected. Her body was placed on blocks of ice in the church building for people to visit throughout the night. In the morning our carpenter built a casket, some of the ladies decorated it, and the funeral was held that afternoon. She was buried in the orphanage graveyard, under the shady mango trees.

Wednesday, one of the older girls mentioned she had a splinter in her arm. It had been there a week, and she’d been squeezing it, but it wouldn’t come out. I told her to come with me & I’d at least put some antiseptic on it, so it didn’t get infected. I then got Brad to come have a look – he seemed to think he could get it out (with her approval). So he went to the work bench, got some pliers, and after some squeezing & pulling, out came a 1.5cm long splinter. So we plied her with antiseptic & a band-aid & sent her on her way.

Thursday, one of the girls was bought in asking for ice for her eye which was very swollen. Ice is currently hard to find, as the electricity is pretty much off all throughout the days at the moment. But we found her some & she was given some Panadol. Later, the eye seemed even worse, but the there was no ice to be had. There was mixed stories about what had happened, something about banging her eye on the bed. But it now appears that she may have fallen victim to the dreaded Rove Beetle (the spider-lick wound Brad had recently). We just hope no scars are left on her beautiful little face after it heals. These beetles are nasty.

Saturday night, one of the small girls was bought into the room whilst we were having supper. She’d been found in her bed with high fever, pretty much unresponsive/unconscious. She’d been running around just hours before. After sponging her down, she was rushed to the nearest hospital. At the mention of needing to be given an injection, she miraculously awoke. She was still a very sick little girl, and obviously wasn’t faking her fever, but she definitely must be afraid of injections.

Sunday – a day of rest…not so… Our plan was to have a “siesta”, after popping down to the shop at the end of our driveway & splurging on a bottle of coke – our first soft drink for a month. We were sprawled on our bed under the fan trying to keep cool when the mobile rang & Priscilla called Brad to urgently come help in putting out the field which had just erupted in flames. Many from the farm used wet hessian and broken branches to beat at the flames and poured buckets of water in front of the fire and managed, after an hour, to get it under control. We were lucky, since the wheat had all been harvested and only stubble remained otherwise the damage could have been a lot worse. A bit of excitement for the arvo, but after a quick bucket bath Brad was back to teaching year 10’s for their business studies exam the following day.

Never a dull moment round here…

Friday, April 23, 2010

Exam Time...

The Class 10’s are having their 4th exam today – Maths. Brad was madly doing some last minute prep with the girls in the living room this morning, and is now on the roof of the boys hostel, helping them cram. They head off after lunch…

In India, grades 9 & 11 don’t seem to exist, kids jump straight from Grade 8 to Grade 10, then from Grade 10 to Grade 12. Some of this first year of Class 10’s at the orphanage, have had massive breaks in their education, only a few have come straight from Grade 8. So it’s been a real battle to get them through to exam time, and we’re not feeling too confident about. However, the pass rate for these exams is 35%, and if they do fail a subject, they get 3 more chances to resit the exam.

The Class 10’s school year began in August, but being India, they didn’t receive their books until October, with computer books arriving just before Christmas. So this didn’t start the year off the best. But we’ve all been working as well as we can with what we have.

On the first exam day, after much hugging & shaking of hands, along with a quick prayer (much needed at this stage) the 18 students jammed into 2 vehicles along with 2 drivers, to make the 20 minute drive to Khatima. They arrived at the exam centre to find they would be sitting ON THE FLOOR for their 3 hour exam with 150 other students in 2 dusty rooms, with no fans. Ashish one of the teachers rushed off to the market to buy up Khatima’s stock of clip boards, so they at least had something to lean on. On the students return we heard that a good deal of their time was spent filling in forms and having their ID Numbers checked & double checked with no extra time given, cutting the exam from 3 to 2 hours. The ID photos don’t get checked against the ID holder, so we’ve heard that many students have other people sit in on the tests for them. A mother came in to one exam and explained that she would be doing the exam for her sick daughter, they not only let her, but allowed the textbook to be used to find the answers!

The We were also told how prevalent cheating was during the exam, with people bringing in their books with them, along with mobile phones and notes etc., as well as asking the person sitting on the floor next to them if they knew the answers. Even the person running the show was helping students with their answers.

We’ve spent days on end preparing exam preparation papers – thankfully they’re all done now. Brad’s been sweating away for hours in a hot classroom, without electricity, in temperatures up in the 40’s. That also will be over soon…

So keep your fingers crossed… we definitely are…

Friday, April 9, 2010

Whirlwind re-entrance into India

So far we’ve celebrated our 10th anniversary. The new leper colony building has been officially opened – a big event with many special guests from the community in attendance. The school kids finished up their school year, with prizes given out for the top students for each year level. They have now started back for the new year, but will soon have a couple of months off over the hottest part of summer.

Brad got ‘spider licked’. No he didn’t get licked by a spider, but squashed a beetle on his neck during the night, unbeknownst to himself that it contained a highly poisonous poison. The wound blistered up, got really red and itchy, but has now pretty much healed itself. Others at the orphanage have not been so lucky, and have had huge infections take place from the same bug.

Had a rushed trip to Delhi to pick up a new American visitor from the airport. With our overnight bus stuck in a traffic jam for around 4 hours Our excitement was short lived when for the first time in India we saw people lining up in an orderly fashion, but as soon as the metro arrived the orderliness returned to chaos. Picked up a packet of imported Salt & Vinegar chips from Khan Market – I’ve been craving them since leaving Australia, and had not been able to find them anywhere in India or Malaysia.

Celebrated Easter, made even better by the arrival of Brad’s uncle and aunt who spent a few days with us at the orphanage, after having travelled around India since mid Feb. Was good to catch up with some familiar faces, and have them see where we’ve been hanging out and what we’ve been up to. They enjoyed the time out away from the hustle and bustle of India. And everyone benefited from their presence and fabulous culinary delights.

Brad turned 32, not his best birthday though as he was extremely busy with year 10 exam prep. Exhausted, Brad was still able to enjoy the beautiful supper prepared lovingly for him. Not only did he get spoilt with yummy butter chicken, potatoes, greens etc (which did turn out splendidly if I do say so myself), but his uncle and aunt also whipped up some apple pies in the gas tandoor oven. We shouted all the kids a tub of icecream for his birthday, which I’m pretty sure they all enjoyed as much as we did.

Year 10 Exam preparation is our main reason for coming back to India, and it is so hectic and all consuming. Brad is pretty stressed, exhausted, I’m his lacky, at his beck and call for any help required. We’ve held 2 practice exams so far, with another currently taking place. The real exams start on Monday, so it’s all systems go… We’re pretty nervous about what the results will be.