Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Kids On The Block

No, we didn’t organise an 80’s nostalgia night, we’re talking about 5 new kids that have arrived here at the orphanage since we’ve been here. Four boys - Shivam (5), Rampal (6), Vishal (6), Ankit (8) and a girl, Jyoti (9, 2nd from right). Surprisingly these children have fitted right in here without any hesitation or concern. The biggest hurdle for them right now will be to learn English as it is spoken widely here at the orphanage and attached school. 
Of the children here, most have at least one parent alive but due to family situations and poverty, they cannot look after the children properly and bring them here. The standard of living, education and future prospects are much improved by coming here and those who have parents can see them during scheduled “Parent Days”. Each of those shown above have their own unique personalities - Shivam (sweet), Rampal (rambunctious), Vishal (softie), Johti (story teller) and Ankit (after only 1 day here I'd say "determined to learn to swim"). The other children rally around them, showing them the ropes and helping them integrate.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My how they've grown

To give some perspective on how the kids (and us) have changed – here’s a few before and afters from our previous visit (2009-10) and now.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In sickness and in health

Back in 2009/2010 we spent 8 months here at the orphanage with a hardly a hint of illness. This time however, both of us have had a bout of diarrhoea (Brad 1 day, Miriam 3) and Brad has just been out of action 3 days with a flu/fever illness. The staff and children have also been stricken by similar illnesses, every day it seems there’s someone missing from meal time or school. To combat this, the staff have decided to install a large water purification system - called a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system. This system, installed in the dining room, will provide enough clean drinking water for all the children’s needs and better yet (from the children’s perspective) the water is then chilled in a cooling system, an excellent way to “beat the heat”. Miriam and I spoke with the staff about the cost of the system and it coincided with the amount that Miriam’s grandfather and Brad’s uncle provided us before leaving Australia – so a big thank you to them!

Kind of related to health is our weight which was at an all time high when we left Australia but thanks to India, we've both dropped a considerable amount (B 5-6kg, M 4kg). So if you're after a rapid weight loss regime we can recommend a dose of illness combined with low-energy food.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Swimmers are winners

With the mercury hovering around the 38C-40C mark, the kids have been enjoying their daily swims in the pool. Whilst not quite as refined as the pools in Australia (no filtering or chlorine) it is still wet and a great way to cool off from the ever increasing heat. To prevent algal build up, the pool is emptied, scrubbed and refilled every 3 days, with the old water pumped out to the fields.

Brad has been joining them, justifying his extended time in the pool by teaching a crude form of water polo. In addition to the afternoon “free-time” swims, Brad has also been teaching a more formal swimming program during school time – this is primarily aimed at the “outside” kids, that is those who attend the school but are not part of the orphanage. These children mostly have never seen a pool before and unlike the orphanage kids that seem to be able to breathe underwater, need a fair bit of coaxing to gain the skills necessary to pass the course. He even has a whistle that makes him feel very important.

I have some questions that someone out there might be able to help with (I'm talking to you SA Water colleagues and fellow combat engineers): How can I extend the life of the water in the pool? It's quite arduous to clean the pool every 3 days. I'm concerned about adding salt or chlorine into the water as the water is sent into the fields and could have a long-term impact on yields (would this happen with chlorine?). Does anyone know how I could set up a low-cost, natural filtering system (I'm thinking activated charcoal and sand). I have access to decent pumps.....