Yesterday was an amazing day! We were picked up at 9:00 in our "rental car." In India, when you rent a car, you get a driver with it. This happens to be a good thing in my case as my husband, Shucks, doesn't have adequate life insurance on me yet.
The driving is exactly what I've been told but I am not very nervous because the drivers are very competent. I just don't get how they don't raze their rearview mirrors off because we come within 3mm of the 8 cars, buses, rickshaws, and motorcycles all packed into 3 lanes. And horns are a true language. It is interesting to see how they use them. I think I have figured this all out though…the most aggressive drivers MAKE the rules and everyone else complies. We had a very aggressive driver today and I learned some new moves to try out when I get back home. Do you think my rural hometown is ready?
In the morning, we went to the first orphanage and we got to try Chapatti. This is Indian bread that they make fresh for every meal. The orphans here (270) are divided into work groups of about 8-10. They take turns with different duties each day, making their own food, cleaning, and whatever else. The cook group is fascinating to watch while they make their Chapattis. They are all in a room, mixing, kneading, rolling out, and cooking over a big "grill." I tried the bread both un-fried and fried and, DUH! Of course fried tastes the best. They also gave us some authentic soupy stuff that is hotter than drinking Tabasco Sauce straight from the bottle. They say it kills the parasites living in the food. I don’t see how anything could live through it, for sure!
How can I tell you how beautiful, sweet and loving the orphans are? They are SO happy and full of life. They want to play, sing, hug, joke and talk to you constantly. And they LOVE getting their picture taken. It is hard to get candids because it draws every kid in the neighborhood over to join in and pretty soon you have 200 kids pulling at your arms wanting their picture taken. Their smiles are big, bright, and sincere. They are so well taken care of.
Next, we went to two “leprosy-affected” colonies. You can’t call them leper colonies anymore, it’s not PC. The very first leprosy-affected-person I saw was sitting down on the ground with most of his extremities rotted off. He had about 2,000 flies all over him and he was so thin and old, but at the same time absolutely endearing. I found out he liked his back rubbed and scratched, so with great joy, I sat down next to "Jesus" and gave him a good back rub. He was so grateful and smiled a big toothless grin.
The great thing about the colonies that are sponsored in part by Hopegivers is that NOBODY in the colony is still contagious. They have all been medically treated and are cured of the spreading tendency of the disease, even though there are deformities in varying degrees from previous infection. I also learned that leprosy is not very contagious at all. In fact, if you remove a child from an infectious colony before they are 13, they will never develop the disease.
The colonies were very nice and clean and the people were very warm and friendly. Their families live with them at the colonies and thanks to Hopegivers and other ministries, they have been given trades and jobs for income so they are mostly self-supporting. They make soap, sew household goods, fabric, and have poultry and dairy farms.
Hopegivers also provides schools for the children in the colonies, which is one of their biggest needs in breaking out of the poverty cycle.
I noticed there is a Christian chapel on the premises for believers, and there is also a Hindu temple right next to it. I think it is very cool that they respect everyone’s beliefs and offer them love and practical help so unconditionally.