Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just a quick note on the goings-on of the orphanage, because I don't think I mentioned anything
in my last (and pretty much only) post:

At the Harka Self-Sustaining Orphan Home we have 9 girls, 6 boys (ages 1 1/2-14), 1 house mother (Kumari) and house father (Primo), 1 orphan home director (Laxmi, who is virtually never there), 1 bisi (buffalo, not like the American version), 2 bacra (goats), a coop of kukura (chickens), and a pig (don't remember the nepali word...). There is no running water, but there is sporadic electricity (we have yet to determine if there is a schedule of when the electricity comes on and off, but it's at a different time every day). We pump our own water, cook ourown food, produce virtually no waste (all food scraps go to the animals!), and use a sanitary latrine (which is quite a stretch from Western bathrooms, if some of you haven't had the experience). We eat two meals a day of dal bhaat tarkari (rice with lentil soup and vegetables), which is interspersed with kalo chiyya (black tea) and khazah bouzah (basically rice krispies). Becca and I have a permanent stash of digestive biscuits because our Western sweet tooth gets the better of us (though these cookies probably have 1/10 the sugar of the American variety).

Life is simple. We wake up at around 7, help make breakfast while the kids do yoga, and then walk with the kids to school. We're kind of a novelty due to our obvious foreign-ness, but also
because no one walks their children to school. The walk is usually full of stares, but I think the neighbors are getting used to us. I think some ofthe kids might be embarrased by us when we get close to school (the too-cool-for-school pre-teens), but most of them think we're pretty fun. After school the kids have a snack, we play for a little bit and then start making dinner.
The whole meal process usually takes around 2-3 hours- and I LOVE IT. Most of you know, if I could spend my life cooking, I would be fine with that. AFter dinner and cleaning (if the electricity is on), the kids watch WWF or an Indian soap opera. Yes. It's true. In a little Nepali village, children are watching TV. Becca and I were alarmed (and continue to be alarmed by some of the things that they watch...), but such is life I guess. At least they do all their chores first!! After TV there is hare krishnas and dancing some nights, but some nights
it's just off to bed. It has taken a little while to get used to what our place is, but I think we're getting there... onlookers and friends in a world very different from our own.

And on to our first child--- Tulie! Hopefully this is the first in a series of bios of the kids.

Tulie (aka little Sirjana)

Tulie, the youngest child of the group, was introduced to me within seconds of my arrival at Harka. Before Becca arrived on the rickshaw, before I had time to gather my bearings, before I even realized what was happening- Tulie was plopped into my arms by Laxmi. She looked up at me with her huge brown eyes and scabby, snotty face like she had the world on her shoulders. Her face read, "For just one dollar a day you can help this child get the food she needs." Little did I know it was all a facade.

Sometimes Tulie does get that far-off look in her eyes, like she's deciphering the worlds greatest puzzles, but most of the time she's smiling so hard it lookslike the dimple in her right cheek will implode (there is also one in the left cheekthat we recently discovered, but it is no competition with the cuteness of the right). She is more self-sufficient than any American 1 1/2 year old I have ever seen,as she feeds herself, cleans herself up, and lets us know when she has to use the washroom (usually heralded by aforceful crying fit). Yesterday she counted to 10 in English for me. I'm pretty sure she understands exactly what I'm saying, and she responds in Nepali. She finds physical humor hilarious, and when Ashish (3 years old) does anything goofy (which is most of the time) Tulie will most likely be laughing hysterically.

Being the baby of the group, Tulie loves cuddling and being held, but it comes at a price. I discovered yesterday that if she is carried for a certain amount of time, separationanxiety gets the better of her. After holding her for a given amount of time and then putting her down, she will trail after you (most likely forever), with tears flowing from her eyes, arms outstretched. In cases like this, house-mother Kumari steps in and sternly talks to her (unfortunately I have no idea what she says to her...). It's times like that that are the hardest. While we want more than anything to just pick her up and hug her, we also don't want to give her false hope, as we won't be at the orphanage forever.

While we are here though, there is only so much cuddle-resistance we can take, and will ultimately give in to her pleas! Trying to work on her anxiety is not something either of us are educated in, but will try to tackle nonetheless. She's the most fragile, malleable child of the bunch, and while her initial face was one of grief and hardship we now knowbetter. That face was simply a facade over the real Tulie!

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