Sunday, February 10, 2008

The past week, post the celebration of my 24th ("chorbis") birthday, rang in a plethora of activity at the Orphan Home. A few days after my birthday (can't remember when, they all seem to run together after a while) some random strangers arrived to hang out on the front stoop area with their bags . Now, usually this isn't weird, as there are random strangers always hanging out somewhere near the orphanage (and they very well may not be strangers to others.. just to us because we've never been introduced). However, this was a woman, not older than 18 , an infant, and another small child, around the age of 4, and they didn't seem to be going anywhere. Luckily a little later Laxmi showed up (I say 'luckily' with hesitance), and tried to describe to us the situation at hand. Evidently the woman (Samjana #2) and her baby (Manish #2) would be living with us for an indeterminate amount of time, and the other child (Manesha) was another orphan, coming to live at the home. They just all happened to show up at the same time. This not only took us by surprise (as we had not, nor would not be introduced to them during the course of the night), but also made us wonder where the heck they were going to sleep. The beds were full, but I guess we could pack a few more kids in them... and then again, what else are they supposed to do? This was the only option for Samjana, as her husband died (we think he was an alcoholic who died of liver cancer, based on our convo with Laxmi) and she has no other family. Literally the ONLY way she can get food is to live at the orphanage, or beg. I am glad she has a place to live, and hopefully with time she will become more a part of this family, but right now it's hard, for both her and everyone else. Becca is going into detail a bit about the other adults at the orphanage (Kumari and Prim), so I'll just leave it at : There are a lot of big bodies around now. It didn't seem cramped at all before, everyone had their place, but with the addition of two more children (one who cries constantly, and one who hits constantly) and one more adult has really made it feel a little tight. I'm sure our big bodies don't help this situation at all. It will be interesting to see how they acclimate over the next month...

In other news: We started photography this week! One lazy afternoon when the kids were home from school and just chillin watching some wrestling, I managed to extract Ramesh (the oldest) to describe to him my ideas for the kids. He was more than excited about it, and demanded that he be the very last child to take a roll of film. I knew immediately why: he wanted to figure out which was the best camera... and use that one. He thinks he's so clever. He told me later why he was doing it, and I told him that I have a 15 year old brother... I already knew what he was thinking! Because I only have 4 cameras, we decided to have children take their rolls in order of age, starting with the oldest. Ramesh described in detail the workings of the different cameras to Manish, Sirjana, Budi, and Sima. Over the next couple days, each of the children turned into photographers (Secil has yet to start his roll... he's the final one). They LOVE IT. Each of them has taken on their own persona with the camera- there's Manish, the dark, introverted artist who remembered to bring his camera with when we went to a temple yesterday; Sirjana, who swore she was going to take only 4 pictures a day, and then after day 2 took the remainder of the roll; Budi, whose entire roll is Becca and I; Sima, who, camera slung around her body and decked out in a track suit, looked like she should be straight out of National Lampoon's Summer Vacation; oh they each were hilarious. Probably the cutest were the littlest kids, Ashish and Tulie, who managed to take an entire roll each and look FREAKING CUTE doing it (if only our pictures could be uploaded). Ashish would carefully arrange people and then run about 50 feet away to take our picture. He was also so distraught when his roll was finished that he threw a tantrum, crying "camer-a, camer-a". Talk about a committed artist.

Tomorrow we are off to a "program" at the children's school (Aroma English School). Three of our children are getting merit awards, who are all 1st or 2nd in their class. We are not sure what else the "program" entails, but I was informed by Sima today that there will be tea and biscuits for all the mothers and fathers (which now includes us), and dancing. There is always dancing. I also caught wind of there being a volleyball which our heights may definitely come in handy. The kids have started calling us "Didi" instead of the formal "Miss" we were being called. Didi means "big sister" in Nepali, and it's totally cute. Kumari and Prim have started calling us that as well... though Prim is definitely older than both of us. Hajurama (grandmother) next door says it's because we're taller than him. I'll listen to anything that woman says, she's the toughest 80 year old I've ever met. We are off to explore Chitwan National Park for two days this week (elephant safari, bird watching, canoeing, etc)- so we'll let you know more when we get back!

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