Rising Star Outreach was an experience unlike any I have ever had before. It made me very grateful that we have what we have, but it also made me wonder, if we had less would we be happier, would we be more grateful for everything? I think it was really amazing how happy these children and leprosy sufferers are – so happy when they have so little. At night when we went to settle the children down we saw their sleeping arrangements, it was about six or seven to a room and there was only one bed. Whoever was the oldest got to sleep in that bed and the rest slept on very thin sleeping mats on the floor.
Every day we would wake up at 7:15 and do our morning activity, whether it was construction, medical, or education. Then we would come back, have lunch and have break time. At 4:45 we would have playtime and then it was dinner time and we all went around the table saying our highs and lows of the day. We would then brush our teeth and occasionally have a bucket shower. The showers were not at all like the showers that we have in in the US. These showers were a tap, where you fill up a bucket, and then you would get your little cup and pour the water on yourself to get wet and to rinse off.
We stayed in RSO (Rising Star Outreach) for ten days. Each day we did something different from the day before. On the first day there we did construction, then we alternated between medical and education. Also every afternoon we had playtime with the kids.
Construction basically meant pick up all of the trash and bricks and clear them away. In the process of this one of the workmen found a giant scorpion, very deadly creatures, and baby snake. In fact this baby snake was the second most poisonous kind of snake in India. A crate. The guy proceeded to stab it with his rake and then throw it out onto the road. After we had cleared everything we had to stack bricks and then clear more stuff and then it was lunch time.
Playtime was with all kids from 1st standard to 10th standard (1st grade to 10th grade in the USA). Everyone had some game to play and something to show you, but before they play with you or show you anything they have to now your name and your standard (grade). At playtime everyone would try and get you to play with them or sit with them and they always call you auntie if you’re a girl, or uncle if your a boy. It’s really confusing.
In India it is inappropriate to show any kind of fondness or love towards the opposite gender and so at lunch and in school the boys and the girls were kept apart. At lunch they sat on the floor on opposite sides of the room and in school they didn’t have classes together.
Medical was an amazing experience and I’m very glad we were able to help, even though we couldn’t directly treat the wounds. Sacha, Luke and I were too young to actually treat the leprosy sufferers but we still helped. We were water changers, which meant that after the person who washed the ulcers was done washing we emptied the water and then rinsed the basin out with clean water and then medicated water and returned it to the person washing. It was sad to see, but it was also happy making because you knew you were helping and all the people were so happy and thankful.
Education was really fun, but also sort of hard because we were teaching kids from first and second standard and their English was hard to understand. Also, our second lesson about compassion didn’t go as planned because the kids didn’t really understand what we asking them as it was from a really western perspective (we didn’t write the questions!). We had to ask them questions like “How would you feel if I spilled water on your clothes?” or “How would you feel if I broke your favorite toy?” They said “happy!” Plus they don’t have toys, so that didn’t help matters.
Overall Rising Star Outreach was an amazing experience and I learned a lot from it. I am very thankful that we have what we have because we could have a much worse life. Remember that and don’t forget that we are very very lucky. I will never forget my experience at Rising Star.
Buying a painting at one of the leper colonies