Thursday and Friday had more great construction and interaction with the kids. I just love goats! Here`s one nursing:
Here`s Nikki being led across the “bridge” in Chuvuru village to get to the “colony” of new houses:
Thursday evening I went for a motorcycle ride on the Pastor`s bike with Vishal. My first time! It was so awesome feeling the wind in my hair and seeing the beautiful Indian countryside all around the village. Here`s a picture:
On the way back to our guest house our driver Krishna put on some music. I love Indian songs! They`re so catchy. Bollywood, folk, everything! I found myself chair dancing without even meaning to. I really loved sitting in back of the car near the trunk, looking out the rear window, swaying to the music as a whole beautiful world flew past. That`s probably my fondest memory of India.
Friday night they fed us very special coconut rice (made with coconut water) and chicken curry. What`s the difference between coconut water and coconut milk? Coconut water comes from the unripe coconut, coconut milk from the mature coconut. What`s my favorite kind of curry? I really loved the fish curry. It`s kind of rare since most of India doesn’t have access to fresh fish. The fish fry was really good too. Job kept instructing us how to eat it “little bits, little bits” so the bones don`t splinter off in our mouths.
Every evening during dinner, we could hear the chanting of the village Mosque, usually said first by the Iman, or leader, and repeated by a child. Sometimes it was loud and distracting, but mostly it was interesting to listen to. I wouldn`t call village singing particularly beautiful. It`s very nasal sounding, piercing, and not at all melodic. I don`t think any of them have a concept of how to make their voices match pitch, but that`s OK, because they don`t know the difference, and they sing from their heart. The music they listen to on the radio is very beautiful and melodic and the singers have excellent voices, but when they try to imitate it, it`s kind of funny. Here`s an example, actually one of their traditional Christian hymns (yes, I actually did find one that fit on blogger!):
Cute, but no Grammies there. Again, their talent lies in dancing.
For the closing ceremony of the work camp the church was decorated beautifully on the inside. Here`s some traditional Indian decorations:
Before it started, two of the village women braided my hair and drew henna on my hand. Here`s what that looked like:
Henna is made from plant paste, so it`s completely natural. If you let it dry and sit on your hand/arm overnight, it can last for up to a month! I left mine on for about an hour, and three weeks later you can still see the faint outline of it!
The village women also made each of the girls in the group, Nikki, Annie, and me traditional saris. Our volunteer fee paid for it, but they made them by hand, so I`m sure it must have taken them a lot of time. How kind! It took about thirty minutes to get into to one, half an hour of pulling, stretching, and tugging my body in ways I didn`t know it moved. A safety pins, lots of safety pins. Here`s the finished result:
Ug, I look hideous, but the sari is beautiful…
During the ceremony, they drapped our necks with beaded garlands and after Ravi and the other village leaders thanked us, each of our six team members gave a speech about our experiences. There were more than a few wet eyes. I don`t remember what I said exactly, except that I spoke mostly to the children, telling them they were the future of India, that it was up to them to help their country prosper and claim its place among the great nations of the world, but never to lose their laughter, their simple joy and kind heart that made them India.
So it was with tears and hugs that we left Chuvuru village. Here is the final picture our group took together, and the Eluru train station on our way back to Hyderabad. You can see the men wearing the traditional clothes the village women made them too:
From viewers` left: Vishal (team leader), Wei Yuet, Laura (me), Ravi (ARV chairman), Nikki, Toki, Annie. (Thanks for the picture, Toki!)
But this is only the beginning of their brighter future. Hopefully many more teams will come to help build and teach the children, continuing the cause of awareness, human rights, and global friendship. Who knows, perhaps you are being called to help in some way? If you`re interested in finding out more about longitude or ARV and their work, you can visit their website at http://www.golongitude.org/.