||TAMARA KAFTALOVICH, Guest Blogger
Our eighth and final bedkit distribution was located approximately two hours south of Hubli in a town called Yellapur, known for its two beautiful waterfalls: Magod Falls and Satoddi Falls. The distribution took place inside of an ashram. The grounds were filled with rings of rich purple flowers, tall white historic buildings and old cobblestone paths. We all knew right away this was going to be a great place to deliver the last of our bedkits.
Photo by Tamara Kaftalovich
Spiritual leaders greeted us with flowers and a religious offering, took us inside one of the buildings where meditation takes place, and told us more about what went on inside of an ashram. In essence, it’s similar to what Julia Roberts experienced in Eat, Pray, Love — a spiritual haven where people from all over the world gather to be with their thoughts for days, or even months.
We were then led to the distribution site. All 100 kids were lined up to get changed into their new clothes and receive their bedkit. My duty of the day was to conduct interviews, which I was pretty excited about because it gave me a chance to interact with the parents again.
One of the Rotarian wives, Rajani, who also owns a copper piping factory with her husband, was acting as my translator. Right away, I knew I was going to like this woman. She was extremely organized and eager to help.
The first question I asked her was: “Where are all the parents?” Typically, we see hundreds of parents waiting outside to greet their children after receiving their bedkit; however, this time around, I only noticed a few dozen women in the grounds. It turned out the majority of children receiving a bedkit lived one to two hours away from the ashram and, rather than the parents missing a day of work, a bus was organized to transport the children to and from the distribution site.
Photo by Tamara Kaftalovich
The Rotarians also fed the children a large breakfast when they arrived, followed by a snack while waiting to have their picture taken, and then lunch post-distribution. Mind you, the distribution was 100 children, fewer than some of our other distributions on this trip, but regardless, my team and I appreciated all the kind gestures — going one step further toward making sure the children had a special day and were truly cared about.
Back to the parents…
There were about 20 mothers from different, yet similar, living arrangements. Although most were married with no major health problems in their family, we did meet a few mothers who were struggling. One woman had lost her husband to stomach problems and another to diabetes. Two mothers had children who had fallen and hurt themselves, and never fully recovered.
I met one woman who was taking care of not only her children, but her sister’s children as well (their father died of alcohol poisoning four years ago and their mother died two years later as a result of stress). I had a chance to meet the children later that day, and although both were very shy, they seemed happy — and thankful to their aunt for looking after them.
We also met an eight-year-old boy who was a burn victim. Boiled water had accidentally fallen on top of him, and now his entire face (and part of his body) is covered with burn scars. Despite the local Rotarians taking him under their wing and paying for his medical expenses, his burn scars are quite severe. Not only did the incident leave a mark on the outside, but also on the inside. I noticed throughout the distribution, this little boy kept to himself. No kid approached him and he didn’t approach them back.
Luckily Tom, our resident surgeon on the team, had a chance to learn more about the case and has offered to investigate the potential of performing a surgery on the child here in Canada that would virtually eliminate all of his scars.
Photo Credit: iStock
We left the last distribution site feeling the same way we felt leaving every other distribution site — on a natural high after being surrounded by so many beautiful children and parents.
But it was also bittersweet, given that it was our last distribution and we were about to go home, back to our everyday lives. Part of me wanted to keep on going, to join another distribution team and continue to hand out bedkits.
I’m not gonna lie, part of me was pretty tired — waking up at 6 a.m., getting back to the hotel at 8 or 9 p.m., and sitting on the bus for hours on end each day and spending whatever free time I had writing. But I wouldn’t have traded this for the world.
I know I speak for the majority of the team when I talk about the mixed emotions we had throughout these past two weeks. There were happy moments when the children laughed as they were getting ready to get their picture taken or participating in one of many games we played with them (mostly they were laughing at us for acting so crazy, which we were totally fine with).
Then there were sad moments, listening to tragic stories from the parents or seeing a 12-year-old boy with no legs manoeuvre himself in a clunky homemade wheelchair, refusing any help. One thing is for sure, no matter how each of the distribution trips made us feel, we left a better person, thankful we were able to share these moments with each other and with the children.
I know this may sound cliché, but I hope I’ve sparked a little something in each one of you reading my blog, and whether or not it’s a SCAW distribution or some other travel adventure you’ve always wanted to do, life’s too short to just wait for these moments to come to you. Grab them now, while you have the chance.
Date Added: February 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
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