At the end of some weeks, all you can really say is "We survived!" But as in all challenging weeks, after the darkest hours comes the greatest moments of light.
We have two volunteers hospitalized, one only stayed for a few hours, got the correct medicine and went home. Her recovery has been speedy! Another volunteer had to stay for two nights... Braxton was in charge of making sure everything was okay with him so I basically didn't see him for several days while he was at the hospital with them. We were all very relieved when that volunteer made it home on Thursday afternoon looking way better and getting better every second. Our healthy volunteers managed to pull through (although everyone was feeling a bit under the weather this past week) and get a lot of awesome work done! They finished painting an entire preschool and building a playground at the same preschool. They taught more nutrition classes, english classes, and planned a new environmental awareness class to be taught next week in a few government schools in the slums. Braxton and I also got sick and additionally got a taste of what is like to be parents, when it doesn't really matter if you're sick life must go on!
We were planning on going to New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur once the weekend hit to see the Taj Mahal, which has been on our calendar since before we even got here, but because of hospital trips and recovering volunteers (and being in need of some recovery ourselves) we sent about half of our team on the trip and we stayed back to hold down the fort and monitor recoveries. We were pretty jealous when our team would send us pictures from the wonders of the world up in Northern India, but we quickly tried to find another weekend to visit before we leave the India/Nepal area and head back to the States. You can't come to India without going to see the Taj Mahal!
I will say though, the second those 6 volunteers headed off to the airport and our other volunteers got home from the hospital and relaxed upstairs, Braxton and I felt a HUGE load of stress just fall right off our shoulders. We worked for a few hours on Friday, and then took the rest of the day off for some much needed detox/ultra-relaxtion. We watched 3 movies in one day (two in theaters... the new Ant Man and the new Mission Impossible are both AWESOME and going to movie premieres in Indian imax theaters was a very very good choice. Everybody was cheering and screaming and the whole place was packed. It rocked!) and ate delicious food, and even got to go to a sweet artisan colony with handmade crafts markets and sculpture parks and traditional Indian dance performances by beautiful dancers in fancy sarees with flowered hair and crazy thick eyeliner!
We even napped. NAPPED. Saturday AND Sunday. Naps. We've been needing a weekend like this for... the entire summer:)
Throughout the weekend, we actually had time for our brains to think for a second and we realized that I leave India in one week, Braxton leaves in 10 days. Suddenly our time here is flying to a close and we didn't even have time to see it pass by until this weekend! In my opinion, the faster time goes, the more productive you have been and the more thoroughly you are living life. But, when we finally had a chance for time to slow down this weekend, I started to process what we've been doing all summer and how it feels and how much we love it here. Time needs to be fast and slow sometimes for us to truly appreciate each moment. I realized that I love the noisy busy scary streets and the waiter at the restaurant we always eat lunch at and the feeling of piling way too many people into one auto and the peaceful walk home through our neighborhood at dusk back home. I love that our awesome, dirty, crazy-landlorded house is HOME. And I'll miss getting phone calls from our partners and planning each day before the previous crazy one has even come to an end. I'll miss trying to eat rice with my hands and ultimately failing while Braxton does it flawlessly. I'll miss every older woman we meet calling Braxton their Indian son and calling me their daughter-in-law (because they love how Indian he is and they love how hard I try haha) and I'll miss sleeping on the floor with no AC! I won't miss that one for long, but I'll miss saying that I did it. We'll miss the smiles on the faces of the people we teach, the teachers we talk to, the children we build playgrounds for.
Most of all, we'll miss the crazy stress of development work! Okay that might not be the most accurate way to express what we'll be missing, but let me explain. Yes, it is stressful, we work a lot, projects hit bumps in the road, lots of curveballs are thrown, but that is what makes it exciting! We're going to miss helping our volunteers overcome culture shock and learn to appreciate and LOVE a new and beautiful culture. We're going to miss helping them help others. We're going to miss HELPing in every way we can, and knowing that the small or large projects we do have a huge impact in the lives of the people here. We'd be lying if we said we won't miss the personal satisfaction and peace that accompanies service work and humanitarian aid work. But that is the selfish side of things. We are going to miss dedicating all of our time, effort, and focus on helping people. Our summer lesson learned (which we are relearning for the billionth time in our lives): focusing on other people and NOT yourself is way happier. It took a weekend to ourselves to remember that. But at least we've remembered.
Because most of our time was spent in hospitals and taking care of sick people, we don't have many pictures for the week, but here's what we do have!
First low cost playground = Complete! We're super proud of Jaret and Braxton for figuring out how to build this super cool playground without any prior construction knowledge and virtually no tools!
We're building another one today and tomorrow!!!
GOOD NEWS!!!! 6 MORE SOILETS ARE COMPLETE!!!! Check it out!!! (Here's just one of them).
St. Anthony's High School school girls ready for english class!
Rice planting season!
Jaret teaching a nutrition class prior to distributing seeds for healthy veggies in these ladies' gardens!
Here's one of the gardens we planted at the beginning of the summer! We're so proud :)
We're painting two more murals this week too! We're all pretty stoked about it. It's proven (don't know who proved it but apparently this is an accurate fact) to improve student attendance and attentiveness at school!