Yesterday Laura and I accompanied some of the sisters to a small village where they go once a month to give vaccines to the young children (measles, polio etc…). The villagers pay less than 10 rupees for the vaccines for their children. There were many babies all very cute and of course all crying as soon as they get their shots, but they calmed down pretty fast. I had my camera with me and many of the villagers were asking for pictures, which I took and then showed to them. I really wish I had a Polaroid camera so I could give them the pictures after taking them. Many mothers wanted to get photographed with their children. This also gave me an interesting peek at parenting. Young children are very tough and are mostly content to play on their own. There was this one little boy, maybe two years old who was just lying on the ground and crying- as if he were throwing a temper tantrum. No one seemed to take notice and eventually he stopped. It was just surprising to see this little naked boy rolling in the dirt with many people around. When I was taking photos, a few kids tried to get into every one and their parents just hit them to get them to stop- not too hard. It’s a very “no bullshit” type of parenting.
Today, some of the sisters are conducting interviews for nursing students. They have 40 applicants and 20 spots. Most of the applicants are catholic, between the ages of 17-25 and if accepted will serve in some manner for 4 years, in which they are asked not to get married. Sister Jesse explained that because of the cast system, it is acceptable for only certain Hindu women to go into nursing. However there are so few because many of them get married very young- 13-15. If they wait until they are 19-20, they are too old to get married and no one will want them. As a result, then do not pursue this profession.
Yesterday afternoon Namratha, Yong Jung, and I sat in on a hernia operation, which was interesting for the variety since it was the first non c-section I saw, but I prefer to watch the latter because I think there is more going on, plus at the end there is a cute baby to play with . We are allowed free run of the nursery and the birthing room. There are as many as three labours going on at once in the room, though usually only one or two. The women are there with the midwives and it’s usually the grandmothers who are there afterwards to meet their daughters. The newborns are kept in the nursery and we often go in to play with them. Some of them are tiny and absolutely adorable. We watched a c-section of a woman whose uterus was ripping so the baby had to come out two months early. He was so small but is doing well now and I believe all complications with the birth are manageable.
This morning I went to the destitute house after breakfast (the home for the mentally challenged. I help them clean up and then we sang some songs together. One of them speaks English very well, but most of them speak Hindi and a few only speak Bengali. I’m not finding the language barrier a problem when I’m interacting with them, but in other areas it is harder. The hand gestures I know are not universal and head nods are very slight. It makes it much harder to communicate.
Not much more to say, I ate two mangos at lunch and will have another one soon . School starts on Monday and we are going to visit on Tuesday to look around and propose ideas of how we could integrate ourselves in the school system. Until then we are keeping ourselves busy in the hospital and the destitute house.