When in India, do yoga. Even Jovie looks like she's joining in.
Today the girls and I went on a road trip. Dropped Jayson off at work, James at a friend’s house, and away we went. Destination: Dentist. The recommended dentist was in Coonoor, about 45 minutes away from Ooty. We were following a friend’s car, so we didn’t take the normal road, but more of a single track, across the mountain (hill) short cut. They have a Jeep. Again, we have the Car/Van/Can, lest you forget - it was more of a Jeep road, not so much a Car/Van/Can road. So, Jovie is buckled up in her car seat, Sydney in a booster seat that someone gave us but the buckle does not really work, Ani is in the front seat because she gets carsick. We are keeping up pretty well. I’m not sure if I would call the holes in the road potholes, but crater holes. In my attempt to dodge one crater hole, I hit another and Sydney flew (sorry Grandmas and Grandpas) out of her seat and onto the floor. With a bit of tears, I had Ani help her to the front seat with us while I was driving and there we were, four Palm girls on the road again. After all this Ani said, “Us Palms, we do what we have to do, and we don’t give up.” Sing it sister. After that drive, the Dentist was cinch. It was the quickest appointment of my life. Ani’s “check-up” lasted 3 minutes and my “check-up” lasted 5. Sweet. And the kicker was we didn’t have to pay a thing, because there was no services given, my brow puzzled a bit, because what did they consider the “check-up”? I don’t know, but I wasn’t going to argue.
So, with the rains, we have new friends in our kitchen sink (move over cockroaches). Slugs. Sweet. So, the other morning James walks over and looks into the sink, “Nope, no slugs.” I guess everyone has to have a morning routine.
Dead center, on the sink, James' friend Mr. Slug
Aftercare. I have absolutely considered it a privilege to be able to come alongside this particular program of Freedom Firm. There is not much out there by way of Aftercare for trafficked girls. Mala, the director, has really built this from scratch. And it’s a place where girls can come and be taken care of physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And then slowly as the girls are able, more autonomy and responsibility is given. Monday through Friday, the girls go to Smyrna. Freedom Firm rents a building there, and in the morning the girls have English and computer lessons. After lunch, the girls learn and work their craft - Jewelry and Aari. The staff work quite well as a team. There are three different languages used in Aftercare - the rescued girls use Hindi, the house mothers use Tamil, the westerners/volunteers use English, and the social workers use all three (they deserve a medal). My role is to manage the staff as they work with the girls. The staff is quite competent, so I feel like my role really is encouragement and to be a listening ear. Volunteers also play a huge role. Volunteers usually come for 3 months or more and simply spend their days with the girls. Teaching English, working with the micro-business (the Aari and Jewelry), taking the girls on outings, simply spending time with them - communicating to them that they are valuable, worthy of love, and can dream outside of their past. I took a bunch of photos yesterday at Smyrna, to help capture where most of Aftercare is spent - I will pummel you with captions with the photos to help explain what is what. Enjoy.
Next Monday, we may be walking into a week of disaster or a week of frolic - not yet sure which. We (the Palm Six) are heading out on our first major travel in India. We are flying up to Mumbai and driving three hours over to Pune, where the FF operational office is. This last month, FF has rescued 17 girls and we want to tell them way to go and how can we help from far away...to put it simply. We will be there for a few days and then we’ll take an overnight train down to Goa, a well known beach in India. We will be there for a long weekend of family “relaxing” (a loose definition when you have 4 young kids) and then head back down to Ooty on another overnight train. With all that travel and new places, there are bound to be some hiccups - but hey, that’s what makes a good blog entry, right? Anything for you guys. So, no blog next week, we will be chiming in again in two weeks. Until then...