Thursday, November 19, 2009

FYI: Why I write...

For those of you who know me, you know I've had a livejournal since I was 17 years old. Due to his highly personal content and long history I've closed it to the public.

However, I did realize that Remi and I moving to India is a great opportunity for blogging to a more friendly less serious tune for once. I do highly enjoy writing and I manage to always find the time, no matter how busy I am. I also felt it was a great opportunity to inform other potential expats on what life is like in India from a 26 year old American (and French) point of view!

So this blog will mostly be written by moi. Remi is extremely busy and even if he wasn't, blogging just isn't his cup of tea. I will include his views from time to time. So you'll be hearing moslty from me, hope that's ok? :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AIC Field Work.

I spend most of my time at the AIC Residential Program, but today I finally made it to the AIC Educational Outreach Center. All the students inside were shaking my hand, asking my name, where I come from, if I am married, lots of questions! Every time I answered one of their questions they squealed or giggled in delight and turned away in embarrassment. They want to ask you questions and get to know you, but sometimes they're a little shy to use English.

Then we were off to the nearby busti (slum) that our children come from. This was my first time seeing these areas up close. We were going there with a mission however, most of the woman who give birth in these areas do it from home and a record is never made of the child. Julia and I were going into the slums for a small meeting to document exactly how many of them need their birth records, not only for themselves but for their children. Birth certificates are needed for most things, from hospital visits to entry into the local schools. Most of them don't know when they were born, and they don't tell you the year either, they will simply say their age. Which Julia says changes almost daily, she says "Sometimes someone will say they're 43, but then you ask them again tomorrow and they'll say 40". It's really confusing, and it's not like they're lying to you, they honestly don't know. This particular area is where Ramu came from, I met his Grandmother, she is the only survivor of the family. She has some serious leg issues and is in bad health. Unable to walk she sits on the corner in these slums all day in the sun, she looks as if she must be 100+ years old. Dark wrinkly skin with deep dark eyes that look like they've seen too much. She asked us how Ramu was and Julia assured her he is doing well and very healthy now. His Grandmother looked as though she might cry, but the moment passed and we moved deeper into the slum. Everyone tugging on Julia's shirt, asking her questions, wanting help of some sort. These areas (made up of metal shacks, cement, and some brick) are usually home to multiple families or extended families. Soon as we arrive they bring us to the middle of the houses, we follow them up to a balcony, which had the scariest most unsafe steps I've ever been on. Children as small as 3 or 4 years old went up and down them without a thought. Something I've been getting more used to seeing here I guess. Once upstairs they lay a little blanket for us to sit for the meeting. The sun was late afternoon, and it was hitting all their little huts and little homes so beautifully. Clothes lines were hanging everywhere, trash littered the wet muddy cement ground where the children played...most of them half naked without shoes. The women of the village were at the meeting, some young, some old and heavily wrinkled from the sun, dark eyes, colorful saris, babies in their arms. It was a beautiful moment sitting here, listening to an elder with a huge white beard and tiny legs discuss his ailments, a hurting shoulder, weak knees, a back ache. A woman complaining about her tooth ache. Of course none of this is in English, Julia translated into English as they spoke. The woman mostly stared at whoever was speaking at the time but occasionally would look over at us and smile. They really love Julia here, she does so much for them and I felt really welcomed and safe here with them in their homes. They all looked so amazing in the sunlight that I had truly regretted not bringing my camera. As if Julia had read my mind she leaned over during the meeting and whispered "Next time you come you should bring your camera, we need some photos of the places where our children come from." I truly am looking forward to next time. After the meeting was over, children grabbed my hands, calling me Didi, following us as we walked out. Not asking for money or anything, just wanting to talk to me and touch me.


Mary's Travels (so far!)