Monday, September 3, 2012

Fourth Day: A Bit of Heaven

Second Colony Experience: Calvary Nagar
Morning volleyball - love seeing the students out there playing before leave for the colonies.  These kids are so great - and it's so beautiful here.  This is right in front of our "Elephant House" hostel - and their school is way over to the left of this picture.

This day was a really special one for me.  The colony we visited is one I don't think I'll be able to forget because of the experience and feelings I had while there.  It was one less visited and there were a lot more people needing help.

Awesome cow hanging at this neat looking house.  There are cows everywhere!

Most nights last week, I felt pretty tired because I was doing some work from home late into the evenings, and Thursday morning I was really feeling the exhaustion, despite my early morning run.  All that morning, I kept trying to be more focused on the Lord, on our Savior and asked to be able to give His love to those we worked with.  Once we arrived at the colony, my energy jumped up and I felt so alive and happy to be there.  I was assigned to work with the nurse at the bandaging station.  We put on double sets of gloves and then she taught me how we would bandage their wounds.

Our vans from Rising Start - one carries the volunteers and the other the nurses and whoever doesn't fit in the first van.  They have been really nice to travel in and we love our drivers.  Super good guys.

Aunin - we LOVE him!  He's such a great driver, so funny, childlike and also super helpful and honest.  We met his daughter and wife and they were so cute - he was so happy seeing them too and that made me happy :)

Waiting in line for the clinic
Looking into the faces of these beautiful Indian people that came into our clinic, I kept thinking how much they deserve dignity and respect.  The are great people - and I couldn't help but think of my dad and grandpa as I looked at some of these men.  The colony leader appeared smart, wise, and kind - he looked like a respectable leader, and yet extremely humbled by the disease that he fought.  His ulcer was one of the biggest and deepest of the day - huge, open flesh, looking much like a shallow hole in his leg.  It hurt my heart to think of the difficulties these people face - rejection from society, isolation, lack of opportunity - I would never want that for my parents and grandparents.  Yes, life can still be meaningful and good, and yes, they have deep smiles and are often happy, but still, I can't ignore the disparities I see.

Those that come to the clinic bring their records in hand, get their blood pressure checked, and their blood glucose checked.  These numbers are recorded in their records and then taken to the nurses who decide what medications are necessary.

These are beautiful people with beautiful souls - I wish I could stay here, live here, and serve them forever - But really, we are here to help, the nurses and us do this as a necessary help and also as a reminder for these people affected by Leprosy to give themselves good self-care.  A couple of leprosy afflicted individuals came dragging their bodies in as they moved, many had stubbs for hands or feet, or partially missing hands or feet.  It was quite humbling to witness. And couldn't help but imaging the Lord being close to these beautiful people - being friends with them, laughing with them, and loving them.  It made me feel comforted as I felt so emotional seeing their pain.

Oiling and massage station, they come to this after their old bandages are removed, their ulcers/wounds cleaned,  and then afterwards they came to the station I was at where the nurse cut out and off the bad/rotting skin, placed special ointment on bandages and we then wrapped up their feet and legs - whatever needed bandaging/wrapping.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments for me was with this one women - I wish I knew her name.  She sat down and the nurse started cutting away the rotten flesh and bad skin around the ulcers - but there was one area around her ankle that she didn't want the nurse to cut.  The nurse explain that part really needed cutting and removing, but as she started into that area, it was quickly apparent that the woman was in great pain.  She began to cry and even now, as it is several days since then, it still causes emotion within me.  I didn't know how to console her and just kept rubbing her upper legs, squeezing her arm, and telling her it would be okay, but she quietly cried and cried.  My heart ached for her pain - not just for that day's pain, but also in the knowledge that this was one of a lifetime of experiences that would continue because of her disease - I couldn't help crying but hid it as best I could behind the face mask we all wore - I knew I needed to be upbeat and positive because this was so hard for her.

Men from the colony getting their medications from two of the nurses

With all that, I sincerely loved bandaging their wounds - it just felt like a sweet experience, even though I felt so nervous for the first few individuals, my hands shaking because I wanted to do it the right way and not mess up.  But our awesome nurse was wonderfully helpful and super patient with me as I learned how to wrap the foot and leg properly.

Loved these two men.  The one on the right is the leader of the colony.  Beautiful people and so fun and happy to talk with.

The very last man who came in could hardly walk.  J. J., one of the volunteers, helped him move from station to station and had to be careful with his leg because his ulcer was all the way up his leg, covering about half.  It was difficult to see, to sanitize and made me cry.  This man was also so humble, so sweet, and moved with great difficulty.  We used 7 medical pads to bandage up his leg - unbelievable.  I don't believe I've ever seen something so bad in person and it smelled terrible - of course it did.  He couldn't get his sandals on (people and organizations have donated shoes for many of these colonies so that they are tailor-made for whatever type of shape/stubb/partial foot each person has) and was super weak so that he had to sit on the ground against the building as we put away the clinic and left the colony, so he get his strength up.  That was tough.  Again, beautiful person and I wished I could lift him.

Washing our hands after the clinic

Church building in the center of the colony

Beautiful little kids at the school next to where we held the clinic

We've seen a number of these signs on various buildings so far - a variety of churches and organizations sponsor building projects, clinics, churches, homes or other structures in the colonies.  Pretty neat.

Little worship spot in the village before Rising Star's campus.

One of the things that has been very empowering for women in the Leprosy-affected colonies has been to learn a trade and participate in something similar to a Village bank and micro-lending.  This woman, with a few others, came to sell to us pearl necklaces, earrings and bracelets which they made themselves after being taught jewelry-making by previous volunteers.  They now have a full business (also selling in the states - "Pearls of Hope") that blesses so many in their community...and yes, I did buy some!  My first experience with pearls and it was fun :)  This woman was sooooo cute and I just loved her and her bobbing head (in India it means "yes" or "that's chill" or "whatever" when you bob your head from side to side with a smile -- I seriously love the bob and I'm trying to learn it!)


Stephanie C. said...

By far thee most humbling post I've read in a while. I love the way you described the people there! They all DO deserve respect, compassion, and so so much more. I'm not even there and I feel for them deeply already. Thanks for posting this! So beautiful ~

Tim Zupancic said...

Man that is hard yet good to read. It is too easy to get caught up in the easy life here while so many are suffering and struggling. You are a sweet blessing to all those people. Let your light shine :) they are grateful and all of us back home are happy and proud of you. Enjoy every minute babe :)

MegO said...

Nice nursing Becks! Although the greatest gift you are giving them is your contagious joy. I'm sure it's spreading! Love you!