Dark Muddy Water

It is difficult to express what an amazing experience we have had! The Sahoo school is nestled on a cliff . . . high on the mountains. Our teams consists of Denali, Cedar, Eli, Caleigh, Elise, Jacob and Emily. Each day we hike down to the school to teach 57 beautiful, smart, and energetic Indian children. Our drive to the school is about one hour from where we are staying. Even though I feel my life is at the hands of our driver . . . Lalou. He successfully negotiates the cliffs, cars and if you can imagine buses on the one lane roads. It is not unusual to have a herd of goats and sheep cause us to a complete stop for a few minutes. However, Lalou is a master with his horn ... as is every Indian driver through the entire town of chamba.

Our group decided yesterday to try a new experience while teaching the hygiene and health lessons. While the children come to school with a thin shirt and sweater ... their hair is combed perfectly. . .it is obvious that baths and washing comes at a premium if they can afford shampoo. Our group took on the challenge of wanting to wash hair with shampoo and conditioner, wash faces and ears. . . leaving each child feeling clean and fresh from the neck up! We went to the village to purchase pretty hair clips and colorful elastic so the each girl could have a hair clip to take home. The rain ponchos were a hit and we purchased a few towels to make sure that their bodies could stay dry in the cold and hair way dry. Our group even thought of using the one electric source to bring blow dryers so the children's heads would not get cold. Many of the kids have colds coming on with the winter approaching. The beautiful hand knit hats that we brought from the USA were place on each child's head. It has been the talk of the village. Cedar spearheaded the head washing. Needless to say each bucket that was filled up for washing was filled up with dark muddy water after each child had their hair cleaned. Raj, our interpreter, said that the parents my only be able to wash hair once every few months or so . . . that is why they are go grateful for us to do this act of love. Caleigh was on hair styling detail... Eli, Elise, Jacob and Denali were working on medical exams. Emily was in charge of dental hygiene! It was amazing how hard working our team was to get everything done.
Today we are taking the children into town to purchase a new pair of shoes and two pairs of socks. Each student will also receive a sweater that can help them stay warm through the harsh, cold winter months. It is cold and the kids are coughing with the thread bare clothing that they have. But despite all of the simple and basic needs they have . . . they are happy, inquisitive and most of all, incredibly gracious and full of gratitude for our presence and help.
This Thanksgiving. . . I am grateful for all of the parents of YMAD... for the incredible children you have raised, for shoes, for socks, for my health, and my American citizenship, which provides me a lifestyle of comfort and security. I am grateful for my children and husband, who have been supportive of me being away. I have had a life changing experience and know each one of your children are . . . truly making a difference in a country that ives with so little, and works so hard to sustain themselves every day. Happy Thanksgiving to all . . . and finally I want to give thans for finally getting the internet, which has not been available for days! India has been a fabulous life experience.
Susan Porter