And then there was one.
… But hopefully not in the Agatha Christie sense. Khlur and I dropped off Jon at Police Bazar yesterday morning at his taxi to Guwahati, marking the departure of my last Western friend here. I’m going to miss him very much, and hope that he has a safe and fun week in Delhi and Amritsar before heading home! I’m very fortunate to still have so many friends and so much to do in Kharang and Shillong, as can be seen by my activities over the past few days.
This weekend was a big one for the Orphanage Management Committee. First, Nangroi, Karuna, her daughter Liza, and I traveled to the Ri Bhoi district to the north of Shillong to visit with three potential AMBCV residents. What we found was that, actually, the three children we met did not want or need to move into the orphanage! These children are being taken care of through the strong Khasi family system, being well looked after by aunties and older siblings, and the families really just need assistance with school fees. Their families were under the impression that the orphanage would be more like a hostel (dormitory), and when we explained our purpose, they were more than a little reluctant to send their relatives out to Kharang permanently. I thought it was wonderful to see how well the families take care of their orphaned own, and am glad that Karuna and Nangroi can now assist them in receiving aid from the Education Committee and programs like Sponsor a Student!
(Another interesting moment for me on this trip was that while visiting in Kyrdem, I was offered honeycomb to eat. I was about to take a big bite when I realized there were tiny bees still inside the comb! I was told you could eat them and it wasn’t a problem, but I used the excuse of being vegetarian to instead just squish parts of the comb between my fingers and eat the delicious fresh honey that way. I felt rude not eating the comb outright, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!)
Another big moment for the Children’s Village happened yesterday, when our two “mothers” started a 15-day training at the S.O.S. Children’s Village, located just outside of Shillong. The S.O.S. organization began after World War II, when a wealthy European man felt great compassion for those orphaned by the war. Now, there are S.O.S. Villages all over the world, including a good number here in India. I’m confident that the practical experience our mothers will gain from staying with S.O.S. families will well prepare them for working at the AMBCV! The Orphanage Management Committee is also now discussing whether we’ll send our ladies out to New Delhi for an additional month-long training, which would include theoretical coursework in childrearing and financial budgeting. We’re in close contact with the director of the S.O.S. Children’s Village – Shillong to work out the details.
In Kharang at this moment, Nangroi is helping to organize a feast for our construction workers to celebrate when they finish putting up the (very heavy) roof beams. I’m still in Shillong now, but I’ll be headed back to Kharang tomorrow so that I can be there to help Dari with all of the cooking! We predict that the roof skeleton will be up by the end of this week. As usual, I’m about a month behind in my photographs, but look at this photo from the beginning of November and imagine that all the exterior and interior walls finished, and that’s what the Village looks like now:
You can easily distinguish in this photo two of the children’s dormitories, a mother’s room (on the left side next to the dorm), the indoor bathroom (also on the left), and the study room/library (right in front of where Janis is standing). The big open space in the middle is the Lennox Room, where the children will eat and play. In the far left corner is the third children’s dorm, and between that and the children’s dorm in the front are the two other mothers’ rooms. The only rooms you really can’t see are the guest and sick rooms, both on the left and out of the photo frame. The guest room will have a bunk bed and dresser, and the sick room only a bed. A kitchen and three bathrooms will be located just behind the orphanage, and connected through a small passageway.
I also had a fun last weekend with Jon, with special thanks to Ms. MD! On Saturday, she took us out to the Don Bosco Museum, which is a large and very nice commemoration to the indigenous cultures of northeast India. The museum has artifacts from all of the tribes of the seven northeastern states, including tools, clothing, and musical instruments. I definitely recommend the Museum for folks visiting Meghalaya!
Lastly, I’d like to share a bit of knowledge from Kipling’s Kim, about the adventures of a young Irish orphan living in British India, which I read a couple of weeks ago:
“Never speak to a white man until he’s fed,” said Kim, quoting a well-known proverb.
I’m not sure which part of this quotation I gather the most amusement from, but in short, I think it’s hilarious. I hoped you’ve enjoyed just as much.