Three out of three Americans agree.
Betel-nut is really gross. More on that later.
With Nangroi and I both heading out of Meghalaya this week – he left Saturday for a training in Bangalore, and I head to New Delhi on Wednesday – the Orphanage Management Committee has been busy preparing for what needs to be done before the children move into our Village in February. We covered a lot of important topics at our meeting this past Friday.
We’ve drafted a “letter of invitation” for the orphans we’d like to move into our Village. Right now, we plan to invite three children from Padu, two from Nongkrem, four from Wahmawlein, two from Mawlat, and the foster child of one of our “mothers.” We hope by the first week of January to have met with all of the orphans’ guardians to finalize who will move in in February. The only village we were not able to visit yet is Puriang, and I’m hoping that Karuna, Cream, and/or Khlur can go there while Nangroi is gone to meet the orphans there. If we find there that the children there are also in need of living in our Village, we hope to have enough space for one or two more orphans in this initial group. We’re hoping to have about ten children to start, so we may serve the orphans who are really in need but not overwhelm our “mothers.”
Speaking of whom, on Saturday I picked up our two mothers, Rilum and Evandahun, at the S.O.S. Children’s Village. They’ll have a few days at their homes in Wahmawlein before our time away in Delhi. Thanks to Jon, I’m almost completely caught up on my Flickr photos, which means I can show you this picture of when Rilum and Evandahun came to tour the construction site:
They were really pleased with the building and the surrounding area, happy that there is space for gardens and a playground and that there are schools just a short walk away from the site.
Another set of documents we’re working on is contracts for our mothers, helper, and administrator. We’ll be e-mailing back and forth ideas while Nangroi and I are away, and once we have a solid draft for each contract, we plan to send them over to our friends in the States to see if we’ve covered all of our bases.
The last item of business at our meeting was funding. Last week, Nangroi and I (with Banjop’s help) typed into Excel all of the Children’s Village expenditures to date, which so far Nangroi has been keeping carefully with pen-and-paper. With the recent expensive purchase of our tin roofing (which looks great, but cost about 100,000 Rs!), we’ve spent 608,095 Rs. Because the exchange rate was only 39 Rs to 1 USD (now it’s hovering aroung 47-50 Rs to the dollar) when we wired the construction money, this is almost all of our funds! While we’ve been doing our best to keep our costs down, we built an unplanned (but necessary) approach road, are planning to include an unplanned (but again necessary) septic system, and essentially added another wing to the Village.
Again speaking of which, this is the floor plan of the Children’s Village:
Originally, it was to be shaped like an “L,” not a “U,” and the kitchen and bathrooms were going to go inside. While this new plan gives us a lot more space – which means we can probably take 24 orphans total instead of just 18 – it obviously meant more construction materials. We’re still hoping to receive a grant from the Bowland Trust, and have asked the UUNEI for a donation to help cover all these extra costs. It would be too sad if we had to stop work when we’re so close to completion!
On a lighter note, Ms. MD again treated me to a fun Saturday. After picking up the ladies from the S.O.S., Ms. MD and I went to a big rock concert at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex in the Polo district of Shillong. The bands, Firehouse and White Lion, were big in America in the late 80’s and early 90’s, at a time of my life when I was only listening to The Sign. Thus, I didn’t know any of the songs, but it was a pretty fun show. I especially appreciated how the bands were totally 80’s American rock – long hair, inappropriate requests of the local women, etc. –, that everyone who spoke (musicians and organizers) on stage talked about how India is a loving and peaceful country that can overcome terrorism, and that the security personnel all wore badges declaring their membership in B.A.M.! (Bouncer Association of Meghalaya, emphasis added). The only low point of the concert was when I was peer-pressured into trying kwai, or betel-nut. Now I know why Jon and Janis spat it out after just a few seconds of chewing: it is in no way tasty! Luckily, I had some hard candies with me at the show and could thus rid of the betel-nut flavor in my mouth.
Yesterday, I had a relaxing day in Shillong. Khlur, Bari, Bashai, and I went to church in the Nongthymmai district, a place heavily populated by Unitarians. Today was a special service where a group was initiated as assistant ministers. It meant that the whole executive committee – Derrick, Pearl Green, Helpme, and Darihun – was present, and it was so nice to see them! Now I’ve come back to Kharang to make sure I’m ready for my long time away, and then Guwahati on Wednesday and a 36-hour train ride to New Delhi with the mothers and Ms. MD, who’s traveling there to visit her sister. I’m excited to bring Rilum and Evandahun to their further S.O.S. training, to see my friends in Delhi, and to go home for Christmas! I’m talking with Dee now about planning some sort of talk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax while I’m taking this vacation home. We’ll see what we can work out.