Two truths and a lie.
This is a game I’ve played before:
- The monsoon has started,
- I am a good disciplinarian, or
- Our smallest child, Enjila, is actually her younger brother, Marshall.
Oh goodness, the monsoon has so started. Yesterday, I didn’t leave the Mukhims’ house until about 2 p.m. because it was raining and hailing torrentially, and the road to the orphanage is a mess when it’s raining out, and marble-sized hail is scary. However, in that time, I taught Dari and Wanrilung to play “go fish” with the Seattle-themed deck of cards Dan gifted to them. That was great.
I am not a good disciplinarian. I have been asked to give a talking-to to the two older boys (Blaster and Pynkhraw) twice since I’ve been back from my trip, and (in addition to not speaking Khasi…) I found this difficult because I’m not a great scolder. You’d think after a year at MATCH, I’d be better, but I’m just not. My only slightly effective method is to embarrass children in front of their peers. So, I leaned on this again. Using broken Khasi and my “what are you thinking?!” face, Blaster and Pynkhraw were thoroughly embarrassed in front of their peers because they had to clean the walls inside the house (after they’d played soccer there… come on boys!), and then again for being smelly because they were refusing to wash their school socks. Badashisha and Pynkhraw’s sister Phlinsimai, our two oldest girls, laughed mightily throughout said talking-tos.
Which brings us to the second truth: Enjila is actually Marshall. I’ve written about this child before: this is the one who is pretty terrified of me because I’m white, and looks really tiny and malnourished, and never speaks. Shortly after the children moved in, the mothers discovered that “Enjila” was a boy. Asking his brother Bankhrawbok, they learned that their guardian had decided to place Marshall in the orphanage instead of his sister. Nangroi and I came to know about this just before I left on my trip. We’ve done some research locally and have been communicating with Dee and Marshall’s sponsor, but basically what Bankhrawbok told us is all there is. I feel at fault for this confusion, as I was the one who greeted the guardians when they dropped off the kids, but I don’t think anyone on the OMC would have thought that a guardian would, without telling us, decide to bring a different child. Not to mention that while we were got signatures from all of the guardians agreeing to admit the children, these village kids don’t have birth certificates, which complicates the “hey, is this the right child?” matter. Eesh.
But, out of this big mistake comes our greatest success story (in my mind) thus far: Marshall.
As I’ve just written again, he was terrified of me for this whole first month (as in, would burst into tears as soon as he saw me). He was unsteady on his feet and wouldn’t talk to anyone. They thought they couldn’t send him to school this year.
But, the mothers gave it a try. Marshall has been attending nursery class at the local lower primary school. And I’ve seen the other kids trying to reach out to Marshall, even though he’d often strike at them and, as I mentioned, never say anything in response.
Three days ago, I saw Bobina (the middle child from Padu) trying to play with Marshall. As usual, he hit at her and made a big old frowny face. But, after about half an hour of this, I heard Marshall speak! I looked over at them, and saw Bobina teaching Marshall and hand game. I was very happy about this, but certainly wasn’t going to spoil it by walking over and sending him into a crying fit.
But, the next day, I saw Bobina carrying Marshall on her back toward me. I rushed inside, again trying to avoid upsetting him. I sat down with some of the other kids to play pick-up-sticks and jacks (thanks, Janis, for leaving us that box set!). Marshall and Bobina sat down too. Marshall wasn’t crying! Then, the kids asked me to take pictures of them, and I took one of Marshall. After showing it to him, he seemed pretty happy. Then I took a really cute picture of him and Sunita (the older girl from Puriang).
Here’s that photo:
And yesterday, he let me work with him on writing the letter “O.” He got pretty good at it, and we gave him a lot of praise. For a kid who we didn’t think would even be able to walk to school, much less attend, he’s doing really well!
So, even though Marshall wasn’t supposed to join our Children’s Village family, I think he’s benefited a lot from living there. I’m happy we have hm.
Really, all of the children are doing quite well. Nangroi, Birialda and I often comment to each other that we’re surprised how quickly the kids have taken the Children’s Village as their home, and how quickly the kids’ health seems to have improved. They all look great.
This upcoming week, the mothers are going to have the children write letters to their sponsors. Our part-time administrator, Ms. Thwiss, is going to translate the letters, and I’m going to print photos of each of them. So, if you’re a sponsor, hopefully you’ll have a letter and at least one picture of your sponsored child sometime in April!
Lastly, I’ve decided to go to Harvard. (Though I’m not sure if my “I accept!” to Harvard went through… Oh, cell phone internet!) A few things really helped my decision. First, I talked with a couple of current UU students, and it sounds like the UU community there is very positive, affirming, and close-knit. Second, I e-mailed all of the HDS UU “denominational advisors,” and one name looked really familiar… And then, when Reverend John Buehrens (former UUA president) e-mailed me back, I realized, “Oh, that’s the name on all those church buildings out here. OH.” Lastly, one of the students I talked to is an intern at the UUA’s international office. I would like his internship one day. And maybe Reverend Buehrens’s job too. Let’s see what unfolds in the future.