Ups and Downs

Monday 10th March 2008

What a week!
Ok, I’ve been up and down like a rollercoaster this week so better get on and tell you all about it.

The ups:
We took all the children for HIV and hepatitis tests this week. We took 12 kids on Tuesday and 13 on Wednesday, and every single one of them came out negative for both! So yay!

Also they were amazing – 25 kids aged 2-14 and only three cried or made a fuss. Parna the youngest (about 2 and a half) had to get jabbed in both arms before they could get a vein and she barely whimpered!
They were soooo good and well behaved! Afterwards we walked back through town and stopped at a local restaurant for samosas and tea – a real treat for the kids, as they hardly ever get out and about. After that we got a tuk-tuk home, and the kids all thought it was a brilliant day out! I never thought I’d think of an HIV test as a fun day out, but the kids were just so amazingly good and really had fun!
So there we are.

Happiest kids in the world - and all HIV negative!

Leaving the hospital – and all HIV negative!

I’ve been trying to get on and sort out the school situation for the kids, as the new school year starts on April 15th, so we need to get on and enrol them before it’s too late. I’d met quite a lot of resistance regarding the government school, as they’re all really set on private school, but we simply can’t afford it.

I was dreading bringing it up again after the fight we had over the puja, but instead Priya walked into my room on Monday and announced that the private school wouldn’t give us a discount so she’d been to have a look round the government school I’d recommended and she really liked it! She also recognised that we need to get them into a school that we can afford longer-term, so she’s totally on board, and today we took Aamaa to look round and meet the headmaster.

It all looks very positive and we have enough money raised now to pay for one year of school (thanks to you lot!!) so it’s all moving along nicely.

Also I’ve just recently started planning my travels after I leave here, as I’m going to go to Malaysia and India for a few weeks in May/June, and next week I’m going overland to Tibet for ten days, via Everest base camp (it’s the lazy way to do it, as I only have to trek for two hours to reach the North Face base camp from the Tibetan side! Haha!)

And, after being very unavailable for about a month, my hot German guy has suddenly shown lots of interest and keeps messaging me. He did have a legitimate excuse too, as the owner of his orphanage turned out to be a child trafficker and got arrested and the fate of the kids was questionable for a long time. There was even a story about it in the paper, so he’s got an iron-clad alibi! He also wanted to know if I was free on Sunday night, so I’m typing this all dressed up ready for what could very possibly be a proper date!
How exciting!

Ok, enough happiness, time for the downs:
Firstly, my giardia parasite returned again with a vengeance this week – I’ve been informed that it’s very common and keeps on coming back, so I just have to keep taking the pills and hope for the best, although the uncontrollable flatulence does not bode well for my date tonight!

Things have been quite tense ever since the big fight Priya and I had, and we’ve had several minor misunderstandings since then. One morning I came downstairs to cook and there was no oil, water, ginger, vegetables or sugar, so I went upstairs to tell Aamaa I couldn’t really cook anything (I couldn’t even wash the rice as we had no water). She said she didn’t have any money, and normally I’d offer to go to the shops but just last week I had given her 12,000 rupees that another volunteer had sent me, so I asked Aamaa where it had all gone. She said Priya had it and she’d call her to come over and buy some things. I was in the kitchen waiting for Priya when she stormed in shouting at me. It turned out that Aamaa had yelled at her and she’d thought that I was really angry (which I wasn’t at all) but had gotten all defensive and pre-emptively yelled at me instead.

Then on Friday morning Aamaa and I had a really long and frustrating conversation where neither of us could understand the other. Eventually we gave up and talked about something else! We ended up laughing about something, but later that day Priya had to take one of the kids to hospital with an ear infection. She called me up in a state in the afternoon and yelled at me again, saying that I’d really upset Aamaa this morning and Aamaa had cried and was really angry with me etc.
I was really confused, as Aamaa and I had had a laugh in the morning!

However I rushed down to the kitchen and told Aamaa how sorry I was to have upset her so much. Then Aamaa said I shouldn’t apologise, and suddenly burst into tears!
I’ve never seen Aamaa cry like that, and felt terrible!

It turned out that the doctor had yelled at Priya, saying that Sani had been neglected and should have been brought in much sooner, terrible parenting etc. They couldn’t tell the doctor she was an orphan, as he may have called the welfare office and tried to shut us down altogether, but it was total rubbish, as me, Karla and Amy all saw Sani playing happily just the day before – she hadn’t looked or seemed ill or in pain at all, so of course Aamaa didn’t know!
Anyway, Priya yelled at Aamaa, who came to the hospital and got yelled at by the doctor, so she yelled at Priya, who called me and shouted at me.

It was all tense and horrible.

The next day Aamaa and I cooked together and things seemed fine. Later on Priya came in from the hospital and wouldn’t speak to me.

I felt awful again, and although we haven’t really had a fight I think there’s still a lot of tension from the Puja and I also think I know why she’s so upset with me.
Last time when Motilal went into hospital, I rushed over there and offered to pay for everything and stayed for hours in the hospital etc. This time I have very specifically avoided all of that, for my own reasons but I haven’t explained them to Priya and I don’t think she understands.
Firstly, Sani isn’t really that sick – I don’t even think it’s an ear infection, as she isn’t in any pain, and ear infections are horrible. She has a swelling behind her ear which might be a bite or something but the doctors here are a bit useless.

Secondly, I’m not going to offer any money, partly because I know they have lots of cash just now – the 12,000 rupees I gave them last week from another volunteer plus Hom came to give them our rent money – now there’s three volunteers it’s 17,400, so Priya’s got 29,000 rupees. Of course when I mentioned this Priya shouted at me again, and said what with rent and gas prices etc, she only had 12,000 left, but that’s still about 100 quid and should be more than enough for Sani’s medicine.

I’ve given a lot of money to this orphanage over the last 7 months and there are now two other volunteers who have not yet done much financially. If Priya’s going to be asking for money she can bloody well ask the others for it.

Also I’ve got a touch of “compassion fatigue” at the moment – I know Sani’s only a little girl, and she’s in the hospital, but I can’t quite bring myself to care very much just now.
I’d be more than happy to go and sit with her but that would mean getting the cold shoulder from Priya at the same time, which I can’t be bothered with, and if she does ask me for any money I’ll say no, which will cause another fight, etc.

Frankly, I feel like getting away for a bit, and wish I was going to Tibet this week instead of next week. However, once I’m off it’ll give us all a break from each other – after all we’re all living together in the same house, it’s not surprising we’re getting on top of each other a bit!
All these minor misunderstandings are a bit exhausting, and I sometimes feel like I’m making things worse by being here (but obviously I realise I’m not before you all start!).

Alan said I ought to feel flattered that they feel comfortable enough to yell at me in the first place – I really am part of the family I guess! However my family doesn’t exactly do yelling and screaming, so it’s all a bit tiring.

Ok – this email’s long enough, but I wrote it yesterday and have more to say so will start another one!
take care everyone

lots of love

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