Roosters crowing children growing, got big plans but dirty pants, with kids to teach life is sweet!
Geography as fate
July 5, 2010Posted by on
The Kopila gang of volunteers decided to have banana pancakes in honor of 4th of July yesterday. What do pancakes have to do with America’s release from British colonial rule? Not a lot, but pancakes taste good and they’re better with bananas, which happen to be particularly delicious here.
So we were in the market with Shova, our trusty 6th grade guide, looking for a dairy store. While walking past the cafe that we frequent for cold water and half melted ice cream bars, we ran into Saurab, a boy from our kindergarten class. He was on his way home from school, but I didn’t see his grandmother anywhere. She brings him to school each morning because he has a broken arm. He broke it about 6 weeks ago and it was set as best his family could with a “village” cast – a mixture of mud and sticks. Unfortunately as it healed he lost mobility in his arm and feeling in three fingers. By the time school started his fingertips had turned black. Three weeks later we are still waiting for the “non-urgent” surgery to repair his arm and fingers to be scheduled.
Saurab comes in everyday as much as two hours early and sits in the office readying Tell Me About books and pointing at the pictures saying “look, shark!” and “look, plane!” He doesn’t cry when kids bump his arm, or Dr. Frank rotates his shoulder to check for damage. He is so happy to be in school that his inability to write with a broken arm doesn’t matter.
So there we are in the market, and I here this tiny voice behind me say “Lisa Madam!” And there he is, negotiating cows, motor bikes, and open sewage with an overstuffed backpack pulling on his broken arm. Shova asked in Nepali if the arm was hurting him and without his smile skipping a beat he answered “yes.” In my head all I heard was – ‘alright that’s it! Enough already. Not this kid. He deserves better.’ So I marched into the cafe, rooted around in the fridge for the coldest water they had, threw Saurab’s backpack over my own bag, and told Christina, Kelly, and Shova that I would see them back at the house. I was going for a walk. Today, at least, would be different.
We walked for about 3 miles before reaching Saurab’s house. As we walked hand in hand toward the hills where thousands more people live without electric lines or running water, Saurab would look up at me as if to make sure I wasn’t getting tired or bored, as if to make sure I wasn’t about to say, “Sorry, this is too far – I’ll see you tomorrow though”. As I would smile down at him a huge grin would flash across his face and his hand would squeeze mine, and with a quickened pace we would continue up into the hills. We took breaks to drink cold water, and he rattled on in broken English about trucks carrying lumber and goats grazing in fields around us.
His house is a mud hut, with 5 foot ceilings. He lives with his mother, grandmother, and two siblings. He’s lucky. His family cares about him and he has two guardians. He’s fed at home and his older brother helps him with his homework. The last time he went to the hospital for his operation his grandmother waited with him for 4 days before they were told that the surgeon had gone to Kathmandu. They want to help him get better, and they have the foresight to see that school is his only chance at a safer, healthier, more comfortable life.
I wanted to tell this story because it’s a happy one. His arm will, hopefully, heal correctly after surgery. He has a school to go to where he’s guaranteed a big healthy lunch and he won’t be slapped for not knowing an answer. His family sees him as a person, not just another obligation. But it was still frustrating. Frustrating to see him hurting.
I wanted to tell this story because every success here sheds light on more things we have to improve.
Like Hannah and I admiring the mural she’s painted outside the house gate, as a 9 year old boy dug through our trash pit, throwing bits of plastic and cardboard into an empty rice sack on his back. But that’s another story.