Arambha

Roosters crowing children growing, got big plans but dirty pants, with kids to teach life is sweet!

Tag Archives: kids

A Sprouting Bean

If you follow Maggie and Blinknow, you know that Namraj is a handful. Not being a talker hasn’t stopped him from letting you know exactly what he wants by pointing, scowling, whining, screaming, and – if necessary – delivering a pint-sized dose of Kung Fu with his mini-me Bruce Lee feet and hands.

I get along well with kids in general, but babies don’t take to me very quickly. It isn’t just Namraj who avoids my company. Monica doesn’t care for me to even looking at her, baby Madan ran from me every time I saw him during my last stay, and there were a few nursery class applicants this year who preferred anyone but me interview them.
So I’m not offended by Namraj’s wiley ways.

The fact remains however that Maggie is on sabbatical, Kusum and Ubji are visiting family in India, and the rest of us are really busy! In Nepal it really does take a village to raise a child, so Libby (who just came down with a stomach bug) has been leading the effort to change the baby’s picky ways and force him to like and accept all of us – weird white people included.

Last week he spent 45 minutes pacing up and down the third floor hallway and Libby’s room screaming bloody murder because she wanted him to play on his own and practice walking (he’s not as sure-footed as he could be, because everyone wants to hold him. He truly suffers from being so cute…I digress…) You would have thought she was barbecuing his toes. He banged on Kusum’s door hoping she would rescue him. He walked to the front balcony and wailed for help. We followed close behind as he climbed the stairs to the roof where he plopped down and screamed to the heavens for mercy. Finally he wore himself out and Libby was able to take him downstairs swaddled on her back.

Caitlin and I are the last adult frontiers. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so white, or Caitlin’s so tall, maybe my nose is too big…whatever it is, he just doesn’t approve. Today Gyanu had been with him all morning and had things of her own to do. I found her in the hallway trying to give the baby to Tope. He looked so tired and worn out from driving twice in three days to the Indian border that I just grabbed the baby for a guerilla-style daycare adventure.

He wasn’t too bad. In fact, he was kind of good. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, the lunch gong rang, and he woke up. He let me carry him all the way to the school for our meal. We shared a plate of vegetables and dhaal bhat. He listened to me when I said no to him bothering the other aunties and didis while they were eating. Washed his face and nose – no major issues. Checked his diaper – no drama. Carrying him back to the house and up to the third floor – happy as a clam. He fussed a little when he realized there was no one else around, but after telling him to be quiet and sleep – he did just that.

And now he’s sleeping on my bed – like a little lima bean, storing up energy for its next growth spurt. Kudos to Libby – her sink or swim approach is turning this quasi-neurotic baby into a healthy, well-balanced toddler.

If you really study his face for a few moments you'll see the potential for mischief that lurks inside....

Advertisements

All’s well….

Hi guys! I’m sitting with Maya right now. She has a really brightly colored, silky kind of suit on. It’s a kind of floral print korta with electric purple jam pants. Fitting.

I’ve talked non stop about the kids and staff at Kopila to my friends and family at home. I’m sure over the past few weeks Brendan has wished there was something besides Sabita’s angelic smile or Nabin’s nonstop enthusiasm for me to talk about. But with my trip fast approaching it’s been hard not to think about all the perfect little people that live at Kopila, and what it would be like to see them again. Would they remember me? If they did, would it be fondly? It’s hard for me to imagine that they could really care much when there are 40+ other people to love on each one of them.

When I arrived the first person that I locked eyes with was Maya. I pounded on the glass and waved like a crazy person, and started opening the door before the car had stopped. And she had this huge Maya smile – a little bit crazy, a whole lot heart. You know she was the first kid I met when I came to Kopila last summer.

So now here she is telling me she wants to write on the blog. She offers to spell my name for me on the blog: “L – I – S – A yeah?” She’s been practicing but Marshall is still a hang up – it’s too much like the Nepali name Magar.

I ask her about her day…how was school, what did she do…was it fun…

Teacher nice teacher reading.

Oh? What about?

A doggy.

That’s nice. What happened?

The dog in fight.

Oh.

Yeah, and there was a lot of blood. On his back.

Hmm. That’s strange. I don’t remember curating any dog fight stories for the school library….

So what else happened?

Well, the dog was dirty dirty dirty. From all the blood. But then at the end he was happy dog, and washing. Not dirty. No blood.

I’m really confused. Could there possibly be a story like this that a teacher would choose to read to kindergarten?

…But at the end the dog was happy and they had a happy birthday and they played ball.

Ok, Maya’s just telling me a story now…

She looks at me, and at the computer, and she crawls into my lap and sets her nose a half inch from mine –

“I love Maggie and Libby and Lisa and Karen and Giselle and Jake and Nina and Suzy and Anthony and Lexie. You write!”

All’s well that ends well.

Here’s to a little crazy and a whole lot of heart.

Maya

Goodbye Volunteers

Frank left today. Kelly and Cristina are leaving tomorrow. And I will be gone on Friday. One minute I am so ready to come home and see everyone I love, and the next I want to change my ticket and stay another 2 weeks.

In any case, I wanted to share some thoughts and stories about our “Dr.” (med student extraordinaire) Frank.

He has been such a rockstar here at Kopila. EVERYONE loves Frank. He had a gaggle of little girls from here at the hostel that would follow him around, from clinic to house to the top floor and back down to the school, giggling and jumping. They just adored him.

All the grown up Nepalis loved Frank too. He was the first to buy a topi, and he wore it all the time! Everyone in the market got such a kick out of it. And at dinner time he could eat almost as much dhaal bhat as a Nepali – which is a lot. Once or twice even Baju (typically a poker face) expressed her approval at his ability to pack it away.

When Maggie introduced all the volunteers at the show last month, we all got polite applause. But Frank was hiding on the sidelines (the topi makes him invisible) and Maggie forgot about him for a sec. When she realized and introduced him – people stood up. They cheered. They roared. Hannah, me, Cristina, and Kelly just looked at each other. Where did that come from?

But more than his charm, humor, and digestive prowess, Frank was a lifesaver here at the house and school. Literally. He solved mystery illnesses (no wonder one of his fav shows is House!), he woke up in the middle of the night for vomiting children, he rode on the back of a scooter he barely fit on by himself in the rain at midnight to take sick kids to the hospital.

He was never afraid to say he didn’t know an answer, or that he wasn’t sure what to do next. So many times he and Kelly would say, “I know how to treat hypertension and diabetes – not tropical boils!” But they researched online, consulted colleagues, read Karen’s travel medicine book (PS Karen – we found it!), and trudged on. Sometimes I could tell it wasn’t easy. Getting an accurate history through a 12 year old translator isn’t the best scenario for diagnosing severe headaches coupled with leg pain and loss of consciousness. Or try suturing a 4 year olds’ head wound with a needle gauged for what looks like exotic veterinary medicine. Quick, what’s the toxicity of an entire tube of adult flouride toothpaste, because baby Madan – 2 years old and 17 lbs soaking wet – just ate one. The list goes on. Every day was something wild and woolly.

On top of what must have seemed like a 6 week long emergency room on call shift, Frank taught health classes at the school. Once hand washing and drinking water standards had been covered, he dove right into the good stuff – anatomy, pathology, and organic chemistry. One evening as Kelly and I ate our dinner roti, Shova told us she was studying for a health quiz. When we asked what it was about, she told us the types of foods. We understood from the blank look on her face after asking what kind of food roti was, that Frank had been up to his usual ways. Why teach the food pyramid when you can jump straight into carbon chains and peptide rings!

He even managed to teach the kids a smattering of Japanese, and showed the boys how to shave during he and Kelly’s special puberty talk.

Frank was a great volunteer teammate as well. He was always quick to pick up a treat from the market for Friday nights on the roof, or to listen to you vent about a project that just wasn’t going the way you wanted it to. His crazy ultra-capitalist schemes (what Surkhet really needs is a teaching hospital – and a CASINO!) became a running joke, as did his craving for cow meat. While waiting for a line of tractors to pass us on the main road earlier this week, I caught Frank staring off in the direction of a herd of cattle and heard him murmur, “Just look at all that meat! How can they not eat it!”

I just don’t know what we are going to do without him. I only have to give medicine to two children in his absence and I am already worried I’ll forget. He’s helped this community and this family so much. I walked by his room after he left and one of our Aunties was sitting on his bed sobbing. It reminded me how many great hearts there are here – people who open the door to their home and their family with the utmost trust and goodwill. Their kind and gracious manner masks the plain hard work that they do from sunrise to past sunset. Her sad crumpled face showed me that language barriers and different backgrounds are no match for the closeness that comes from living, working, and caring together.

To Frank, dozing at 35K feet in a cramped middle seat over the Atlantic right now (hopefully after having some meat based dinner), and to all the Kopila volunteers past and present – the best in us thanks the best in you.

Frank, Nisha, Cristina, and Kelly. Photo Courtesy of Frank Cioppettini

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The Play’s the Thing!

After being open for just over one month, Kopila Valley Primary School had its first fine arts performance yesterday! It was a huge success. 3rd grade sang “In the Jungle”, 4th grade narrated the event through a puppet show, 5th and 6th danced, and we even had some poetry readings from individual students. Parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends came to support our students as they shared their knowledge and talent with the community.

Here are some pictorial highlights…


In other news, my ninja like ability to sneak up on children committing naughty offenses such as spitting over third story balconies and dredgingnalis (open air sewage drainage ditches) for non-existant fish (as if existent fish would be a good reason to jump in a sewer) has been compromised by what I maintain is some Nepali-lite version of pertussis. It’s harder to catch kids red handed when your approach is preceded by a rhythmic whooping which has to sound something like a bobcat hacking up a habanero tainted hair ball from the deepest recesses of its lower intestine.

In other words, I have a bad cough.

I also have a big success story to share regarding my after school reading class. Watch out, because my vestigial “Teacher Lisa” half is about to emerge…. Today my students, who 3 weeks ago knew no more about reading than the name of the letters of the alphabet, today sounded a word for me that contained not one, not two, but three sounds! If you’re a reading teacher you know this is a big deal. Blending phonemes is tough, and in a second language full of sounds that don’t exist in your native language it’s even more difficult. As they pronounced each sound I wrote it on the board, and had to take a second before turning around to congratulate them, because I just couldn’t believe that I was witnessing this lightbulb moment. My emotions were getting the better of me. These students are learning to read and they will take this skill with them forever. It’s profound and humbling to be a part of such an arrival of self sufficiency and import. These amazing kids also answered comprehension questions which I translated into Nepali!

I can say things like, “Is /c/ a sound or a letter name?” And, “Which sound is this vowel saying?” Everyday I can pick out more words as Maggie speaks with the kids, although all my native Nepali aunties and uncles speak too quickly and with too much of an accent for me to catch much. Whenever I try to string together a Nepali sentence or two they laugh, but I am not sure if it is out of delight at my effort, or derision at my butchery.

That’s it from this side of the world today. Make the best of your time because you can’t take it with you!



Photo by Karen Watson

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Puppets!

Kelly, Christina, and Hannah have been working for the past two weeks on a school wide fine arts performance that will happen this Friday on our new school stage!!!

Fourth grade’s contribution is a puppet show interpretation of The Little Red Hen. The class has been working for about 5 class periods on their puppets and today we voted on which ones will be in the show. Here are the contestants. Aren’t they awesome? I love how colorful they all are.

Best –

Lisa

%d bloggers like this: