Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saying Goodbye To My Kids.

This past Tuesday was our first day back at Kalapani after being away for two weeks. As I was walking up to the school building I heard some kids yell out "Miss". Then Chetan and Sushil came running out of the classroom calling "Good morning Miss! Good morning Miss!" And one after the other they ran up to me with arms open wide and grabbed me in probably the best hug I have ever received. It nearly brought tears to my eyes and I've gotten a little teary eyed when I have thought about it since. A child giving someone a hug might not seem like that big of a deal to us in North America but here in India people don't really give hugs. Everyone shakes hands instead. This has been a bit of an adjustment for me because I like hugs. It has been hard saying goodbye to people and not being able to hug them. For me a shake of the hand just doesn't seem to bring enough closure. This unabashed show of affection from Chetan and Sushil really made my day. I know that it is going to be one of my fondest memories of India when I go home. That small event has given me some confidence that maybe I did make a bit of a difference in these children's lives.

Chetan on the left and Sushil on the right. I made them pose for this picture after class on Tuesday. Not only are hugs uncommon but so is smiling for the camera!

Today we went out to Kalapani for the last time. We have been going to the school twice a week and teaching stories from the life of Christ. (We also taught Sunday school using Old Testament stories.) We wrapped up our lessons on Tuesday with the story of the crucifixion and resurrection and today we had a fun day of presentations and goodbyes.

From the very first day that I went to Kalapani I fell in love with those kids. That first day they had no idea what to make of these white Canadians girls. Now just walking up the road to the school we are greeted with shouts of "Good morning Miss!" no matter what time of day. And on our way back down we are sure to be sent off with a "Goodbye Miss!" Even the parents of the children often greet us. I've gone from not knowing how to even pronounce their names to only confusing a few of their names because they look so much alike. Some of them have gone from being too shy to even try to speak English to being able to say some simple phrases. Spoken communication has been difficult but unspoken communication has happened on so many levels.

Today was a difficult day for me. I knew saying goodbye was going to be hard but I never imagined that my heart would hurt as much as it does. We started out our morning by handing out folders with all of the worksheets that they have done with us over the last 5 months. We also presented each child with a photograph of themselves. These kids have most likely never had their photos taken until we came along. They get so excited every time I pull out my camera and they always want to see the picture after I have taken it. I think they were pretty pleased when I gave them their photos today. As I called them each up one by one I went against the cultural norm and gave them each a hug. Some of them were eager to hug me and others didn't seem to know how to respond. We spent some time singing their favorite songs and then we went outside for a class photograph.

It was unfortunate that there were only 39 out of 53 of the students there today.

After our photo shoot we had one last go at "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" They really do love that game although sometimes their "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" comes out more like, "Wat choo a et mor woog?" or something of the sort. :) After they were all played out we served them cookies that Raysha and I had made last night. Soon enough it was time for them to be dismissed and the inevitable goodbye had come. I tried to say a little something but pretty much started to cry on the spot. They all kind of stared at me dumbly and I know they were thinking, "Why is Miss crying???" I think that most of them understood that this was the last time that we were going to see them as they all came and said goodbye two or three times. I was blown numerous kisses from Laxmi as she walked down the road and I was pretty much just a big blubbering baby.

I love those kids and I pray that the seeds that were planted in their hearts during our short time with them will one day grow into faith. Please join me in praying for these very precious children. Thank you to all of you who have chosen an individual child to pray for. There are still 10 more children who have not been chosen by someone. This includes one new student, Hinangshu Sinha who started coming to school while we were away. The others are Raj Chetri, Brine Marak, Aditya Singha, Emon Sangma, Ujjal Kalita, Sujal Singha, Rahit Sharma, Pawan Chetri, and Udiptta Sharma. You will find their photos here. Go and choose one and leave a comment letting me know. Thanks.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Hugging isn't common there??? I wouldn't last - I love getting and receiving hugs. Sounds like a wonderful group of children.

...a very emotional day for you Pamela - I believe you have made a big impact on the lives of these children and will be remembered fondly...