December 11th: The Girls’ Home

School was wonderful as ever. I spent some time with my main man Chandon and had my usual pleasant tea party with princess Akshaya. I learned that my student Harsha’s real name is Auto Raja. This means King of the Auto (rickshaws). He is named after the pen name of a Good Samaritan in Bangalore. Auto Raja was a reformed criminal who, once released from prison, created group homes for the homeless. I don’t know if Harsha has a family connection to Auto or his works. Auto Raja must be a super man if people are naming their children after him. Huh, I would like to be someone other people name their children after.

Today I went to the girl’s hostel. The girl’s hostel is called, the Parikrma Home. It is a place for students who lost their homes. Some girls were pulled out of their homes by the school. Some girls were turned out of their home by their parents. Some girls were made homeless by the cruelties of society. One girl lived in a large slum. When the government sent to have the slum demolished her family was displaced. She was not the only girl turned onto the streets that day, she was the luckiest one. As a Parikrma student she was taken in, but her mother was left to find shelter in the streets. That story is cruel. Beautiful intelligent ambitious seventeen-year old girls turned onto the streets. Where the men have no boundaries and their blankets have no walls. I look at them happy and smiling and think how lucky they are to have a place to live, me too. A person isn’t really an individual. They come from a family. I can see in the longing in their eyes that they are wondering how their parents and friends are doing out there.

Today the girls had a Christmas party. They wore Santa hats and sang Christmas chorales. They ate a cake and drank Fanta. The event was sponsored by the donations. The girls were gifted toiletries in newspaper bundles. They gifts were given to them so they could go to school with dignity at any day of the month. The girls were very merry and they had a singing and dancing display as entertainment. It’s impossible to feel their suffering because they have the warmest most wonderful smiles. It’s really wonderful. Seven girls sleep in one room and they don’t have furniture AT ALL. They have lockers for their personal things and zero privacy. Privacy is what every American teenager needs after water. These girls get none, but thank their lucky stars that some people have donated money and effort to see that they are given the opportunities to build/ have a full life.

I another story that came to me was from a girl who won the school’s competition to attend the Youth Leadership Summit in the Eues. The girl anticipated the event for an entire year and a sponsor was going to pay for her entire trip. She was the envy of her classmates and knowing teenagers I can guess there was a social cost to her privilege. The girl applied for her visa, but since she was a slum dweller and her address was “unofficial”. The Eues embassy rejected her visa and she was not allowed to go. Everyone was heart broken, even the jealous ones. She was carrying everyone’s dreams for the year.

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I’m lucky to have a solid inspiration in Mats. He is very devoted to these girls living in the Parikrma Home. He is going to bring me into their world. I hope to make the kind of personal connections he has with the children. I admire that about him very much.

I am going to use my hobby of filmmaking to make sponsorship materials for the school. I’m an OK teacher for one-on-one remedial English, but I can have a wider impact on the media marketing. So I will be making films about the Girls Home and the Food programs. Everyone will have fun this way.

Finally, Today India made homosexuality illegal. That is a step backwards for human rights. Economically speaking this will create brain drain from the country and domestic violence. It’s a poor decision. What an example of the crazy things that happen before an Indian election.

So my plans for the holidays are materializing into visiting Rebecca Barron in Chennai on Friday December 27th. Then together we will volunteer at her friend’s organic farm indentured servant charity for the weekend. CRAZY THAT indentured servitude exists still! Then Monday to Wednesday we will be in Chennai and go to the Carnatic (this is an old word for Indian culture) music festival before returning to Bangalore. It is panning out to be very exciting!

Also I am going on a blind date with a local girl in January! I am super excited for that too.  Life is just too good.

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