Where You Live

Saturday, March 02, 2013

My Kopila Fellows took this picture while they were dropping off one of our girls from school the other day.  I don't post frequently about the kids' home lives or what obstacles they face at home.  You always see them smiling, hair combed and parted, faces clean and fresh, with their sharp looking uniforms on.  I'm really strict about the little Kopilas coming to school clean and tidy, in proper uniform.  Mainly because I want them to feel the pride and get in the habit of putting a tie on, brushing their teeth, tucking their shirts in and coming to school each day. 

But this is the reality of where they come from.  These tiny dark rented rooms and little mud huts with no electricity or running water, no doors or windows, toilets, heating or plumbing.  Their cheeks and lips were all so chapped from the cold this winter that we'd have to coat them in vaseline every day in the clinic.

Still, they do their homework.  They share everything they have, look out for one another and never ever complain.  When I say they don't complain, I really mean it, they don't complain... about anything.  They laugh and smile and love and learn.

One of my students didn't come to school for a couple of days because her entire uniform was chewed up by rats infested in her home.  I met her at our house (the children's home) one morning during school hours when I went back to get something I needed for my office.  She was asking one of the aunties if we had any old used uniforms laying around that no one was wearing.  When she saw me, she hid her uniform with the holes in it behind her back, ashamed to tell me what had happened, probably worried that I would give her a hard time for being out of school.  She had spent an entire day trying to sew up the rat bites, but her uniform was beyond repair.  It really opened my eyes.  I wondered how many times I'd given the kids a hard time about something that was entirely out of their control.  Sometimes when I get frustrated with the kids uniforms looking a little dirty or with buttons missing I have to remind myself that they don't have soap or water, that most of them are washing their clothes in the sewer or on a rock in a stream.  Sometimes it's just so tempting to take all 300 of them and move them in with me.  I guess that's how I ended up with 40 children all living in one house and most nights 2 or 3 children sleeping on a mattress on my floor.  

There is so much work to do in the world.  There is so little time for complaining about things that don't matter, for holding grudges, for wasting time, for getting caught up with all the distracting silly little things that there are to get distracted with.  Not to get preachy but life could be a whole lot simpler than we're making it these days.  Eat healthy food, stay warm, work hard, smile and be nice.  That's my advice.  That's all I've got. 

These kids inspire me each and every single day.  When I grow up, I want to be more like them.

Sunita, grade 1

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