By Hannah Kielty
Another great week was had out at Sumanahalli. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time is flying by! It was straight back into work on Monday after our leisurely weekend at NSK. Each morning from 9am – 11am Emily, Sam and I help out at the leprosy clinic in Ave Maria. We have really started to enjoy dressing the patient’s wounds and chatting with them. Although many of them don’t have much English there’s usually someone there who can translate or else we just get by on the small amount of English they have. I’ve managed to pick up 2 or 3 Kannada words though which helps! Friday saw us take on the full responsibility of the clinic as 2 French volunteers have headed home. It was nice to see how far we have come in 2 weeks – from never having seen leprosy before to changing 20 patient’s dressing all by ourselves.
In the afternoon we visit St. Joseph’s Convent High School. This is the school situated on the Sumanahali site which offers an education to the local children. Here we teach biology to 10thStandard, this week covering animal tissue, and music to the younger classes. It’s amazing to see the level of science that 10th standard are taught – some of equivalent to our leaving cert and college work. Music class does get out of hand – the young kids get so excited about the guitar and the novelty of seeing white people. One little girl asked me what soap I use to get my skin so white! It’s a great opportunity to teach the kids some Irish songs. Although it can be chaotic, its heart warming to see how happy they all are despite their circumstances.
In the evenings we spend time in ‘Support’, the HIV/AIDS centre. This week we saw a massive change in the patients of Support, they became much more open to talking and spending time with us. We had great fun playing cards, UNO, connect 4 and chess with them. I find that with Support it’s all about the being rather than the doing. There’s a huge stigma associated with the disease and all they want are people to see past the illness that they have.
Friday afternoon was really great; we played music and sang songs with the boys at ‘Echo’. T he boys were very welcoming and even sang an Indian song for us! ‘Echo’ is a place where 12-18 year olds reside under-going rehabilitation following a prison sentence, or as an alternative to prison.
I look forward to the challenges and new experiences that next week will bring.