Saturday, March 20, 2010

India: part 2

After all the hard work, we did get some time to enjoy ourselves in India. Holy man at Red Fort in Delhi. He asked for some rupees after I took his photo.
Flying over the beautiful, sparkling, majestic Himalayas. One day I'd like to be climbing these mountains.
Holy men in Guwahati.
There are thousands of stores that sell beautiful sarees, scarves and shawls.
Getting a henna tatoo.
Our last night in Guwahati before the farewell dinner. Dr. Sellers and his wife Marion took care of us there. We called them our adoptive parents.
Our night shift crew- Julie, Jamee, Marisa and I.
Since we hadn't slept after our last night shift we took a cab back to the hotel early.
A big group of us were able to take a bus to Agra where we saw this elephant on the way to see the...
Allie and I checked this off our "bucket list."
It was the most beautiful, clear day to be here. We had an English-speaking guide to show us around and tell us the amazing story of the construction of this Wonder of the World.
National Geographic shot.
Yamuna River flowing behind the Taj. Muslim mosque seen on the left.
No paint was used in the facade on this beautiful building...
Colored jewels were embedded into the highest quality marble that was carried in from all across the land.
Allie and I at the Taj.
An evil maharaja :-)
India Gate in Delhi.
Ancient tree.
Qutub Minar, built around 1200 A.D. We didn't go in to the park to see this monument out of principle. Indian citizens could buy a ticket for 10 rupees where any foreigners had to pay 250! (Which was about $6.00)
Outside a beautiful Hindu temple in Delhi. The lei of "lotus flowers" were put around our neck as a symbol of good luck.
The red dot on the forehead also means good luck and was placed by a holy man in the Hindu temple.
Red Fort in Delhi with Penny and Xia.
The tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, "father of India."
We ended the trip on high note and I was glad to have seen some of these beautiful places. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I'm so glad I got to go!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Operation Smile- India

The day of my birthday I flew halfway across the world to join with the Operation Smile Team as a volunteer for the biggest mission they have ever attempted. The destination: Guwahati, India. The goal: fix the cleft lips and palates and give new smiles to almost 1,000 kids in the state of Assam. I worked the night shift and got paired up with some great girls! Jamee, from UT, Marisa from CA, and Julie from CO. We had a blast together!
Since we worked the night shift, we had some time during the day to do some shopping in the crowded and dirty city of Guwahati. Always on the look-out for a bargain!
Post-surgery- this kid doesn't feel too great. The only pain medicine they receive is Tylenol! Moms and Dads are there 24/7 to take care of them, making our job a little easier.
Unfortunately after one night of working I came down with a horrible stomach bug. I was fortunate to be with a great medical team who helped me feel a little better after a while. I was down for 3 days, and my awesome friend/ room-mate Allie was my personal nurse.
Back to work- spraying on some DEET to keep those pesky mosquitoes (and malaria) away.
Our night shift team. The two Indians are brother and sister Azun and Razia, our awesome interpreters that were there night after night, then went to their normal jobs in the day.
My favorite little buddy. He was buzzing around the ward in the morning singing a little Indian tune and playing with some of the toys we brought.
We had some long nights together!
Beautiful mama and baby.
Playing ball with the kiddos.
I was so happy to have my good friend Allie there with me. Although she worked the day shift and I was on nights, we managed to hang out whenever possible. When I was feeling ill and homesick, she made it that much better for me.

Morning Chai. An Indian tradition.
Even though being in such a foreign and far-away place was sometimes very difficult, especially when I didn't feel well most of the time, these kids and families made it all worthwhile. These children are born into very poor circumstances to begin with, and a facial deformity can make their lives that much more difficult. I feel blessed to have been a part of this organization that brings new smiles to kids all over the world and makes a big difference a little bit at a time.