04 March 2015
Today was our final day of volunteering at the school in the Elephant Village of Jaipur. I have to say, it’s been an exhausting experience, both emotionally and physically. Physically, because the children are all remarkably fast and strong for their age, and seemed very fond of climbing me like a tree! At one point, I had 5 on me including 2 on my head, which might sound very cute and fun, but it was suffocating!
Discipline was lacking in the group and put this alongside an enormous language barrier… It was almost impossible to get them to behave! The two teachers present would smack the naughty children… Perhaps knowing we wouldn’t do this made it easier for them to act out with us?
It was emotionally difficult, because many of these children showed significant athletic or academic potential-3-year-olds that know their entire English alphabet, 8-year-olds that can count to 500 in English, and forget being nice and letting them win a race, you’re lucky if you’ll ever catch them! But in such a poverty stricken area, they will never been given an opportunity for this greatness to grow. The school itself wasn’t so much a school as it was an area to leave children aged 1 to 13 while their parents work, so there wasn’t really any presence of order.
The elephants that were kept there were also an upsetting sight. Painted, and dressed with bells and chains, trained to do tricks for money, and with little to no greenery around to eat, it’s a mystery to me how they survive here. I even saw a man beating one on top of its head!
But the experience was also a lot of fun. With Holi Festival right around the corner, we used this last day to celebrate early with the kids! As you can see, they had a pretty fair aim! But again, let me emphasise… They were VERY fast!!
Each day, after returning from volunteering we’ve had a workshop teaching us different elements of India culture!
The first was Henna, which now more or less covers my right hand and forearm
Today’s was a saari workshop, teaching us the correct way to tie and pin a saari, and what should be worn underneath.
But the funniest and most memorable of all would be the Bollywood Dance workshop. I’m sorry to say that this revealed I have no future in Bollywood! The instructor was unintentionally hilarious- a stern and serious man who never introduced himself and had very little patience with our inabilities… But a very impressive butt wiggle.
Following this, a friend and I sneaked away to take part in a cooking lesson we had arrange with the kitchen here at the hostel. It was such fun! We learned Masala Tea, Chapattis, Vegetable Spring Roll, and something just simply titles “Vegetable”.
Highlight so far!