For those of you hoping I will include a romance in this blog, this title will be disappointing. I assure you that the only romance I am having is with India.
After adorable threats from small boys declaring to shut down Sambhali School, we decided to gradually let boys join. Yesterday was our first recruit for boys from the untouchable class. We went to the outskirts of town where the untouchables live and told the first boy brave enough to listen that we wanted students. He bolted full speed to gather all the boys he could find. When they returned we sent them all for more. They went with such speed that the ones with sandals ran right out of their flip flops.
We gathered them under a tree and explained our business. One boy had a small girl attached to his arm who was quietly weeping. After a while I asked Usha why she was crying. Apparently she was terrified of us white girls.
We carefully lead the boys, aged 5 to 9, to the Sambhali school. They clung to each other and were very skittish. A couple made a run for it before we arrived making me feel a little like I was guarding a chain gang. When we got to Sambhali we had the pleasure of introducing them to shampoo. We took their tops off and gave them a much needed scrub down. Even the cleanest came out a shade lighter after the desert was washed off of him.
Reminding me of pre-K day, we showed them around and let them explore. They were quite overwhelmed and stuck to together. We drew pictures for nearly an hour and then sent them home with candies.
It worked. The next day 13 students returned. After daily grooming (bucket showering, shampooing, lice picking, combing little man hairstyles, and teeth brushing) we wrote out their names for them to copy. For some of them it was their first time reading their name in Hindi and for all of them it was their first time writing the English spelling of their name. They played with the English and Hindi word on their page, tracing it and copying it. I also learnt to spell my name with the beautiful phonetic Hindi characters. We finished with a game and sent them home smiling, already a little more empowered.