While in India, we made several stops at the Kadam School. Our last visit was a special one, as we were given the opportunity to touch the lives of each & every student in a creative & inspirational way! Our mission on that Friday morning was to check on the TB patient I'd mentioned previously & meet with her caretaker to explore how we could be of further assistance (she’s currently staying with a friend’s family). We also wanted to drop off some Ensure for her, as she was having difficulty eating.
While there, we also met with the head teacher to:
* drop off some badly needed school supplies (pencils, erasers & notebooks)
* discuss distribution of vitamin supplement syrup (& enhancing the protein in their meals)
* check on the tooth-brushing routines
* donate a cooker to make preparation of lentils/other protein sources faster/easier
As might be predicted, while picking up the school supplies, we couldn’t resist including some colored pencils and markers as a special treat. Prior to leaving Texas, I purchased some flash cards & stickers.....the dollar store had just stocked up on their Valentine’s Day supplies, which served as an ideal excuse for me to ask the head teacher for permission to teach a quick history/geography/art lesson on – what else, but - Valentine’s Day!
With the help of our local partner, Aarti (who served as my translator), I introduced them to the origin of this special day, how Americans often celebrate this occasion by exchanging cards and also where America is located on the map. It’s here I should note that there wasn’t an actual map in the classroom (YET), but my rough sketches on the blackboard helped them understand just how far we traveled to see them and how people from all over the world, no matter HOW far away, really DO CARE! We explained the concepts of loving & caring for friends, neighbors and family members and the idea of giving & SHARING (referencing their new art “gifts” and the need to “share kindly & lovingly” with their neighbors).
Since there were so many children crammed into such a small room, we taught two separate sessions, each time dividing them up into work circles, placing their “tools” in the middle for sharing. They were extremely excited to create their little Valentine’s Cards, which consisted of their names, (written largely in the center), surrounded by their very unique & adorably personalized decorations. It was great to see their little personalities come out in their approach to designing their masterpieces.
At first, I had planned to let the kids keep their work, so they could show their parents, but in the end, they actually wanted to GIVE THEM TO US (my teaching partner, Aarti, and me). Clearly, the kids were “quick studies” -- the lesson of GIVING and SHARING sunk in immediately and, despite being “the poorest of the poor,” their hearts were RICH and their GIVING knew no bounds! The twinkle in their eyes and their beaming smiles were priceless....this is a lesson in gift-giving for us all to remember!
And so, once again, I find that THE STUDENTS always end up being MY TEACHERS. What a wonderfully touching LESSON on LOVE from the children in India!