My anxiety pills cost 25 American cents and taste like bananas and make me feel like a person again. I picked them up at the shadiest looking drugstore you can imagine, but I’m not seeing children surrounding my bed in the middle of the night anymore so I’m not asking questions.
So now I can leave you with a less worrisome update.
Everyone here flips out when they see white people and ask to get their picture taken with us. I am in countless photographs with other peoples’ families.
The other day I was simply resting on a bench with three other volunteers, when an Indian man wearing a shirt that said “When I am rich, you will be my bitch” ran up to us to get his picture taken. Before we knew it, literally 30 other Indian men emerged from God knows where and were surrounding us, insisting to get their pictures taken one at a time. It makes me feel like a celebrity, or like Santa Clause at the mall.
Other than being a celebrity, I’ve been volunteering.
In the mornings I work at a “school” called Net Weavers. It’s called that because it’s on the beach and that’s what people do there– they weave nets. The room is tiny and has no electricity or furniture and is filled with flies. The walls are made of palm leaves. The beach surrounding it is covered with garbage and stray pigs, and everybody goes barefoot. We bring the kids food and toothbrushes each day. (There are no assigned toothbrushes-they just grab one at random and spit the toothpaste out wherever it may land, which is more often than not, on my shirt).
In the afternoons I teach English and math to a class of adolescent girls in the slums. (I asked a staff member what these girls will really do with English and math skills, and was told that some lucky ones might one day sell fish). The girls love me and run up to me whenever my car pulls up and pull me into the school room by hand, though honestly I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time and basically make things up on the spot. The first time I got there I thought I was going to be shadowing another teacher, but when I arrived the woman who i thought was the teacher said “Bye! I’m going to the village!” and I was left with 10 girls and no plan. They wanted me to teach them games, so I thought back to indoor recess at elementary school and taught them Heads up Seven up. Since then I have tried to teach them tenses and multiplication, but mostly they just like when I show them pictures of Doug because they are shocked and apalled by his yellow hair.
One of the girls is pregnant and another has a baby (both in arranged marriages). The one with the baby ties her baby to a red scarf that hangs from the middle of the ceiling and swings it around. At first I did not realize she kept her baby in there and walked into it accidentally and was like… whoa, that’s a baby.
Yesterday a chicken wandered into my classroom.
When it is time to leave the children get into my car and hang off my car and I worry that we will run over them as we drive away, but luckily that has not happened yet.