...MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!!! Today is my first Christmas away from home, my first Christmas out of the country, my first Christmas without a single gift to unwrap, and my first Christmas apart from family. However, this holiday, I am more grateful than ever and, thanks to technology, feel closer than I thought I would to home. I have received encouraging feedback from the blog and want to thank you all for following and writing. My gift this Christmas is your love and support. To have you sharing my experience here makes it even more meaningful to me. Last night, my host family's oldest daughter was admitted to the hospital for a high fever and neck swelling that had not been responding to antibiotics for several days. This morning, we had a simple breakfast in front of the Christmas tree (see below) and then took our gifts to her in the hospital. She has been undergoing a few tests but should, hopefully, be released tomorrow. I also took a bag of Hershey's kisses that I had brought from home and handed them out throughout the hospital. All of the patients and nurses loved it.
After, having been inspired by the positive reaction at the hospital, we bought 750 pieces of chocolates to hand out near the slum school. We walked over and spent a few hours playing games with the kids and handing out candy. The candy distribution started out gently and happily. But, once the surrounding children found out what was happening, kids swooped in from everywhere. You would have thought we were handing out gold. Things got a little too rowdy though and we had to shut things down.
One boy was present today who catches my attention every time I visit the slum. He has Down syndrome but seems to get along well with the other children. He gets the biggest smile on his face when we give him any attention. He loves to be picked up by his wrists as if he were being launched off the ground. He will come up to me with his head straight back and simply point to the sky with a look in his eye no human could refuse. Although we brightened his day, he certainly brightened mine the most.
After leaving the slum, I went to meet the locals to play in their weekly Sunday afternoon cricket match. I took a new bat I had purchased earlier this week and they enjoyed it tremendously. I scored 16 runs, including a 6 run hit (basically a home run) and a 4 run hit (a grounder to the wall). My team won 43 to 41.
Tonight, all of the volunteers I know in Faridabad (including four from my orientation) are meeting at a local restaurant called Haldirams for dinner. It will be nice to get everyone under one roof and celebrate together.
Although I feel worlds away in body this Christmas, I am right with you in spirit. Merry Christmas! To my family, I love you!