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Smiles Lighting up Rooms

20 December 2012

By Xilo Lopez

Today was my first full day in Bodhgaya. We decided that today we would visit Sunway, which is a 45 minute walk from where we are staying in Bodhgaya. We got there just in time to see the children eat lunch (it’s amazing how much rice these small kids consume!) It was comforting to hear from the Danish volunteers who are live there that the children are able to get second helpings if they are still hungry. Unfortunately, they also mentioned that there are rarely any fresh fruit or vegetables with their meals.

After the children finished their lunch Vinyse took me for a tour of the orphanage and started introducing me to some of the children while Derek went out to order supplies for construction work that Paper Kite is sponsoring. (We will be replacing the bricks covering the “windows” with wrought iron grills. This will allow more light to shine through and increase the overall safety of the rooms where the children sleep.)

It ended up being a fun afternoon since there’s nothing like sharing in an activity to break the ice. I played a board game with the little ones and infiltrated a group of the bigger children who were huddled around watching a Bollywood movie on the only TV in the home. They seemed amused that I wanted to sit among them and that I often laughed during the movie. (You don’t need to understand the language to understand the comic absurdity of some situations.) I was asked, “Miss, do you speak Hindi?” I confessed I did not and by the end of the afternoon I was getting lessons on how to introduce myself in Hindi.

One of the main things that struck me on this first visit was that seeing pictures of the orphanage is nothing like experiencing how dark and small the rooms are without a camera flash. However, I quickly saw that the children’s smiles are also able to light up a room and the knowledge that we are helping keep these smiles on their faces has already made this trip one of the best decisions in my life.

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