Hope is the Spark that Changes Lives

The electricity goes off at the same time that I wake up, which happens to be at the same time the rooster starts to crow – 3am. I look up and notice the fan going slower and slower and realize the electricity is gone.  In the ensuing silence, I hear chirps and I wonder what sort of bird is making noise at this ridiculous hour.  As jetlag takes hold of me and I can’t go back to sleep, every sound is suddenly louder. I close my eyes in the darkness and imagine what each sound represents – the closing of a gate, meaning that someone is going to start work soon; the barking of a dog far, far away; the incessant chirping that I suddenly realize are bats; the hum of a mosquito who won’t be around much longer, thanks to the bats; the stupid rooster who decides to crow again at 4:00, 4:30, 5:00 and 5:15.  His timing is off, but his followers crow right behind him, from every corner of the village.  I am not a fan of the rooster right now, but I manage to fall asleep again at 6 or so and sleep for 24 minutes before I get up to bathe.

Water, a bucket and a cup are my bath today but I feel refreshed and more alive, as the water is cold. I move quickly through this part of the day, as cold bathing is not my favorite thing. As a team leader who is training our hosts, I make note of things that should be taken care of prior to the next team’s arrival – something to hang clothes on in the bathroom, pillow cases on the pillows, the position of mosquito nets so that the entire bed is covered. I discuss them with our host and they gratefully accept the critique, wanting to please us and any future teams to this area.

After a breakfast of popcorn, yams and boiled eggs, we divide out to our assigned tasks: Denys and Andrew move beds into the orphanage while Dan and Noah help set up sewing machines for the tailoring classes. Morgan, Siobhan, Erica, and Jeanie are at the tailoring school, making sure things are ready for their students. Kathy, Reilly, Juju, and I set up an “eye clinic”, where we do basic tests and give our reading glasses to those who need them. Aiden busies himself by playing with the community children and by giving out canes to old people.  He must encourage them to get their eyes checked, too, because soon, we have a line of grannies waiting to be seen. They are glorious in their colorful dresses and head coverings while their smiles crack their faces into a million wrinkles as they laugh when I tell them they are beautiful. Their cataracts don’t allow them to read or to see well, but they love the bling on some of the glasses we have. We deck them out with glasses that don’t do anything for them, but which decorate their beautiful, wrinkled, dark faces. They smile for a photo and thank us for their “walking glasses”, as they call them.

The day is hot, even though it is winter here.  Noon arrives and the sun rises high above us, baking everything it touches. 

We drink water.

Soon, lunch time will be called, so I must move again, even though I would prefer to nap.

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