August 27th, 2017 by jenniferolmstead
Today was one to be remembered. I woke up knowing we had a plan but it turned out even better than I anticipated. I spent a little extra time reading my bible this morning, just because I wanted to. Then breakfast. It was the flat rice cakes with two sauces this morning. I did not get coffee though.
Then I had to wait and verify sometimes before leaving for the hospital which I did not get there until about 830am. Which was ok. I was to take the nursing students to the school for children that is associated with the hospital to share a health education topic. They had made up a play to share the information and had to show it to me before we went. It was really pretty good for having been put together yesterday. Being as this is India and I’ve learned that things function in India time we were only about 25 minutes late to the school. Not bad really. The students enjoyed the presentation by the nursing students and reported to them that they found it not boring and they learned from it. So, everyone was happy. Then I headed home.
We were all to meet a driver at 11am today for a special treat. We got to go see an elephant. Maam has a friend that uses elephants to work in the jungle. He agreed to bring one so that we could get close to it for pictures. We have been trying to do this for a couple weeks, but weather has prevented it. As it turned out we got to sit on the elephant and he stood up and took a step with each of us. It was a very different experience. I tried climbing up like I would climb onto any other animal, bad idea. We were to start by stepping on its leg that was folded out for us and then climb. The owner was at the top to help us up and stabilize us when it moved so we did not fall off. The problem is that once you leave the leg there is no place to get traction. The whole thing is soft and squishy so your foot just slides. It was quite comical and the others were waiting to see if I landed in the mud. When discussing git afterwards the others just stepped on the leg and let the guy on to pull them up. They did not climb. So, note to self to not climb onto elephants, let someone else put you there. It was a truly amazing experience. To feel how much power, they have and yet are so gentle. This one is 60 years old. While up there I got to thinking about what it would have been like for those who lived with the dinosaurs.
The next stop was the tea factory. It is amazing the process it takes to make tea and how it is graded. They actually do much of it by hand here. I was able to get some pictures from inside the factory which was quite a treat. We got to the gate and could not get in until maam was contacted and she contacted the manager. They really guard who gets in.
From the factory, we went to the tea plantation. It was beautiful. It was much larger than I expected. Imagine a series of small hills covered in small bushes, about waist high. The leaves on thes3e bushes are the tea leaves. The land at the bottom of the hills is used for rice fields. The workers are very poor people in the area and most did not have shoes. We were able to see some of the poorest people in the country while there. They get permission to pull the grass that is considered to be weeds in the garden. They then bundle this and sell it as cow food. They hope to get 20-40 rupees for a bundle which takes half a day to pick while barefoot in ankle deep mud. They drink water from a well that requires them to tie a bottle to a stick and reach down to get the water. No wonder these people are always sick and so many children die from disease. The exchange for rupees of roughly 60 rupees to 1 dollar. So, they are working for less than a dollar a day.
We then came home and made ourselves scrambled eggs and potatoes as we had missed lunch and took naps. It was a day that I will spend much time thinking about. It is sad that people live in those conditions and others are immune to them, as if they do not exist. The hospital provides free healthcare to all tea plantation workers which is wonderful here.