Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Every Other Saturday

Let me be totally and completely honest with you: I am a selfish person.  Perhaps not as selfish as some people...it's very easy for me to be loving and generous with people that I care about, but that's the thing.  Most people I DON'T care about.  In fact, there is a great number of people that I just.  Do.  Not.  Like.  There are altogether too many idiots in the world to suit me, and the older I've gotten, the more jaded I've become.
But there's hope for me yet, because I don't necessarily like feeling that way.  And although selfless is not necessarily my natural state, when I watched Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman work with the street kids here in UB on The Long Way Round, I decided I wanted to volunteer when I came here.  And it just so happened that Five, being sort of the opposite of me (look up selfless in the dictionary and guess whose picture you'll find), was already involved doing such a thing with the Lotus Foundation.  Which is how I came to spend a couple of Saturdays a month going out to Gaachurt to their orphanage.  That's the orphanage in the photo above.  If you're like me, you were thinking of something a little more Orphan-Annie.  Instead, it's fresh air and sunshine and puppies (quite literally - one of the earlier Saturdays I went out, one of the girls I was working with brought out a couple of teeny tiny pups) and room to run. 
The prospect in wintertime is a little more monochrome, but beats the heck out of UB!  When Enkhe drove us out this past Saturday, he thanked us for the chance to get out and run in the fresh air (yes, our driver runs in -20C weather, but that's another crazy story).
I was a little worried at first, trying to figure out what I would do with the kids, but Anna, one of the foreigners that helps coordinate things, told me that the main thing was just to spend time with them.  So we've done crafts and played card games, and once or twice I've been a life-size Barbie for hairstyling purposes. 
One of the Saturdays we went out in November they were having some sort of presentation.  It was really cool seeing the kids' confidence in speaking, even if we didn't understand exactly what was going on.  They've had people come up and do vocational training, too - the first week we went out, a chef (who was Aussie, I think...or maybe Belgian) was teaching the kids how to make different pastries and things.
That week, the founder, Didi, had a flash of inspiration and suggested we spend some time with a couple of students each, helping them to improve their English.  So they got the groups together and we met our students for the first time last week.  I was really impressed by how smart my kids were - the 45 minutes we worked together flew by quicker than any lesson ever did at GDA!
We've had Enkhe drive us out the last two times we went - after two and a half months, we still hadn't figured out what time we needed to catch the Gaachurt bus, and it was just too cold out to stand outside and wait 45 minutes while our toes turned to popsicles.  This had the great result that we got to spend more time with the kids (because it took a half hour to get out there, instead of two hours).  Normally this is how we look at the end of a day, taking a taxi back from near the Kempinski!  Either way, it's well worth it, not only because of the good karma (we're attributing the free tickets to see Giselle back in November to this karma), but because of the happiness on the kids' faces. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great thing to do. Well done. David

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