12 Sept 2012, Vellore, India: Clowning at Mother Theresa’s Home for Children

This afternoon we got dressed again and went to Missionaries of Charity Home for Children.  We never know what is going to happen, so interesting.

There were around 30 children there with a range of disabilities both physical and mental. Most were in wheelchairs. We saw kids with deformed arms, moving like they had cerebal palsy. Another girl was undersized with a small head and body. Another girl had a burn accident and half of her body was burned, so she had no arm or leg. Her eyes were as bright as buttons and she was very clear in the mind. I juggled for her and she liked it. We blew up balloons and had them bounce around. Some of the kids don’t have the motor skills to bounce the balloons but they are getting contact through the randomness of the balloons. We had bubbles going around and hand puppets, fluffy balls, balloon animals. I watched the clowns give personal attention. Toot is particularly good at generating love amongst the kids. I heard her singing with Nancy this little girl who was bed ridden. She was very gentle and sweet and sang and repeated what you said. If you say ‘i love you’ she repeats it back to you. Another girl across from her was non responsive so I just held her hand and patted her arm just to give affection. Another girl was dribbling with rotton teeth but shiny eyes. She would hit out over and over on her wheelchair and I knew it was excitment. She dribbled and laughed, I could see the cheekiest eyes. I played balloon with a couple of kids who really enjoyed it. Even the shy one’s you can bring out. Every child was interacted with and given love and something. I walked through this room of wheelchairs and found a girl sitting by herself. She was not responsive but I put my orange slug in her hand. If you rattle it it glows. I also have a yellow ball with little tentacles around it. Again when you shake it it glows. She started to respond. I hugged her and touched her arms and said ‘I love you’. I felt I was getting through. I am mindful they can’t always respond so I am just looking for signs of stay or leave. I got the feeling we made a connection as I was about to leave and felt a reaction so stayed longer.

I am enjoying spending more time with children and getting a feel for what works, what they like etc. The place was full of sound and merriment, it was fantastic.

The other clowns commented on how sad it was for these children. What sort of life they would have. My friend Toot did cry as she felt inspired by the kids love, she said she gains more than she gives and felt the great love inside these children. I heard a wave of excitement to find Toot hugging and kissing all the children, she is a remarkable person and they really responded to the love. Love is indeed what moves people, doesn’t matter who they are.

We also interact with the staff as they also need hugs, so I make a point to connect with them as well. They like to turn the attention back onto the children, but my feeling is to get them laughing.

The drivers of the auto rickshaws were with us involved with the children. I am noticing them mucking around more and they are getting involved in what we do. I said to one of the guys to not just put the puppet in the face of a child but to go down to her level grab her hand and look in her eyes, to show kindness. They are humans and they may not like things shoved in their face. It is truly finding the human connection. I noticed the doctor observing and the staff, I feel they were seeing remarkable reactions in some of the children who are non responsive. It is so important to reach the children as humans, love is incredibly important. If they feel loved they will love life.

So we all came back feeling fullfilled. I myself don’t feel sorry for them, as I’ve seen many disabled children now, I feel a sense of acceptance of them, all I am in that moment is a shard of light. I can’t change the circumstances of their lives or whether they are accepted or rejected by society. I can only look at them and see beauty which for me is not hard. They are endlessly beautiful and loving. I am amazed they get rejected. My friend Alex told me one child had a cleft palate with a big whole in her face and fingers missing from the hand. Her parents gave her up. Of course in India genderocide is common, so she was lucky she wasn’t killed. I am sure many would be killed as girls are not economically as valued as boys. It is a problem in India. Alex told me about a charity in Australia which helps children with cleft palate and then we talked about the two Indian conjoint twins who were separated in Australia. I will post an article about them in the next blog. It is wonderful to see the kindness around people with diability, always angels are present. I smile at the beauty in this world that cares for those who are truly disadvantaged and can be ostracised, abandoned or killed. So I send a big hug and kiss to all those who support these incredibly beautiful human beings, little angels themselves. As Toot said they gave more to us, she was right there.

Tomorrow will be another full on day so will need plenty of sleep tonight to do it all again tomorrow.

I love being a clown, I love people I don’t care who they are, everyone in my book is worthy, there is no-one less. We see nothing but beautiful smiling humble faces here in India. It is an incredible nation and we can only feel a deep sense of priviledge and joy being amongst them and bringing joy to the faces of so many children and adults. I am deeply grateful.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

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