17 Sept 2012, India, Vellore: Clowning at Hope House and Orphanages

 

Today we started around 5pm.  We headed to Hope House.  I was told the owners of this orphanage for HIV girls was a physiotherapist who adopted a daughter with HIV, he decided to help the children. I also was introduced to a famous local Vellore person who dedicates all his time to helping people. He had a love of Gandhi and we talked about him. I told him I had met two men who actually knew Gandhi and were still alive, one was in Melbourne I met by sheer coincidence and the other was at the Gandhian University in Armedabad. I was excited to meet him. He showed me a magic trick with string where he makes out it is being cut but it is slight of hand. I taught him a bit of juggling. He was really lovely. I have a large sissors and comb so did him a hair cut. I tried to encourage one of the girls to go up behind him with a hippo whoopee cushion she was shy so I held her and and set off the whoopee cushion near his but and went phew phew. She laughed.

There are around 14 of us clowns and there were only around 20 girls at Hope House. Their parents had HIV. Some of the parents visited and the owner of this orphanage insisted they come at least once a month. He also encouraged the girls to look after their parents as they got old. Myself and Gerry surmised this would be good for the girls so they could bond with their parents, if they were still alive, if not the girls continued on and they tried to marry them. I am not sure what happens re: HIV whether they actually could get married.

We walked in equal numbers of clowns to girls and they huddled in the corner. Many of us were aware of not to frighten them or crowd them. They were not afraid just laughing at all these clowns. We sat on the floor to get to their level and I watched our new friend Brett playing with a group of girls with myjuggling balls. I went aorund and threw soft balls and my expanding ball (collapsing in on itself). I watched twirly pip in her beautiful rainbow dress with the children. I saw fairy (our mother earth) putting on tatoos which are loved the children. Ovidi was in the fire place and Puzzlewas on top of the fireplace making balloons. The room filled up with balloons. I bounced them around and did bubbles. Some of the children loved the whoopee cushion and played with my range of balls and toys.

At the end we all hugged and kissed and waved goodbye. Said a goodbye to some boys outside. I love blowing them kissed and going up to them. It was really lovely to see all the faces shining.

We drove on to the next orphanage arranged by this lovely philoanthropic man (gandhi follower). As we drove along I used my feather duster to touch people and wave. I touched them ever so gentle so that contact was made, they looked with surprise and then waved and smiled. It was just another ripple we could send out of goodwill.

The next place was for deaf kids. I soon realised to stop tweaking my red nose around my neck. I did some visual stuff particularly juggling. They liked that. I pulled out my glowing mike and had them sing, even though they couldn’t hear they enjoyed having a go. I also chased them for hugs and they ran, I chased a few around. I took out my expanding ball and had kids throw it around. I also took photos and showed them, they loved that. I spotted twirly pip twirling away there and Alex had her glowing poy looked really effective, the kids had a go. I feather dusted them all and did hair cuts. I am so happy that they love that. The kids were beautiful and it didn’t take long before we had a connection. They ranged from 5 to 17 years of age. It was a biggish orphanage with 100 kids roughly. We all played in the play ground which was cooler. It was fun and I really noticed how well behaved they were and how we could communicate. One girl pointed to the sky and blessed me stating she was sending me love from her heart. She said ‘I love you’. I said blessings and ‘I love you’. It was really heart felt and beautiful. The clowns then got rounded up into the tuk tuks and then off we went to the last orphanage.

This one was around 60 or 70 kids, younger ones. I met this older man’s son and grand daughters. We then played with the kids again the hair cuts worked and I made out I was chopping nose hair. I have this squeezy nose that looks like it has a cold when you squeeze it. I know it sounds disgusting but the kids love the gooey bits, feels just like the real thing. i again played games with the kids, chasees, up and down stairs, danced, pretend singing and balloons. You just pull out whatever you can and just play with the kids. It is so lovely to see them smiling and I paused to really look at their faces and to really feel for them. These kids have no parents watching over them and they were all so beautiful. Words can never convey what it is like to be a clown and the special angels that pop up to make sure you get that they love you so openly and innocently. It is a priviledge for us.

I saw Tim do some magic with his glowing thumbs which was nice, I am getting to stand back a little and watch the other clowns and tune into them, something I’ve found hard to do in the past. However, I am feeling the team spirit with them and dearly love them all. They are doing a great job.

We then travelled back to the canteen for dinner. On the way Gerry told me about the women who live under the trees on the street. Seb’s Project is trying to help them start businesses. She said they are very vulnerable and men know they are and can come and rape them. It is sad to hear this and you cannot help but wish women were empowered. Seb’s of course is working on it and business is the way in this time and space. She said they spoke with lots of swearing and hit each other a lot. It seems violence is how they relate. One had a brother who apparently would visit her and just hit her all the time. I thought of role modelling when I heard this, he probably thinks this is the way to relate. It took them and their social worker Lennon 6 months to win their confidence. One of the women wasn’t taking on training and it turned out she had a baby and had to have her sister adopt the child as it is a stigma for her unwed and having a baby in India. The fact she was raped is irrelevant here. So she sees her baby through her sister. She hopes to find a husband so can’t be perceived as having sex. It is such an unfair and gender biased society, that is clear. I will be keen to see more women rising up as they are equal to men and they have a legitimate contribution to make. You only have to look at Kerala to see that women’s equality has economic advantages. Not that I think this is relevant but for societies who value money sadly it is. Turning to the West were women are making progress to be heard and take on higher positions, we can clearly see women are not inferior. In my own experience I found women incredibly capable of leadership, logic and creative endeavours equal to men definitely. So as women start to be role models to other women and they break out of outdated stereotypes we will see greater happiness in society. As women are happy men are happy, we are intricately linked. We are all learning that what we do to another we do to ourselves. As we empower each other (women and men) we will find potential, talent and incredible leaps forward as potential is unlocked as nature intended.

Tomorrow we are off to Jawadhi hills to visit schools and villages. We will be away 2 nights and 3 days. We are all excited as we meet the indigenous people in the mountains and will be trecking through forest so very exciting.

Much love and peace.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.”

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