One thing that is very different in India is that there are no clocks… anywhere…. and I am not exaggerating. There were no clocks in the hotels, cars, anywhere. Fortunately, my phone had switched over and we were able to tell the time and have alarms otherwise we would have been guessing our way through the day. Indians don’t run on time, it is like there really is not any. You can say meet me here at ten and you will see someone at 11. Most places don’t open until 10:30 or 11. They run on a totally different, probably more normal schedule. Wake up when your body says so, work until lunch around 2, take a nap, reopen your shop, close down and 9 for dinner and then go to bed. It is so bizarre to us but that is how they roll. Crazy eh.
We wake up for breakfast. Which by the way is always fantastic. Indian breakfast is not like what we eat. There are a lot of vegetable and savory dishes not a whole lot of sweets. Everything is very flavorful and they have about ten different kinds of bread made out of flour or rice so I am good since bread is well ya delicious. They also have something called Masala Chai tea which is nothing like the chai we drink here but super delicious! Don’t ever plan on going to India and losing weight haha. Unless you get sick but don’t plan on that either.
So, our first day is set aside for spending time at ISRC (India Society of Rehabilitation for Children). This is where everything started. ISRC is where Kristi and Brie both adopted their kiddos from. On the last trip to India picking up their kiddos, Anjou (who runs the orphanage) expressed to them the orphanages need for help as new regulations had made it almost impossible for them to get funding and they were on the road to being closed down. Brie and Kristi decided they had to figure out a way to help and Illuminate India was born.
We have to take a taxi to get there which is always interesting since they don’t typically speak English and it is a little bit sketchy. We hop in and set out with an address and hope we get there. There are some street signs in India but people don’t really pay attention. They know their way around by referencing landmarks. So, after our cab driver stopped and asked for directions multiple times (this is normal) we found our way.
ISRC is has two buildings. One is the office, the other a “home” both of which are basically two story buildings along a row of buildings. A large iron gate protects ISRC and we head in. It is basically all grey marble. Nothing fancy an open room and some stairs so we head up and are greeted by the staff. The woman the runs ISRC has been taking care of orphans in India for 34 years. She spends her days here working with other agencies to find homes for these kids and she is an amazing lady. They have some other full time staff and nannies who take care of the children. As we enter we are presented with flower lays and marked on our foreheads with Bindis by the cutest Indian woman. We are lead into a room where they house all their kiddos under the age of 4. It is one big room with cribs and a few bassinets. There is the sweetest little girl there to greet us as enter the room and a few more in the crib across the way stand up as we come in. We lift them all out and play with them. They are so sweet! They all have different stories. Some are “lost” children which means they either were lost somewhere or left somewhere by the parents and the police find them and they eventually are placed at ISRC. Others were found living on the street with siblings, and some were brought here right after birth either because they have a physical ailment or are just not wanted by their mother. It is crazy to think that these little ones spend every day in this one room.
These little girls are seriously so sweet it is impossible not to love them! We get to spend some time with them playing and help feeding them. One of the things Illuminate India does is provide the kids with healthier meals. So we get to see what they are fed and how they are cared for and then head to the other home.
The other home is just around the corner and basically the same. A two story concrete building off the street. We head in and can hear the kids yelling from the balcony. Apparently, they are excited we are here!
The kids that live here are mostly kids with special needs. Some are severe, others have very minor issues, a few are lost children. It is still hard for me to imagine that these kids are just unwanted and left to fend for themselves. A few of them have been there since day one of their little lives. It is all they have known. I am so glad they have someone who loves them and cares for them. It is heartbreaking to think of how many kids don’t have that. We head in and right from the start get to say hi to some of the kiddos in their chairs downstairs. The building is basically rooms with beds and kiddos smiling from them. Upstairs is where all the action happens! Six little ones sit on the floor against the wall to welcome us. They are all so beautiful. It is tough that we cannot really talk with them. They know some English and their caretakers can translate some which is so great. They are about to eat lunch as well. So we get to hang out with them while they eat. I am astounded at the amount of food they eat! No complaints either. Basically, rice and veggies and a hard boiled egg. The water here is terrible and contains parasites so most of the kids have parasites and are able to eat a ton without overeating. And I thought they just liked food!
We have so much fun with the kids playing, dancing, they sing and tear apart our flowers! It was great. After a while we head back to the office to chat with Anjou about the orphanages current needs and of course some tea. I am sure we left the caretakers with a great mess and super hyper kids to deal with! It was so much fun and after a day of playing we are pretty spent!
We have a long day tomorrow so we head to bed for some much needed sleep!