We have three rotations that we do here at Rising Star: 1) construction, 2) medical and 3) education.  We do one each day.  Then in the evenings we hang out with the kids, have dinner with the other volunteers on the roof, and then we go help the “housemothers” read and speak English with the kids before they settle down for bed.  On our first day our rotation was construction. We loaded up in the van and headed out to what they call the “art colony” because it is one of the bigger leprosy colonies where many of them have become artists to help the community a little bit.2012-07-22 India 56350 Our project had to do with the latrines and septic tanks Rising Star is helping to re-do in the community. The first one was to move this huge pile of dirt below:2012-07-22 India 563702012-07-22 India 56361 …into these holes in the latrine:2012-07-22 India 56358(That’s Carl the awesome service coordinator up there.) With these pans:2012-07-22 India 56383 …and an archaic continually breaking shovel I wish I had a good picture of.2012-07-22 India 56373 Wow, I will say that it sure made for some great team-work. This was the lady’s house we were working on:2012-07-22 India 56380 Talk about a sweet woman.2012-07-22 India 56388 She sat right down and made us some Indian flower pieces for our hair.2012-07-22 India 563912012-07-22 India 56400…and even came out to help us dig a little bit.  She was quite the gardener and had a beautiful garden out by the latrine. I got to go in her kitchen:2012-07-22 India 56405 …and see these beautiful rice cakes she makes for a living:2012-07-22 India 56404 The pastor came on by to help us out as well.  2012-07-22 India 56408He converted to Christianity when his son was two and needed heart surgery. So many great people-stories here. This was someone’s bath over the fence:2012-07-22 India 56413 I love these chalk drawings (I think they’re called ringavalla??) people put in front of their homes to ward off evil spirits. 2012-07-22 India 564192012-07-22 India 563512012-07-22 India 564202012-07-22 India 56352 Most of the people who are Hindu have this elephant sign in front of their houses.2012-07-23 India 56445 We ate lunch in this picturesque spot swarmed with flies and open sewage running along on the right (not in the picture).2012-07-22 India 56422 Then we split up to fill in the gaps around some of the septic tanks Rising Star has put in.  The teenagers took this one:2012-07-23 India 564232012-07-23 India 56424(That bike was just in an alleyway…I liked it) Brynne and Mike did this one:2012-07-23 India 56428 …and Dave and I did the one behind this sweet lady’s house.2012-07-23 India 56432 When we went back to help the kids this cute lady had brought them out some figs and crackers.2012-07-23 India 564352012-07-23 India 56437 I don’t know who these guys were hanging out there on the sidelines too, but man alive they sure had great faces.2012-07-23 India 56442Isn’t that lady awesome? Mike made great friends with the guy who lived in the house belonging to the last latrine we worked on.2012-07-23 India 56451 He lives in that little one-bedroom house with his wife and two grown daughters. This one was the toughest project because it was SO incredibly hot right out in the sun and we were all pretty dehydrated by then.  Here are the kids when we were done…2012-07-23 India 56453I LOVE Max’s expression (and the back of his shirt). A little hard work never hurt anyone. Have I mentioned it is hot here?  Like, SUPER hot?2012-07-23 India 56455 The next stop was the art school where many of the residents afflicted with leprosy come to do their art.  These stacks were for sale. 2012-07-23 India 56458 These two were the ones Dave, Max, Elle and I narrowed down to:2012-07-23 India 56462 And here we are with the artist of the one we chose:2012-07-23 India 56464He looks super excited that we bought his art, don’t you think? This guy was a little happier:2012-07-23 India 56467Sweetie-pie is what I say about that. On the way home we stopped to buy some coconut water on the side of the road from this beautifully-dressed woman in her little shack.2012-07-23 India 564682012-07-23 India 56472 Here’s Elle pretending to be in love with that thing:2012-07 India But don’t let that sweet face fool you…she’s exactly like her mother was at that age and doesn’t much want to touch all this India stuff with a ten-foot pole.  She did try it though, and what I should have taken is a picture of her face after that first swallow went down:) After that it was back to the Rising Star campus to turn “Indian” again:2012-07-23 India 56726 …and hang out with the kids we are so quickly falling in love with. 2012-07-23 India 567122012-07-23 India 567152012-07-23 India 56722 Here are some of my fav. girls:2012-07-23 India 56708 We have dinner on the roof each night and talk about our highs and lows of the day along with the other forty volunteers.  2012-07-23 India 56729 We eat off of banana leaves and it it actually pretty good.2012-07-24 India 56948 Then we go hang with the kids and read with them before bed (we don’t take cameras in that quiet-down time). Loving it here.  It’s going to be rough to leave these cute kids.

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  1. I loved all these little stories you wrote along with all of the photos. You and your family are doing something great. Thank You for sharing.

  2. What an experience for you guys! I got all teary eyed just reading about your adventure thus far! Those will be great memories for you, especially Max and Elle!

  3. I'm so impressed with Rising Star – how well organized they are, and the positive way they are working to empower those they are helping. It's a delight seeing your photos and your sweet kids hard at work. An amazing experience.

  4. i love reading your posts! i hope to go and volunteer with my husband and kids someday. i can start planning my sons eagle project, right?
    (he's only four, but i can start preparing!)

  5. i love reading your posts! i hope to go and volunteer with my husband and kids someday. i can start planning my sons eagle project, right?
    (he's only four, but i can start preparing!)

  6. It's so amazing seeing you in Tamil Nadu…I just spent a semster there, and seeing you at the Chennai airport made me teary and wanting to go back.

    I hope you're enjoying all the amazing South Indian cuisine, like idly (my personal favorite, which are those rice cakes you pictured).

    I especially love the picture of you and Elle wearing your Salwar Kameez. I'm sure you've figured out right now that people appreciate that SO much.

    I remember being in India (I read your blog pretty regularly) when I found out you were going to India, and clicking on Rising Star and thinking "that's in Tamil Nadu!" and I just couldn't believe it. And there you are!

    Hope you're picking up some Tamil. Tell someone Vannakkam for me 🙂

    p.s.- make SURE to eat some parota. It's like an Indian croissant, and it's a specialty in Tamil Nadu (really, we couldn't get it ANYWHERE else in India!!)

  7. OH! and the chalk drawings are called Rangoli or Kolam. There is a difference between the two, but you'll get a different answer no matter who you ask.

  8. My friend spent her month at that art school and just returned home last week! What a small world! Looks like you're doing great things for great people. You all inspire
    me. 🙂

  9. My friend spent her month at that art school and just returned home last week! What a small world! Looks like you're doing great things for great people. You all inspire
    me. 🙂

  10. I cried when I saw that picture of Max with his enormous smile and sweaty shirt at the end of a long, hot day. It summed up your experiences perfectly.

  11. what an AWESOME experience to share with your children!! our oldest is only 3 but someday we will do things like this! as for now…well start teaching them about service within the community.

  12. i love remembering my magical month at rising star through your pics shawn. (they for sure got some snazzy new tunics in the closet! …and spandex?) i'm so impressed you are blogging while you're there. this is so awesome for max and elle. i am so excited to hear everything when you get home. love you guys a ton.

  13. This is so inspiring! Thank you for taking the time to share your pictures and experiences. I often feel so overwhelmed with all of the poverty and need in the world. It makes me happy to see good people out helping as much as they can. I hope to do something similar someday with my family.

  14. What a fabulous experience! Dave's foot was probably not too happy by the end of the day. Bless his heart! Love what you're learning!

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