Wednesday, January 03, 2007

VERY Graphic images included in this update. Guard your children. If you have a weak stomach, please proceed with caution.

Our new home: Sewa Ashram. If you don't know about them, please do read a little on the web page. The premise is that this is a home. It is a home for the mentally disabled, differently-abled, HIV positive, TB positive, elderly, homeless, sick, dying, and amazing people of the streets of Delhi, India. Over 100 patients live together in community; washing each other, caring for each other, cooking, cleaning, guiding the blind, feeding the weak, and carrying those who would be left behind. Jessica and I are but little cogs here in a machine that was set in motion nearly 10 years ago.

We don't have big fancy temples and domes here, like you see with the Sikh temple pictured here, but rather we have thatch roofs, simple buildings, and lots of soap and love.

The mornings here in Delhi are cool. The winter brings a chilly breeze and lots of damp fog that hangs low and long into most mornings. Every day we awaken to hot chai masala, wet wheelchairs, stiff bodies, and lists of things to do. Cooking, cleaning, distributing medicine, bandaging the wounds, bathing the not-so-able-bodied, fixing doors and chairs and beds, teaching skills, physical therapy, stretching and exercising, bringing in the food; all of these tasks are accomplished by the hundreds patients themselves with only minimal interference by the 5 (including us) Western staff members.

Some wounds are internal and require constant medication and very consistent monitoring. Tuberculosis is one of the more common things found here. The drugs must be taken EVERY day for 6 months, or the bacteria can become resistant and kill the patient without any means to combat the infection. So far this week, mostly thanks to the cool weather, no one has died. Most weeks in the summer there can be as many deaths as new patients. Constantly rotating population. Some are pulled from the roadside where they were waiting to die, other return to the earth from which they came.

Other wounds are external. On the dirty and rough streets of a junkies home, a little scratch or infection can be exacerbated by flies and maggots and eventually turn into a massive open wound like this. This man's family was killed in front of his eyes, then he was locked up, beaten by the police and left on the road to die. This wound on his head was opened up by flies and maggots to this point. What you are seeing is skull, pure bone. Now, with a few weeks of love, soap, medicine and care, the flesh is starting to regrow. You can see it in the stripes of pink.

After 5 days of almost no sleep, changing time-zones from Paris to India, being slightly ill, having very little food and I am sure not enough water either, it was all a little too much for Jess. After helping bandage a guy who was a victim of a train accident (one amputation, one mutilation), and then helping with the skull-cap guy above, she passed out and smacked her head pretty hard on the office desk. You can see the cut in the middle of her hair line and the bruise just starting to form on the right side of her forehead. After that we took a 3 hour nap, got some food, and in subsequent days, have now recharged and are going strong. Trust me, we are healthy and strong now.

That is us. We are finding out niches. I am definitely the handyman on staff right now. I have been spending my time cleaning, organizing and fixing the tools. Next step is I have to take on the cars - they are in really bad shape, all of them. The in between time is spent playing games with the children, visiting the old men, ensuring some of the debilitated patients get fed, helping organize the food room and fixing everything I see.

Jess is finding all kinds of diverse things to do as well. She is creating assessments for the children, organizing their files, investigating and soon to be applying for lots of grants (there are enormous of monetary needs here), playing with and teaching some of the kids, and just being handy around the office. The rest of her time is filled with visiting the old men (surprise), taking them on walks, bringing cheer around with her to the TB wards, wearing Santa jackets and distributing hats and socks for warm sleeping.

There is so much more, but where is there room to write it?

Jake and Jess


Anonymous said...

Ah, now you're in your element. Godspeed!

Indian Lake Papa said...

I am not sure what to say. The pictures scare me. I will be praying that you will be great "ministers" and that you keep safe.

Indian Lake Papa

Rob said...

Be safe! We are all praying for you guys. You are such ambassadors of God's love. Your treasures are growing.