Community Service Event At the Orphanage

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Flag of India  ,
Friday, June 8, 2007

One day each year every employee in my firm (world-wide) receives the day off to participate in community service events which are organized by volunteers within my firm.  In India this means that all 5000+ employees are sent out to over 40 different locations working on a number of different types of projects to give back to the Hyderabad community.  I have a friend back in the states (Tanya) who is currently running a charitable organization that she developed to help the street children of India.  You should all check out her website and donate some money or time to her cause:  Baal Dan Website.  Anyway, Tanya and her amazing work inspired me to join a group of my fellow employees who are helping street children and orphans in Hyderabad.  So early in the morning on Friday June 8th, about 30 of us from my company descend upon a local orphanage for girls in Hyderabad to make their day a little bit more enjoyable.  Little did I know at that time it was the girls who would make the day more enjoyable for all of us.

The orphanage we visited was called "Guild of Service" and it's basically the home of 40-50 orphaned girls ages 6-17.  All of these girls come from families that either could not afford them or abused them, so this new home is truly the only family they have left.  I was the only expat (read: non-Indian) coming to this location so I definitely stood out in the crowd which ended up being a good thing, albeit slightly embarrassing for me.  As we went around the group of my fellow employees each saying our name, they repeated it back to us in unison.  When they heard my funny sounding American name...they all giggled as they couldn't pronounce it.  I love to blend in!  Anyway, highlights of our day included the opportunity to play games, hold contests, dance, sing songs and serve the girls lunch and goodie bags full of things they might need.  I was responsible for taking a few of high school girls up to a room and teaching them MS Powerpoint.  I started off with the basics when one of the girls informed me they learned that in school....oops...I thought these girls were seeing a computer for the first time.  It turns out many of them are very computer literate.  So I stepped it up a notch and walked through every little menu and sub-menu of Powerpoint until even I had exhausted my knowledge.  It was fun and the girls enjoyed it as well...and who knows...maybe a few of them will get the opportunity to use Powerpoint in a future job.

For lunch all of the girls came to one large room where members of my company served them vegetable biriyani and other dishes.  The amazing part was when the girls launched into a prayer/song once all of them had been served where they essentially gave thanks for the food, their teaches, their school and their fellow classmates.  Even though it was in Telegu and I didn't understand a single word, it was still very cool...and I captured it all on video...and then I accidentally lost the video...DOH!  I felt like an idiot...but now I'll just have to go again next year and try to capture it again.

After lunch we played some games and then all gathered in another room where some of the girls came up and sang songs for the entire group.  Then it of the girls said she wanted me to sing them a song...oh dear God.  What song am I going to sing to a room full of children and my coworkers that a) they'll understand and b) won't make me look like an ass.  I racked my brain trying to think of songs that I knew the words too that didn't have cuss words and were simple enough for the girls to understand.  "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"...nope, it's about the devil!  "Margaritaville"...nope, alcohol references.  "Gin and Juice"...nope, cuss words.  I finally decided on a song that every loyal college basketball fan should now as it's only three words and you sing it when you're beating the crap out of the other team.  I told the girls that it's a song we sing in the US to say goodbye and then proceeded to sing..."Nah na naah na...nah na naah na...heey heeeey...good bye".  It was simple enough for the girls to learn and the loved it.

As the day came to a close, we all gathered outside, took photos, played around with some of the toys we brought the girls in their goodie bags and said our goodbyes.  It was an incredible experience and it was fun to watch the girls come out of their shell as the day went on (some of the girls definitely didn't need help coming out of their shells...I was exhausted trying to keep up with them).

As we walked through the gate to our waiting cars outside, the girls all sang in unison behind us..."Nah na naah na...nah na naah na...heey heeeey...good bye".
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