MWR – Endearing India

I had the absolute privilege of travelling to India this past February and volunteering at the Jagshanti Udayan Care Orphanage in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh – approximately 45 minutes outside of New Delhi. I spent five weeks living at the orphanage with 31 amazing girls aged five to 18. While my main “duties” were offering some art therapy, English lessons, and homework assistance, the entire purpose of my being there was to simply “Be Human” (thank you David) with them all.

While I state in the About section on this website that I never replicate my paintings, I made an exception in this one case. I painted an exact twin of Rafe’s elephant, which I created in a set of 3 to his parents back in December 2005, and gave it as a gift to the girls at the orphanage. I thought when Rafe gets older, he might think it is cool that the painting of his elephant has an exact mate hanging in an orphanage on the other side of the world. Of course, he’s much too young to understand the significance of my gesture right now. I know that for the next few years, I’m going to be seen as “one of those Aunts” who keeps giving him “another one of THOSE presents” when he probably just really wants a Tonka truck cement mixer. In his eyes it will be the equivalent of receiving socks.

Of course, I also thought the girls would like to know their painting had a twin all the way over in Canada… innately connected with someone they’ve never met.

Many people have had a tremendous effect on me in my life, but I’ve never been sure I’ve had the same impact on others…until now. Never in my life have I felt I’ve had the impact on people’s lives that I have here. The smallest gestures garnish the biggest rewards. Most importantly, I didn’t go down there to teach. I went there to learn.

I promise girls, I will be back.

Please see udayancare.org for more information.

Wiket the Wondermutt poses with some of the 60+ pounds of art supplies donated by family and friends for me to take to India

The suitcase makes it to India and the girls dig in!

This is probably my favourite photo out of the 1,600 I took down there. Just hanging out and being human with the girls.

Deepa puts the finishing touches on her masterpiece!

Suman holds a painting of the national flag of India she drew.

Bead making day!

Sheela giving me a big kiss!

Pinki and Ruchi were the two girls with whom I formed the closet bond.

Moments before the hardest goodbye I've ever had.

ENDEARING INDIA February 2006
Udayan Care Orphange / Greater Noida