Yeah I think the title says it all. First day of school for us and we absoutely fell in love with every single child. 7am start with 143 kids from 4-10 years old singing and meditating and performing the national anthem and sharing news from the previous day, oh and singing us a welcome song of course. Majorly majorly cute, never seen anything so adorable in all my life. All their huge brown eyes staring at us and big cheeky grins with bright white teeth. And all their hair perfectly combed and uniform all neat and buttoned up. Some of course were scruffy and dirty and some didn´t come in shoes (flip flops) but what do you expect, they all live in huts made of mud and straw.
First period we sat with Shiv, pronounced Shoe, with his class, Class 3&4. First period for everyone is Special Programme, which is going over the Motivations the school drills into the kids. For example, humility, respect, etc. And the kids are brilliant with it. They stand up when they want to say something and explain the meaning of the day´s Motivation and how they are going to put it into action – it´s impressive! Shiv was fantastic and translated everything for us from Hindi. The kids at this stage were all staring and giggling and laughing and it was just so cute. We are so weird to these kids and the adults too, being so white.
Next period was with Pre.Nursery B. with their teacher Urmilla – a larger than life woman who shouts ALOT. Not horribly, just needs to turn the volume down a little. But a lovely lady – she is also in charge of taming the wild children when they first start the school, what a task. They had a rotating classroom with different activities on four mats, playing with coloured blocks, copying ABC letters, drawing, etc. I sat on the ABC mat and helped them copy the letters, so cute the way they just stare at you while you´re trying to explain something in a language they really don´t have any idea about. Although they are totally clued up with “yes sir, yes madam, may I come in madam” hehee.
We then went to the roof for lunch at 10am! This is the best meal these kids get so it is amazing to see them all sitting in lines on the floor so happy, eating their grub, all cooked by the guards wife. One of his sons is the Principal and another a teacher here, it´s lovely a whole family works here. Today we ate with the teachers and I´m surprised Javi managed to eat all the rice and slightly spicy masala potatoes… god it was good. You´re already soaked in sweat just from being awake here so might aswell sweat some more with a little bit of spice aye! The teachers are all great and just bend over backwards to do anything for you. We were actually helping with the serving and one young lady teacher came and made us sit down and eat.
After lunch we went to Pre.Nursery A. with a beautiful very young teacher called Archana, she is about 22 I think and lovely. We spent too long with her class and completely forgot we were supposed to go to a maths class and merrily continued with the kids until the next period´s teacher, Sajeet, came and fetched us haha! Woops. You just let the time slip by when you´ve got all these beautiful children fascinated by your face. So Sajeet´s period was based on movement to develop hand eye coordination, motor skills and get the children accustomed to their bodies and different movements etc. It´s a very good idea. They basically played calm music and the kids acted out their day – waking up, washing (very important to teach these kids hygiene), having breakfast, dressing, working, etc. Was so cute as they all wanted to show us the moves. They also did this thing where, in partners, you roll a ball up and down the length of the others body, nice and calm, and pat the body, and stroke the head, etc. It´s all about respect and compassion and love, and I love the idea. At one point you have to lay on your partner´s lap and they stroke your head like a baby, and Javi was like,”I can´t lay on this tiny child!¨Haha I said, ¨just put your head in his lap!¨ It filled his lap haha.
At 1pm the kids go home so we pretty much said bye to all of them as they walked past at the gate – all bye sir, bye madams! – and then we had to all have a siesta! It is about 40 degrees this time of day here! At 6pm we were in Bodhgaya, the town about 4km away, to meet a Spanish family for dinner. One of the daughters had volunteered here last year and her and her mum sponsored two of the kids here, so the whole family came to visit the school for a couple of days. They were all very nice and we had a lovely dinner in their hotel. Whilst we were eating we could hear a storm brewing, and as I´ve mentiond before, they are fantastic here, always impressive, and it also gets dark here at 6pm, so when we left at about 9pm we were a tad worried about getting the car back along the track through the paddy fields to the school… So we jumped in and it was decided to not use the usual track, which is only about half a mile long but very narrow and when wet and muddy it´s inevitable you will slide into the paddy fields, and in the dark? No thanks. So we took the next track along the road which leads to one end of the village behind the school. Ok now words really will not do this journey justice – but the conclusion is my cousin Raquel could beat any off road 4×4 rally driver in the world – it was brilliant! We slid and nearly bumped into brick walls, had to manouver (correct spelling?) round tiny tight corners with huge holes in the mud track full of water so you have no idea how deep they are or what´s in them. We turned one corner thinking ok now the hard bit is over but nope, they´d dug up the road for some reason and even with this amazing 4×4 Raquel has it was just not possible to drive any vehicle down there. At this moment we also got stuck in a huge hole and the wheels were spinning but after a couple of tries we reversed out of it. Remember this is all in the pitch black and the rain. The village doesn´t have electricity so it was even darker with all the huts and brick walls around us, everything was so tight. A few village men came with torches to see what we were up to and then I got a little frightened, but they were basically telling us nope, no way you´re getting down there, and actually semi-helped us turn round, without falling into the paddy fields or more holes. Then came the journey back of course through the village. We were all so glad when we reached the solid road! All you could hear aswell were frogs being SO loud, mosquitos and other flying bugs – if we had to spend the night in the car (which we were seriously thinking by now) we were going to get bitten alive (it´s got a soft top).
Anyway we made it out onto concrete again YAY! and decided ok now we´ll try the usual track. Just as you come off the tarmac road there´s a homeopathic college which has one policeman in it at all times, on the roof, keeping watch. We stopped the car and Javi lost his flip flop walking through the deep mud (he got it back but it was so funny to see) and eventually Raquel decided it wasn´t possible to get the 4×4 through so she parked it there and the policeman shone the HUGE torch he had, so we could see the way back. It took us about 10 minutes, barefoot of course, no point wearing flip flops, feet totally under the wet mud, treading on big fat frogs (pretty horrendous anyway let alone in the dark) and the weirdest thing was that of course the mud and water was so warm, yuk! Made it disgusting for some reason, you expect it to be cold! So we finally got home with very muddy and slippery feet but my cheeks were so tired from laughing, when we were home safe and sound it was all very funny of course. We washed our feet at the outside pump and finally went into the house and laughed for a good while longer before bed. Exhausting and eventful first day at the school! Love it!