Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Changes to the Rising Star Volunteer Program

First of all, I wish I had more pictures in this post, but the internet has been awful!

We had an amazing group of volunteers here for our Youth Session the past two weeks. There were about 20 teenagers here, every single one eager to help and make the biggest difference they could. A lot of them earned their own money to come, and it made their experience even more meaningful.

They tutored students who struggle at school.

They did construction projects on campus.

They treated patients at leprosy colonies.

Summer Stewart, from good old Sedona, Arizona was one of the most helpful volunteers ever! It was great having her here.

On one of their last nights here, the police showed up to campus on a routine surprise visit. The politicians around here don't help Rising Star out too much. I think they're bitter that their own children can't attend this amazing school, since it's only for leprosy-affected children. Anyway, they heard us Americans and wanted to see everyone's visas. We all have tourist visas, which is what we were told to get. One particular policeman decided to make a big deal out of this, and said that technically, on a tourist visa we cannot stay on the campus of an academic institution, nor can we participate in a volunteer program--we can only do touristy things. He ordered that all of us leave the campus. Thankfully the youth were able to stay until their original departure date on Friday morning, and after they left we coordinators also packed up and had to go to a nearby hotel. We are still staying at this hotel, and can only go on campus a few times a week.

It's a rough situation and no one's happy about it. A new group of volunteers arrived on Monday, July 20, and they will also have to stay in this hotel, which limits interaction with the precious students of Rising Star who need our attention. Please pray we can somehow return to campus!

In other news, on Saturday, Carson and I went on a real date! We saw Jurassic World  in 3D at an Imax theater in the Chennai mall. It was crazy intense, but so good! And, the awesome part is the tickets were only $2 each! For once, it was easy to stay under our normal goal of a $10 date. We also found a Subway, which really hit the spot after so much Indian food.

On Sunday after church, we were able to visit campus and see the kids! There are several girls I'm really close to that come to a little choir group I lead each Sunday afternoon. When they saw us arrive on campus, they came running and said their eyes watered when they saw us arrive, and they knew their prayers had been answered that we would come. It was so nice to see them after being gone a couple days, and to sing and talk together.

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