5.18.2014

One thousand and ninety five (1,095) days

It has been three years (and two weeks) since I moved to Guwahati. This year has been completely unlike the first two. Every year had its own challenges and rewards, its own sacrifices and gains and this one was no different. I learned a lot this year. I was challenged like never before and I am still figuring out if I have come out on top, haha! I feel like a made a lot of big decisions but very little progress and that is incredibly frustrating/disappointing to me. I fell in love this year and realised after some time (not too much time ago) that it wasn't the right relationship for either of us. I traveled literally around the world to places I could never have dreamt of going without Operation Smile. I had my heart broken for the families in the slum. I made a commitment to my friend in California that we are going to make an impact on the education system in India and slowly we have been working towards that. Pratyasha Foundation became a registered California Public Benefit corporation but the road to making it a recognised 501(c)(3) corporation has been incredibly long. I have felt so full of happiness and joy that I thought I might explode. I started dancing Bollywood and Salsa and loved every minute of it. I left my job at the Guwahati Comprehensive Cleft Care Centre. I transitioned into a teaching role with Operation Smile Inc. that I am finding a balance with so that I can give more time to Pratyasha. I was with my family for six weeks. My mom and aunt came to visit. I had an awesome roomie, a student volunteer on her gap year, live with me and there is a lot I never could have done without her. Writing all of this, I sure do wish I had written as time went along. The fact is I didn't. I have thought about slowly sharing about a lot of the experiences. Lets see! As for now... here is a little bit in pictures to try and bridge the gap.

In June we had an awesome mission in Guwahati at the Comprehensive Cleft Care Center. At this point, I don't remember how many surgeries achieved but I do remember that during the mission we operated on the 9,000th patient in Assam!!! It was AMAZING! Look at what a great recovery room team we had!

In July we had nurse leadership training for our nurse leaders in Guwahati. It was held by an amazing woman/nurse from the states and I learned and grew so much from being a part of the training. 

In love with these best friends who live in Lakhtokia! 

In August my mom and Aunt braved the heat and humidity and came to visit me. It was something I had dreamed of the entire time I have lived here. My parents and my Aunt Sharon in particular are incredible supportive of me. To have the two of them here was absolutely some of the best days I have had. They helped me on Sundays and in between we took refuge in the calm, cool city of Shillong. I dream of the day they would come back.


In September Lismore moved here and took on A LOT of responsibility both with Operation Smile and with Pratyasha Foundation. She rallied and had a consistent group of girls going to day and afternoon school. 

In October I went to Vietnam to teach AHA Basic and Pediatric Advanced Life support for Operation Smile. We taught in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City and I fell in love with this country!



This year I really did have two great roommates, and boy do we clean up well! 


The kids got in a real picture kick for a while. This is us looking at pictures of Hannah and Olivia and all of the kids over the years.

In November Operation Smile hosted a Comprehensive Cleft Care Conference in Guwahati. I had a tiny part in a beautiful dance done by these cleft patients. Practicing with them became my favorite evening passtime. The absolute look of pride on their faces after they finished the performance made me cry and it still does bring up tears to this day. Many of these kids were not allowed to go to school because of their clefts, let alone perform in front of an audience. This moment with them is the highlight of my time working with this organization. 

Fall ended with another incredibly proud moment. One of our girls from Lakhtokia got asked to perform in the afternoon school's fall showcase. It is basically a performance put on by each grade at the school. She was so proud up their, in front of a big audience! I had a proud "momma" moment watching her, knowing she had never gotten to do anything like it before. The below picture is of her fan section at the first night of the performance!


In December I went home to California! My mom had off work almost the entire time so we spent a lot of time together doing things like making paper Christmas villages!

My younger sister also came home from college for the winter, she got off the plane and we realized we matched a whole lot... as usual.

I became an auntie x5! My newest niece has to be the sweetest baby I ever did encounter. She was calm and laid back from the moment she was born and not a thing has changed!


As soon as I got back to India, I started my new job which focuses on teaching life support training. My first stop was in Chabua, upper Assam!


Next I headed for a whirlwind few days in Cambodia. That trip really was only a few days and they were incredibly busy. I hope to go back some day so I can see more of the country.
Part of the training there involved the Cambodian Anti-Terrorism Squad. I was intimidated at first but quickly I realized that these guys were so sweet and funny!



Right after Cambodia, things started changing in the slum. The homes are still knocked down and destroyed to this day. The families come and go frequently. It is so unpredictable week to week. We have had to get creative at some points. It is heartbreaking to hear the kids stories of the police coming through and kicking over their fires which had food cooking on them. The kids and families were and are still scared. The girls who live directly in the slum stopped going to school for the most part. We are trying not to get discouraged and just taking it a day at a time.

In March I went to Russia. It was mind blowing! I didn't know what to expect, and I was so warmly welcomed and taken care of. It was one of the best work trips as far as hospitality that I have ever had. 



I ended this third year back in Guwahati and then with a trip to Jordan (more on that later!)

One thousand and ninety five days. I never, ever in my wildest dreams would have thought I would still be here!

8 comments:

  1. Hello - it is great to see you back...i have pondered on what you might be up to a few times lately! It is inspiring to see all that you have been achieving and I look forward to finding out more later! :) xxx

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    1. Thank you Rachel ! It feels good to be writing it all out again !

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  2. Dude I've seen some of your pictures (on Instagram I think???) but missed your words! I love hearing your stories, your life is so interesting.

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    1. Hoping that I will keep the dust off my keyboard and catch up on here. Looking back there's so much I wish I shared but I just totally neglected it all :(

      I am so glad you left a comment, I was wondering where your blog went. Now I need to go catch up with yours!

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  3. Really lovely to hear about your stories, I too have wondered what you might be up to. What you are doing is incredibly inspiring!

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    1. Thank you! Hopefully from here on out I won't keep anyone wondering!

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  4. Wow, Kristin, that is AMAZING. What a life changing 3 years you've had, and I'm honestly very privileged to have stumbled across your blog all those years ago and followed along. You should definitely write more, you're such an inspiration! :)

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