Getting ready for Gurupurnima

It was on today’s newspaper main page: 47° Celsius, this the local temperature in a village of Uttar Pradesh, the state where Varanasi is located. The drought is a matter of fact, and we are now bordering a natural disaster. Water is scarce in many places, and should it not rain soon, the harvest will bear the brunt of it. Rainfalls facilitate rice ploughing, and if not present, the harvesting will be compromised: most of the people living in villages close to Varanasi gain their livelihoods out of agriculture.

The air is saturated with humidity, but the monsoon is yet to come to northern India and the forecasts do not seem to agree about its coming. Despite this, another windstorm has taken place today, although not as severe as the previous one. The river level is very low, possibly at its lowest ever: snowfalls in the Himalayas prevented the ice from melting, thus affecting the river.

In these past weeks the ashram activities continued at full pace, despite the heath. Ongoing works are expected to be concluded before Gurupurnima. Some of the boys, former pupils at our school, took part in the construction works while others helped out with the school and gates maintenance. The girls are instead working on the songs and dances they will perform during Gurupurnima.

Uniforms and books are ready too, as the school will open again on Monday, and it is difficult to give an exact estimate of the number of children now: new children, often accompanied by parents or grandparents, will keep coming to ask for admission even several days after the beginning of classes.

The doctors have always been present, keeping up with the routine even during the hottest days. One day a child from Durgawati, a village in the Bihar region, came to the ashram. Simha, a beautiful child of nine years of age, was affected by dacriocistitis, that is to say a lump full of liquid generally found under the eye, something that causes the occlusion of the tear channel. She had been affected by this for several years, often suffering from infections. Her family could not get her the cures and medical help that she needed due to extreme poverty. Doc. P.K. Singh carried out the operation, rechanneling the tear channel. Here you can see Simha a few days after the operation. She will leave the ashram in a week or so.

Babloo and Ramkrypa have left with the farm tractor and the cart for ‘biksha’, the gathering of produce. Some friends and acquaintances from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will offer produce for Gurupurnima. Last year we distributed over 2,000 meals.