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About Susan Skeele

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So far Susan Skeele has created 8 blog entries.
8 03, 2019

A Paper Chain for the Coming of Spring ~ Reflections on service together

Delhi, India

It is Sunday, the day called Basant, or the celebration of the coming of spring. I am in Delhi, India. Today I have been thinking of the way we, at The Storydancer Project, are able to be in service.

It is like a multi-colored paper chain. You choose a colored strip of paper, make it into a circle and glue it. Choosing is the beginning of wanting to be a part of something. Then you take another strip and thread it through the circle you have made, and it becomes two circles, intertwined. Then you keep repeating. Let’s say that each colored strip is a person who wants to be a part of bringing this renewable energy to others.

This is how The Storydancer Project works. Each of our friends is a colored circle intertwined with another friend. All of these circles together make a lively paper chain, which reaches from our hearts to those we work with. It is colorful, beautiful, and connected.

Here’s how, one day this spring, as on so many, this beautiful link with each other and our partnering organization, CanSupport, reaches people with cancer and their families:

Wake up early, bathe and have a pot of tea and some fruit, sing the morning into being, stretch this body, pick out the color of the day to wear. Pack a snack of roti (like a tortilla) with almond butter, a bottle of water. Call the counselor, find out the place I am going (usually between 45 minutes to an hour away).

Hand my Indian cell phone to the trusty driver so he can talk with the counselor. Get to the area, call again, find a meeting point usually on the road, sometimes in the area office, get into the car with counselor and nurse and driver. Drive and drive and drive, sometimes bumpy, sometimes traffic, sometimes both. Often times we are wearing the same colors, and we have a laugh about this. Sometimes we go out into the villages on the outskirts of the city, sometimes inside tiny lanes, waiting for a cow or dogs or many motorcycles. You can’t imagine how many fast motorcycles speed down these tiny lanes barely wide enough for walking. Can be scary.

Get to the house or room of the patient. She may be walking around, she may be bedridden. He may have tubes sticking out, he may have family members around. Then we sit down and work with them. Sometimes a person is well and standing, sometimes they are not well enough to speak. It all depends.

Usually the family is so grateful they want to give us tea. And even I, who love tea, have learned, like the others, to not always say “yes.” Sometimes you have just had tea with a patient’s family, and there is not time, because another is waiting, and we have to drive there. It is a person-by-person event. That is what is so touching. Each patient is so important.

Sometimes there is an emergency, and we have to change the plan. Sometimes it is not appropriate to try to do a relaxation type of exercise/movement. Most of the time, when I go with the counselors, it is so we can establish the training. I am so happy to say that though I created these exercises, I am not leading these relaxation exercises all the time.

The counselors are really learning to carry this skill in their tool kits.

We are so happy.

After each visit there is this feeling of winning the lottery.

The smile on the face of a patient and their family, it fills the heart and you can feel the relief. Joy comes quietly sometimes.

It is there. We are in it.

©Zuleikha

2019

21 01, 2019

Road to Katna

 

THE ROAD TO KATNA
MURSHIDABAD, WEST BENGAL, INDIA
BLOG JANUARY 2019

In the rural village of Katna in the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal, India, known for its disparity, poverty and unemployment, I’m walking into the famous Jagriti School. Founded by Shabnam Ramaswamy and her late husband, this inspirational school offers learning to rural children in one of the poorest areas of the state. I’m amazed at how clean and open it is as I teach grades 3–11 each day. I choose the basketball court because it’s an open space outside, surrounded by nature. It is private so no one looks at us. We can enjoy ourselves, make lots of hoots and howls, and (more…)