A Toy for an Anesthetic


The JJS student council donated one million rupiah to a monastery on the island of Flores; the money came from the profits of a Cultural Festival, and we also sent second-hand clothes we had collected. In return for this a sister from the monastery visited us at school with hand-wovwn textiles as presents.


<A summary of the sister's speech>

People in Flores use firewood because electricity hasn't been installed yet. They can rarely eat meat or eggs, so even adults are short and thin. They read the positions of the sun and know it's dawn when they hear the cock crow.


Children come to school without having had breakfast; therefore they look tired and lack energy to play around at school. They study under old, cracked kerosene lamps, which sometimes burst and burn them. They like playing with balls, which are made of crumpled-up paper, wrapped with banana leaves and tightened with thread.When people become sick they pay for treatment with firewood collected in the mountains or crops harvested in their field. They barter at a weekly market.


You sent us battery-powered toy trains. It was adults in the village who excitedly watched them running on the track. They knew the word "train" but had never seen one.


One day a 6 or 7 year old boy, his face bitten by a dog, had to have stitches in the wound. We didn't have anesthetics in the village then. We said to him: "You can have this toy car if you can bear the pain while you're being sewn up." The he just gazed at it and never cried throughout the procedure. 



#59 Parkway Vol.7 No.2 April 1993