August 14, 2007

The Sharon Kleyne Hour

Radio Talk Show –

Power of Water – Global Warming

Mind – Eyes – Skin – Body


Show Summary


Date aired: August 13, 2007

Guest: Mikaylah Roggasch – recent high school graduate, Grants Pass, OR

Topic: Volunteering at an Orphanage in India


Sharon (paraphrased): Welcome to the Sharon Kleyne Hour – the Power of Water and Global Warming. Today’s guest is Mikaylah Roggasch, who just returned from doing volunteer work for 5 weeks at an orphanage in India. She left just three weeks after graduating high school. Mikaylah is 18 years old and happens to be my granddaughter. Mikaylah, why did you decide to take this step and how did you go about pursing it? 

Mikaylah Roggasch (paraphrased): I have always been interested in humanitarian work. After much research, I decided I was fascinated with India. There’s a huge amount of need and extreme poverty but it’s also fairly safe and reasonably developed, technologically. Its population of 1.1 billion may soon overtake China (1.2 billion). There are terrible class differences but it is also the world’s largest democracy and just elected a woman president.

S: Tell us about your trip.

M: I went alone and paid my own way but once there, I met up with a group of 20 people who had come through the same agency. I went because I believe it is important for a young person, early on, to experience the world so they won’t be isolated or closed minded.

S: I understand India is terribly hot, often 130 degrees, and the water isn’t very good. What did you do to stay cool and hydrated? 

M: I brought water filters and a UV pen (note: White-bulb UV pens are an effective germicide). And yes, you do drink a lot of water. It’s not only extremely hot, it’s also very humid, with very little air conditioning (but lots of fans). Bottled water is readily available, although most people can’t afford it. With tap water, I used the filter whenever I could and the UV pen for added protection. I brought lightweight cotton clothing but I also purchased clothing there (the Indians are very modest and much American clothing is inappropriate).

S: Was there enough water? I understand the electricity tends to be sporadic.

M: I didn’t have a problem but yes, the power does tend to go on and off and when it’s off, there’s no running water. Luckily, there wasn’t a drought when I was there. There is no hot water but with all that heat, a cool shower in the morning can be nice.

S: What about the food?

M: Indian food is known for its spiciness but foreigners are advised to work up to the spices slowly. Personally, I don’t like very spicy foods. Fortunately, they also eat lots of veggies and rice and all kinds of breads. Veggies consist mostly of tomatoes, onions, eggplants and a bunch of things I was unfamiliar with, which they make into stews. They also have a lot of fruit juices – mostly mango juice and orange flavored drinks.

S: Tell us about the orphanage.

M: It was a Catholic orphanage in a small village 30 miles from Delhi. I lived in the orphanage with the staff and 41 children, age 3 to 14. There’s a school on the premises where they learn reading, math, English and Hindi. There were 13 kids in my group. Each group is in the charge of a hired woman who cares for the kids. I was basically her helper.

S: I understand you brought your laptop and a bunch of Disney movies.

M: Yes. The kids had seen laptops but only on TV. Most poor children don’t have access to computers, cell phones or IPods. They’d also never seen a Disney movie. We showed a bunch of Disney movies that I brought, on the laptop. The last night, we showed Aladdin on the main TV for all the kids and staff, with a borrowed DVD player.

S: Did you do anything musical? I know you love music and Disney songs especially.

M: I taught them some songs, mostly from Mary Poppins. They loved it! We also did some dancing. The last night, we even had the nuns dancing! I was very sad to leave.

S: Did you have a favorite child?

M: I loved them all, but there was this 9 year old boy who liked to draw and I had brought crayons. He made me some great pictures!

S: Why were these children in an orphanage?

M: Some had their parents die and no relatives able to raise them. Some were from single mothers, which is not well accepted in India. Also, there’s a cultural prejudice in India that favors sons and considers daughters a burden, so poor people, without the resources to care for a daughter, often just give them away.

S: Did the kids seem happy?

M: Yes. It’s a good situation. They are safe, well fed, cared for and loved. The called the woman helper “mommy.”

S: Did you do much sightseeing? I understand Indian cities are full of monkeys.

M: Delhi not so much but the villages were. Delhi has 12.8 million people and is India’s biggest city. There weren’t monkeys but there were cows everywhere. And camels and elephants.

Caller: How did you find out about the program?

M: I did a lot of online research and found an organization called “Global Crossroads.” They work in several countries with orphanages, health programs and women’s issues.

Caller: Do the Indians also avoid the water?

M: Bottled water is readily available for those who can afford it. But 400,000 people a year die in India from diarrhea and other diseases related to contaminated water. The poor usually have no access to good water. Especially the homeless or people living in huts. They have to haul water in buckets from the river or a community well.

S: Tell me about the people you met. I’ll bet you made some friendships for life.

M: I did. The 20 people in India with our group met when we all arrived. Most were from the US but one was from Canada, one from the UK and one from Denmark.

S: Do you have any closing words.

M: It’s important to be open and willing to experience new things. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious and prepared. Each person in my group carried an international phone that could put us in touch with the people who sent us there. There were also many cyber cafes, in case we wanted to e-mail somebody.  

S: Thank you your fascinating insights and congratulations on being such a wonderful person. My second guest is Rod Nichols, Public Information Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem, the state capitol. He’s going to tell us about the 16 million acres of forest land that Oregon manages, their forest fire protection program for state and private lands, their technical assistance program for owners of private forest land, and the unique Oregon Forest Practices Act that regulates timber harvest and reforestation on all non-Federal lands in Oregon.