Volunteering at New Light

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On the 28th I left my hotel at 6:50AM, On the way I crossed again people around fire to get some warm, ladies fighting against dogs and raven in the rubbish to sort out what they could sell, men washing themselves with cold water in the cold weather of the morning: they cannot dry after washing hence they usually simply dress up thin clothes with wet skin without showing any sign of unpleasant feeling (on my side I had to wear many layers to protect against the cool wind). Many small places selling something to eat or to drink were getting up from the cold night.
I arrived at the breakfast around 7:10AM. Enrico was already there. He told me he tried to come to my hotel a few times but despite he left a message I did not get any from the reception. He told me today he would go for a particular volunteering: sharing presents to the street children. I decided I would join. For this we took a bus with the sisters to a place almost emptied of people. The sisters were showing us the way but after a while we lost them … as we walked almost an hour I started to wonder whether we would reach the school at all. By chance walking further we arrived 🙂 The school was full of children everywhere. Many different ages: from 3 years old to over 15 years old. All were grouped by age. For each group one to 3 sisters or volunteers were proposing some animations. It was really great to see. Many children dressed up with clothes in extremely bad state but laughing and playing with others. Sisters shared a lot of sweets (not the best thing for the teeth but really good to make children happy). After many animations they got as well presents. Many mothers (of the children) were sitting in a corner. After a while presents were offered. After this we cleaned up and left the school.
In the afternoon I decided I would give a chance in trying to go back to the place with the narrow street named New Light taking care of children of prostitute. Children and mothers have to follow strict rules when a child is left to the association: one of them is that the child is not allowed not leave the association anymore as long as the mother did not find another job or the child is old enough to care about his own life. The interesting point of this association is that it is located in the heart of the biggest area where prostitutes work. Entering the narrow street one meet them. I find this a great idea to really try to change the ecosystem.

As I arrived I explained I was sick but this was no problem they accepted I start the same day at 5:30PM. I went back home for some rest and was again back there as promised. After a few formalities I joined a group of children. We started to talk a little. Many could only very little english. I started with basic things, I also noticed that one girl was very good in mathematics and gave her many exercises always more complex … somehow she had a lot of fun with this. After a while a guy came to me he was quite older and told me he was a boy rescued by the association and now doing hotel management. He explained me he was learning french. I proposed him he brings all his french notebooks so we can practice a little more … he seemed to be happy to get this opportunity. I stayed a little more looking at the children playing and then I left back home. After dinner and some time on the internet I went for a long and resting night …

29th of December. Only a few days left before the travel ends. From the 2nd on I will start a 10 days meditation course named Vipassana: more to read soon about it on this blog. Hence only 4 days more. I spent the morning taking care of bringing clothes to laundry and looking for some presents. At lunch I met 2 spanish girls. They were living in India since a few months. They took the opportunity to go for a 1,5 month travel. In the afternoon I went to New Light (the association of the narrow street). I again tried to give exercises to some children: Maths and English. Children are very respectful and nice. In India as a stranger I am always called Uncle. This is quite funny.

30th of december: I woke up before 3:00 AM and for some reason could not sleep anymore. I stood up at 6:40AM and went for the breakfast at the sisters. I joined Enrico and we went to Nabon Jibon. I slowly realize that Calcutta is really too taf for me. Just like if some inside part in me would protect against the huge poverty. In Jibon I helped cleaning some vegetables. A group of people from australia were there. They were mostly students accompanied from their teacher (not much older than them 🙂 ). Some of them having 17 years old had already traveled a lot. At 11:30AM we left the place and I went for a Pizza with Enrico. After lunch I decided to rest a little before joining New Life. However I slept very deep and woke up too late … I would go only tomorrow. It was not too bad as it was last day of Francesca an italian girl. We went with Diego to the spanish Cafe for her last day.

31th of december. I do not know what I will do this evening. If I have chance I will meet Enrico. We have an appointment for the 1st but the 31st we did not have any. I woke up a little late and went for a Pizza-Breakfast. After this I started to define the next priorities I see for my come back in Europe: what to study versus the needed engineer profile on the market. I also started to prepare all my things: on the 2nd I leave my hotel. At 1:00PM I went for lunch and met Enrico. After lunch we went for a walk to check some shops. I came back to my hotel and after some rest I went to New Light.
Children had somehow no mood fur learning but rather playing with each other. One of them was needing quite a lot of affection. He went to me and just wanted to feel close playing a little. Two others joined. Later I started talking with a teenager and started to give him some mathematics exercises. I had the feeling he would not like it very long hence I tried to raise the level very quick so that he could at least understand a few things. Indeed after 30 minutes he did not want to do more but promised me to come back to me on the next day. I did not stay very late as children were mainly busy with each other. I arrived at my hotel around 8:00PM and quickly looked if some italians were around but I did not see any. I went for dinner and then I called Nino for the last time in 2012 … getting out of the Internet cafe I met by chance the italians: Francesca, Diego and Federica. Francesca had to leave this day but her train was delayed around 12 hours. As Diego and Federica had to meet Marta (an italian girl having started a project for children of a slum) I spent the last few minutes of 2012 with Francesca and 2 other Swiss-Italians that we met. After this I went back to bed for the first time in 2013.