Volunteering at the sisters

On friday morning the 21st we went again to Jibon the place where we take care of the disabled people. Many Indians were volunteering. Enrico said many times he was surprised no Indians at all were helping … somehow his prayer got heard 🙂 The group of Indians was from north est India. There people look rather like Chinese or south east Asian. There were around 8 of them coming with us. We were a little behind arriving in the center. All the Indians were very active and as there is not very much to do we just took some disabled person to walk around. After a while Enrico decided to visit the center of Don Bosco. Don Bosco was an Italian priest taking care of poor children in the streets of Italy in the 19th century. I accompanied him and found the center really interesting. I immediately asked whether I could volunteer there to teach English or Mathematics but the person in charge of volunteers would come back only on Monday … hence no answer possible before. We visited the center which we enjoyed a lot. After this we came back and stayed with Joseph and Christian the 2 guys from New Zealand. It was their last day in Calcutta. Samuel (from the US) was there too. We talked a lot about the sense of this volunteering experience. I am not sure it makes a lot of sense as I feel we are not really needed. Christian studying theology argued that we measure our-self from what we do instead of who we are and that may be the mistake …

At 11:30AM we left the center and after lunch I went to Kalighat. There I came to know that 2 patients passed away the previous night and their beds were already occupied by 2 new patients. One of them looking in a very bad state. Looked like he was suffering from an occlusion.
Walking around I saw Teresa the Italian nurse taking care of some bands of a patient being half conscious. As she removed all bands I could see one of the worst injury I saw in my life. I asked whether I could help but by chance they did not need any. After a few minutes I felt I had to leave the room.
I helped giving medicines and then feeding the patients. I however always have the feeling I try to do something but whether I am really useful I am not sure. Getting out of the center I walked to the subway with Nicolas. I told him my feeling. He replied me there was another center called Star Light where they care about children and they may need help for homework  I would try to get there the next day. Nicolas was not sure whether he would come back to Kalighat as a friend was joining him and they may go travelling around Asia. He plans to extend his trip until March and may go to Cambodia …
In the evening I joined an Italian group to get a pizza in a very expensive place of Calcutta: the price of the pizza was around 6 euros instead of 1,5 euros …
Saturday the 22nd I did not go to Jibon. Actually I like taking half a day rest every 2 days. At least I do not develop too much this feeling of un-usefulness 🙂 I went for breakfast at the Spanish’s Cafe. On the way I often see many dogs. What is surprising is the sad look they all have. Maybe because they are hungry. Once I saw one dog getting some affection from another one. It was very sad, here looks like people are already fighting so much for themselves they could never take care of dogs. I however try to always stay away from them as rabies is very spread in India.
As I arrived at the Spanish’s Cafe Gianni one of the Italians was already there. He was sick since over a week. He was feeling better but then looks like it started again. By chance he planned to go back home next day. I wrote a few mails and I would try to go and find Star Light in the beginning of the afternoon. Calcutta was getting slowly cold, I had bought several new clothes already …
In the afternoon I searched this new place to volunteer with children. I asked some policemen. The name was actually New Light. It is located at the end of a very narrow street. It was quite hard to find and as I asked around a woman brought me there (usually women never speak to men hence I was surprised she offered me to bring me there). It is strange to walk in this narrow street, in Europe one may be even frightened. However here people are very peaceful. In the middle of the street many young men were sitting discussing. I went through the group who replied nicely to my hello. As we almost reached the end of the street we had to enter a kind of house, and going upstairs we ended in a big room. Many children were laying down on the ground trying to sleep I think. They were around 8 years old. A man came to me and asked me what I wanted as I explained I wanted to volunteer he brought me to another person who asked me what kind of volunteering I could provide. I said I am engineer and could teach some English and mathematics if needed. They agreed. I would start next Monday at 12:00PM. I left the place very happy. Met again the group of young men who all wanted to shake my hand saying me thank you 🙂 I did not understood why but it was funny. I continued my walk to Kalighat.
They were preparing the decorations for Christmas. Many volunteers left on the previous day but even more arrived. We were a lot that day. The new ones wanted to be very active as I did when I arrived. There was however not much to do except moving patients, bringing medications, feeding. The guy with the big belly seemed to be in a worst state as the day before: extremely swelled face, he could almost not open the eyes anymore … he was mostly sleeping all the time. As we were about to leave, one old man made pipi in his bed. We had to change him. As soon as he was ready, another one made more than pipi … Again we had to change him. It was not great kind of work but at least I felt useful. After this we left the place.
With 2 new arrived Italians: Matteo and Brando we tried to take a taxi to go back home. We found one but as we were stuck in the traffic, we left and took the subway to go back home.
This evening I could hear Nino: since almost 10 days I could not hear her. That was the present of the day 🙂 Enrico told me he went to Don Bosco in the morning and planned to go again next day. I asked whether I could join and he was happy we would go together 🙂 Hence that was my next plan …

I joined next day Enrico at the sister’s breakfast. This morning was particularly cold. On the way I saw many people washing in the street having almost no clothes on them and washing with cold water. They even did not show a sign of suffering of the cold…. Enrico always go to mass at 5:50AM and then stay for a while alone while all already go to eat. I arrived around 7:00AM in the room where volunteers eat. Enrico arrived a little later. We went as planned to Jibon and as it was too cold, before going to the children of Don Bosco we went to buy some new clothes. I was feeling somehow sad for most of people here who cannot afford buying warm clothes having eaten much less than I did and despite all this never complains.

As we arrived at the brothers many children came to welcome us. They were very happy to see Enrico again and they looked happy that I joined. Enrico brought many small toys his friends had given to him for poor children. On my side I first played a kind of badminton and later started to speak with some children. They were from 11 to 15 years old. All very nice. As they knew I was french they were very motivated to learn some words of french. We laughed a lot as some phonetic is similar to hindi but words have a completely different meaning. I took the opportunity to make them learn trying to ask again and again some of the words I had already translated. Some of them could really good remember. After a while they proposed to show me the place where they were living. It was on the 3rd floor of a building. Many of them watching TV sat on the floor. It was a big room completely empty. They told me this was the place where they sleep. Aside a bathroom. It was not perfectly clean but quite in better state than many hotels around. I was only surprised they sleep on the floor with a few blankets and that’s all.
We went until the roof and they showed me the view which was quite interesting. After this I came back downstairs with them. They insisted so that I come next day but as I had already promised to the other association I promised I would do my best for thursday. I joined Enrico and we left the place to go back to Sudder street (the street of my hotel where the favourite restaurant of the volunteers is: Blue sky).
The 2 new Italians Matteo and Brando arrived later as we almost finished lunch. They joined us. Enrico left to go to Kalighat whereas I did not really know what to do in the afternoon. I was not motivated to go to Kalighat. Discussing with Matteo and Brando I decided to join Matteo to go do Daya Dan with his parents. It is a house of the sisters where they care about children. The house is really nice. We helped a very little and after this we supported children preparing a show for Christmas. It was very nice. Around 5:30PM we left and I arrived in my hotel around 6:00PM. I was looking forward to the next day to go and start with the orphanage New Light in the narrow street.

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