India Day 3 – Real Slums, Real Hope and Real Frustration. (Part One)by Carly Jacobs
Today was hard. Really hard. We went to the office for a briefing before meeting the children of the health program and I honestly was not prepared. The kids we met yesterday were fabulous. Funny, interesting, interested and full of hope. These kids were a different story.
We pulled up outside the slum area in our white van. There was a pile of rubbish there where people were going to the toilet right in front of us. There was human feaces every where and tiny children walking around naked in it. They were alone, naked and walking around in a pile of human secretions. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.
We got out of the car and were led through this maze of ramshakle huts. It was damp and every two steps smelt like something different – sulfur, rain, incense, vomit, garbage, spices, piss, sewerage, farm animals. We were led down the back of the community houses to an expanse of garbage. We walked down this slippery hill, realising that we were walking on a sodden path of discarded clothing.
Six mismatched chairs were brushed and arranged for us to sit on, facing a carpet of the most filthy children I’ve ever seen and also some of the cleanest, considering that they literally live in garbage. There was a little girl picking at a scab on her leg with a rusty safety pin and I couldn’t stop watching her methodical stabbing. The community theatre group performed a street play for us about HIV and blood transfusions. They were amazing performers.
The funny thing about everyone in India is that no matter how poor you are, or where you live, you always wear your very best clothes and jewellery. Their dedication to their appearence is extraodinary. There was something so dignified about these little girls living in the most severe poverty, yet their wrists jangled with bracelets and their hair was neatly groomed with clips and headbands. I’m never going to write in my tracksuit pants again.
This group of boys fascinated me. I wandered away from our little group and asked to take their photos. They posed for me. I just kept thinking about the boys back home in Australia in their early 20s and what they would be doing. Driving their cars, taking girls out on dates, going to university, getting drunk on the weekends and buying fast food. The boy in the blue pants really looked at me. Like he knew that I knew there was something better out there. He wouldn’t look out of place in a slick suit at a funky bar in Melbourne but instead he lives here with the garbage and pigs and dying dogs. It just doesn’t seem right, you know?
Eden and I making our ‘Thank god we got our immunisations!‘ faces. We felt like total arseholes but we all wanted a bath in hand santiser when we left. It was just so filthy. We could all taste it for hours after we left and it felt like the whole experience had seeped into our pores.
The boys loved Eden and wanted photos with her.
Then it was my turn.
I’ve been on the look out for monkeys the entire time because Mr Smaggle is obsessed with them. Misho excitedly pointed out this guy to me. He was tied to a cart and the kids were playing with him. It made me miss my man terribly because he would have been so excited to have been there.
This is Sonum. We were there to hear her story. Before World Vision began to work in their area she was a rag picker and would spend all day in the garbage sifting out plastic and tin. She’s cutting back on her rag picking and goes to World Vision for study. She told me she wants to be a doctor when she grows up because her people are at the bottom of the pecking order in hospitals and they rarely get treatment. She says when she’s a doctor, her people will be at the top of the list.
Our Sam translating for Sonum and I.
There’s so much to write about and just not enough time.
Bear with me.
Love to you all.
Thank you for reading.
To sponsor a child visit World Vision Australia.