- Mother Theresa House
- The Hygeine Skit
- A brothel in disguise
Our final day at the school in Champhati involved performing a skit on Hygiene for the students. Part musical, part drama, part made up on the spot, this extravaganza has been nominated for no less than 5 Oscars.
Already in the running for best action hero of 2014, our resident black-belt Kobby, defeated the bad bacteria men with moves like the “Nail Chop” the “Toothbrush Block” and the “Hand wash defense”. After his award winning performance Kobby taught each of the students the moves and when to use them. He bought the house down when he busted out the guitar and started singing “You gotta wash your hands”.
There were so many smiling faces and it was great to see how drama can be used to break down language barriers and educate at the same time. Things we take for granted as common knowledge here in Australia such as hygiene, have life or death consequences over in India. I cannot overstate how vital education (in all it’s forms) is for developing areas.
The team decided to celebrate our last day together by providing a midday meal (a program that recently ran out of funding) for students and staff.
The joy on the faces of students and parents as they stood watching tiny children devour their own body weight in food was incredible to witness. For some, this would have been the first decent meal they had eaten in ages.
Smiles from ear to ear were covered in food.
This little girl was the last to leave after devouring three plates of food.
The whole time she couldn’t stop bopping. She was so happy.
It was brilliant to experience firsthand the impact your money can make.
I asked the principal, Peter, about the ongoing cost of the program. For around $50 a day (Roughly 50 cents per student) the school could provide all of its 90 students with one reliable meal each day, as well as provide employment for a cook. This is something I am looking to help get started through fundraising from clothing sales and other events throughout the year. If you would like to help get this started I would love to hear from you.
The team also pitched in some money for school supplies for families that can’t afford them. Until recently the school was able to provide books and uniforms free of charge to those who couldn’t afford it. Again, if this is something you are passionate about and would like to contribute towards, please let me know.
As the students left with full stomachs and massive smiles we sat down with the school staff to eat a meal and say goodbye. It’s hard to imagine navigating Kolkata without the help of these wonderful people who went out of their way time and again to ensure that we got where we needed to go. Many thanks to the HOPE staff and friends who gave us rides, translated for us, kept us safe, made meals, force fed us and gave us the opportunity to come to their school.
An accidental trip to a brothel
Our last night in Kolkata needed celebrating so we went for a short walk and found a bar. I dropped some boys off at what we thought was a Karaoke Bar. Just like any Karaoke Bar, those on stage would attempt (and fail dismally) to entertain those seated. What was weird were the white leather couches placed around tables, each with a full food menu. Now we were confused, was this a restaurant? Just like any restaurant in India it came with bad music, only this music was live!
By the time I had come back from the Internet Cafe things had degenerated into a combination of Indian singing and Western dancing. That’s like mixing moldy juice with off milk! I could not imagine a worse combination. Not only that, but the women performing had about as much enthusiasm as a dying sloth!
Everyone onstage was fully clothed but we soon started noticing things. Almost all the men in the bar were in their 40’s or 50’s and they all had wads of cash. Occasionally one would call a waiter to his table and hand them some money. The cash would then be put in a numbered basket at the front, corresponding to the girl dancing on stage. It was a little weird, but so is India.
It wasn’t until one of the boys called a guy over who explained that if you give any of the dancers over 2000 Rupees, you get to go into the back room where the girls will give you a ‘private dance’. With that, we sculled our beers and hurried out.
Mother Theresa House
Yesterday was so full-on I failed to even mention that we visited Mother Theresa House! It certainly is worth touching on, especially how it relates to the events of yesterday.
There was a holy atmosphere in the place where Mother Theresa had lived, worked and now rests. A truly inspiring woman, who gave dignity to the outcast, touched the untouchables and spent time with those society had forgotten. We read all about her life, one filled with simple acts of kindness. She loved every person as if they were Jesus in disguise, believing that “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for and forgotten by everybody is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”.
As we sat down with some clay to debrief the events of the past couple of days I thought about her persistent love to all those around her. Of the way she truly did “Defeat Evil-With Love”. It gave me some hope for the future. While everything around looks black, there are patches of light piercing the darkness.