- Leprosy Colony
- A girl with spunk
Cramped is an understatement as 9 of us piled into a van that could barely seat 7. We may have not had a legal number of passengers, but at least we were in a registered taxi! Today we were headed to the HOPE Leprosy Colony.
Our space issue wasn’t helped by the Subwoofer in the back, which took up as much space as two people and was blaring out Indian Rap, Justin Beiber and plenty more ear piercing tunes at full volume. Relieved, we stopped beside a park to wait for our hosts who would guide us the rest of the way.
We decided it would be nicer outside, but after playing Frisbee for 2 minutes the park was fast becoming as cramped as the van. In no time we were surrounded and had the locals show us a game where they whack what looks like an oval rock into the ground with a piece of bamboo. When it popped up they would then belt it with this same piece of bamboo. I made a few failed attempted before admiring some pretty amazing co-ordination.
We got a call that the hosts were nearby so we headed back to the van. The scenes at the van reminded me of a celebrity stepping out of a courthouse. At first I mistook our host as a pushy Indian jumping the queue to shake our hand. Once he instructed us to get in the van in English I realised who he was. We were whisked away from the crowd, although some managed to follow us all the way to the Leprosy Colony.
The crew were introduced to some of the work HOPE has been doing in the Colony. Treating wounds, providing housing, education and vocational training to people from the Colony which has now been able to set up a little shop where you can buy handmade, clothing, books, bracelets and more and support those learning their craft.
Another wave of kids came from nowhere and were entertained by our team as members took turns in the clinic treating and bandaging wounds.
Fame, instant admiration, slums and leprosy. All this was very new to the team, but what impacted me the most was something very ordinary.
Not just numbers-People
A year 10 called Anjali had come early for class. She didn’t have the worst situation in the world, she wasn’t starving to death but as I watched her interact with the teachers one thing was clear. This girl had spunk. Cheeky, confident, fun loving and gutsy just like those I love teaching back home. I asked her a few questions and found out that she wants to be a singer when she gets older. I jokingly asked to hear a song. I didn’t expect her to oblige.
After this she was put on the spot in front of all of us and asked to give at least three performances before I asked about singing lessons. At 800 Rupees ($16) per month she couldn’t afford them, but cheekily added that “we could pay for them”, which by this time I had already planned on doing.
There are certainly much bigger issues people face and much better ways to invest money. We had met hundreds of others (in greater need) this day but for some reason I was compelled to give to her. Out of the numbers Anjali had so quickly become a real live person, one in which I could see the hopes and dreams of all my favourite students back home. In Australia I would bend over backwards to help my students and strive to give them as many opportunities as I can. Why should this be any different?
Now back in Australia I sit in front of my computer a broken man (and we’re only at Day 4). I cannot overstate the enormous implications that come from looking beyond numbers to see people. One question has taken over my brain begging for an answer.
If you were to see in everyone your brother, sister, son, daughter or best friend what would you do to help them?