Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning was spent at Mother’s House and the rest of the day was spent at Don Bosco. It was nice to celebrate Christmas with the children as they gathered from the various Ashas. Of the 23 children we sponsored, 6 children left Don Bosco due to being homesick or difficult to deal with by the staff. The remaining children are home for the holidays for those who are Christians. The children who are Muslims and Hindus remain at the homes in Don Bosco. All the children will begin their formal education at the start of the New Year; some in Bengali Medium while others will be in Hindi and English Medium. The six children who left we found them back at home in the slum near the Ganhdi Center. If possible, we will try to place them into a day school at Saint George, a nearby private school.
The return to Kolkata has been a busy first three days. On arrival at Don Bosco, I learned seven of the children were homesick and were sent home. The director of Don Bosco Ashalayam said the children may return if I am able to bring them back.
Today, I went into the slum searching for them. I found two of the seven children. Tomorrow, I will see what else I can do to find the children.
During this Lenten Season, I was reminded to fast and to give up something. However, in Kolkata, it is a bit difficult to fast unless you want to faint in this heat from not having enough food and water. What I realized is that it is not about fasting and giving up a habit such as drinking coffee during this 40 days of Lent, but rather what sacrifices and services we do for others and how we go about doing the work for others (for our friends and families and for strangers), with humility and with great love. After all, He said that what we do for the least of His people, we also do it for Him and what we not do for the least of His people, we also not do for Him.
I found out yesterday that one of the children (Mamtash) we placed in the school did not return after going home for a visit. This week, I will try to find her family and see what happened. The slum around the Ghandi Center is slowly being destroyed due to “progress” in building constructions and those living in the streets are told to go elsewhere and their homes are destroyed.
The photos show some of their homes and living conditions. The women and girls do their bathroom needs and bathing using a bucket of water early in the morning when few people are up and around. They go and find used charcoals from the day before shifting through the spent ashes from restaurants nearby to use for cooking. The photos only give a small glimpse into their lives.
On this Easter (Holy week), I wish everyone peace and love in your hearts and in your lives.
and Cassie Fox-P