Kolkata: between suffering and tenderness

I naively though that two weeks of volunteering at Mother Teresa would be an activity like any other one. So I subscribed for two services:  one in the morning with disabled women at Prem Dan (give LOVE) and one in the afternoon with handicapped girls at Shanti Dan (give PEACE).  But I was wrong because only after the first day I felt so tired and empty! Mostly because the public transports are crowded in Kolkata. To arrive to the volunteering place, I spent more than 1h30 compressed in a train wagon in a crazy heat. I have even seen some people getting crazy or fearing for their children not been able to breathe in such a crowd! I wanted then to escape these crazy city as soon as possible.

But this volunteering job is probably also demanding a lot of inner energy, to spread love among people I barely can communicate with… The morning starts with the laundry, and then we help the women to go outside for breakfast. We usually spent very simple moments with then, just holding their hands, often without a word, but so much can pass through the eyes. The women often give back more tenderness then what we are trying to give them. Even if they are sick, cannot see, or walk, or have pain, they give us incredible smiles and intense looks. I admire the sparkle of life, resisting any suffering.

After breakfast, women can participate to activities like drawing, playing games, nail cutting… The afternoon spent with the handicapped girls is quieter. They are resting under the sun, and we just do a short walk before having food. A lot of them are in wheelchairs, but they are all helping each other. They also have large smiles and sparkling eyes! They are full of life, which gives me a good lesson on positivity! How can I still complain about public transports, whereas these girls are keeping their smile?

Moreover, Indians families are welcoming me like a god. I spent a few days with Priyasha, a girl I met at the Kumbah Mela. She presented me to all her family and even invited to me to a giant birthday. The birthday girl was only 5 years old, but they were celebrating it like a wedding! Then I couchsurfed in Arijit’s family and I fasted with his mum for Shiv Ratri (celebration of God Shiva). These were all good occasion the were the local “saris”…

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