Thursday 23 August 2012

Another day in the life of a volunteer

Today was an exciting day for the Foundation as we opened another site from which to do more great work. (New readers: I volunteer for a charity that will remain nameless for now but educates and treats women and children suffering from malnutrition, read more here... This new 'clinic' is close to the two existing clinics, in the drying area ("Sukhawni") of Dhobi Ghat - the largest outdoor laundry in the world.

Dhobi Ghat drying area - "Sukhawni"

So this morning, I traipsed with my colleagues through muddy groundwater and down a few alleyways to get where we were going (note to self, buy some plastic shoes, do not wear your shiny silver ballet pumps when you visit sites).  When we got there, there were already loads of staff, volunteers, friends and members of the community awaiting the grand opening.  Everybody was cramped into a small area with local people trying to go about their daily business, squeezing past us the whole time with bundles of laundry.  I am sure most of those around us must have wondered what on earth was going on, especially as half the crew had 'white' faces and were carrying huge cameras.

Some of us may have had designer handbags, but someone living here has a designer dog!

The new "site" - where people from the community will be able to visit the Foundation's doctors, nurses, nutritionists and social workers - is actually just one room that is about 12 square feet.  So therefore probably about a third of the size of your sitting room (for most of you back home reading this).  In fact they were lucky to get this room at all - in a city where space is at a premium and people are living on the pavements with no cover over their heads, this 12 ft square box could be a home for a family of eight.  But instead the community has turned it over to the Foundation (for a small rent) because they have heard of the work it does in improving the lives of so many and helping children to reach their full potential.  Seriously...lives will be vastly improved, if not saved, from this box. 

After managing to cram the whole crew into the alleyway, the ribbon across the door was snipped, the coconut was smashed and everybody attempted to get into the tiny room, leaving their shoes at the doorway (20 Indians, 2 Brits, 1 Canadian and 2 Americans). Mithai (sweets) were handed around and there was a lot of a laughter. (There always is in India, no matter what).  A great day for the Foundation.

I ended up taking so many photos of the amazing kids that came to see what was going on, so there are loads of pictures here.  Thanks for looking.

Waiting for the main event - this little girl has got her Sunday best on

I just thought this girl was so beautiful!  probably 14 or 15, sitting on the floor sorting out laundry

Everything has a use - this old rice sack used as a roof covering

The scissors that would be later used for cutting the ribbon for the opening ceremony.  Beautiful "Mehendi" hands

There's that beautiful girl again.  So photogenic...

A very grumpy looking community activist.  She's the one responsible for helping to get the third site open.

The cocunut that would later be smashed at the opening ceremony

Two proud schoolgirls enlisted to hold the ribbon for the opening ceremony

Love this cheeky looking fella!

The crowd trying to squeeze into the alley outside the new site just before the cutting of the ribbon

The ribbon cut! (didn't manage to get a good photo of that).  Everyone is smiling.

So funny - this little girl wearing shades - she looks like a Bollywood star being papped!

Everyone inside, everyone's shoes outside

How many people can you squeeze into a 12 sq ft room?  Oh, about 25!

One smashed coconut

Handing out of mithai (sweets) to celebrate (where's the champagne darling?)

These are the people living above the room.

A view of the street on the walk back - see all the ladders leading to the homes above homes (also note the satellite dishes!)

They wanted me to take their photo...little rascals!

1 comment:

  1. I see the Antenna Dish. Astonishing. I think its their only way of whole some family entertainment at a manageable price.



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