Kolkata has been an amazing experience on so many levels for me. As I discussed in a previous post, an overwhelming feeling of Love and Joy has uplifted me these past 2 weeks. Despite its extreme poverty, Kolkata does not make you feel sad, nor does it make you feel pity. The poor, with their beautiful simplicity, are teaching us a beautiful lesson of kindness, compassion and love. I will talk about this in more detail in a future post.
For now, I want to share with you the beautiful story of Firoza Khatun who lives outside this train station, on the ground.
[caption id="attachment_14641" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Sealdah Train Station[/caption]
During my stay, my friend Alfonso, founder of an amazing non-profit called Girl2B, suggested that I spend some time with the Hope Foundation(Make sure you check http://www.hopefoundation.ie as there are many other Hope Foundation in India, non-related), a charity that for close to 15 years has taken care of the kids in the streets and slums of Kolkata. Children here are more at risk than either babies or adults because they are often victims of two terrible threats: organ trafficking and prostitution as this video shows. So the Hope Foundation is patrolling every night in the streets and in the slums, to spot these imperiled children.
Mother Teresa told us: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you”. As I am getting ready to enter the Kalighat Home, which used to be called “Home for the Dying” and was recently renamed "The Home of the Pure Heart" (Nirmal Hriday), I am gathering my strength for the week to come.
In 1985, Dominique Lapierre wrote the novel "City of Joy" about the unsung heroes of the Pilkhana slum in Kolkata. You probably wonder, as I did, why use City of JOY when describing the poorest of the poor? I was definitely not expecting to FEEL Joy last week as I entered the home of Mother Teresa in Kolkata.
[caption id="attachment_14658" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Watching TV[/caption]
First, you are totally taken by the 115F and 100% humidity of the first month of the monsoon. Immediately as the door of the plane opened, I felt & smelled the heat. Everything & everyone is hot. But everyone is covered up in Kolkata. Men & women. No short sleeves, no shorts, no tee shirts.