A journey to incredible India – Part 1

By Famine Advocate Lee Ling

Hello India!

We’ve finally arrived at the Kolkata airport after 4 hours of flight! It was sunny and breezy when we reached. First impression of Kolkata? Very dusty.

Elle
We’ve just arrived. Don’t we all look excited?

Once we left the Kolkata city, the roads became narrow and the streets were only lighted by the moonlight. There were only a handful of cars throughout our journey. Occasionally, we will pass by streets lined by  small, dimly lit and run down shops where the locals buy their necessities. Most of the locals that we saw on the streets are men, possibly because women and girls here are confined within their homes. The rest of the roads were mostly lined with fields, trees, ponds and mud houses.

After 4 hours of a very bumpy and dark ride, we reached our lodging in the village. It was already 9pm then. It was a very cold night as it was the winter season. The facilities in our lodging were very basic – no  hot shower or heater. I almost yell when I splashed the freezing cold water on myself during shower. That night, I was curled up like a snail in my sleeping bag to keep myself warm and I was thinking how blessed I am as I will only experience this slight discomfort for a few days. What about others who have never been warm before?

Day 2 in India – The Journey Begins

We woke up with much excitement on what today is going to bring us.

Elle
Briefing in the morning.

We had a video shooting after the briefing. This was my first time being videod and we were all very nervous and awkward.

Elle
That is Kang Yong in the photo, sharing his thoughts for the video

Elle
Our first stop for the day is World Vision India’s ADP office

After the visit to World Vision office, we visited a boy called Samiran.

Little Samiran was only 6 when he had an excruciatingly painful throat infection. He had to endure this for 20 months as his parents could not afford to send him to a good hospital. His father worked as a daily labourer and earned about 1,500 per month (approximately RM88). When World Vision started working in his village, Samiran, together with other children who were ill, were taken to the Kolkata hospital. He was diagnosed and underwent immediate surgery to remove his chronic tonsillitis.

Elle
Us and Samiran’s family outside of their mud house. Samiran is the smallest boy in this photo.

Picture of love

After leaving Samiran’s house, we went to an Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centre with the mission to paint a rainbow-themed mural on their wall.

Due to the high number of malnourishment cases in this community, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is designed to guide expectant and new mothers and to provide the children with nutritional food.

Elle
I was hoping that it would turn out okay…My only drawing experience was from playing Draw Something.

Half way through, the sky turned dark and it was getting increasingly difficult for us to see. There was no electricity in this place and of course, there also wasn’t any light or fan. We could only rely on our torch lights.

It was really tiring as we had been squinting our eyes and working through the darkness. In my mind, I was thinking about the people here who have been struggling with darkness all their life without electricity.

3 hours later…
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Want to see how it turns out?
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Elle

Finally! Here’s our masterpiece 🙂

Though this mural won’t be winning any best mural award, but it was done with our hearts and sweat. I hope that it can cheer up the little ones and their mothers here whenever they feel dejected by poverty.

That night, I thought of Little Samiran. It was really heart-breaking to think of such a young child suffering for a prolong period when his illness can be easily treated with proper medical care.  What he told us today was repeatedly playing in my mind. “It was really painful especially when I was eating. I felt like the food was stuck in my throat and wouldn’t go down. Sometimes, I felt like I was going to faint”.

I cringed at the thought that we might not be seeing this adorable little boy today if he didn’t get the assistance from World Vision. How many more children out there are suffering from treatable sickness? We cannot do much as an individual, but together we can bring a world of change to people like Samiran and his community.

Would you join me by participating in this year 30-hour Famine? If you have already joined the camp previously, why not join as a volunteer or camp leader this year? You will never know how many lives that you will impact by just participating.

I’ll see you then!