By Famine Advocate Lee Ling
Day 5&6 in India: What I’ve learnt
I have learnt a great deal from the trip but here are the most precious ones which I would like to share.
1) Every child has dreams and aspirations, even for a child who is constantly plagued with hunger and malnourishment.
On the last day of our trip, we visited Abijeet, a 9-year-old boy. This little guy has a mischievous look but in a very adorable way. We saw his cuteness and excitement when he met us. But we also saw that he is too thin and malnourished. Abijeet’s family is very poor and his father has kidney problem. Abijeet and his family have very little to eat and sometimes, they would not have anything to eat for 4 to 5 days.
The charming Abijeet
We asked Abijeet what he wants to become when he grows up. “Doctor” he said. We asked why. He said that he wants to serve people. “Will you be charging money or will you be treating people for free?” I teased. “Free!” he said it with a big grin. We were instantly moved by Abijeet’s noble intention.
The bright and talented Parama mesmerizing us with her dance.
Parama lives alone with her old grandmother. They only have each other as both her parents have abandoned her. Their mud house was in a very bad shape and it doesn’t look like it can withstand the next heavy rain.The biggest challenge that she faces is education as her grandmother is unable to provide for her. She hopes to have books so that she could go to school. They also have very little to eat.
This was their only food for that day as they couldn’t afford any rice.
Despite living in such a dire condition, Abijeet, Parama and all the other children here were just as adorable, as playful and even as talented as our children back home. They too, aspire to become teachers and doctors. But they are plagued with hunger and poverty and they might not have a future.
Us having a wonderful time with the children.
2) What is very little to us can mean a world to the less fortunate.
The average familyhere earns about 1,000 rupees (RM57) a month. Itwas really shocking to see how little these people has to eat and how they have been struggling without clean water, electricity, safety, health and almost everything else that we have here. I was also shocked to learn that a huge 25kg bag of rice only costs about RM38 here and was again shocked when I see people crying when they received the rice from us.
Is it possible to help children like Abijeet and Parama to grow up healthily and to realise their talents? It is a resounding yes but only if WE DO SOMETHING. I believe that every one of us can do something, be it volunteering, donating or joining the 30-hour famine.
Let’s fight hunger together!
Besides the less fortunate ones, we have also met with a lot of amazing people during our trip and had so much of fun together. They helped us tremendously by being our guide, our translator and we have learnt so much from them.
These amazing people are the staff of World Vision.
Our last night in India with the World Vision staff and volunteers.
After getting to know the staffwho are based here, we got to know that most of them are well educated, with masters and basic degrees. There is nothing here in this small place, no cinemas, no cafes and there is nothing that we city people find pleasures in. The nearest city is 4 hours away and yet, they came all the way to work for the communities here, depriving themselves oftheir families, friends, comfort and everything. They could have easily found themselves a job in comfortable, air-conditioned office in the city but they chose here.
We have only been here for a few days and we have only met the poor families once, but we have already felt so demotivated, so much of frustration and sadness. And these people have been here for so long, and they must be feeling whatever we are feeling and so much more.
Us posing for the camera with Apam (in the middle). Apam is the pioneer of the area development project here and he has already been here for four years. When he first started, he can’t even speak the local language but now he can speak well. His determination and perseverance is really admirable.
What Impressed Me the Most
What impressed me the most from this trip is the volunteers who serve the people here. One of them is Mr. Balai Mondal. Balai looks like an average villager. Their family of 5 live in a mud house and he does not earn a lot. Despite that, this man has a BIG heart. Balai started helping World Vision voluntarily when it first started in 2009. His role include facilitating training for the community and child monitoring under World Vision Child Sponsorship Programmr. Besides that, he has also done a lot of volunteering work to help his community.
It wasn’t very usual to have someone with such a big and selfless heart like Balai. We asked what inspired him to do so. He said that he was from a very poor family and there were many times when they did not have enough to eat. But yet, his parents had brought him up and he understands how it feels to live in poverty. There wasn’t anyone who could help them during their distress so he hopes that now, he could be the one to offer help to others in need.
Balai and us. We were at the brick road which Balai and the other villagers have built with assistance from World Vision.
We asked what is his hope for the future. I was expecting that he would say a better income for his family and sending his children to universities. But instead, this was what he said, “I hope that every children in this village will have education, every home has food, and our village will have hygienic toilets and water”.
Shall we all embrace Balai’s hope to help the less fortunate ones?