Tag Archive: Elle Chin Lee Ling

A journey to incredible India – Part 3

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.

Abijeet
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.

Elle

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.

Parama

Elle

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.

Elle

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.

Elle

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.

Elle

Let’s fight hunger together!

Amazing people

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.

Elle

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.

Elle

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.

Elle

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?

A journey to incredible India – Part 2

By Famine Advocate Lee Ling

Day 3 & 4 in India: Eye-opening

Before we embarked on our trip to India, we have been warned to expect the unexpected. I wasn’t too worried as I thought that poverty wasn’t anything that is too new to me. After all, I have been to third world countries, I have been to the 30-Hour Famine camps and I have fasted for 30 hours straight. But I was dead wrong. My experience over these few days was really intense and eye-opening.

More than half of the children here were malnourished, underweight and physically and mentally stunted.

Elle
Shue Xin measuring a child under the Umang Program.  This program is implemented by World Vision to tackle malnourishment among the children.

Elle
Even the cows here are severely malnourished.

Elle
People are using filthy water for bathing, laundry, washing cutlery and everything else. As a result, they have skin problems and diarrhoea.

Elle
One of the pools where they get water from.

Elle
The villagers here stay in houses made with mud and fortified with dried cow dung, bamboos and woods. However, mud houses are fragile and will be easily destroyed when there are heavy rains or floods. The poorer ones are not able to repair their houses if it requires woods/bamboos as these costs money. They are also not allowed to chop trees (if any) as these are from a reserved forest. Throughout the trip, we have seen people applying new layer of mud and dung to their houses which seems to be quite a routine.

Elle
A few houses will share a tiny toilet normally made of out dried hay and plastic bags. There is no sewerage system. In this particular toilet, the waste will fall from the tree to the tree roots and ground below.

Elle
The water pumps where they get underground water for drinking. Children and women would have to fetch water at least twice a day and walk about 15 minutes or more.
Elle
Dried cow dungs are used as burner for them to cook as they could not afford coal, oil or even woods. Many ladies are seen drying and handling cow dungs during the day. The dungs here are flattened and molded into sticks.

Elle
There is no electricity in this village and people rely on oil lamps. It is extremely dangerous as it can easily catch a fire if it’s accidentally knock over. There was a little girl who we met with severely deformed hands as she was burnt in the fire.

Over these two days, we have visited 3 families and an ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) center.
Elle
A toddler from the ICDS center. The children here are so irresistibly endearing even though a lot of them are malnourished.

Elle
The advocates preparing food for the children at the ICDS center. World Vision provides nutritional food for the children here.

One of the families which we visited was Purnima’s family. Her family is extremely poor and hunger is a daily occurance for them. Her family survives on a meagre income of 1000 rupees a month (approximately RM57).

Purnima is malnourished like many girls in her village. She is very very thin, soft-spoken and often clings to her mother. We noticed that her head was always hung low and she would look at us with her eyes looking slightly upwards. She was also slower to respond. We knew that these are some of the effects of malnourishment on her. Purnima also falls sick very often and she suffers from typhoid, heart problem and skin disease.

Elle
Purnima and me

We followed her to fetch water, which is her twice a day routine. She bought along a water container and she supported it on the side of her waist and with her hands. We walked briskly and it took us about 10 mins to reach the water pump. She was barefooted and we walked across a dried up mud field. They told us that during the rainy season, the whole area will become muddy and walking will be really tough. Wearing shoes is impossible as the shoes will be sticking to the mud.

Elle
Kang Yong helps Purnima with the water container. This is quite a strenuous task for Purnima as she is weak and would always feel very tired.

Elle
Delivering food from World Vision to Purnima’s family.

Despite the differences of language, skin colour, background and everything else, it’s still very heartbreaking when we see the sufferings of the people here, especially children. If only more people could start GIVING then children like Purnima would have a better future.

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!