I am finding it very difficult to keep abreast with these postings. Our days have been very full up until now. The group has left and Sarah and I are now on our own. We have moved to a guesthouse close to the school for handicapped children, Aksahay Pratishthan, where we will be volunteering for the next four days. The accommodations are quite a step down from what we have had for the past two weeks and it will take a bit of time to adjust. Unfortunately, there is no Internet so we will attempt to find an Internet café after school.
I want to catch up on our last days with the Rotary group because they were probably the best of the trip. We participated in NID, National Immunization Day. All over India for four days, health care workers participate in an effort to inoculate every child five years of age and under with the polio vaccine – a herculean task.
On day 9, we visited an incredible school in the Kusumpur Pahari Slums. The inhabitants of the Kusumpur Pahari region are migrants from all over India. There are between five and six thousand hutments with a population of 40-50 thousand belonging to all castes and creeds living in Kusumpar. The majority of the settlers are daily wage earners and infrastructures like schools and health centres are non-existent. In 1989 the Rotary Club of Delhi South, along with a team of committed philanthropists, set up a non-profit Integrated Community Service Institution. The goal of the project was to provide vocational training to the poor women in the community. Today, the project is meeting the needs of the women and all the young people in the community through a variety of programs aimed at helping them to maximize their potential leading to socioeconomic independence, self- sustainability and better health. The staff working at this school are amazing and they are definitely making a difference to the lives of many in the community.
After visiting the school, we had an opportunity to walk through the village on the way back to our bus. It was difficult to see the condition that some of residents are living in: narrow lane ways lined with temporary shelters some built with bricks and tin roofs, inside are dark soot covered walls little or no furniture.
From the slums, the tour bus took us to an exclusive shopping center where jewelry was being sold at prices far above what most of even wanted to consider particularly after what we had just come from. When enough of us resisted and came out after five minutes, it was decided to take us to another shopping area where there were a larger variety of items to purchase but still very much a shop geared for tourists. It was evident that the guide was getting a cut from the sales – shades of Bangkok. I was not impressed.
We returned to the hotel in the midst of Delhi rush hour, which continues to amaze me. I can’t understand why we don’t see more accidents: it is interesting to see small motorcycles with as many as four passengers, mom, dad and two children, the male the only one wearing a helmet. Lines on the road mean very little and it is not unusual to see cars, trucks, motorcycles, tuck tucks, push carts, and bicycles weaving back and forth inches from each other seven and eight vehicles across on a roadway that at home would be three to four lanes wide.
We were hosted that night by the Rotary Club of Delhi Chanakyapuri . They rented a large banquet hall set up a free bar, henna hand painting for the women, and a wonderful buffet dinner. It was great to meet and get to know better the people who are involved with so many wonderful projects in this city.