December 2009 Victoria ,BC, Canada
After the Sarwar health camp, my time in Jaipur and India was coming to an end for now . I am joining my family in Victoria for what will be the first Christmas I have spent in Canada for many years.
With Christmas around the corner, I wanted to do a few more things for the children of Udayan.(see Udayan post) Jaimila had mentioned that the stock of medicine at the orphanage was running low. The orphanage currently has 56 children and 10 staff members. Because the orphanage is in a rural location emergency medical care is difficult. Last week a young boy climbing a fence injured his arm badly and needed immediate hospital care. Another young girl had fallen and bumped her head quite badly. Kids will be kids and the fact that they are allowed to run free at Udayan is part of the charm of this special place, but there are also inevitable injuries.
During a meeting with Jaimila and Hitesh and a wholesale medicine provider we worked over a list of general medicines the orphanage needed. Bandages, cough syrups, and pain medications were put on the list. After a lengthy discussion the medicine provider left with the list of medical supplies the orphanage needed and was to call me in a few hours with a price.
Working with Jaimila and Hitesh over the last few months we have developed an enduring friendship. They invited me to their house for dinner to discuss what Vatsalya and DWP had accomplished. We had a great evening of conversation and great food. Arriving by auto rickshaw at the Gupta house I was greeted by Jaimlia. The evening would turn out to be a great think-tank as Delta Donahue from NCIF (a long-standing American NGO) who has worked with Udayan’s orphanage, and Sarah Andrews of Edge of Seven (a new NGO that organizes volunteers from around the world) were also at the house for dinner. DWP is vastly different from all three of these organizations. We all have different opinions as to how and who should benefit from our different organizations. Much was discussed and it was a great opportunity for all of us to learn from each other.
Before I left for Jaimila and Hitesh’s house, the medicine provider phoned me with price for the list of medical supplies the orphanage needed. Once again I was amazed at the figure he presented. 8900 INR or $202 CAD would be enough to supply and re-stock Udayan’s medicine bank, providing the children and staff with preventative and emergency medications for the coming months. I agreed on the price and arranged for the medications to be delivered to their house during dinner that evening.
With Christmas coming and DWP’s bank account slowly getting smaller, I felt it was time to head back home to regroup, fundraise and come back stronger in the new year.
I boarded the Mumbai/Jaipur Superfast Express train. There was 1200 km’s and 19 hrs of Indian rail lines between me and Mumbai and my flight home. The last seat on the train that I could get was in the 2nd class air-conditioned car. It should mean that I have my own vinyl bunk in an open car with lots of people to share my personal space. It turned out that I also had to share my bunk. There would be no sleeping lying down as my bunk mate and I had to share the same bunk, sitting cross-legged for the entire journey. There was lots of chai and samosas offered for a few rupees, the sound of the train clacking down the tracks and a view of India out my window. It would be bearable.
I woke at sunrise the next morning as we entered Mumbai’s city limits. I sat in the doorway of the train watching the big city unfold around me. Much of the city’s poor lives in and around Mumbai’s vast network of train lines. Shanty-style dwellings made of corrugated steel and blue tarps line the rails. Men and women use the the rail lines as their toilets. As the train rumbles by, people dot the way. Children wave, women sit hunched over morning fires and men fetch water from beyond the tracks.
DWP’s first 3 months working in India has been fraught with frustration and amazement and has been a constant learning curve for me.
Here is a summary of what DWP has accomplished over the last few months…
- Over 1700 people have been examined and given free medicines.
- 150 people blood tested for HIV/Aids.
- 10 sessions of kidney dialysis given to patients.
- 250 meals and snacks served.
These are DWP’s major contributions with numerous smaller endeavours also accomplished and one project currently underway in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
I have since arrived home to Victoria, buzzing with ideas for the Dirty Wall Project and excited about it’s future. With several ideas and new projects in the works DWP is set for an exciting year ahead.
Throughout January and February I will be fundraising and preparing for my return on March 4th.
A brand new photograph exhibit will be opening on Feb. 15th at Sally Bun (1030 Fort St. Victoria) with all new photos from DWP’s first working trip to India, coupled with an event sometime in mid to late February.
This has been an amazing adventure so far. The first few months have been an intense learning curve and I find myself in a much better position upon returning to India. Much of my time previously was spent learning how things work and establishing contacts. This time I will return to India prepared with the knowledge of what DWP can contribute.
I’m grateful to all of the Dirty Wall supporters as you’ve enabled me to be the messenger of your kindness…
To an exciting future….