Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mother Teresa’s Orphanage

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I belong to the women’s organization within the church called the Relief Society.  Regardless of where I live in the world, getting to serve with other women in this organization is wonderful.  Every couple of months, the local organization of this Relief Society holds an activity that is centered on strengthening faith, the family, or the community.  This past Saturday, I was able to go with these wonderful women to visit Mother Teresa’s Orphanage here in New Delhi.

Mother Teresa was born in Albania but lived most of her life in India, and became a citizen of this nation.  She came to India in 1929 and started teaching school near her convent.  Two years later she took her vows to become a nun.  In Calcutta she began a mission to serve the “poorest of the poor” where she started tending to the needs of the starving and the destitute.  It began with a very small group of 13 people serving the needs of those in Calcutta.  Today it is an international charity with over 500 missions in more than 100 nations.

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Outside the orphanage with the women of our Relief Society and one of the “sisters” serving in this mission.

Two of the women in our group had been involved at this mission before and gave us a few instructions.  Number one is that they do not like pictures to be taken so unfortunately I have few to share.  Second, they explained that these children often do not get much touch so just touching their arm or holding their hand is something we could offer.  We brought juice boxes, a small cupcake for the children, some new small stuffed animals and smiles to share.

After removing our shoes and being greeted by one of the “sisters”, we were taken upstairs to meet the residents of this mission.  In the babies room there were 20 small metal cribs lined up in rows right next to each other.  Everything was very clean and orderly.  Two babies laid in their cribs, carrying fevers and not feeling well.    Sitting in the long hallway were chairs similar to high chairs, but closer to the ground, where many children were sitting and we could greet them.  We blew bubbles with them and they loved the feel of it and “popping” them.  One of these children had a really hard time saying good bye to one of my relief society friends as she didn’t want the hug she was giving her to ever end.

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One of the girls that loved blowing bubbles with me.

In another room we sat at some tables doing some small activities.  I sat with three completely blind girls at a table.  One loved grabbing my hands and just moving them to clap them.  When the music was playing, they loved to listen to it and move their hands and heads to the beat.  The best surprise for me of the day, though, was seeing three of the individuals that I see regularly at a non-profit group for young adults with disabilities. It really stirred something within me to see these women there and know a little more about their backgrounds as I see them each Tuesday.

We asked a worker there how these individuals end up at the orphanage.  She explained that some are just dropped at the door, others are brought in because they are found alone and homeless on the streets and it is here where their basic needs are fulfilled.  I was so impressed with the staff and the “sisters” of the mission.  Upon leaving we got to peek into the section where the “sisters” go to pray and worship.  It was a great day in India and one where you have to say, Wow!  How incredible to go and actually be in one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages and to see the good that her life here on earth is still providing to so many with far too little.

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Road Work

Driving to our home, one gets off a main street going through Delhi and then drives down several different neighborhood streets before arriving at our building which is at the end of a cul-de-sac next to a park.  Since moving here last October, this is the second time we have experienced the joy of road work being done in our neighborhood.  Evidently the first attempt at fixing some water pipes in the neighborhood were not successful so we are getting to experience it all over again.  Watching road work being done on local roads fascinates me, frustrates me but most of all humbles me as I watch the workers complete their work.

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Here are some FASCINATING facts:

  • Manual labor is so cheap here that instead of bringing in a big machine, like a bulldozer, to dig a trench, it is all completed by hand.
  • The equipment that is used is so “out of date” in my view.  They use baskets for hauling material — where are the wheelbarrows?  If there was a Home Depot or Lowe’s here, I don’t think they would know what to do with the items that are found in there.  India very much loves the ‘tried and tested’ equipment they have used for ages.

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One of the men digging the trench.

Here are some FRUSTRATING facts:

  • No notice is given.  All the sudden you will turn the corner and see that your road has trenches dug up preventing you from getting to your home.  We had our guards and drivers keep a close eye on things so we knew when we needed to have the cars pulled out so that we could leave in the morning.  And by the way, there is NO WHERE to park your car within the neighborhood when your street is torn up.  One of our neighbors was so upset about the entire thing that he spent a great amount of time inquiring as to who was responsible (which was not easy at all) and let them know that he needed some updates as he had a pregnant wife and didn’t want to be stuck when it was time to get to the hospital.  This neighbor in fact did not have a pregnant wife, but his deception got someone in charge to show up at our building and speak to the man which in turn helped all of us understand the timeframe.
  • Material needed for the project is just dumped wherever there is a spot.  Very large piles of rocks and dirt are just dumped, without notice, wherever they can locate a spot, even if it blocks the road.  This second time around, we got it dumped at the end of our street, making the travel much slower, as the road is a very tight squeeze for even one car.
  • The finished product — well let’s just say in my view, the way it is left would be hard for me to say that it is “finished.”  The first time the trench was dug and pipes worked on, EVERYTHING, including the asphalt that was dug up, was just piled back into the trench making it anything but flat to drive over.  The second time around, it looks like they have done a better job of trying to flatten it but it is still far from smooth.  I would love to see hot asphalt show up one day and make the road smooth again.

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A woman who just unloaded her basket of rocks that is carried on top of her head.

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Regardless of how frustrating or fascinating it may be to have this road work done, I am HUMBLED by watching it.  Let me explain:

  • This work is not just done by some hired workers or day laborers, it consists of entire families.  Not only is it men, but it includes women, and children.  I have witnessed women sitting in the dirt nursing their babies as they took a quick break from the work.  I have seen children laying on the side of the road taking their naps in the afternoon.  I have told my husband that if I ever again complain of a bad day, he is to remind me of these families.  Theirs is a very stark reminder that things could be much harder.
  • As these families get different work within this massive city, their home lands wherever their work is and let’s just say it’s not the nearest hotel.  These groups of families find a spot, it has been on a sidewalk across from the entrance to the Anand Niketan development, where they have pitched tarps and sheets to create makeshift tents, calling it home.  Mothers are literally lighting small charcoal fires on the ground of the sidewalk to cook a little dinner.  No running water to clean up after the day, no soft bed to lay on, no electricty to see when it gets dark.  Children are seen entertaining themselves with absolutely nothing in the evening after the days work.

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I tried to be very discreet taking a lot of these pictures so they are not as great as I would like, but notice above the children — one just wandering around and another laying on the ground having a nap.

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A family cooking their dinner on the ground
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Road work is these families’ lives.  I am a changed person from having watched it.  So I find myself becoming more forgiving as we wait to get past the piles of rocks dumped in our neighborhood or as we drive over the bumps from the trenches, and wonder at the smiles that come willingly on these children’s faces that have been given a very different life from mine.