Saturday, June 25, 2011

Volunteering at Prem Dan

I volunteer at a center called Prem Dan...It is a place where men and women are taken care of.  The women were found on the streets and do not have any family.  Most of them have physical or mental challenges and have been rejected...
The first thing we do is wash their clothes and sheets by hand, then we hang them on the roof...
Then we sometimes make the beds.  We also massage the women with lotion and that is when we interact with them: they talk to us in Bengali and it is hard to communicate....We smile and talk with our hands!

They get lunch at 11:30 a.m. and we have to help feed some of them.
After lunch we wash dishes by hand...
It is a learning and humbling experience for me....

Encounters in Kolkata

                                       We walk for about 30 minutes on our way to the site where I volunteer: Prem Dan...We meet children and people who are very friendly to us.

                             There are a lot of people who live on the streets...

              Several families live in these slums next to one of the train stations:some of the children seem to be happy.....

           We walk along the railroad tracks on our way to Prem Dan (where I volunteer) and it is a very interesting experience!

Mother Teresa's tomb at her convent in Kolkata

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 when she was 87 years old.  Pope John-Paul II beatified her on October 19, 2003.
I attend Mass at 6:00 a.m. in the morning at the Mother Teresa's Convent...It is very special to pray with the sisters!  There are about 75 young novices: they are probably close to 20 years old!
After mass we eat breakfast with the other volunteers and then we go to our site to volunteer.

Mother Teresa Center
Her life

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Botanical Gardens

 The Botanical Gardens were founded in 1796. This 250 year-old banyan tree is 140 m across. You can see cross branches and roots that have become trees of their own...

The Garden of cacti: some of them were in bloom

Macarena in front of a Bamboo tree!She is a volunteer from Pampelona, Spain and she is such a kind girl! She was so nice to invite me to join them to go to the Flower Market and the Botanical Gardens!
It was a very hot and humid day that day...I went there with some Spanish girls and a young man from Sweden.  We got lost on our way there as we took the wrong bus!

Howrah bridge

The Howrah bridge was built in WWII and is made out of steel. It is 705m long and it is a very busy bridge.  We crossed it on foot....                                         

                                          The Hoogly river is holy to Hindus.

Flower Market

I went to the flower market with Spanish volunteers and an Italian volunteer.  I met them at 4:45 a.m. to go there!

Scenes in the streets of Kolkata

We walk through some streets in the morning on our way to Prem Dan where I volunteer and we see people selling fruit, vegetables, chickens and fish.

                                           These boys were very friendly and happy!

Baptist Mission Society

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My room is very clean and spacious...I also appreciate having AC as it is very hot and humid...
 June 17: Heavy monsoon rains flooded the BMS yard....
This was my first day in India...there was a deluge that lasted the whole day! Several streets in Kolkata were clogged and we had to walk in knee deep water...There were also several big trees that were uprooted because of very strong winds! About 550 fishermen were lost in the Bay of Bengal on that day...Article about the monsoon storm on June 17, 2011