Our Saturday was going to be a crazy one. We were all piling into a car at 6 am to head out to some villages where Illuminate has projects they support. I am preparing myself for two hours of driving in India which could end in a heart attack. Ok not really, I am getting used to it but still, weaving in and out of traffic, dirt roads, potholes and rocks, and don’t forget the thousands of people we will have to dodge it is really like a them park ride! We set out and drive through what seems to be never ending Kolkata. It just goes on for miles. Miles of poverty, miles of people, miles of questioning eyes.
These are some images from the drive to the village
And the toilets you had to pay to use!
The amount of people starts to decrease and the rows of shops and vendors are gone. We pass into a large expanse of fields, palm trees, rice paddies, old British buildings falling down and all the trees have white and blue painted on the bottom of them. Which I learn are the colors of the ruling political party. Glad we don’t do that! After a while you start to see small huts, brick house, even some made out of hay literally our of hay.
People are outside working in the fields, hanging laundry, relaxing. Remember, no clocks and no time it is very calm and relaxed. The road begins to narrow and we see a lot more huts and small homes on either side as we enter the village. People stare at us with questioning eyes. Probably wondering why we are driving our giant car through their homes. Now it is not really a road but a narrow stone path. Somehow, we are still driving on it but someone told me in India if there is a road a car can go. It is more of a bike path than a road but hey who’s to say.
We get to a point where we cannot drive through any longer and have to get our and walk. About this time we hear drums and see a group of kids holding up signs. We have kind of a running joke now saying “Long Live Kristi Werre”. It is so sweet what these kids do and the people are so appreciative. It is not like this in our culture so we joked a little but it was the coolest thing ever. I was having a really hard time even believing where I was this whole day.
We walk down the path for a while since our car cannot make it any further and the boys follow playing their drums and flutes. They are so cute! After a few minutes a large structure comes into view with lines of kids on either side. It was really unbelievable. There are 100 kids there to greet us. We get flowers again and coconut water and everyone is so hospitable it is almost uncomfortable, especially since I am just here to take photos haha.. I have not done anything.
Illuminate India and its supporters provided the funds to build this home for 100 children. They get food and schooling and a place to sleep. Some of them are single orphans, some are double but here they live with a large group of other kids who are also orphans. Who knows their stories but somehow they police brought them to this home seeking shelter for them.
They seem pretty skeptical of us. It is a weird experience that is hard to explain but they are so beautiful and sweet. We have journals, pencils, bracelets and licorice for them ( which they don’t even know what licorice is haha) but they all say “Thank you Auntie” every time.
India has beautiful culture and they are proud of it! We are blessed to get to experience some dances by a few of the girls.
After the dancing we are taken on a tour of the home. It is bare bones but very nice and safe and the kids are lucky to have somewhere to sleep.
After this we are presented with a surprise. Recently, 45 more children have been brought here to Angel House. They are hanging out in the dirt on a pile of hay. No idea why the hay but apparently that is better than the dirt. Kristi and Illuminate were not even told about these kids before arriving here so it is kind of a shock.
I love this photo of Kristi with the kids. She is an amazing person and did such a great job making sure she gave everyone her full attention and interest. She was kind of pulled a million ways on the trip and she was amazing. I kind of had a wow Kristi is a fantastic human being at this moment. She would hate that I said that but too bad.
Next! Time for lunch. The kids line the hallways and fill the dining hall. We are able to help serve them! So fun. Yes they eat on the floor and they don’t use silverware so meal time is an adventure at least compared to what is normal for us here in the states. The house parents served us an amazing lunch as well. We were very blessed by them!
Illuminate India also provided funds to build the home a well with clean water! It is so familiar for us to have to fear the water you are drinking, bathing in, washing clothes, dishes and food in. Clean water can literally be saving these kids lives. They made sure we had bottled water every where we went, not sure why we are deserving of non-poisonous water but I am grateful and I know these kids are so grateful they have clean water.
As we were waiting to head out one of the little girls asked me to sign her journal and write my phone number. Harmless right… little did I know… seconds later dozens of kids were bombarding me saying “Number Auntie number” Throwing their notebooks in my face. It was awesome and so hilarious. No idea what they think they can do with my phone number but hey maybe one day one of them will call! haha. Either way it was amazing.
These kids are beautiful and they are so blessed to have a home. There are so many more like them it is just staggering. I was so glad to get to meet some of them and see the work that Illuminate India is doing for these kids AND meet the amazing people who care for them each day.