Yesterday was full of adventures. We took an official tour of the hospital, and spent a good deal of time on the children's floor where we got to love on little ones recovering from cleft palate surgery, waiting for cleft palate surgery, or those suffering from thalassemia or leukemia. This was the most emotional thing I've experienced so far. Moms, aunts, sisters, and cousins-most too poor to afford even a fraction of treatment-sat on these hospital beds holding their little loved ones.
This precious one put on quite the show for us. It may not look like it in these photos, but she is very, very sick with leukemia. A woman from our team ended up sitting on a bed with another sick child and her mother. After talking for a long time, tears began to well up in the mother's eyes as she talked about her child. We are planning to go back to see the children today even though that wasn't on our agenda.
After we left the hospital we wandered around the streets for hours. This was quite the experience. Drivers honk their horns incessantly, and the streets are utterly chaotic. At one point, we had stopped at an ATM to take out cash. Suddenly the streets were quiet. There were no cars on the road, and guards kept everyone on the sidewalks. We went to see what was going on, and one-by-one a slew of government cars began to fly by. Come to find out, the Prime Minister was driving through. We ended up stopping in at a lovely dessert shop/cafe where we intended to grab a quick treat. After devouring our delicious pastries, we decided to stay for dinner. Three hours later, we headed back to our home. Today is our last semi-calm day, and tomorrow we hit the ground running. We will be working at Stars which is a slum school in the area. Our team will be evaluating the children which I'm thrilled about. Ultimately, we will be presenting our thoughts/recommendations for bettering the conditions at the school. Can't wait!
I took the following photos yesterday as we walked around the streets. A little piece of the history of the city helps explain some of the architecture. Kolkata is the capital city of West Begal. It is a colonial city developed by the East India Company and then the British Empire. It was the capital city of the British Indian Empire until 1911. The city was infiltrated by a European philosophy. There was a time when the streets of the city were washed EVERY single day. Over time, urbanization began to devour the very heart of this once immaculate city. The most beautiful buildings have deteriorated over time, and nothing has been done to restore them. It's incredibly sad; however, the contrast of formerly spectacular architecture blended with decay makes for interesting photos. Enjoy.