Thanks again for all of the emails! I really apperciate them and enjoy hearing from all of you! Keep them coming!
Things have been going really well here! I really love India. I may not have been so excited at first, but this country has really grown on me! Thursday is always volunteers' day off and usually they have something fun for us to do. Today they had a trip to a leper colony run by the Missionary of Charity brothers, so I went with Kim and Jill. It was a really good experience! Each morning, the lepers come to work on looms weaving saris for the sisters, they build shoes and artificial limbs for people effected by leprosy, and they do woodwork and carpentery repairs. Some of the people live in the family quarters and some of them live in the village and come to work every day. They get a salary and discounted food from the brothers and those who live there grow their own vegetables and raise their own livestock. The community is about 1.6 km long and sits next to the railroad tracks about half and hour outside of Calcutta.
What struck me the most was how happy all of the people seemed. If they were in the community, they would be shunned and forced to beg, but here they have the dignity of a home and work and their children can recieve and education. Everyone smiled and said hello to us as we passed by and they seemed very content in and proud of their work. It was a really great trip!
I think if I were a leper, I would be so happy that I could make the saris for the sisters in repayment for all of the goodness they had shown me! It's just so beautiful!
While the leper colony was very peaceful, getting to and from was another story! We had to take the train, which I hadn't done yet. Going there wasn't that bad, but on the way back, we were going into Calcutta, so the trains were so crowded! The lady who was taking us on the trip told us that to get on and off of the trians, we would have to literally shove our way through, otherwise we would end up riding the train until the end of the line! Well, it was definately true! Right before the station where we had to get off the train, so many people got on that we were quite literally packed in like sardines! I had never been in so crowded of an area in my entire life! Probably five or six people were touching me! Getting off of the train was a little adventure in itself also! But I just pushed through as hard as I could and it all worked out in the end! Our whole group even got off (about 12 or so) and no one had to jump from the moving train! We were strongly warned to watch our belongings on the train as well, but I don't think anyone's bags were slashed or anything stolen. Good day.
Tonight is actually not hot! We had a thunderstorm earlier today and when we came outside for the internet, there was little humidity and the temperature was maybe 70-80 degrees! (Compared with the normal 100 or so with very high humidity!) Very nice!
Around 8:30 tonight, we are going to a movie with our friend Hakim. It's the newest Bollywood film called "Fanaa" and no one seems to know what it's about. I'm pretty excited, thought because I've heard that people will get really into the movie and clap and maybe even laugh and sing along! It promises to be a good time, even if I won't be able to understand the language!
Well, thank you again for your emails and prayers!
Know that you are all in mine!
God bless you,