Monday, 18 February 2013
First day in seelampur and Hannah's birthday!!
Monday 18th February, YWCA, New Delhi Today was our first day in the slum and was also Hannah's 18th birthday so there were double reasons to be excited this morning as we woke up to a beautiful sunny day here in Delhi. We negotiated the crazy rush hour traffic and 100's of bicycles and motorbikes coming at us the wrong way down our side of the road!! Soon after we arrived to be greeted by the amazing subodh (aptly pronounced support) who works in seelampur and is the centre manager there. He introduced us to some of the lovely health care workers there and also to 4 of the 3rd year university students who have grown up in the slum and through the asha system. With asha's support they are now 3 months away from graduating from university , and what is amazing is that they have also set up their own business making ID cards, fixing mobile telephones and providing access to the Internet. These 4 young men (Faisal, shiv, wasim and nuhal- excuse spellings) and their friend ashad were so fun and took the 5 of us lads on the trip around the slum, into their homes and also showed us the shop front where they run their business from. Their entrepreneurial spirit and get up and go attitude from such a place of poverty was and is such an inspiration, and I am looking forward to hanging out with them more this week. We also played a little bit of cricket which was great fun, one of them is named after wasim akram, the great Pakistani fast bowler!! The girls spent the morning preparing the two rooms for painting, and began to transform one room into a jungle and one room into outer space. Their drawings and designs are so clever and as the day went on the rooms began to be painted and look amazing!! We then had an amazing alternative picnic on the roof for lunch with Chris grady looking nervously over his shoulder while eating his sandwich as the massive birds of prey(eagles or kites we think?) swooped and circled nearby (one actually landed on his head two days ago which was reasonably dramatic!!) The afternoon was spent with the girls going on a journey further into the slum, they visited people's homes and were I know really moved by the hospitality and also by some of the people and stories they encountered. Instead of pass the parcel for Hannah's birthday they all seemed to play pass the baby as were all keen to cuddle a very cute baby in one of the houses, the photos are great!! Us lads stayed and got on with some painting and preparation work for bigger areas to be painted later on in the week, and I suddenly found myself mistakenly in charge of a group of children aged 3-13, I think they thought I was their English teacher. The asha staff urged me to entertain them and for the next hour or so a huge amount of fun was had learning games, them learning new English words with the help of a book of animals from across the world, and me learning the Hindi words in return. My personal highlight was the whole class yelling polar bear back at me at the top of their voice about five times. ( unsurprisingly they'd never come across one of these before! ) We finished by being introduced to all the slightly older girls with their really inspirational stories and heart to serve their community. These 13 year olds regularly lobby their local mp and are each responsible for 25 houses in the slum and reporting back if anyone is ill in any of the households or the rubbish has got out of hand. I think our younger youth could learn loads from these guys and am learning a lot myself about empowering youth and what a difference they truly can make if we give them that responsibility!! We had an amazing southern Indian style meal in the evening for Hannah's birthday and then came back for cake yum!! All in all a fantastic day and can't wait for tomorrow... I'll be posting photos on my Facebook which should be accessible to all and photos will also be uploaded to the st stephens Facebook account... Please continue to pray for us and a different person will blog every night so please do have a read, god bless, Ali