Here is the story of some volunteers from the Humary Dunya exchange who went to India to work with the World Faith New Delhi Chapter. Here is what they had to say:
At 5 PM, we joined Shakeel in front of the station of Old Delhi. After taking the subway to its terminus, we reached an area that we did not know and it was already dark. We felt a little lost but fortunately Shakeel guided us. After a while, we took a small road that plunged into darkness.
Gradually, as we walked, we found people gathered around fires, children playing in the waste piles of garbage, and finally, a tangle of sheets and plastic sheeting … The entrance of the slum where 2,000 people live in an extreme poverty. We followed Shakeel in the maze of tiny alleys to a small door, a dark and narrow staircase and finally a small room of just 15 sq meters opened to the winds: the school ! We had gone through such dark places, met people so dirty and so poor, seen as waste and misery. Now, we arrived in this small room where forty children smiled us! An emotion never felt before!
Three walls decorated with posters were enough to house the only school of the slum. The children were huddled against each other, sitting on the floor, watching a computer. We have therefore taken place among the children and we have discussed with Shakeel and the schoolmaster. Here, the school is in the evening for two hours. If the school has such schedules it’s because most of the children work during the day. All these children come from Bengal (a state in eastern India), their families came to Delhi with the hope of earning more money. Now they live in these slums and remain extremely poor. The government school is too expensive for the parents who have no other choice but to make their children work to earn enough money to feed the whole family. The children then spend their days in the bins for sorting waste to sell a few pieces of plastic. Fortunately, the night school allows them to learn to read and write, so that one day they can get out of this misery.
There are thousands, millions of people living in these conditions in India. They are excluded from society and try to survive day by day. Despite this misery, we were welcomed very warmly and we have never felt that we were in danger. It is very hard to describe the emotions we felt. We were two rich western people facing these children so poor. A great meeting!
Shakeel and his Haq NGO’s have created several such schools in other slums. His actions give hope for a better life to hundreds of children. We do not talk enough about these people who act in the shade and do so much to help others! Today, Shakeel is looking for some volunteers to work in these schools and for some donors to improve the working conditions of the children … Any takers?
If you want to see our reports about the interfaith meeting and the heritage school, you can go on our website: www.lecoledesautres.fr.