|Rana, Prasanta, me, Keah, Beena, Thomas, Shaji|
A huge part of the Global Urban Trek and my trip to India was to partner with a local ministry. I was placed with KCM (Kolkata City Ministries), and had the immense privilege of working with these wonderful people. KCM exists to serve the urban poor in Kolkata; by providing schooling, planting churches, as well as projects to serve slums such as medical camps in which people can receive free medical care. While I was there I travelled and and spent a lot of time with one of their staff in particular, Keah.
Keah travels every day to Baghmari, a slum in northern Kolkata consisting of around 250 families. Though it's quite an established slum (with paved roads, brick walls, and electricity in each home) the living conditions are still deplorable. Four years ago, KCM transformed a small house into a school for 20 children, the 6 x 6ft building doubling as their church's meeting place as well. Today the building has expanded to double it's size to accommodate their students and church members.
On a normal day, Thomas, Keah and I would take the train together to Baghmari at 10:50AM each morning, after devotionals with all the KCM staff. Keah and I would brave the women's cart, which, as I'll write about later, is an adventure in itself for the North American commuter!
At Rainbow School, Baghmari's school/church, I would get to help Keah instruct informal English and math classes. Thomas would teach them Sunday school songs, and I would fold origami and draw them little sketches of each other. Though the kids mainly spoke Hindi, it was remarkable how quickly they would pick up new concepts. Rahul, a 12 year old boy with which Thomas built a close relationship with, learned how to multiply within a few days. We communicated with our hands, broken Hindi/Bengali/English, and our laughter.
Check out KCM on Facebook!