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India – Spring 2007

Journal 7 - February 18

I have seen many new and challenging things while here in India. When I first arrived in Kolkata I wasn’t expecting it to be much different from the other cities we have visited, but there was one thing that stuck out to me, and that was the poor people. Kolkata has one of the highest percentages of poor people in India, although less than Delhi. This city was really only built for about 1 million people but now it houses more than 15 million. Even though this sounds like a really bad situation I have heard people say that, if you are poor, Kolkata is the best place to be. One reason this is true is because of the abundance of public water in the city.

I was intrigued by how they set up the water system for the city. There are two sets of pipes that run throughout the whole city. The smaller pipes will run with drinkable water for a couple hours a day. The other pipes run with water that is used for bathing. In the other cities we’ve seen, the poorest people all seemed to be dirty and appeared to have no where to live. Here in Kolkata, the sidewalks were full of people and their belongings. Another thing that stuck out to me was all of the organizations throughout the city that help the poor, not only in Kolkata, but in all of India.

We visited one organization called Ankur Kala, an organization specifically for women. Women who were chosen could come to this place and learn one of five trades for a very small fee or for free. Another place was Mother House. Mother Theresa lived in Kolkata and many of her followers and organizations still live here even after she is gone. One last place we got to visit was the headquarters of MCC India. Ed Miller is the director and he gave us many tours and told us a lot about life in Kolkata. MCC is very active here in India and we learned a lot from listening to what they are doing to help the poor. So overall I was impressed with how Kolkata is dealing with the problem of poverty.

Poverty is something that has touched all of us on this trip. There are so many people in India, it just seems like nothing is being done at times. It was really good for me to see that there are people out there who care about the poor and are trying to make a difference in their lives. By being here, I have started wondering if there is more I can do to help.

- Joe Horst