The last 2 days have been spent on Vision Rescues yellow school buese. Currently, they have 3 operating and another one they have just purchased and are waiting for the people to come along to run it.
My first morning there, we arrivd at the headquarters where they have an office, a kitchen to prepare all the food for the day, and they also park a medical van, a dental van and one of the bueses. I met all the people, tried to figure out who went where, we got in a circle and discussed and prayed for the day. Before long, the food was loaded onto each bus and we were heading out to our first of 5 destinations.
Cruising the streets of Mumbai is not a typical Sunday drive. The streets are crammed with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, rickshaws, and even horse/ox pulled carts. A complex array of honking seems to be the only road rule, with 'lanes' merging into one with several layers of traffic trying to squeeze in. Sometimes it feels like you go within an inch of your life, by in a big bus you feel the power and strength that it has, and feel quite safe in the hands of the driver.
Pulling up to the first sight was what I had expected, makeshift houses, tarpaulins, rusty iron, bits of wood and tons and tons of rubbish. I was a little nervous about interacting with the children, as my friends who I'm normally with in this type of situation, were not there to rely on. It was up to me to connect, play, to smile and to try and get their names. I failed on the most part, but was stretched and made better because of it. I wish I was way more fun and easy going, but put me in that situation and completely out of my depth, and I'm just not!
It was fun seeing what they get up to on the buses, they teach English 2 days, Maths 2 days and then Hindi for 1 day. They also talk about general hygeine, being clean and will not let the children on the bus if they have not washed their face. At the end of the lesson, they close it with prayer and then give the children their rice and food for the day. I'm surprised at the share volume of food that they give to each child, and what they give out in a day. Every day, they cook 75kgs of rice, and around 25kgs of lentils and vegetables. That is a HUGE amount of food, and that is a HUGE expense that they keep on giving.
It was nice seeing one or two of the sights that they visit, but by time we got around to the fifth, it was too much. It was too much in the heat of the day to process, it was too much extreme poverty for me to see, it was just too much. Every day, 3 buses go out and go to the same five locations. Thats 15 different slum areas that they're educating and feeding daily...and in the scheme of the largeness of this city, that does not even scratch the surface of the need that there is.
Its too much for me to drive around and literally see all the streets 'littered' with slums, street people and rubbish everywhere. I hate to use the term littered because they are not trash, they are people and hearts and feelings, but that is the only imagery that I can protray it as.
Mumbai is so well known as 'The City of Dreams' and I am continually thinking, how? How can people come here with so much hope for the future when there is so much of this around? How can people possibly think that they'll be better off here than in their home towns? How can you look around at this and call it hopes and dreams?
It is SO intense, and I find myself hourly trying to figure out a way for me to leave here, leave this uncomfortableness because it literally just hurts. I feel alone when I go home at night to my little bedroom where there is no one, I eat alone, I sleep alone. I know I'm being a whimp, but in the first time of all of my travels, I want to go home.
(And its only my 4th day here!)