Monday, February 18, 2013

All I can do is give my best efforts each day

Namaskar, Namaste, Shalom, and Hello - this is Mumbai!

Walking into a middle-school class of standing children is an inspiring experience.  The class full of young learners show a strong drive to work hard and respectful of the “Teachar!” inspire me to work harder at literally everything I try to teach in the classes of children living in the slums.

It is hard to grasp the Mise-en-scène of the class rooms deep in the thick of the Kalwa Slums North Mumbai but I can assure you is very basic… very basic. Conditions can only described as dire. But the smile I get when working with these children and their dedicated full-time teachers is ear to ear and completely reverses my grimace.  The staff and organization of the Gabriel Project Mumbai/ JDC/ REAP are dedicated to educating and feeding 500 children per day while supporting the distribution and cooking of the meals.  Even while the chalkboards are just pieces of plywood painted black, and 2/3 of the schoolhouses have little electricity there is a drive present that is so impressive- it is to work hard and succeed.

India is a land of contrast in many ways. The slums that are proverbially “on the other side of the track” are in fact across the tracks. The constantly encroaching slums and the absolute poverty that ensues, contrasts with some of the worlds most wealthy individuals who live in the same city.  In less than one hours journey on public transportation from my classroom in the heart of an 80,000 person slum, one can be in a heart of the 22 million populous of the downtown metropolis with all the joie-de-vivre possible for more than one lifetime…and several reincarnations. The awesome contrast of living and working conditions is just one obvious contrast in India It’s like comparing apples and oranges, or rather mangoes and jack-fruit, but the distinction of the distribution of wealth and the polarized conditions is a constant reminder.
One thing that is universal is the goal to have ones next generation live better than the last.  Knowledge is power and the Indian society here thrives on a need for a hierarchical power structure system in everything from street hawkers to doctors to even apartment complex societies.   This stratified system compounds with a motivation that is truly impressive.  Children everywhere in the slums are like thirsty sponges and I am glad to be apart of helping these children learn and absorb as much as possible ranging from geography to singing and everything in between.  All I can do is give my best efforts each day working in the slums and know that it will never be enough because of the will that these children possess to be successful!

Josh, from Moreland Ohio, is one of the new Spring 2013 GPM-JDC fellows.

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