Sunday, July 7, 2013

'The little things in life'

The following blog post is by Sami Klazkin, a GPM summer 2013 participants. Sami is a JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corp participant with Gabriel Project Mumbai. We think that Sami really captures the many feelings and thoughts that arise during service with vulnerable children in the slums of Mumbai:

"It’s the little things in life.”  I have heard that expression many times, but it is not until yesterday that I fully grasped the meaning of it. Take looking out the window during a bus ride for example. Or what about going on a field trip with your friends from school?  Things we have all experienced and most likely have taken  for granted. Well yesterday was the first time that many of the students from the slums have ever been on a bus or even left the slums at all. It was amazing to experience it with them. The bus took us all to the JDC offices where the Indian, Jewish volunteers planned a day full of fun for the kids. The bus ride was amazing in itself. I sat in back with 4 little girls who stared out the window the entire ride; each and every child was dressed in his/her best clothing for their special day. Mosma, a little girl who I have become particularly attached to, held my hand the entire time because she was not feeling well; I’m guessing that she had motion sickness because she is not used to riding in vehicles.

When we got to the JDC the children were so excited. There were about 35 of them. What amazed me the most was how well behaved they were. I have worked with children before, and it is interesting to see how these kids behave. There was not one temper tantrum or meltdown. The kids giggled and played the entire time! Something very interesting but sad was the fact that they each had brought about 10 Rupees (not even equivalent to 25 cents) with them. They were all clutching onto their money the entire day. Even when they asked to be spun around they would not let go of it. It’s so heart wrenching to see young kids (some as young as 4) being so concerned with their precious money. Mosma asked what she could buy, and to her disappointment there was nothing there since we were at the JCC and their breakfast and lunch were generously taken cared of by the JDC. When I think back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I am that I was able to be so carefree and looked after, which in itself is a luxury that half of the world is not able to experience.

The most touching part of the day was when the Gan Katan (JCC’s Sunday school kids) came downstairs to play with the children from the slums: two different worlds colliding--- kids from the slums and kids from middle class families, Jewish children and non-Jewish children playing together as children should. The Jewish children were dressed in very Western clothing while the children from the slums wore traditional Indian clothing and dresses.

It was so wonderful to see how blind the children were to the differences between them, but I guess that is the great thing about children. It made me sad to think that at the end of the day the kids would separate and go home to such different circumstances. I tried not to dwell on that though, and I must say that partaking in yesterday’s events was extremely special and something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

At the local JCC: Children from Gan Katan and Children from the Kalwa slums, playing together!

Enjoying her first bust ride

Mosma (on left, from the slums) and Emunah(from Gan Katan)

Sami enjoying the science lesson with the kids

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