City of Contrasts

It is impossible for me to describe this City of Joy known as Kolkata. And because of that, this blog is more like a journal entry - rough, real, and incoherent.

The only words I have: City of Contrasts.

I started volunteering at the Mission of Charities' home named Shanti Dan today. It is a home for mentally disabled and abused women. Shanti means "peace"; dan means "gift of." These women have no place else to reside; they are from the streets. Something happened in their lives to bring them here--an accident, genetic disorder, circumstance of life. They receive medical attention and have some psychological consultation.

Natalia and I woke up at 6:15 a.m., made coffee and walked 20 minutes to Mother's home [there are NO WORDS for this over-stimulated walk]. We ate breakfast at 7 a.m. with the other volunteers and took the 202 bus to Shanti Dan.

Uncertainty ruled my emotions. What will happen? What do I do? What will the women do? Will they like me? [don't you love how this question is always on our minds?]

When we first arrived we were greeted by smiling women in bright flocks walking through a courtyard around a path to the door--"Auntie, Auntie." They hugged us and laughed. As I caught my brain and heart up with what I was seeing and experiencing, I began to settle in.

I talked with some, trying desperately to understand what they were saying, held hands with others and laughed, drew and put a puzzle together while a group watched.

Natalia and I "debriefed" a bit afterward, and something God spoke to her went deep into my heart. She had asked God, "How should I treat these women?" His response, "Treat them like you would treat your mother." Natalia once told me that her mother's existence on earth is essential to her being; you get the idea.

This spoke to me.


  1. sounds like a very full experience! know that i am praying for you both. love!


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