So after two weeks we had our first day off on Friday! Every Friday we will have free to go into the city and spend some time together away from the home. Our first trip was pretty fun, and we thought we'd share some short video clips of riding throught he city. Note the traffic rules... or lack thereof! (This isn't a good depiction of where we live, which is outside the city and much different, more rural). Enjoy your view of the city!
June 30, 2009
June 29, 2009
June 21, 2009
Update: Tammy's surgery went great and they were able to go in microscopically, which means she can return home on Monday! Praise Jesus! Thank you for all your prayers.
I thought I'd give you a little illustration of things seen while on our 30 min bus ride and short walk through to Tamil-speaking church.
Laneless roads where the first car in a space gets the right of way (after the roaming cows, that is).
Entire families on motorcycles (the most common personal transportation) with Dad driving, wife side-sitting with infant on her lap, and two small children squished between... one helmet, if you're lucky.
Kids playing and laughing on the side of the streets.
Long stretches of dumps with sewage rivers running through... from which arises the most putrid smell you can imagine.
Women dressed in an array of beautiful colors and garments of sweeping cloth.
A dead rat the size of a small cat, pointed out to me by one of the girls.
Street vendors pushing their fruit and vegetable carts... or a million other things.
Men going to the bathroom openly on the side of the road (yes, grown men).
Beggers, young and old, wandering between cars during stalled traffic with outstretched hands.
Temples decorated with many of the thousands of Hindu Gods.
Trash everywhere, and a constant smell of trash... sometimes with a few child or adult rummagers, looking for something edible.
Muslim women in full burkah, sometimes a complete black shroud, others with their eyes peeking through the fabric.
Cows, ox-carts, and donkeys roaming the streets.
Men covered from head to toe with soot as they work in the roads.
Stray dogs rummaging through the trash, some with huge open wounds.
While riding through the city, I sit in the home's bus, looking at the sites and listening to 15-year-old Jemi sing along next to me as the music plays ... "oh happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away... oh happy day". I sense Jesus's love for this place and am drawn to it in the way I often am to third world places. Amidst the trash, poverty, and confusion there is a God who's glory covers the whole earth as the waters cover the sea... and I find myself meeting Him most often in places like these... Oh happy day, when Jesus washed our sins away. Oh happy day...
June 17, 2009
June 16, 2009
June 6, 2009
I share it with nine other households. Each has one room about 8ft square. Although Kalighat is a red-light district, families live here too, street vendors and stall workers, but most prostitutes live alone like me.
My room doesn’t smell so good because it’s next to rotting rubbish and the latrine, but it is away from the street.
I go back to sleep until 8. My bed is a thin mattress on a board lifted off the ground by red bricks at each corner. Under the bed are the pots I use for cooking and washing.
My saris and underclothes are strung on a wire across the small window. I have electricity, a light bulb, a fan, a black-and-white television and a suitcase.
If I’m on my own, as I mostly am, I make tea, heating the water on a kerosene stove in my doorway. If my babu — he’s like a special client, a temporary husband, you could say — is with me, I give him naan bread and sweets. Calcutta is famous for its sweets: all colours and varieties you can buy here.
Then I go to the vegetable stalls outside and buy ladies’ fingers, brinjal, potatoes, tomatoes and garlic to cook later.
I put on eyeliner, a bindi on my forehead, my jewelled earrings and gold bangles, and I am working the street by 10am. There are three of us who mostly go together — Arati, my best friend, and I watch for each other. I work a little strip just outside the slum beside the Mohambagam football club.
There is a disused pitch and that’s where I go with my clients. Mostly they are strangers, rickshaw drivers or hawkers.
Kalighat is the cheapest red-light district, but I have to work here because I’m old now. I need to make 250 rupees a day [about £3.50]; my rent is 45 rupees a day and I am paying off a loan to my landlord for hospital treatment. My clients don’t have much money — maybe I get 50 rupees a time. I try to make them wear a condom but mostly they don’t. I have been very lucky: I don’t think I have any sexual diseases. There is a clinic in Kalighat run by the Hope Foundation for us. I go a few times each year.
When I was young I worked on a jetty on the Ganges — they call it Babughat. I would go with men on boats they rent. Then I would have 10 or 12 clients a day easily, shopkeepers or truck drivers, and each would pay me 250 rupees.
My own family in Bangladesh has no idea if I am alive or dead. I grew up in a small village with three older brothers and a baby sister.
I was trafficked here when I was 14 by a man who married me. His real wife and children were here in Calcutta, and he brought me here. He sold me to a brothel. I was terrified, but he was my husband and I thought I had to do what he said. I did not have the guts to tell my family what had happened to me, so I never contacted them again.
If I‘m lucky I finish around 9.30. There is a lot of waiting around now, so we drink Bangla liquor, a strong illegal drink they sell on the streets. I drink it quite a lot — it helps. If I have made enough money I go home with Arati, and maybe we go to my room or her room and share some food. But if business is slow I stay out all night.
Even if I finish early, I can’t sleep until 2 in the morning. I worry about so many things. I have had six pregnancies, but I only have one child, Sheila Khatoon. She’s 14 now and she lives in a girls’ home run by the Hope Foundation. I visit her on the last Saturday of every month. I tell her I sweep in a hospital, and I wish I did, but no one would employ me now. She lived with me until she was seven.
She didn’t go to school and I couldn’t really look after her, but I didn’t bring men back to the room with her there. Then the Hope Foundation found her on the street. I wanted them to take her. If my daughter was to take up this trade, I would want to die. No mother can imagine such a thing as this. But she would have had no choice if she’d stayed here.
At night I think of my parents and my daughter. I think of what would happen to her if I died suddenly. I worry about how I got myself into this situation and what will happen to me in the future when I cannot make money any more. Around 2am I fall asleep, and then I don’t dream.
Interview: Andrea Catherwood.
June 4, 2009
And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see."
Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
"All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine
and make it known to you."
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause...
Open our eyes, we pray!