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Spring Break in India

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

During Spring Break, fourteen Waterford juniors and seniors and three faculty members flew to Kolkata, India to take part in service with two different organizations.  The majority of the service days were spent working with the Missionaries of Charity organization (founded by Mother Teresa) at two different residences for adults and children with profound mental and physical disabilities.  The group also spent time at a girls’ home established to take in girls who were orphaned or cast off from their families.

We were deeply impressed by the incredibly thoughtful and poignant presentations our travelers gave in various venues after they returned home, and we wanted to share three brief excerpts here, along with some photographs. 

Painting the interior of the girls’ home in cheerful colors. PC: Chris Watkins
"I saw firsthand what it’s like to love, and in a single moment nothing in the world matters but to look a person in the eye, smile, and tell them that they’re worth something. Everyone has a right to be loved and treated with dignity. So no, nothing I did will impact India in the long or even short term, but I was able to find out what it’s like to take everything away except our basic humanity and love a person one smile at a time."
-Matthew Buxton, Class XI
 
Getting ready for a boat ride on a tributary of the Ganges

Views from the river on the last day of a Hindu holy fesitval. PC: Chris Watkins

"It's hard to look at all the poverty and compare it to the scale of our service. To some it may seem like we accomplished nothing. It might feel like we made no difference when looking at the scale of the problems in India. But if we have this mindset, nothing will ever change. Helping that individual in that one moment in time is much bigger than that one moment of time."
-Angelina Peterson, Class XI

Above: scenes from the streets of Kolkata, from the girls’ home outside the city, from the Missionaries of Charity leprosy clinic.  PC: Chris Watkins and Andrew Patteson

"We’ve been thinking about the question of whether or not it’s worth it to spend thousands of dollars to serve in India, and it’s become clear to me that it is necessary to immerse yourself in poverty in order to be moved enough to conduct change. One must see all the horrors: from extreme poverty, to people crippled by leprosy and abandoned in the streets, to child trafficking. It must be in person. It must hit you like a truck and corner you until you have no place to escape to. I think everyone should have that kind of experience in order to spark any sort of change. It is worth it. This is the only way to push yourself to change the world. Hurting like this and becoming overwhelmed by compassion for those who are suffering is where change begins."
-Jess Orvis, Class XII, Community Service President