Street Children and Women's Empowerment: Old Faridabad, Delhi, India

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Published on Thursday, May 19th, 2011 Uploaded by: jcookaw

©2011. Darrin Lee. I confess. My reasons and hopes of fulfillment volunteering in India were not entirely martyrdom. They never really are. Students, professionals, entrepreneurs transients and nomads alike circle the globe wearing masks of philanthropy spinning embellished tales of wanting to 'help others' and 'make a difference.' -- Truth- volunteers always derive more benefit than those we portray to be helping, those who need it most: 'It looks good on MY resume,' 'It will help with MY grad school applications,' 'It will lead ME into a specialized field.' -- I taught 'street children' and 'women's empowerment' students in one of the drastic regions of Delhi that reveals extremely contrasting disparity between lower and upper class. The middle-aged women and elementary students of the 'Shiddat Foundation Charitable Society' in the slums of Old Faridabad live through constant risk with every breath of air and every move they make. There is no choice but to put faith in a higher power to endure such grim reality. -- The daily walk to work reveals dust clouds and smog to fill the lungs of the youngest street kids. Fruit and vegetable stands sell less than edible groceries baked in the sun, covered in dirt and mold. The streets are blanketed in waste to be piled and burned every night with no removal program in sight. Mice and rats openly roam convenience store shelves. Middle-aged shysters rent babies for the day, starve and hit them until they cry arousing pity in foreigners to receive more donations. The dirtiest excuse for water. No health care. No sanitation policies. No hygiene. It needs hope. -- I've previously spent two years abroad teaching in an education system where instructors are often judged based on their appearance and fashion savvy rather than teaching skills. I felt an ideological breath of fresh air in Delhi working with the street kids. Instead of forcing lessons to resistant crowds of spoiled teens, the students are more than eager to soak up any face time with a native speaker. -- In this age of such uncertainty unfortunately- everything's a racket... even altruism. Some project owners manage the supposedly "humanitarian" organizations the same as any other capitalist conglomerate. Program fees pay salaries and expand the business with little leftover for student and community support. Class materials are often sole responsibility of the volunteers after paying their own flights, program fees, orientation, transportation to work, while managers spend the money on their own families and personal business goals. -- So where does this leave the state of volunteer work? Is there any genuine means of assistance? Should we just resort to donating money and hoping for the best? I believe visiting and contributing help and means of your own accord and allocation is the best modus operandi. I wonder, how we are unsatisfied to live free and full while so many are left with nothing. I am ashamed to ever feel unhappy with so much, while those with the very least are always smiling. -30-

Category Overview Tag india volunteer delhi darrin lee faridabad old faridabad street children Location Faridabad