“What you can do I cannot do. What I can do you cannot do. But together, we can do something beautiful for God.” – Saint Teresa of Kolkata
One of the most meaningful and toughest experiences I had in India, was volunteering at Mother’s House in Kolkata. Even if it was for a short period, this experience was a lesson about compassion and giving help and love without being afraid.
In order to become a volunteer, it is not necessary to write to the sisters or call before you arrive. Although, you need to be registered as a volunteer before you could start working in the centers. For doing this, you’ll have to bring your passport to Shishu Bhavan, located at 78 A.J.C Bose Road, at 3 pm, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. You’ll receive a short presentation of the houses where you can work and you’ll get a volunteering badge to show every morning in the house you chose to go.
I’ve chosen to help in a care home for mentally/physically challenged girls, where the majority of girls were not self-sufficient. Even if, I had doubts about l could handle this situation, I was in faith of doing this especially because my care home was called “Ray of Hope”.
Every day I was going to the Mother’s House where all the volunteers were gathering for the mass at 06.00 am or later for breakfast at 07.00 am. We were starting the day with a good vibe, saying a prayer to thank for being together. One of the most beautiful morning moment was the celebration of people that were going to volunteer for the last day. It was a joyful song of gratitude full of emotions for all the volunteers.
Together with each house representative, all the volunteers have started the route to work around 07.30 am because at 08.00 am we had to start our activities. The morning walk was a beautiful part of the day because people were already knowing us and they were happy to see us each morning.
Volunteers’ Main Duties and General Schedule
08.00 am – Help feed the Breakfast, cleaning the rooms.
09.00 am – Washing clothes and hanging them outside to dry ( this activity is for all-day because there are many clothes to wash by hand).
09.00 am – Classes: the girls are divided into groups according their mental and physical abilities. There is a specific schedule to follow for each day of the week. It is important to help the girls to respect the routines.
10.15 am – 15 minutes break for tea.
10.30 am – Continue the class schedule according to the group you work with (try to keep the same group at least for one day).
11.30 am – Lunchtime – you can help by feeding the girls that are not able to eat by themselves or just to assist the girls that are capable to eat by themselves.
12.00 pm – When lunch is over, help the nouns to put the girls in beds, check if they need to change their diapers even if it will take a longer time.
We had the chance to visit for one day the Titagarh Leprosy Colony next to Kolkata, the only place where all the clothes of Mother Teresa center around the globe are fabricated. Most of them wanted to shake hands with us, I knew in my mind that they have it under control but still…I was afraid to touch them. But the fear disappeared when they started to smile at us…one woman even hugged me because she liked how I was dressed and she took my hand for a few moments. Fear is nothing in the face of love, I was grateful for this beautiful lesson.