Today, I had a school morning and worked hard while the Rally for Health team helped patients at the Marble City Hospital. I found my morning frustrating and dull. The most interesting part of the day was visiting the chaotic, load, dirty and thought provoking, tent slum district of Kishangarh.
After lunch, the Rally for Health team took off to care for patients in the Kishangarh tent slum. We loaded in the car and packed into two rickshaws. There still was not enough room, so one person rode a motorcycle driven by an Indian assistant from the Marble City Hospital. We turned into a dirt path leading to a group of tents made of spare tires, newspapers, boxes, and other scraps. Kids in ragged clothes were playing and running up to the car. The poverty was so extreme, yet the people were so happy. We got out of the car about 100 meters from the tents and were suddenly engulfed in a huge swarm of children laughing and jumping. I probably heard the most “‘ellos” of my entire India stay as the kids surrounded me. The grown ups seemed to have the playfulness of nine year olds. Everybody was shouting, screaming, and laughing all at once and I almost exploded with the chaos.
Every single child wanted their photo taken and would not give up until billions of photos were taken. A mob of children surrounded us and laughed and asked for photos, money, or bread. Unlike beggars in the US, when the kids in the slum asked for handouts, they were smiling and laughing. It confused me that the people were poor but they seemed happier than many of the other Indians we have been seeing. This brings me back to the Beatles song, “Can’t Buy Me Love”.
While we were in the slum area, the Rally for Health team set up a pharmacy, and doctor stations in the car and rickshaws. For the rest of the afternoon, we cared for the sick, poor people in the slum. We soon realized that some of the Indian doctors treated the people of the slum like cattle, or worse. When the dirty, ragged, kids ran up to the car, some of our Indian teammates looked at them in disgust and shooed them away. Later, Mom, Ivan, and I went to explore the tents more closely. The Indian doctors called us back and warned us that if we went closer to the tents we would get mugged or very dirty. This disappointed me, but I still loved the visit to the slum.
Visiting the Kishangarh slum was noisy, confusing, and intriguing. I was impressed that such poor people could be so happy and playful. I was confused by some of our doctors distrust and dislike of the inhabitants of the slum. It seems that happiness comes from a family and a community and not from a wallet.
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!