Chronicle of the 2014 humanitarian mission in India.


Also this year, during the month of August, VIDA has organized a humanitarian mission in Calcutta. Nineteen volunteers have dedicated their summer holidays to serve the poorest of one of the most affected cities concerning humanitarian emergencies.

Arriving from different parts of Italy and Spain, our volunteers have given the best of themselves operating in three different centres, three oasis of love and solidarity, three schools of life and humanity. These centres are: Nirmal Niketan, Nabo Jibon and Nirmala Bhavan.

Nirmal Niketan gives hospitality to 36 boys and girls with disabilities that belong to one of the poorest areas of Calcutta called Kabardanga. Kabardanga is a suburb of small traders that survives social exclusion with so much effort and sacrifice. A Catholic brother named Xavier Arul, coming from the south of India, founded a few years ago several centres for young girls victims of prostitution and for abandoned minors. Today he runs 6 institutions that give hospitality and form (even with quality schools) children and adolescents of both genders; including a vocational training centre and a small centre to help the disabled that is our Nirmal Niketan.

IMG_20140816_121403Nirmal Niketan opened its doors three years ago when our non-profit organization “VIDA” committed itself with the brother Xavier to finance the management of a centre and to help people with disabilities in the area. It was an unused  construction but available for the social work . Since then, Nirmal Niketan continues to grow and provides a wonderful service concerning with different types of disabilities that  these little angels have.

The volunteers work in this centre was not very specialized. It can be summed up in two words: “give love”. We went there to relieve, give affection, accompany, support and encourage. The centre already has several specialists for the deaf and dumb, the blind, quadriplegics, the disabled and the autistic. We could just add a drop of our solidarity and we have tried to do this with all our heart.

The last days, during the closing party to celebrate the end of our mission, the Principal told us that we have gave a lesson of humanity to the world when we worked with simplicity and sincerity giving dignity to those that in India are considered to be unworthy, excluded and rejected. The beauty of the smile of those boys and girls, of their trainers and their parents, was the greatest thing that could happen. When you make someone happy, you make yourself happy.

Nabo Jibon is run by the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa. It was not the first time we have been there, but every year it’s different, it’s new, it’s a gift. In the area of ​​Howrah, another of those suburbs of Calcutta full of pain and suffering, stands this oasis of peace and love. Treating people with disabilities, making company to the elderly, share a smile to those that are abandoned, clean rooms, feed those that aren’t able to do it alone. Small things, with great kindness. The centre headed by Brother Paul, an Englishman that made charity the vocation of his life, he could be considered as giant of total donation to the others, a smile in the most overwhelming sadness of the world.

IMG_20140817_113239Within Nabo Jibon we met other volunteers and we shared moments of joy in receiving children of the neighbourhood, especially on Sundays, to wash them, heal them and keep them entertained. Each time was a challenge, a challenge that they helped us to overcome with their spontaneity.

Nirmala Bhavan lies within the chaos of Calcutta, one hour from  the Mother House, after an adventurer journey through the streets of the city. There, together with the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity the girls of the group took care of the younger. Each one  dedicated its attention to one of the small guests, leisurely, without fears, with the belief that they were doing the best thing in that moment: love your needy brother.

Day by day tiredness grew. Someone has been obliged to remain in bed because sick: fever, diarrhoea or indigestion, but there was the desire to heal as soon as possible to return in  action. Day by day there was the growing of an inner peace, serenity, joy of having invested time in the most beautiful way of all. The number of friends increased day by day. Volunteers from many parts of the world reach Calcutta to join this great effort of love. Day by day the end was approaching, the most tragic moment of the whole mission.

The poverty of Calcutta, the humidity, the heat, the noise, the monsoon rain, adversities do not seem to affect the spirit of volunteers who had rather seen their own souls grow in strength able reach peaks previously unsuspected.

Unforgettable the visit to the leper colony, to the City of Joy, Prem Dan (where it took place the  meeting with all the volunteers that serve in the centres founded by Mother Teresa). A special moment was the visit to the zoo with small children of Nirmal Niketan.

Prayer was our support, especially the frequent visits to the tomb of the “Mother” of the poor who had started decades before this miracle. The example of the sisters who have devoted their lives to the poorest of the poor help us to keep up. It was  a rendezvous with the friends with whom we are sharing, year after year, this unforgettable experience.

IMG_20140825_173158Even this year VIDA organized its social project called “Hope for the Homeless” and consists in distributing food, clothing and hygiene materials and cleanliness  to the homeless and those of marginalized slums.

Indeed, this year we have intensified our project. At least a hundred and forty (140) families have benefited from this project belonging to three different areas of the city. When we were walking on the streets, we met people that would ask us: “we’ve been waiting to get your charity,” and seeing  the children that hugged and smiled as if they had found an angel, you realize that it takes very little to make people happy , to give hope and make the hell of abandonment and suffering less worst.

You can understand Calcutta if you live it, if you know it, if you touch it. Calcutta is incredible. Calcutta is more generous because it gives you more concerning in what it receives. Calcutta offers the opportunity to rediscover humanity something that we lost in the west hemisphere. Calcutta is unique. Calcutta is changing constantly but especially it is changing those that experience it. Calcutta is a mystery, as life is a mystery, as man is a mystery. Calcutta is a mystery that is embodied in reality and transforms life.

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