Here’s a story from Jesper and Ger, two travelers who visited our Child-Friendly Space in Vasna. Two interns (Jasmijn and Valeria) had organized a farewell party with a Dutch theme for the end of their internship. The travelers joined the party and had fun with the kids.
During our six-month journey through Asia, we visited Ahmedabad because a Dutch friend of us lives there. Besides visiting the beautiful city with all its exciting alleys, gates and temples we also had the honour to witness the daily life of kids in one of the slums of Ahmedabad. Together with people from Saath and another Dutch girl, we contributed to the ‘Dutch day’, which was organized for children of the Child-Friendly Spaces in Vasna. Because of the effort of Saath these children get some valuable education instead of working fulltime in service of their parents.
We were struck by the sweetness of all these small children living in poor and for us unknown conditions. Still, we thought the children looked healthy and clean, in comparison with the children we met in one of the slums in Mumbai.
The first part of the day contained a PowerPoint presentation about the Netherlands. Probably the kids did not really realize where the Netherlands actually is and what it exactly is, but at least they enjoyed the show!
We were confronted with the bizarre daily life in the slums: the class had to move away rapidly because there was a ‘Besna’ close by. A neighbour had died that night and relatives from various places across the country, were visiting to pay their last respect to the deceased and his family. The classroom was going to be used to prepare the body for the funeral.
We moved to another place and went on with the programme. The children made some drawings about India for an exhibition in the Netherlands. We contributed to the ‘Netherlands day’ with a traditional Dutch game: ‘koekhappen’ (cookbiting). Pieces of cake on a string, and children have to reach and bite in the cake, blindfolded and with their hands on their back. In the beginning the children were shy, but after some time all of them wanted to try. There was a lot of laughter and this gave us a very good feeling.
We are grateful that Saath gave us the opportunity to witness one of their projects in Ahmedabad and to get to know these great kids. Thanks a lot.
Ger Ligthart and Jesper van Putten