Living In India

Written by Lee Xinyu (08S07).

I learnt to appreciate what I have from my trip to India. People, and even babies could be found sleeping on the streets. In fact, it was so common that I would be surprised not to see any homeless people within a 5 metres distance.

The children of India. [Source]

We went to a 'Feed the Poor' project organized by interact members there. I noticed that the kids there were contented with just having a small serving of curry and naan. I believe that if we were in their shoes, we would definitely be complaining and demanding for more. I was amazed that the children there were still happy even though they were penniless. They have proven that money does not bring us happiness.

Besides that, we also helped out at Shanti Dan, a home for the mentally challenged women. The women were basically adults having the mentality of a young child. I was very touched by the way they greeted us; they were smiling and hugging. They were ecstatic when we visited them. We helped tidy their beds, wash their clothes, shave their hair, paint their nails and even sang and dance with them.

The mentally challenged women. [Source]

The patients there were all very disciplined and obedient. Each of them had their own chores to do - some had to fold clothes while others had to hold the door open for us and they did their jobs very well. Despite being mentally challenged, they could sing quite well and were very caring. There was this particular patient who chased away a cat because she knew my friend has a phobia about cats. In the past, I tended to avoid mental patients. However, after this trip, I learnt that they are actually no different from the normal people and we should not evade them (except for those who are aggressive).

After that, we visited a home for the destitute and dying. A funereal atmosphere greeted us the moment we stepped into the building. Most of the patients were just sitting on their beds and seemed preoccupied all the time. It was as if they were waiting for their souls to be forced out of the body. It was really scary to see them in that state. Then, one of the patients opened out her hands to us. I approached her and held her wrinkled hands. When she gripped my hands tightly and looked into my eyes, I could really feel her sorrow and helplessness. I felt as if she was trying to say "I am going to die soon. I am going to die soon. But I don't want to die."

As I await death. [Source]

As the surreal experience evaporated, I learnt that some of the patients had Tuberculosis . I trust God will protect all of us who entered the home. From this visit, I understood that we have no control over our lives, such as when or how we are going to die. However, I was also saddened by the fact that there was almost nothing that we could do for the patients who are resting on their deathbeds. We must appreciate our ability to be able to wake up every morning and live life to the fullest.

Money can buy us a house, but not a family.

Money can buy us a watch, but not time.

Money can buy us medical care, but not health.

Money can buy us the fashion and status, but not happiness.


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