Sense of Love and Community

As we left the Dharavi Transit School today for the last time, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love and community that I have honestly never experienced. Yes, the Dharavi School may not have many resources and yes, it may not be the prettiest sight, but the Dharavi school has something so much more crucial for human existence, the Dharavi school has heart. Each day as we would walk to the familiar building, I was filled with an excitement and a happiness that I have not experienced in a long time. No one is too busy for anyone else. No one is too cool and no one is too important.

These children laugh all the time, they hold hands and they love to sing songs.

At times they could be slightly overwhelming as ten of them would run in five different directions forcing me to chase after them yelling in some foreign tongue, but at the end of the day, I was their Didi and I always loved them.

I can not even count the number of times I would all of the sudden feel a hot little hand squirm into mine, looking down to be greeted by two big black eyes, glistening with anticipation. “How are you?” they would excitedly spit out, using their broken English as a desperate attempt to make a connection. “I am good!” I would always reply, my enormous smile making more sense to them than any of the words in my peculiar reply.

As if their overwhelming kindness and frankly adorable smiles were not enough, today I was pushed over the edge with the handfuls of good bye letters and tokens I received.

Here these children are, living in complete poverty, not even having clean water to drink or a constant food supply, and they were offering me, a random girl from America that they had just met two weeks ago, all of their little treasures.

I felt like I was going to cry just moments ago as I began to read some of their little notes. “You are very tall,” almost all of them had written, and “You speak very nice English.” One even added, “You are a super Didi!!” and others attempted to draw airplanes and spell out, “America.” The care that these cards were made with was like no iTunes gift card or CVS letter that I have ever received as they were overflowing with color and covered in their most prized stickers.

As I said goodbye today I started off with the ever popular high-five routine, going up high and then down low and then WAY up high, and then helping whichever little kid up that had toppled over with excitement, but then it hit me that I would most likely never see their little faces again. Startled at first, I bent down to hug one of the little girls that had been attached to my hip from the moment I walked in the room. A bunch of the kids began to laugh and then all of the sudden hundreds came running over for a hug. It was as if they had been waiting for me to initiate the hugging, to give the okay signal.

At least five little girls asked me to take them back to America with me and honestly, if my parents would have allowed it they would be here with me right now!

Although I am forced to part with this group of true little angels, I know that this is just the beginning of my time working in the classroom and taking a hands on approach in battling the monster that is poverty. These children, more so than any book that I have read, article that I have discussed or website that I have visited, have inspired me to help; in ways that I possibly can.

- Julianna