Friday, November 25, 2011

{ A humble THANKSGIVING in the slums of Delhi }

The rickshaw-pullers slum

Our thanksgiving dinner table :)

My best friends on Thanksgiving :) Love these girls!

Sanguiana - my favorite little girl :) The sweetest smile!

Slums in Delhi
I had the most humbling, memorable thanksgiving of my life this year.
I didn't wake up to the smell of turkey drifting into my room...
no Christmas music playing in the kitchen...
no little kids running around...
no stuffing or homemade cranberry sauce...
no thanksgiving day movie and watching the black friday ads...
it was very different.

How can I put into words such a heartbreaking, humbling, simple experience?
How could I ever adequately describe the things I saw, the emotions I felt, the children that stole my heart, the sweet babies climbing naked on the rickshaws? The children I longed to hold and never let go? The men who stood and watched us as we played with the children, living only to survive in the moment? How?

Of course some pictures will do the experience a little more justice, but...words could never say or share the experiences I had this day.

Our thanksgiving morning started out with a rush out the door to meet our driver to take us about 30 minutes into town to own of Delhi's rickshaw-puller slums...Maitri was hosting an impressive health camp from 10:30 to 1:30 for the rickshaw-pullers and their families. We provide a doctor every Thursday, and then once a month, like at this health camp, we bring in a few other health specialists and put on a bigger health camp. We provide the option for HIV testing and prescribe medicines, etc.

These are rickshaw pullers - and look at that stack of chairs on the back of that guy's bike!

Our health camp tent. 

We love this poster - one partner, be safe! Don't spread HIV.

The most adorable little kids carrying water back to their "homes" in the slums. 

These little kids stole my heart at first glance. Especially the two little girls on the left - Laxmi and Sanguiana.
Little kids playing around on the rickshaws. 
 Interesting fact for note: Maitri tries to encourage ownership of the bike rickshaws because it is very beneficial for the rickshaw pullers but the contractors that provide the rickshaws to the pullers are right there in the slums which makes it more difficult for Maitri to promote ownership...another barrier in the system.

This little kid was the cutest...

Monkey kid hanging on the rickshaw...look at his poor feet. It just about made me cry to see him walk.

Just hangin' out!

A beautiful woman in the slums - she was working so hard to prepare food, wash clothes, and such the whole time we were there.

Rickshaw-pullers waiting to register for the health camp and see the doctor.

Our Maitri family group! Love these people!

Playing with the adorable kids (Katie - left in green, Sarah - back in red, Liz - 2nd right crouched) 
I loved these kids! We had to be careful and keep our hair up because we saw some lice...we were told it was one of the least hygienic slums in Delhi. Although the little kids were dirty, they couldn't have been any cuter!

A newborn (1 month old) baby :) So cute! with her momma.

These are bike rickshaws...and yes, they pull people. Whenever I sit in one, it just feels so dehumanizing...

Entrance to the slums...

This is Sanguiana's family and her home...I just about started crying when I saw her home and conditions (although it looks pretty clean, right?!) - I wanted to run and scoop her into my arms and whisk her away...It's too real.

This is where they wash some clothes in the slum.

Look how adorable those little girls are!

The little boys (who liked lots of pictures) wanted us to take photos of the cute little (naked) babies...

And I had to get a picture with everyone of course too...I can't even imagine living in these circumstances...I can't even imagine. 

This is the little boy that I pictured in the rickshaw earlier...he's so cute sitting there with his bottle...undressed and unbathed. It kills me inside to see this. 

SO CLEVER! We were very impressed. Maitri had a guy from the India AIDS Foundation (a partner of Maitri) come and present a magic show (guy in top hat) and talk about what AIDS is and create awareness and educate the slum community...many live in ignorance. 

The most adorable little boys - I loved Sunil, the 2nd from the left!

Our baiyyahs - Ajay, Mintu, and me. This was an awkward picture (only because I asked Mintu if I could put my arm around him...)

Look at how CUTE he is!!!

Love this! With Sarah-ji :) Look at that adorable little boy in front!

The kids just loved pictures!

So cute!!!

This is the permanent health shelter that Maitri built for the health camps...

This is Piyali, the project manager for Project Awaaz...she's awesome!

They love their dogs in the slums...

Cutest little girl.

Again, they wanted us to get photos of all the little babies! This was in the slum...the space was so packed and there was so little room for people...I don't know how they can do it.  
Another adorable baby - look how gorgeous she is!

After we left the slums, we had the afternoon off (thanks to our sweet Maitri boss, Sonal) so, we went home to prepare! I had to spend a little time crying after the things I had just seen in the was so hard on me. Why does ti have to be this way?

Katie and Sarah napped while I scrubbed down the was so dirty! We all know that I can't cook... (it's true - something I can't do - and especially after i burnt the popcorn in the pan then night before...) so I was in charge of setup and decorations while Katie and Sarah slaved away in the kitchen. We setup the table for 4, bought some napkins and cups, ordered our KFC, put on our fire, brought in some beautiful flowers, etc. By the time that we ate, the apartment smelled and looked fabulous! 

The food was wonderful!  KFC (Indian spicy) chicken, coleslaw, homemade mashed potatoes (divine!), sweet corn (out of the can), green beans with mushrooms (Katie's amazing specialty), and bruschetta with a baguette (Sarah's speciality - so good!!!). Followed by some MRE (meals ready to eat) Apple Cobbler (thank you, Margie!!!). SO YUMMY!!!

I'm so lucky I ended up with amazing roomies that can cook :)

We made the best of our Indian thanksgiving away from home with best friends and our bestest Anita-ji...and of course we had classical Christmas music playing in the background :)

We loved our table setup - check out that on screen fireplace!!!
The fabulous preparation team!

Best thanksgiving!!!

Love us :)

Favorite :) 
Sarah said that since we didn't have Martinelli's to have "pretend alcohol" we had to use the green beans as cigars...hahaha oh I love these girls!

Our yummy apple cobbler.

This is the trick Katie taught us to make extra room for food in our stomachs! 

I just really liked the Apple Cobbler that much!
We kept busy all night to keep us from missing home. We watched Charlie Brown thanksgiving and Elf...too much fun. We were laughing out guts out.

I LOVE MY GIRLS!!! Anita-ji, Sarah-ji, and Katie-hai :)

And now, I have 3 weeks left in India. The time is passing so quickly! 
India, I love you! You've been good to me :)


  1. Thank you for thanksgiving Liz.I love all this pic as well ur blogs. You are the best ji.
    Luv you.

  2. What an amazing and humbling experience. So often we take all we have for granted. I am sure that you're learning not to. So proud of you and what you're doing.