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Trip to Slum pt2

by:John

This is the second part of a story about my first trip to the slums. If you haven’t read the first part, you may do so here.

Hyderabad HutThe ‘huts’ in the slums look similar to this one, except they are not all roofed with plastic. And, there are many more in a small area. This one is outside of our house.

“So, do you want to see the rest of the slum?” asked the World Vision guy (sorry, I can’t remember his name.) and, with a warning from the Dr. to watch my footing for fear of stepping in waste, we were off. As we moved along the narrow dirt road, I could tell that it was an old road. It was very well-packed, and probably no longer used for automobiles as there was smoothed over potholes and piles of crushed rock in the middle of the road. We maneuvered through the buildings, which were tent-like structures that were roofed by plastic tarps, scrap pieces of wood or plastic, and any other material that could be found to be a suitable protection from the elements. Sometimes the walls of these “huts” are made from rock and a rough mortar made there. Other times, the walls will be made of panels constructed of woven leaves or scrap materials. The end result is a one room house that is very small, without basic amenities and would make most Americans gasp in disbelief that someone actually lives there.
As we walked up and down several similar streets lined with the make-shift huts, all roughly the same size and shape, the owners would be standing outside their huts talking and what not. I was surprised at how these people were able to stay as clean as they were. Many were wearing white shirts, sometimes jeans, and of the women were wearing very vibrant Saris. Apparently here though, there were many different standards of cleanliness. There were those who went about bare-foot with dingy pants and shirts worn thin and holey.
Many of these people, I was informed by the World Vision guy, are “rack pickers”: people who go around in the nearby vicinity, collecting trash and bringing it to a central location for sorting. Even as he explained this process to me, whiffs of the garbage’s odor came to me. The combination of the odor and the thought of these people doing this day in and day out put knots in my stomach, and as we walked on the fumes increased.

Mother and son c0llecting trashThis picture was taken from our balcony. There are people who live collecting trash all over the city, including in the better parts of town. And this system is really in need of a change. Those who do it in the slums obviously are in far dirtier conditions that are very bad for their health.
Boy ’rack picker’At least this boy has some decent (even clean, it looks like) shoes.

When we reached the source of the odor, the sorting area, there were several people going through the trash, separating the plastics and the glass, paper and so on. Most did not even notice that visitors were looking on and they continued their work, bent over at the waist with their pants, or Saris rolled up slightly to expose their bare feet. As we left there, I inquired about the trash situation. Surely there had to be a system that would work better than this one. All over Hyderabad, and probably in other areas of India as well, I have seen vacant lots and road sides strewn with trash of all sorts. It seems that the idea is that someone will come and pick it up. For this reason, the ‘rack-pickers’ fill an important role in the society here, and they are actually needed to live in the city, or the trash would pile up too much. So, the ‘Rack-pickers’ are stuck doing this work and never making enough money to get out of this rotten system, and the wealthy can continue to toss their trash wherever they please. “There has to be a better way!” I thought.
As I was trying to figure out how it could be done, I asked the World Vision guy about any alternative trash ideas. He said that they are currently working on a system where everyone takes their trash outside and it’s picked up by one man with a cart who brings it to the dump. However, as long as those in the slums have no other way to provide for themselves, they will continue to collect the trash, and as long as they do this, people will just throw their trash out anywhere.
I pondered this as we walked into a wide alley with very old two story buildings on each side. This was a busy little haven, and I was told that the dwellers of these buildings were all Muslim and they all sold balloons for a living. Some blew them up, others tied, others made animal shapes and then others (mostly children) went across the city and sold these variously shaped and colored balloons all over. The doctors quickly met someone whom they knew and a group of men quickly gathered to hear what was being said. They were talking about a possible receiver of a wheelchair. CBN recently got about a hundred wheelchairs to give a way, and these men were excited about getting one for this girl.
They carried out of one of the houses, this beautiful little girl, with a broad smile and an old, but nice-looking red dress on. She was probably 10 or so, but it was hard to tell because of how thin her limbs were. You could see that she had lost complete mobility in her legs just by how thin they were, and her arms were not any better. The doctor had her grip two fingers to test her strength and he lifted his hands into the air in the hopes that she would hold on tight enough to hold his hand down. His hand just kept slipping free. The girl’s father encouraged her with passion. Although I didn’t understand the exact words, I know that what he said was something to the effect of, “C’mon honey, show him how strong you are! You can hold on to that hand, it’s important! Don’t let go.”

Girl who contracted Polio through a vaccine.
This is the girl, Bibi is her name. She came to receive the wheel chair yesterday(3-30).

When the doctor’s face surely betrayed his assessment, the father set his little girl down on the ground and told her to show them how she gets around the house. There seemed to be a slight protest from the girl’s mother, who was standing off to the side outside their front door, but the girl, with an ear-to-ear smile, took her right foot, slipped it in a cross legged position over her right thigh, then leaned over, placed her right hand on the ground. She then lifted her weight up on the left leg and her hand and swung her hips forward, sitting on the ground a foot forward. She then moved her leg forward and repeated the motion several times, quickly scooting away sidewise like a sand crab would.
The mother rushed off the front porch to pick up her baby, obviously not approving of the show. I just felt the pain of the father, and the beauty of that girl struck my heart. I could feel the tears coming to my eyes, and I was trying to hold it back. I know I shouldn’t have cared, but I didn’t want to cry in front of this group of men. I lifted my eyes to see if anyone was looking at me, and sure enough, one of those who had gathered to see and hear the conversation was staring at my eyes. He seemed to have been startled at my emotion and just watched me incredulously. I couldn’t communicate much, but I believe that he could see a type of compassion in my tears that displayed the heart of Jesus. Thankfully, these people do know that we are Christians, and there is a lasting work there in this place that they may come to know Him as their Lord.
As we left this place and headed back to the camp, my heart was definitely stirred. It has not ceased to be stirred to this day. God definitely has a desire to see these people know Him. He also desires that their tears be wiped away and that they may live in peace. This will only happen through their salvation spiritually. None the less, He has compassion on all and gives air, food and water to the good and the wicked alike. And, we shall do the same, all the while pleading God to reveal Himself to others who are as undeserving as we were when He saved us.
Please Pray!

As a side note: I recently asked Doctor Rajish if they would bring a wheel chair for the girl and they are going to! I would so much rather see her jump up from that chair and rejoice in the grace of God. But, may God bring glory to His name through this gift!

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