Our last day in Kolkata we had to get up earlier than the other days because we were supposed to be leaving at 830 to go to Mahima home. We were all also moving into one hotel room because we had to check out of the other ones but we wanted to keep one to be able to get ready in that night. Our driver was running late but it all ended up working out fine. Mahdu was coming with us again and I was really happy about getting to spend some more time with her. She is really so awesome. Chris got to come with us to Mahima because they allow men to come and volunteer. We were not going to the same home as last year but the transition home instead and all the girls from the girl home were being brought over. It took about an hour to get there from our hotel because of traffic and the small roads. There were some of the same girls that were there last year and a few of them remembered Julia and I.
Julia’s friend Kari who used to live in Kolkata and work at Mahima had made a quilt that she sent back with us, along with a card. Julia showed the quilt and read the card for all the girls. Julia didn’t know what the card said or anything but it turned out that it was a total tear-jerker and almost all the girls were crying or tearing up because they love and miss her being there.
We started by doing the quilt squares, which they seemed to really enjoy. They were all so talented and almost all of them were stitching and doing beading that was really just so impressive. It was really so cool to watch and be a part of. Because we had some left over, the 5 of us got to do a square as well. I had never sewn before but I decided that I wanted to do my initials and it was really so much harder than I imagined it would be. The attitude and atmosphere in the home is just so much different than Sanlaap. I knew that Mahima was better than any of the other homes but it is just really shocking seeing it again. Mahima would be more like Wellspring than any of the other ones. The girls were sharing their beads and not hoarding them all, and they could more so be trusted with the needles and voluntarily came up to us and gave them back. It was just a totally different experience for sure.
We had some lunch at the home after the quilt squares. I can honestly say it was the best meal I had while in India. It was just really tasty but not super spicy (my favorite kind of Indian food)…and in addition to that we had some Indian style French fries. The hospitality that we were shown not only at this home but everywhere that we went was just so much more than needed but so kind.
The next craft we did was the dream catchers and some of the dreams that the girls put were really cool to read. One girl put that she wanted to work for the IJM office when she was an adult. I thought that so really moving and another different between those girls and the girls at the other home. They are given so much more attention and not as starved for love as it seems Sanlaap is. I think they really liked the dream catchers…and really both activities that we did with them.
When we had finished them both we decided to go ahead and tie the quilt together and do a reveal for the girls. They seemed to really love getting to see it all together and it looked so awesome to see all their work in the quilt. We had them do 2 squares each so that they could keep one and we could take one back to the states to make a quilt.
Probably my favorite part of the day involved being able to give the things that the girls at Wellspring had done for them and being able to share some of what I do with those girls there. I didn’t hand out the things, but just read through the poster that one of the girls made and the girls really seemed to love it. The poster just said some things about how even though they didn’t know them how they understood and were going through the same thing. A few of the girls were crying and it was just such an amazing time. The girls told me to tell the girls in Atlanta that they loved them too and to try and keep in touch. I loved being able to link together the issue in a domestic and international sense because it definitely combines my passions for the issue. They asked me questions about Wellspring and it was nice to be able to share some of my knowledge with them about what I do and why I love it. I obviously had a translator for the whole thing because the girls only know a small amount of English, and I wanted to make sure they understood what it was that they were getting. We decided also that the quilt that we were taking back to the states was going to be given to the girls at Wellspring because they wanted to be able to do something for them and that turned out to be a perfect way. It really all just made my heart so happy, and it was all such a sweet moment.
After all of that we were all pretty spent and just really so thankful for the day and really humbled for being able to be there with those girls and hang out with them for some time. We left and headed towards a place that Mahdu wanted to show us, that was another place for shopping near where she lived. So we went to this local place called Sienna that is all locally made. From there we parted ways with Mahdu until later in the night and we headed to Anohki for our last “event” of the trip. It was one of my favorite places to go in the mall for things last year and it is just such a cute store. We spent some time in there and then got some coffee…I actually got an iced chai latte, which was amazing (though not as good as the sundae). We headed to dinner from there because it was right across the street. We went to this place called Kewpies. I hadn’t been there before but we essentially got this feast of a meal that consisted of about a million small little bowls that had all sorts of things in it and of course we had rice and poori and it was really a great end to the trip both location and food wise.
From dinner we got our driver to bring us back to the hotel and we all took turns taking showers and finishing up packing. Julia and I went first because she had wanted to go get henna and see Khushboo. So we went to her house and she was there with her family and she was so sweet…she gave both Julia and I presents and of course some food. She was mad that we hadn’t come the previous day, which we both felt really bad about but time had run out and we had not been able to make it happen. I had written her a note with my number on it so that she could keep in touch if she wanted. We asked her if she wanted to go to get henna with us and we were meeting Kelly and Leslie so we could all go together. The 5 of us went to get a cab and we went to ghariahut to get it done and they were closed but they said they would do it for 400 rupees for just one hand…well clearly Khushboo was having none of that so she was just talking and we were walking away and then after much bargaining by our awesome friend, she got them to do all 4 of our palms for just 400 rupees total. Even then Khushboo was unhappy that we were paying that much for it all. She does not like that Indians always try so much to rip off westerners and she definitely tries to let that not happen when we are with her. It was a fun experience to be with her again though, especially because we had to leave shortly after that.
When we got back to the hotel we had to say goodbye to her and then get all our stuff ready to go to the airport. It was a relatively quite trip to the airport as well as waiting for our flight. I was really hyper before we got on the plane but once we got in our seat (Julia and I were in the very last row on that flight) I was asleep before we even took off and I slept for about 4 hours and then on and off for the next 2. I was clearly in need of sleep.
We had about a 4 hour layover in Germany where we did some picture swapping, and ate at Mcdonalds. We were all pretty tired and ready to get back. The flights were not bad though and they went by relatively quickly (most likely because there was so much sleeping going on).
The quilt Kari made for the girls at Mahima
Our awesome quilt squares
letters for the girls at the home
The finished quilt the girls made
Our final indian meal