Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tong-Len Charity

Hey Everybody,

So during this trip in India we have witnessed a lot of poverty, much worse than anything I have ever see at home.  Yes, there are homeless people in America and they deserve our help too, but the number of beggars and their condition is much worse here.  It has also been strange just traveling around witnessing the poverty, without really being able to help; we have felt sort of useless in the face of a tragedy.  However, the past couple days we have visited the Tong-Len charity and have been able to actually help out some.  First we visited a hostel where kids from the slums have come to live, and they receive proper healthcare and a good education.  These kids are from the lowest castes, which was culturally thought to be less intelligent than higher castes, but they have proved that wrong.  In fact, students educated at Tong-Len hostels have ranked very high in nationally standardized tests, even 12th in India, and blown away that prejudicial thinking.  The hostel kids were just amazing to play with, they really wore us out.  They were so light and easy to pickup, but after about the thousandth time I started to feel it, not that I minded whatsoever, it felt even better to see their smiles.

The next day we went to the nearby slum that the hostel kids were pulled out of, and that was a difficult scene to take in.  It was way more intense than just seeing the poor people on the streets, there was a whole community of almost a thousand people, packed in way too tight with barely anything.  Their homes were like tent/shacks and there was just not any real space to live.  We walked down to the school tent, which was erected by East Carolina students on this trip a couple years ago, and watched one of their classes.  I was really surprised at how studious the kids were, as each would walk in, say "Hello mam," and sit down and get right to work.  They were not even distracted by the visitors, they just seemed happy to be in class.  Their condition was worse than those living in the hostel, but hopefully the Tong-Len charity can grow and serve more people.  Besides the hostels Tong-Len provides healthcare to the slums, and will even travel to other slums to set up daily clinics.  Also, to run a one of those clinics for a day it only costs them $150, and they can improve the lives of a lot of really poor with just that small sum.  There are organizations in Greenville that currently do fundraisers for Tong-Len health programs, and I have a feeling that college organizations could contribute to that too.  We all left definitely wanting to help more, so maybe we will have that opportunity.  If you are interested in more information about the charity visit Tong-Len.org, thanks for reading.


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