Welcome to the second part of our fourth edition of Bekind Update.This part will continue to focus on Brian and Shane's latest visit to Calcutta on behalf of Bekind Ireland, which took place between May 19th and June 12th 2010.
Back to Nabo
In October 2009, back when we were in Kolkata with the Castleknock Community College group, I met a young man named Probat in Nabo Jibon, one of Mother Teresa’s homes.
This man was more like a feral creature, like a frightened animal, who had been left outside the gates of the home. When you become homeless and destitute on the streets of Calcutta survival is slim.
I remember he had various wounds: a cut and broken wrist which had become infected and infested with maggots, and for me the horror of his face will never leave me as his eyes had also become infected. He was literally being eaten alive due to his destitute state.When you or I get something in our eye like a fly, or a piece of grit, the irritation is annoying, so picture, for a moment, his unbearable pain and discomfort.
He was so agitated, that any gestures of kindness, such as bringing him some food, or a cup or water, were rejected with anger, as he would throw the tin cups on the ground and cower if approached. I have seen this reaction several times with poor unfortunates, who would have been beaten or abused, just like the way a dog would react if you raise your hand to it. His mind was filled with fear and confusion and no doubt his system was “coming down”, from whatever substances he had been abusing.
In May 2010 arriving back to Nabo Jibon, I asked about his condition and Brother Alex brought me to see him. His thumb had been amputated but the wound had healed perfectly. He had regained his sight in one eye and by all accounts had made a great recovery.
For me it was such an uplifting experience, and only made possible by the love and dedication of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in Nabo Jibon, the name meaning “New Life”, and that was what Probat had received, for he was lost and then found, he was blind but now can see. The angry, frightened creature had become meek and gentle and welcomed some attention. Taking my hand and putting it to his face in an act of gratitude, his humanity had been restored and some dignity regained.
Nabo, over the years, has been a very special place for me. It can make you cry and make you laugh, make you despair and fill you with hope. Over the last five years, I have seen the children with special needs grow there. They are now much more physically demanding because of their size. That 8 or 10 year old I once easily carried is now a teenager, and much bigger, and in some cases stronger, but they are still children and love the company of the volunteers, who enter their lives, bringing joy and variety.
Two young American students, Chris and Frank, were there the day Shane and I returned to Nabo. Their college, Anderson University, has been sending student volunteers to various developing countries for several years. Indeed, Shane and I met their group leader, who had travelled to Calcutta with his father 22 years previously. Both of the boys shared their experiences with us and were so honest and open. Big Frank at 6ft 6+ told us how, after witnessing the depth of poverty and deprivation on the first day, went back to his room and cried for hours. Chris told us every minute was worth it as he had never had received so much love from the special needs children and did not want to leave them. But leave they did, as we have done, but it is comforting to know that volunteers return time and time again, year after year, and experience that “Nabo Jibon”, that “New Life”.