Written by Terry Desmond
I was very interested in going as I've never visited such a place before, so right there and then we decided to go. On our long journey there, Sam told me a little about the place; a Mr. Raja set up an organisation called New Ark Mission of India and had set up this community called The Home of Hope, where they accommodate and help to re-build the lives of those poor and unfortunate people who are left to die on the streets; the place accommodates the terminally ill, elderly as well as children - although they live in separate housings.
About three-quarters of the way, we stopped off at a stall as Sam suggested we bring them some food. So I gave him 100rs to go towards some bread rolls off which we got thirty of. We then made the rest of the journey there.
Once we arrived, we made our way to the office. There were a lot of elderly residents about; some just wandering and socialising, and some were sitting and sleeping on the floor. One woman grabbed my arm then shook and help my hand asking where I came from. She just smiled at me once I told her that I am from England. We didn't have to wait to long for Mr. Raja to come and greet us. Sam introduced me to him and then they talked for a brief time. Sam then told me that because they are over 150 elderly residents there, we should go over to the orphanage and hand the bread to the children. Before we left, he told me that most of the elderly residing there are terminally ill. Having worked in a nursing home before, I could tell.
A young woman (it sounded like her name was similar to Erika?) and a pet dog escorted us to where the orphanage is. Some of children were outside playing and, unlike the elderly residents, didn't pay me any mind at all. We handed over the bags of bread rolls over to a staff member who then shouted for all the children to come and handed the rolls out to them. Evidently they were hungry as they all pushed and shoved one another, hurdled around the staff member to get their fair share. I noticed that most of the children had had their hair shaved off, so curious as to know why, I asked Sam why that was. He told me it's because when they are found on the streets, they are very dirty and often have lice and ticks, so the staff shave their hair to keep them clean, hygienic and, of course, to stop the pests from spreading. And with that question answered, I just smiled at the children greedily shoving the bread in to their mouths.
We didn't stay too long, unfortunately, and headed back to where he parked his bike just outside where the elderly stay. Due to the large number of residents, it is hard to accommodate and feed them all as they just don't have the funds nor the resources for everybody there. And this was very depressingly evident as just as we started to drive off, I heard an elderly lady shout out, "Please come back, sir. I'm hungry."
Those words echoed through my head for rest of the evening. It's very sad to hear as you can imagine. It's times like that I just wish had millions in my bank account because, for sure, I would go back and make sure they are all fed for the rest of their lives, and have plenty enough resources so they could sustain themselves too. I also thought about the NHS and how a lot of care homes in the UK and the staff that work in them get a lot of flak and negativity in the press; at least they all get fed, have beds to sleep on, get medication etc. Sure, mess ups happen. But surely not to the extent where residents are deprived of necessities in life. And for the record, most care staff are hard workers if you ask me.