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Being busy does not escape being poor

11 February 2011

Field Blog from Johannes Jenkner – a Paper Kite volunteer in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

My first impression of India is that people are very busy. The streets are full of people and they all run around minding their business. My friend in Delhi told me that people love their work and they work late hours. In other words, their work sometimes might not be as efficient as in other countries, but they are very devoted and dedicate a lot of time to their work.

At the train station in Patna, there was a woman with her 4 or 5 year old daughter. She let her daughter present some acrobatics while she played the drums. I am sure they do it all the time to get some money in order to survive. On the train, I was placed in the comfort class, but it was still the oldest train coach I have ever sat in. A girl wiped the floor of the coach with a binding of leaves and then asked for some rupee coins, which is just a few cents.

I got a similar picture when I arrived in Bodhgaya where our orphanages are situated. The main streets are packed with people, monks on the way to one of the numerous temples, rickshaw drivers offering a ride, people buying their daily needs and a lot of beggars. People seem to enjoy what they are doing, but they have to do most things from scratch. Bricks for construction are fabricated in the fields around Bodhgaya from a special kind of clay. Metal is processed at multiple places in the streets. We went to one of those places to buy a metal box for the Sunway orphanage. The idea is that each child there has a box for personal items. A lot of trading and bargaining is done at the farmer’s market in Gaya. We went there to buy vegetables and fruit for the Sunway orphanage. People take their time there to check the quality of the products and then to discuss the price. It is very busy though, and you can barely stand still, because people are pushing from all sides.

In summary, I have to say that most people are really eager here to make something out of their lives. However, the conditions are very poor and people have to work hard just to have a small home with brick walls that they share with multiple family members. The poorest still live in simple cottages made from cotton. I do not want to imagine how those homes look like when it rains. The people deserve support from abroad and they might acknowledge it a lot. Paper Kite invests in children who will make up the next generations of Indian people in Bihar. So we can hopefully contribute a tiny bit to offer Bihar a more prosperous future.

Johannes Jenkner

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