Ellora Mukherjee and her father, Dr Kausik Mukherjee, recently visited Panditya Creche and Gariahat NabaAsha in Kolkata. Ellora returned to Gariahat NabaAsha for a second visit and spent a few more hours there. Here Ellora writes about her experience of visiting the projects and the lasting impression it has made visiting the young children in HOPE’s care.
The first thing I saw upon the entrance of the creche in Gariahat was a pile of tiny shoes. All the shoes were different colours, some for boys, some for girls, but they were similar in the fact they were all small. The idea that these shoes belonged to so many vulnerable children filled me with the kind of feeling that stays with you for some time.
I braced myself upon entering.
However, when I entered, my apprehension was met with the widest of smiles and the brightest of eyes. Eyes that showed nothing but joy, despite what they may or may not have seen, and smiles that seemed to ask for nothing in return.
Spending time with the children I could see how well they were looked after by HOPE. Everyone happy, well-behaved and they seemed to enjoy their time singing nursery rhymes and learning numbers. I especially cherish the time when a young boy came up to me excited to show how well he could write the alphabet. So I sat there with him as he laboriously wrote out the English alphabet, pausing only once to redo the ‘f’ which was written backwards. It was quite the understandable mistake.
When I went to the study drop-in site on Fern Road I experienced something unforgettable. The strong desire of every one of the children to learn was overwhelming. Where I am used to kids fighting for the TV remote, here, there was the fight to be first in line to ask for a new sum to complete. I would sit in amongst the students for as long as I could giving out sums and sentences to copy out. This would have continued endlessly as every student had a love for learning. Being academic myself, I felt honoured to contribute even slightly to the education of the young students.
One time there was a young girl who couldn’t find her pen, so I handed her mine to borrow. Soon after, multiple students proceeded to ask me for pens as well. I only had one pen. The next day I returned with 40 pens hoping to make up for not having them last time.
There was so much potential present, and I could see that every time I entered the creche and the drop in site, this continued to grow. HOPE has evidently provided unparalleled support and I feel lucky to have been able to witness this. Although this was my first visit, I know for sure this will not be my last.
When I left the creche on the last day, I walked past those tiny shoes once again. All the smallest shoes belonging to the kids with the biggest hearts.
– Ellora Mukherjee, HOPE supporter