There’s a neighborhood across the street from the American Embassy School – a city block of striking poverty surrounded by embassy property.  It’s best described as a slum, I suppose, or jhuggi, in Hindi.  Some stories tie the beginning of the jhuggi to the workers who helped build the school 50 years ago.  This is where they camped, and stayed, and gave birth to a few generations of beautiful, sometimes struggling, faces.  The school reaches out to the children in the colony in many ways – there are English classes, a weekly after-school camp, an on-site library – this, and more to be a good neighbor.

When I discovered that some of the women who work at the construction site on the school grounds lived across the street, I decided to walk through the colony that I had passed every day and ignored for nearly three years.

It was mid-day on a Friday and the sidewalks were buzzing with children, most home from school during exam season.  I talked with anyone who spoke English, and gestured through conversations with anyone who didn’t.   I walked through narrow alleys, into homes, around corners, onto roofs.

Here’s a peek:  (Sadly, I’ve lost clarity in export…  will tweak when I return from a trip down to Madhya Pradesh.  Stay tuned for how my children respond to the temples at Khajuraho!)

3 thoughts on “Neighbors”

  1. theo, i used to walk amongst the poverty in delhi too and it is so easy to get used to it. however, not a day goes past since we have left India that i don’t think about that poverty and wonder how i can address the balance.

  2. I am learning that in some places, poverty doesn’t necessarily equate to sadness here. The children in these photos were loved and happy; they had each other and their families; they were going to school; and most important, they had dreams of very possible futures. It’s not like this for many in India, and injustice screams here. The imbalance, yes, is haunting. Thanks for reading, K.

  3. You are so right Theo. When the children were at Sanskriti School, I remember thinking that the light shone far brighter in the eyes of the children, who came in the afternoon from the neighbouring ‘colonies’ than in the eyes of the ‘privileged’ children of government ministers, who attended the school in the morning and were only ever met at the gates by ayahs or drivers.

    The photos are amazing, really captures the spirit of where hope lies in India.

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