Upon driving into this small community I thought we were after driving into a dump as there were large stacks of rubbish everywhere. They covered the whole area. As soon as we got there lots of children appeared, seemingly out of the rubbish. After meeting with the ASMITA team, we started to walk around. As I walked around I saw that the place was many acres in size and all of it was covered in big stacks of rubbish with the odd little living space in between. The living space was basically a shack made out of various waste materials.
I had a camera and this turned out to be a great blessing. Once I started taking photos all the children gathered around me posed for their picture to be taken. Afterwards I would show them their photo on the camera. As I walked more and more kids appeared and joined in for the photos. They never ceased being happy to pose and I was struck by how beautiful and joyful they all were. It didn’t matter how dirty or clean they were, whether they were clothed or just had old ripped underwear on, they were all equally beautiful children. Their smiles lit up my whole world. Beauty and joy just emanated from them. They really showed me that all the “stuff” that fills my life and mind doesn’t mean anything. Everything is inside.
The women of the community prepared and cooked the food. I was very surprised at how patient everybody was while they did this. Only when everything was ready were the kids seated on mats on the ground and given a plate. In my western mind I thought everybody would be clamoring to get fed, but then my mind is full of wants and desires that these people just don’t have. We then served them their food - which was a total joy for me.
A total of 130 children were served across several rounds and all their smiling faces are etched in my memory. Only after this were the adults served, and in total 190 meals were offered. I was also served a meal. It was a privilege that they shared some of their food with me, and it was delicious. That day I experienced such love from everybody that it filled my heart and I still feel it now - engulfing my whole being. I’m very grateful for this love.
With deep gratitude, David O'Grady