After six months of preparation, prayer and fundraising, a team of eight people swapped Ukraine in the depths of freezing winter for Kolkata, in the middle of balmy spring. We were working with Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta for 3 weeks, but this turned out to be too short.
It took us the whole week to go and see all the projects that Emmanuel Ministries are doing. During that week we observed the projects and decided where we wanted to get involved for the next two weeks. We really wanted to participate in most of them, but physically it was impossible. So the projects that we chose were: Pavement club, Red light community center, Boys family orphanage, New Market (Slums) Community and Women's rehab centre.
Our purpose was to teach English, teach Christian truths, come along side local staff and help them in every possible way. And that was what we did for the whole of week two. We gave love and received love. We cried and laughed with those people that we spent our time with during the second week.
When we had just arrived and had our orientation, the founder of EM told us about the history of the organisation. She said that their main principal is that you can't tell a person that Jesus loves him without first showing it to him.
So our team thought that we wanted to do something practical to show God's love to the people that we've been working with in the previous two weeks. We prayed and decided that we would redecorate a Community Centre in the slums. It is a very important place, because there EM does a lot of social projects to help those who live in slums starting with lessons for children, hygiene education for adults and finishing with funerals and weddings!
Another thing was to redecorate a stage wall at the pavement club. This stage is used for lessons, dining and performing. We also decided to spend our evenings with christian young people from the slums and the red light district, leading youth meetings and letting them teach us Indian dancing. Local people were deeply appreciative of what we were doing. They tried to help us in every possible way, to treat us with what ever they had!
One of the things that we also did was to cook a Ukrainian meal for 50 people in the men's rehab center. They were amazed that white people would do something like that for them!
Most of the things that we did in Kolkata we did not prepare or plan to do in advance. God's love was overflowing through us and we wanted to materialise it, so God gave us such opportunity each day! We knew that it was God who loved people through us and did all those things that now seem so crazy,. But they were the things that God used to show Indian people that He loves them! It was great to see God at work!
Now, for all of our team, it is hard not to think about coming back! So we pray and start to plan the next trip!
Progress can be followed through: