Stories from Dukharpur

I volunteered in July 2016. I heard of IIMC in my first week of medical school, but the dream of actually going came later. I became very interested in the winter of 2015/2016 and I decided to apply, joined IIMC Linköpings board, and started sponsoring a child. One of the many things I was looking forward to, in addition to discovering a new country and culture as well as helping people in need, was to meet the child I was sponsoring. However, this ended up being trickier than anticipated.

Dipbendu and his family lives in the small village of Dukharpur. I had a fever the first time that I had planned to go see him and couldn’t go for that reason. For my second attempt I went by train with some other volunteers also going to meet their sponsor children and their families. We bought some gifts to the kids we were about to meet, such as coloring books, pens, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. I got to Dipbendus family and got to meet his little brother, parents, and grandfather that all lived together in a small house. Unfortunately, Dipbendu was still in school when I got there, and did not make it back home before we had to leave for the train taking us back to the Indoor Clinic. I finally got to see him one week later during the Swedish Sponsor Day of that summer, a day when all children sponsored by Swedes were invited to the Indoor Clinic. Initially, he was a bit shy, but became more affectionate as the day full of games, singing, and painting progressed.

It was such an amazing experience to get the opportunity to meet your own sponsor child and his family and to see how they live. What it actually looks like there and how these people live is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The living conditions in these areas is something that you are very aware of back in Sweden, but it is too abstract and distant to fully understand. My insight and understanding of the situation was greatly improved after seeing it with my own eyes, giving me the ability to relate this to real people.

My initial time in India was quite strenuous. The heat made me lose all my energy and I sweated copiously. The humidity made it impossible for clothes to dry so they started to mold. The dirt got everywhere and the lack of proper hygiene was tough. The loud environment, mainly caused by traffic noise, gave me a constant headache for the first few days. The traffic was insane and I thought it would kill me initially. But these are all things you get used to after only a few weeks, and it’s something that I also learned to love during my time in Kolkata. Once the culture shock subsides you realize how friendly and helpful people are. It was a fantastic trip that I learned a lot from and it is something that I definitely would recommend others to do as well.

Volunteer with child

A child and a volunteer.

Emelie Sandelius
IIMC Volunteer July 2016