Saturday, 19 September 2015

The magic of a smile

A month ago I had the chance to visit the different centers of EduCARE and when I arrived to Paro, in Punjab, and we walked by the migrant camp, I instantly fell in love with Yjoti, a little boy of one year and a half that was crying in the arms of his young mother. When we approached to the tents made of bamboo and plastic, all the children run to us to introduce themselves with big smiles on their faces, even though they barely spoke English. One of them got my attention when she pretended to be angry and crying with a tousled wig on her head and asked for a photo. Two seconds after clicking the button, Paravati was laughing. 

Paravati pretending that she's crying for the photo

The migrant community in Paro works as trash pickers and wake up really early in the morning to collect plastic bottles that can be sold in order to get some money to buy food for the day. The girls, unfortunately, do not go to school since they are needed in this arduous task. While other children are running on the schoolyard or learning Hindi, math and English in high school, girls like Paravati work everyday under the Punjabi sun, carring big bags of trash and suffering the unbearable humid heat of the region. I frankly have to admit that, despite coming from a hot region in Spain, the heat in Punjab was too much for me. I was sweating through every single pore in my skin during the whole day and the only thing I wanted was to lay down under a fan and work from there. 

Yjoti, Sonia and me

So when the next day in the afternoon the children from the migrant camp welcomed us again with a big smile and willing to do some activity, I felt grateful and it made me realised that heat cannot be a reason to hold us back, because it was not holding them back from spending some time with us. That day we did mhendi, henna tattoos, with the girls and we took thousands of pictures with our cameras. Yjoti, the little baby, was also there with his mom, Sonia, a young girl of 19 years old. I decided to start playing with Yjoti so Sonia could participate in the activity with the rest of the girls and do some henna to the younger girls. Probably, they do not have access to henna every day and that is why they were all so exited about it. 

The girls happily showing the henna design

And then I realized, looking at those girls and at the little Yjoti, that I was also smiling, a sincere smile that I hadn’t shown in a long time. And then I realized that it’s true, that you can be happy with less and that happiness is not the fancy cars that go around the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Delhi or all the clothes that we can afford to buy back in Europe. Those kids without anything were happy because we were there, because we were all having fun and because for a couple of hours they were not thinking about the unbearable heat and the arduous job of the next day.

Me with Yjoti while the girls were doing henna

Laura Sabater Zamora - Spain
Communications coordinator, Maiti (HP)

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