Calcutta Project Funded By Monkstown LTC – 2011 Update

       

Dhapa Dump in Kolkata (Calcutta)

Kolkata, or Calcutta as it used to be called, is a massive city in India. It has a population of about 16 million people – which is 3 times the total population of Ireland. Try to imagine everyone in Ireland, all packed into one city – never mind 3 times that many.

Kolkata has some of the worst poverty you can imagine – whole families, thousands of them, are living on the streets, in slums, or beside railway tracks, with no work and no money, no clean water to drink, and begging for food. Disease is a terrible problem.

As well as the families, thousands upon thousands of children live on their own on the streets; these are the street-children of Kolkata.

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 The poor in Kolkata, who have a job, usually work in very dangerous and very dirty conditions, for very little money. Like at one of the thousands of brick kilns – which are brick making factories – where whole families live. The work is backbreaking, the money is bad, and there is no clean water to drink – no toilets, no schools and no medical care. GOAL is working at many of these brick kilns to help the families, especially the women and the children.

Possibly one of the worst places in Kolkata is the Dhapa dump. This is where a lot of the rubbish from the city is piled up by the council. Now a dump in a normal sized city is large, but Kolkata is not a normal city – remember it has 16 million people living in it – so the dump at Dhapa is like a medium-sized mountain. Worse still, in the sweltering heat with all the rotten food and filth, Dhapa is a stinking mountain that you can smell a long time before you see it.  Whole families covered in dirt, are wading through the stagnant water and the rotten food, gathering up stuff to sell. These families never escape the dump, for they live there – in little hovels they’ve built themselves out of wood, cardboard and tin that they’ve found.

There are no toilets, no clean water supply, no doctors or nurses to go to when you’re sick, no school where the children can get an education to help them get a better job when they grow up – nothing but the heat and the stink and the filth for the rest of their lives.

When children grow up and have children of their own, they’ll live at the dump and do the same thing as their parents and grandparents did. And so it goes on forever – except now it doesn’t have to be that way.

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GOAL has moved in to help the people living at Dhapa dump.

They’ve built a multi-purpose centre there, which is used as a health centre and a school. The people can now have their illnesses treated and the children can begin their education. In fact, it isn’t only the children who are being taught, there are adult classes as well for their parents. GOAL has built toilets for the families and drilled wells so they can have clean water to drink and to wash themselves and their clothes in.

The dump in Dhapa is still as big and smelly and full of disease and animals as it always was – and the adults and their children still live there and spend their time hunting through it for things to sell. But at least now, thanks to GOAL, they have toilets and clean water, and there is someone to treat them when they get sick.

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Most important of all, the children are receiving an education, which hopefully will allow them to get jobs away from the dump – which will mean that their children won’t have to grow up there.

 As always, Go raibh mile maith agaibh…..  Stephen

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