It is not enough. It is never enough. 18 hours a day is not enough. Three, thirteen or thirty-three months are not enough. Maybe a lifetime or two. Here, nobody comes. It is even hard to know the address. No politicians, no David Cameron, no Angela Merkel will ever come to visit. The public opinion does not care. But everybody cares about cheap t-shirts and cheap shoes. Here you meet their producers, sewing, dyeing and cutting your clothes for a salary that is no salary at all. Your technological equipment, long abandoned for a much newer version lives on here. the children of the slum are picking garbage and electronic scrap has quite a bit of value. It is quite surprising that the slum is such a big garbage pit for European waste and not as all angry men and women, who write to me assume, a consequence of Indian disarray. Since Independence in 1947 there has been no famine in India. In the slum you will not find pictures of nearly starved to death bodies or children sitting apathetically on the ground with flies in their eyes. In the slum you will see women, children and men who are constantly hungry, who do not the know feeling of being not hungry and who are malnourished. It is quite commonplace to see a family, who eats nothing than boiled chickpeas, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No, nothing goes with the chickpeas. Just chickpeas. Hunger is an endemic phenomenon. The numbers vary but in the slum it is not 30 or 50 percent, it is 100 percent of all children, who are underweight. And yes hunger is a bigger threat for children in India than for those in subsaharan Africa. Maternal underweight leads to the consequence that I never, not even once saw a baby born that was not underweight. A striking feature of the persistence of this situation is the public attention it gets. It doesn’t get any. Poverty is dangerous state, most people in the slum are unable to afford a gas cylinder , where they can cook on, still many people use wood fire and most often it is the children, who have to tend the fire, day after day burns have to be treated. The most common diseases in the slum are all hunger and hygiene related, diarrhea is one of the highest killers of newborn babies and the spread of inflectional diseases is unsurprisingly closely related. there are no toilets, no sewage, no garbage collection and there is no clean, meaning filtered water. Electrocution due to unsafe electricity lines and unearthed plugs is a second and massive threat. Stray dogs and most often aggressive monkeys are a threat for those, who sleep outside on the streets of the slum. No it is not like in the movies. And yes at least three times a day I want to leave. There are not such things as easy solutions and often it feels as if I am pouring water on simmering hot stones. Of course nothing I do is right. Of course I surrounded by experts, who know everything and do know everything better, just because they eat Chicken Tikka once a week. From one side I get angry emails accusing me that I waste the honest taxpayer’s money on Indian streets. They angrily shout and bark at me for them the children are thieves, the men tricksters and the women mixture of both. I am and this a direct quote ” am a nasty piece of sh*t that works on the downfall of civilization.” The other side and both sides have much time to write lengthy epistles accuse me of a want to show off, to suppress the people even further though my mere presence and to represent white dominance and of course would do this anyway to click good-looking pictures of myself. If I would not be so tired I would laugh heartily at them and envy their simplistic view on the world. In reality I always look wrecked and sweaty, in reality it is a painstaking attempt not to give up, not to be overwhelmed by problems and their complexity, to think things through under enormous pressure, to cash in own money for years because development aid and projects for women and children are always, always, always under threat. It is frustrating and means a lot of talking with the people living in the slums, it means being thrown into conflicts between religions, between outbreaks of violence and again and again trying not to drown in a lake of hopelessness. It means listening and listening and listening again. No, I do not expect any thankfulness. I am still a firm believer that every woman, every child, every man counts. One world for all of us.
Thanks to all of you, who have been reading and commenting the Delhi Diary, I felt in very good company with all of you, I felt braver and happier and very much grateful that you accompanied me on my way. Namasté
Ihnen allen, die Sie meine Zeit in Delhi begleitet haben, mein herzlichster Dank. Ich habe mich wohlbegleitet gefühlt, all Ihre Kommentare gerne und wieder gelesen, und mich sehr gefreut, das mit kommen wollten nach Delhi und in einen Slum in der Mitte der großen Stadt. Namasté.
Now in bed for at least a week or so.