Last month I had the privilege of travelling to Mumbai and spending 4 days working alongside various Vision Rescue teams. We went on the Vision Rescue buses with the crew who visit some of the city's poorest areas to serve families who live and work there. Amidst scenes of unending waste, pollution and poverty that many families call home, I also witnessed how these big yellow buses brought an indescribable light and hope! Etched in my memory permanently is that moment when the bus would turn around the corner, children running alongside the bus, laughter and screams of joy. It brought out vibrant colours of a community, a painful and almost surreal contrast of radiant beauty amidst ever present scenes of waste and poverty.
In the oppressive heat of the city, children as young as three years old would gather outside the bus, holding their metal plates and bowls, bright eyed, smiles curling at the corners of their mouths, laughter rippling into roaring cheeky grins. In that moment, I understood why day after day the Vision Rescue staff and volunteers wake up at the crack of dawn passionate to serve, even if for that one child to have one nutritious meal that day or to hurry back to their family to share a plate of curry and rice, to go home having learnt something new. It means that for that day that one child would feel cared for and go home knowing they are valued. Vision Rescue give food, informal education, sporting activities, medical and dental care but above all they bring hope and empowerment.
On another day we visited the "red light district" of Mumbai which was incredibly heart-breaking, not least to see so many children running around in the area. As we drove down small lanes, women were being howled at, appointments with men being fixed. Many women, due to their occupation were mothers to unwanted sons and daughters. The stories of children sleeping under the beds while their mothers were working, are heart-breaking and beyond imagination to us but everyday reality for them. Right in the back streets of Grant Road, a notorious street, Vision Rescue have created an alcove of light and hope in the form of a Day-care Centre. Here, staff and teachers take children under their wing, give them non-formal education, encouragement and just love them and place value on them. They fight back for those children's right to live their childhood, they meet with the mothers, to counsel them and bring dignity through the simple act of care and love in its purest form.
Vision Rescue's family work is from a perspective of basic human rights, not just charity, meaning that every child has the right to education, food and medical attention. They work to restore dignity for people who have been marginalized and outcast through various circumstances. They provide a safe place for victims of abuse. It's a hand up, not a hand out. By starting with the one child, it has the potential to change the course of one child, a whole family, a community, for generations to follow. Vision Rescue are in the middle of building a place that could house and care for 96 minors who have been trafficked and rescued and offer a place of safety and restoration. We visited a current location where six girls who have been rescued are now thriving and whose lives are being restored under the care of the Vision Rescue team.
It has been an amazing and unforgettable trip, a humbling experience and one that has inspired me to do more to promote and support this amazing organization's work. Katy XX