Monday, September 8, 2008

The Bartimai Centre for the Blind

This week Alex and I took a trek to visit the Bartimai Center for the Blind. Leading up to our trip to Ahmedabad, I had started to look for something to invest some of my time in while Alex worked here in India. We happened upon the website for the Centre during our search and I soon became in contact with the director of the Centre, Shantijai Khristmukti. He invited us to come visit once we arrived and got settled. We contacted Shantijai when we arrived and found out that we live about 45 minutes from the Center. It was a bit of disappointment as I knew it would be very difficult for me to make that trip often. We still very much wanted to visit and meet the man who I had been very much in contact with.

Ahmedabd is divided into two parts, the New City and the Old City. We live in the New City and the Center is located in the Old City. We gave the directions to Shailesh (our driver) and we were off. About 3 minutes into the drive, he pulled over and motioned that we were there! After a bit of miscommunication and getting some help from our other driver Gamer, we were off again. We arrived in the Old City to find a whole different side of Ahmedabad.

The Sabamarti River divides the New City and the Old City

We weren't too sure what those birds were after... and part of me didn't want to know.

Once we crossed the bridge into the Old City, we found that there aren’t many roads that are paved. Mounds of sand and dirt is about all that there is! I didn’t think our little four-door was going to make it. We had to drive about 5 miles an hour the rest of the way!

We finally arrived at the Centre after a few missed turns and some more miscommunication. Overall it took us about an hour and a half to get there!
Shantijai greeted us warmly and invited us inside. He introduced us to all the kids (about 23 live there now…ages 2-9) and brought us upstairs. They had all the kids sit down and one by one they introduced themselves. They also had the kids sing some songs and recite some verses for us while we were there.

The children are all partially blind or completely blind. Most of the children still have contact with their families and visit them on holidays. We felt very welcomed by them all and what a blessing it was to see the ministry they have here in Ahmedabad. I know I will never forget the smiles on their faces, and the joy in their voices. For ten years now, they have been ministering to these children and it is very evident to see their impact on not only the childrens’ lives, but also their families and the community. We hope to visit some more before we leave and to remain in contact with Shantijai.

1 comment:

The Zimmerman's said...

Hey Pence's! I love hearing about your adventures. Too bad it won't work out at the orphanage, hopefully something else will work out (maybe the local florist?!). =) We miss you at LG!

Big hugs from Annika to her buddy!