Maximilian Schroff – Weekly Report No.2
My second week in India hasn’t exactly made it easier for me to decide upon a topic of my second report. I attempt not to exclude any important information and since I wrote very little about personal experience last week, I will simply summarize my highlights of the last two weeks together.
First of all I would like to start with the 180° turn of my everyday life. Mainly this simplicity, such as not having a shower, but using a bucket and rag or the fact that most of your time you are running around barefoot or that you only eat with your right hand or that you live so close to nature that all kinds of animals from ants to huge spiders to even one meter long snakes can encounter you, this is what makes the difference. This also includes the football matches on a real ‘hard pitch’ and with goals that are marked with bricks and stones.
And this already extremely exciting everyday life got even more exciting by the smaller trips I did. One day at 06:00 I have observed local fishermen going with their small wooden boats on the open sea and then coming back to throw the fresh fish on the sandy soil to immediately begin with the sale. But I have also seen completely untouched beaches, which are not comparable in their beauty. Saw the complete opposite, when I went in the tourist areas, where are hundreds of people, even though it is low season. It is that typical Asian tourist image: Much show for little money.
However, for those shows I didn’t come here, but rather for the show on the street. One example is that, although I am German, I already feel uncomfortable with 50km/h, because there are indeed rules, but only about 20% follow them and of the remaining 80% are 30% totally crazy. Moreover there are many construction sites, but of course without any protection or barriers.
But all this with such a joy of life and always a smile on their face, that you forget this mess for a moment and realize that these people are happy with this simplicity. This image is particularly strong in St.John’s, because here people have much less and still, 24 hours a day they laugh and are happy. And the longer I’m here, the more I realize that Father Jose has a very rare personality. He puts his own needs behind everything and gives everything for his job. Best example is that he transfers his entire salary to the church, just because love means more to him then money.
At this point I also have to tell what happened last Saturday. It was the Independence Day in India and thus everybody had free to celebrate. In the afternoon, I was sitting together with some children, when a young woman with the saddest face I have ever seen walked past us. In the evening there was a relatively big festival in the village church with a holy Mass, singing, dancing and a dinner together. Here were gathered all the children from St. John’s and 25 families from the surrounding area; even Hindus and Muslims (at least to the performances and dinner) came. And then Father Jose told me that today a young Muslim woman (23, exactly the woman I saw earlier) came to him and asked him for help. Because her whole family has died of HIV infection and that she couldn’t work anymore because she got too weak. And as St. John’s is the only home that accommodates HIV infected, Father Jose could not refuse help. He said that these special cases particularly touch him and he always wants to help. And so it came that now a young Muslim is living and getting medication in a Catholic institution for two months, so she doesn’t have to suffer the same fate as the rest of her family.
And that makes me very proud to contribute a very small part to this wonderful work.
Greetings from India,