Longtime friends, students in Lille and Paris, we went on a voluntary trip to the Pilgrims of Charity in Calcutta in July. And what a trip! Leaving with many expectations, joy but also a slight apprehension facing this leap into the unknown, we return the head full of great memories!
First, we discovered an association on a human scale, where we were immediately integrated, and which is tremendously managed by Brother François-Marie. Then, we spent a month with a team of eight young Indians coming to discover a potential vocation of brother. Despite differences in culture, and our difficulties in communicating through language, we have managed to weave a wonderful relationship through laughter, mimicry, singing and dancing. We can not count the good times shared together in the evening at the apartment, during our excursion to Krishnanagar at the FBA and the next day when we were received at Akash, or even during dressing. We also had some very strong moments at Sealdah Station and the nearby slum, where we provided first aid. We met some great Indians, so dignified and happy despite their rudimentary material conditions. We also animated the "non formal school" created by the Brother, for the children of the station, during moments of complicity and sharing very strong. The "Macarena dance" and other board games at the apartment remain for us indelible memories. The Brother also introduced us to numerous partner associations, such as a leprosarium for missionaries of charity, a center for the disabled or a hospital, which allowed us to apprehend the partners of the association in a more global way, discover the richness of humanitarian aid in Calcutta and the goodness of heart of its actors. These moments will remain forever etched in our minds. The madness of India, the joy of the Indians, the smiles of the slum dwellers and their inexorable joie de vivre are just some of the things that make us think that we have learned a lot more than we have helped with this kind of volunteering. The mission of François-Marie, his extreme sympathy and his determination to any test made this possible and magical. We will never thank him enough, and will come back to him as soon as possible!