When Thomas and Iris were here the last time, they wanted to take some pictures with the children of our school. We are running our German charity organization together with them and we always need some pictures for one or the other purpose. We took a big group picture and then also agreed with one of the girls of our school that we would visit her at home and take some pictures there. Ramona, Purnendu, Thomas and Iris went and they came back in a quite thoughtful mood. Let me explain you what Ramona told me about the events of that day.
They had started without knowing what to expect. Ramona knows Priya from our school where she is in the UKG, one of the pre-school classes. She is eleven years old and in school usually happy and jolly. They knew that her family lived in a rented home and that she had two sisters but not much more than that. When they arrived in the street and found the home where neighbours said Priya was living in, they were surprised: the door was opened by a young man who brought them into a kind of entrance room, simple but well-furnished with decoration on the wall. The man asked them to wait and not much later Priya came into the room. She shyly greeted everyone and then asked them to come along. They walked through a staircase upstairs and with every floor they passed they realized that they had actually entered a house like an apartment building in which the house owners had rented out rooms to other families. They climbed three floors up until they were on the roof.
There were another three rooms and the middle one was the one that Priya led them to. If I would like to cut the story short, I would just tell you that they met Priya’s mother and sisters, sat down for a photo, distributed the lollipops that they had brought and left again. The photo can be seen above, you have an impression of how one of our children lives and that’s it. But that’s exactly not it and the point which made Ramona and the others so thoughtful: this photo cannot express the whole situation of Priya’s family.
The photo does not show that this room, maybe four meters by three meters, is the living room, bedroom, kitchen and playing place for the whole family, for all five people. The picture doesn’t show that the room is on the roof of the house, where the sun burns down to and where at 48 degrees centigrade the air in the room will be close to boiling as it does not even have a fan. The picture doesn’t show that Priya’s younger sister is death-mute and handicapped on top of it, unable to walk, talk or hear. And you cannot see that Priya’s mother works in several places so that she and her husband can afford food, clothing and maybe from time to time a doctor’s visit or something for the household. In exchange for being able to live there, she cleaned the complete house as well. You don’t see either that in times when both mother and father are out, Priya’s elder sister, herself only 14 years old, takes care of her two sisters.
When you look at the photo, you see a clean room, of course full of utensils but everything nicely stacked in the corner, the clothes of the girls simple but clean, the hair neatly braided. They take care of cleanliness and hygiene, the children laugh and play, this is their home, this is their family, this is what they know. Priya’s mother is happy that Priya can go to our school for free and comes home with warm lunch in her belly.
There are times when a picture cannot tell the full story and cannot tell more than a thousand words.