Time in slums an ‘eye-opener’

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SARAH AR­GYLE

Show­er­ing in the jun­gle with only a cup and bucket was an ‘‘eye­open­ing’’ ex­pe­ri­ence for a woman who spent two weeks vis­it­ing the slums.

Tear Fund com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Helen Man­son has just re­turned from a whirl­wind ad­ven­ture to In­dia and Bangladesh. Mrs Man­son im­mersed her­self in the slums in Delhi and worked along­side an or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides med­i­cal care to fam­i­lies and ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties to their chil­dren.

Dur­ing her trip she fol­lowed the lives of two 7-year-old girls.

The first happy and healthy girl had an ed­u­ca­tion, lived in a house with a con­crete floor and had em­ployed par­ents. The other girl worked as a ‘‘rag picker’’, spend­ing her days col­lect­ing tiny shards of me­tal from a trash dump be­fore at­tempt­ing to sell them for money.

Mrs Man­son says de­spite be­ing the same age the girls have a po­lar-op­po­site out­look on life. She says the high­light of her trip was be­ing able to see the dif­fer­ence be­tween a slum she had worked in and one she had not.

‘‘It might sound weird that some­thing like this would be my high­light but know­ing and see­ing we can ac­tu­ally make a vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence is such a re­ward.’’

Mrs Man­son says she was the first white­skinned woman most peo­ple had seen.

‘‘Wher­ever we went we were fol­lowed by a small mob of 100-200 peo­ple.

‘‘I found the ex­pe­ri­ence a world away from my day to day life and an eye-open­ing in­sight into how the other half live,’’ Mrs Man­son says.

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