Last December I wrote a piece in Digital Journal about Andrea (27) and Luca (31) Bonventre, Italian cousins I met at St. Jude Childcare Centre in Mumbai. I was happy to meet them once more for a repeat performance at St. Jude’s in Kolkata.
Not much had changed since I’d last seen them. Andrea’s hair was noticeably longer and they had a new guest passenger (Luca’s girlfriend). The Fiat was showing a little more wear and tear from their meanderings from Mumbai to Kolkata, but this could have been due to a much needed car wash. Otherwise, the duo were in high spirits and looking forward to wrapping up their visa applications so they could continue their road trip outside India to Japan.
For many, the road trip of a lifetime — a projected one-year trip that would have made Jack Kerouac and Marco Polo envious — would be enough to tackle without adding the complications of visiting children non-profits. But I didn’t witness any weariness on their parts when it came time to entertain the children of St. Jude once again. If anything, they were invigorated by the children and their efforts to draw their dreams, a ritual undertaken at every official stop. The ultimate destination for these collected dreams is the Italian’s BeRevolution website, for the whole world to see.
What impressed me about St. Jude’s in Kolkata — besides the modern facilities and professional and wonderfully caring staff — were the tales told to me about the parents who struggled to get their children treated for cancer. Oftentimes the parents would be forced to forego their livelihoods to make the journey to either of the St. Jude locations in Mumbai or Kolkata. That frequently meant selling all their land and possessions — everything — for a chance that their child may be treated in a far away place and live to have a normal life cancer-free.
I’ll be bidding my Italian friends farewell once more this weekend when they hit the road out of Kolkata. Barring any epic jaunts of my own to visit, I’ll likely not be seeing them again as they traverse the rest of Asia. Although this saddens me, I’m happy for them and grateful for the positive effects they are having on the lives of the children and people they meet. Seldom are there more worthy dreams than living for the dreams of others.
To see more images from my visit at St. Jude’s in Kolkata, visit my Flickr page.