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On any given day there were approximately 15 of us volunteers at Kalighat and during my first two weeks, the atmosphere was such that I looked forward to every day of work.

My favorite moments involved those that took place once the laundry was hung out to dry on the rooftop, once the dishes were all cleaned and we had time to sit down and chat with the residents.

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By the time I arrived, he had been in his bed, where all of these men remain 23 hours per day, for two years already and the tumor in his stomach was the size of a basketball.

Yet despite his situation, he always smiled brightly when I approached him which in turn delivered a form of happiness into my life that I will forever be thankful for.

For years I had wanted to spend some time volunteering in Calcutta and when I finally managed to work it into my schedule, I showed up at an orientation for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and immediately signed up for a two-month commitment.

Upon signing up, every volunteer is asked to choose which of the nine homes within the organization that they wish to work at and without hesitation I chose the Nirmal Hriday Home for the Destitute and the Dying (aka Kalighat).

But it was not until one of the volunteers – a middle-aged American fellow who claimed to be an Emergency Medical Technician back home – was summoned and proceeded to haphazardly inject this man with medicine that he finally closed his eyes for good.

I stood there in shock, not because I had witnessed a death, but because I had witnessed this volunteer inject this poor man several times, jabbing into his arm with careless force while appearing to have no idea how to find his vein.The very next day, I began spending four hours each morning and three hours every afternoon feeding and bathing the 50 dying men that called Kalighat home.In addition, I cleaned their dishes, did their laundry by hand, brought them their pills and even gave arm and leg massages to those who were in desperate need of some relief from their constant pain.Some of the residents were quite alert and eager to speak of their lives, such as one 75 year old man who spent many afternoons talking to me about his frequent trips to Europe as the vice-president of a major Indian company.Sadly, after being laid off from his position, and after his wife left him, he lost all of his money in a business deal.As an example, I clearly remember one morning when I was sitting next to an impossibly thin seventy-year old man (I later found out he weighed 29 kg), trying to gently convince him to take his pills.

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