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MeiMei Fox


Finding HOPE In the Slums of Kolkata

Posted: 01/12/12 08:00 AM ET

In 2004, I traveled to India for the first time. During my month-long exploration, I found myself enchanted by the colors, spirituality, and rich cultural heritage of the country, and simultaneously shocked by the poverty, especially in the slums of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). I resolved to make a difference...

On my second day there, I stumbled across The HOPE Foundation, an NGO founded by Maureen Forrest, an Irish woman who believes that her life "belongs to the whole community." There, I signed up to sponsor a child.

In the seven years that have passed, I have donated approximately $400 to HOPE Foundation each year to care for my "adopted daughter." I receive a brief update from the Home's director, a recent photo of Rama, and a hand-drawn card from her each Christmas.

This past December, I had the opportunity to return to Kolkata for the first time since 2004, this time with my Indian-born husband (and photographer/filmmaker), Kiran. I reconnected with Rama and HOPE Foundation. Here is our story -- Kiran's photographs, my words -- of poverty, inspirational people, and, ultimately, hope.

Home on the Train Tracks
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In Kolkata's metropolitan area of 14 million, the 13th-most populous in the world, slum dwellers are relatively lucky: At least they have places to live. Many others--recent refugees from Bangladesh, transient workers from Nepal, and abandoned children--have nothing more than a broken-down cardboard box or a segment of the (very actively used) train tracks to call home.

Photo: @KiranCreates


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