Unlike many of India’s popular movies, there are few
happy endings in the slums of Calcutta, a city filled with street people where
Campbell University students served over 250 children and adults on a mission
trip sponsored by the Office of the Campus Minister over winter break.
From Dec. 27-Jan. 7, eight Campbell University students
accompanied by Heather Webb, graduate assistant for international student
services and Terry Tucker, ministry assistant for campus ministries, traveled
to India to work with the international mission organization, Missionaries of
The group was there to do whatever it could for the people
served at the mission centers of Dum Dum, for women, and Nabo Jibon, for men,
and the legions of people, both adults and children, who are victims of
India’s overpopulation and generational poverty.
“They are so poor because, among other things, over
population drains natural resources,” said Webb. “And there is a long history
of poverty due to the caste system.”
The caste system in India is a form of social stratification
in which people are divided into classes according to their heredity.
They can never escape the class into which they are born.
The mission of Webb, Tucker and the students was to tend to
the patients’ needs whether it was simple care and feeding, helping the sisters
at the mission with administrative tasks or playing games and working puzzles
with the children and adults, many of whom suffered from physical conditions
such as blindness and club foot as well as mental disabilities. Some were both
mentally and physically disabled, Tucker explained.
“Our object was to embody the presence of Christ by offering
His love and kindness and by just being present with these people,” said Webb,
who has served in India before.
For the most part, the Missionaries of Charity take care of
their basic needs such as food and clothing, but the people, especially the
children, still long for that human touch, said Tucker.
“One day, several students were just playing with the kids
on the street and taking pictures,” Webb said.
“The children were so happy just to be interacting with the
Campbell students it broke your heart, and I wondered just how many times a day
these children feel like they are nothing.”
Campbell students who participated in the trip are divinity
students David Webb, Karie Parkes and David Anderson, junior Antonio
Spears, junior Courtney Williamson, sophomore Katherine Bellamy, senior
Alexandra Chin, and senior Amanda Morrison.
Each student was responsible for raising his or her money
for the trip and additional financial assistance was provided by Spring Hill
United Methodist Church in the form of a donation. With this money, the
students bought toys, clothes and other items for people they helped.
Divinity student Karie Parkes said the trip opened her eyes
to a world she never knew existed.
“It’s changed my life and the way I want to conduct my
ministry,” said Parkes.
“Mother Teresa advised people to ‘find their own Calcutta.’ That is what
I want to do, look for my own Calcutta closer to home.”
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